Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller launched an extraordinary attack on Google’s “fragmented” Android software and its biggest adopter, Samsung, hours before the Korean firm took the wrapping off its latest flagship smartphone in the US.
Schiller’s rare attack on a rival, ahead of the Galaxy S4’s global premiere in New York at midnight, underscores the extent of the pressure piled upon a company that once stood the undisputed leader of the smartphone arena, but ceded its crown to Samsung in 2012.
Schiller, de facto number two at Apple, said Google’s own research showed the vast majority of Android users were stuck on old versions of the software, that Samsung’s new phone itself would debut with a year-old operating system, and that new customers would already have to update.
“With their own data, only 16% of Android users are on year-old version of the operating system,” he said. “Over 50% are still on software that is two years old. A really big difference.”
Schiller said fragmentation — or the host of customised versions of Android in the marketplace — poses a problem for consumers. Every version of Android’s operating system update has to be tested to ensure a good fit for a multiplicity of handset makers before it can be widely released, which slows updates. That is because some manufacturers, such as Amazon, employ heavily customised versions.
“And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old,” he said. “Customers will have to wait to get an update.”
Schiller pointed to multiple research from third parties that showed people who have iOS devices actually use them more than people who own Android devices, and more than half of iOS users are using the latest version of the software.
He also said Apple’s internal research shows four times as many consumers are switching to iOS from Android than the other way.
Schiller also took a shot at the vast sales volume of Android, which sees 1.5m activations a day, saying even the out-of-the-box experience of using an Android device is far inferior, with the consumer having to log into nine different systems to begin using the device fully.
“At Apple we know that it’s not just enough to have products pumped out in large numbers,” he said. “You have to love and use them. There is a lot of data showing a big disparity there.”
Google did not comment. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.
Samsung was set to take the wrapping off its Galaxy S4 in the early hours of this morning, after a marketing campaign that has helped drive pre-launch speculation and hype to Apple-like proportions.
The launch — the first time Samsung has chosen to host a global Galaxy debut in the US — was deemed critical to propelling Samsung deeper into Apple’s home turf.
Apple remains the most valuable technology company, with a $137.1bn (€105bn) cash pile. But Samsung knocked Apple off its perch atop the global smartphone arena in 2012, and continues to chip away at its market share.
Samsung had kept a tight lid on information relating to the new smartphone — only providing a teaser silhouette picture of the phone.
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