Steve Jobs appeared as a special guest on today's earnings conference call with analysts, making a statement about its competitive forces and fielding questions from analysts about the growth potentials and his outlook on market shifts.
The company reported a strong fourth quarter, generating more revenue than Google does in a full year, boasting record sales of iPhones and a strong start to a category that it pretty much owns: the tablet PC. Here are some bullet points on his talking points.
RIM: Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry "has a high mountain ahead of them to climb," he said. The iPhone has surpassed the BlackBerry in sales and "I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future." The competition is forcing RIM to grow beyond its comfort zone and move into the platform business. But he questioned whether RIM will be able to lure developers to develop for yet another platform, notably iOS and Android.
Android: This debate over open and closed platforms "is just a smoke screen to hide... fragmented versus integrated. Android is fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day." The Android experience is enhanced by device manufacturers and that has left "a mess" for developers to work with. He said the Apple approach, with an integrated system, doesn't force a user to be a systems integrator. "We think integrated will trump fragmented every time."
iPad: He said reports of a "avalanche of tablets" poised to enter the market is a bit deceiving. Instead, he said, it's a "handful of credible entrants" who are compromising screen size by as much as 45 percent and will create a sub-par experience. Tablet users are also smartphone owners and the idea of trying to sell users on a tablet for the pocket is no good. "Seven-inch tablets are tweeners. They're too big to compete with smartphones and too small to compete with the iPad."
Notebook: "The iPad is clearly going to affect notebook computers and I think the iPad proves now that it's no longer a question of if but rather a question of when," he said. There's a lot of technological development coming down the pipeline in the next few years. There's a lot of interest across many verticals, including education and business, a segment that "surprised" Jobs. He said:
We haven't pushed too hard in busioness and it's being grabbed out of our hands... all the way from boards of directors down to nurses, doctors, hospitals... I'm convinced that we've got a tiger by the tail here, a new model of computing.
Finally, on Apple TV, Jobs said the company has already sold 250,000 units since it was reintroduced at a new price point of $99 .