Jobs reignites cell phone OS openness debate, calls Android "smokescreen"

In a rare appearance in Apple's quarterly results call with financial analysts, CEO Steve Jobs briefly took over the call to take the offense in the cell phone debate which increasingly looks to be turning against the company. Some of his most pointed comments came over Google's claims that it is more open than iOS.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently referred to iOS as a closed platform, Jobs turned around and pointed out that no matter how open the code is itself, manufacturers and carriers still can choose to add their own proprietary code -- and even restrict certain features.

"We think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, what's best for the customer, fragmented versus integrated," Jobs said. "We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day."

(See a transcript of Jobs' comments by clicking here.)

Indeed, Android's fragmentation has become an issue for developers. Due to the fact that just about anyone can create their own version of Android -- something Google points out as a positive -- sometimes it is difficult for a developer to create an application that will work properly on every single version and handset.

One developer took issue however with being used as an example in Jobs' call. The Apple CEO said TweetDeck had to contend with over 100 different versions of Android across 244 different handsets. Despite that being their own comments, founder and CEO Iain Dodsworth seemed unhappy he had been singled out by Jobs.

"Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't," he tweeted.

Jobs went further, mentioning that all the app stores both available now and planned for Android could complicate the picture for developers even more. But no sooner than Jobs was able to make these comments to analysts did Google shoot back to fan the flames even more.

Engineering chief Andy Rubin's tweet may paraphrase the company's response into 140 characters: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make." In short, that's the Linux code that is used to compile Android, which then can be modified as the developer desires.

Obviously Apple's proprietary model does not allow that, but it does not seem to phase Jobs. "When selling to users who want their devices to just work, we believe integrated will trump fragmented every time," he quipped during the call.

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