In a special appearance on Apple’s Q4 financial results call today, CEO Steve Jobs reframed the “Open vs. Closed” software platform debate by comparing Apple’s integrated approach with iOS to what he called Google’s “fragmented” approach with Android:
Even if Google were right, and the real issue is closed versus open, it is worthwhile to remember that open systems don’t always win. Take Microsoft’s PlaysforSure music strategy, which used the PC model, which Android uses as well, of separating the software components from the hardware components. Even Microsoft finally abandoned this open strategy, in factor of copying Apple’s integrated approach, with their Zune player, unfortunately leaving their OEMs empty-handed in the process. Google flirted with this integrated approach with their Nexus One phone.
In reality, we think the open versus closed argument is just a smoke screen to try and hide the real issue, which is, “what’s best for the customer?” Fragmented versus integrated. We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. And as you know, Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator. We see tremendous value in having Apple, rather than our users, be the systems integrator.