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Woz Rebuffs Report He Gave Android His Blessing

By Mike Pearson MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 18, 2010 12:51 PM PT

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak on Thursday took issue with an article in a Dutch publication that asserted the Apple cofounder believes the Android platform's greater variety of features will soon make it the dominant platform in the smartphone market.

Woz Rebuffs Report He Gave Android His Blessing

After interviewing Wozniak, who is in the Netherlands for the Science & Technology Summit at the World Forum in The Hague, De Telegraaf reported that he indicated Android offers more features. The article generated a great amount of attention due to the implicit support the Apple cofounder was apparently lending to the iPhone's biggest rival.

After the article was published, however, Wozniak told the blog Engadget that his thoughts on the matter had been misrepresented.

"I've never said anything like that to anyone," he said, "because I have [used] both phones quite a bit and I know them well -- way too well to say something like that."

Rather than stating that Android phones have more features, Wozniak said, he demonstrated for De Telegraaf's reporter the functionality of voice commands on an iPhone, noting a single function Android could perform but which an iPhone could not. However, Wozniak told Engadget, he also pointed out to the reporter recent Apple acquisitions that he believed would make it possible for iPhones to offer a similar feature soon.

"The impression that people get, especially back at Apple, is that I'm saying, 'Oh the Android does more,' that I'm really praising it," he said. "No -- I pointed out one thing it does that I'd love to have on my iPhone. I even gave the reporter examples of why I think it's coming.

Dominant, or Just Big?

Wozniak also downplayed the article's portrayal of his outlook on the future growth of the Android platform.

"Dominant," said Wozniak, was not the word he used to describe Android. "The reporter asked it more like, 'Which platform do you expect to have the greater market share and be the dominant platform maybe,' and I said, 'Probably Android,' but it's based on what I've read, nothing more," he stated.

Wozniak, the Dutch article stated, believed Android handsets would eventually catch up with the iPhone in terms of quality, and that Android's ascendancy would mirror that of Windows on PCs, eventually rising to run the vast majority of devices on the market. In regard to that, Wozniak told Engadget, "We got a lot of junk from Windows. At least the iPhone is good.

"I'm not trying to put Android down, but I'm certainly not saying it's better than iOS by any stretch of the imagination, and it can get greater market share and still be crappy," he said.

History of Android Praise

Alleged misrepresentations aside, this wouldn't be the first time Wozniak, a major Apple shareholder, has spoken up in the Android vs. iPhone debate. In a 2008 interview with The Telegraph of London, Wozniak criticized the closed nature of the Apple ecosystem, saying it limited consumer choice.

In supposing that Android's market share could one day grow to be the largest, Wozniak was just being realistic, Chris Hazelton of the 451 Group said.

"It's hard to see what could interrupt Android's success," he remarked.

Gartner has predicted that Android will remain the No. 2 mobile operating system in the world behind not Apple, but Nokia's Symbian OS.

Android will capture 29.6 percent of the market, compared to 30.2 for Symbian and 14.9 percent for iOS, Gartner predicted.

What About Nokia?

Although Wozniak has called attention to his reported statements regarding Android vs. iPhone, he apparently had little to say about his sharp critique of Nokia in De Telegraaf's article.

According to a translated version, he called Nokia "the mark of a previous generation" and said the company should rebrand to appeal to younger audiences.

Neither representatives for Wozniak nor Apple returned telephone calls seeking comment for this article. A message left with a Nokia spokesperson also was not returned by press time.

In the end, who wins the market share wars may not be particularly important, Hazelton argued.

Even as Android sales have accelerated markedly, and long after its No. 2 status among computer operating systems was established, Apple easily controls mindshare in the technology and consumer electronics spaces, he said.

And it's not like it's not making gobs of money. Apple recently reported record earnings.

"Market share doesn't always translate to a winner. Who's the market share leader now?" Hazelton asked.

Then he answered his own question.


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