Mobile

Apple’s Wozniak calls Android the winner in smartphone race

[Update: Wozniak has said he was slightly misquoted during the interview to gadget blog Engadget.]

Oh Woz, we love it when you shoot from the hip.

Apple’s own co-founder Steve Wozniak managed to spill the beans on an Apple phone preceding the iPhone, bash Nokia and call the winner in the mobile operating system race — all in the span of a single interview with a Dutch-language newspaper today.

Wozniak said that Android would likely become the dominant mobile operating system ahead of Nokia’s Symbian and Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS. That should come as zero surprise, because analysts have been predicting the fall of Nokia for some time now.

Wozniak said Android would grow so large and have such a pervasive market presence, the phones would inevitably have more features than the iPhone. Part of that probably has to do with the religiously closed development process for the iPhone. But Apple holds, and would still have, the lead in terms of smartphone quality, he said.

The company — and particularly its CEO Steve Jobs — has always been known for having ridiculously high standards for its products. The iPhone manufacturer actually teamed up with a Japanese company in 2004 to produce a mobile phone, but ended up axing the project, Wozniak said.

Apple doesn’t seem like the kind of company that would feel too bad about not having a commanding market share when it delivers a high-end product. That’s the design philosophy the largest consumer manufacturer in the world has had for its line of personal computers and laptops for some time now. That’s lead to steady — but by no means explosive — growth in its PC sales. Just last quarter, Apple’s Mac sales were up 28 percent when compared to the same quarter a year earlier. With the price point the Mac computers have, Apple certainly shouldn’t feel like it isn’t making enough money off the line of computers.

Nokia still maintains a commanding lead in terms of market share from the sheer volume of phones it produces, but Gartner predicts that Android will overtake it by 2014. The company recently rolled out a few changes to challenge the upstart Android, including its new N7 and N8 smartphones — which more or less fell flat with consumers — and a new CEO, Microsoft’s Stephen Elop. Wozniak said Nokia was “the brand of the previous generation” and was well on its way out.

Wozniak called into Engadget to say that Apple would eventually catch up to some of the features Android has that Apple’s iPhone is currently missing (it has acquired Siri for voice recognition, for example, which Android already had). But he said he expects Android to be a lot like Windows — in the sense that a majority of people would use Android, despite there being better products in the market.

“It can get greater market share and still be crappy,” he said to Engadget.

Then again, that’s pretty much obvious, given Nokia’s current position.


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