RIM's Balsillie fires back at Apple's Jobs and his "distortion field"

RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie responds to Steve Jobs' comments about RIM, jabbing back at Apple's closed platform and distortion field.

I could offer some commentary on what is yet another response to the Steve Jobs rant that occurred on yesterday's Apple earnings call. (Tweetdeck's founder chimed in early this morning.) But Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion, doesn't need any help firing back at Apple's CEO.

The jabs from Balsillie on a blog post of his own:

  • Apple lives in a "distortion field"
  • Adobe Flash support is important to customers.
  • Apple’s closed platform may be good for Apple but developers want more options
  • "We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple."

To recap, on the call, Jobs said:

We sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter which represents a 91% unit growth over the year-ago quarter and was well ahead of IDC's latest published estimate of 64% growth for the global smartphone market in the September quarter. And it handily beat RIM's 12.1 million Blackberry's sold in their most recent quarter ending in August. We've now passed RIM, and I don't seem them catching up with us in the foreseeable future. They must move beyond their area of strength and comfort into the unfamiliar territory of trying to become a software platform company. I think it's going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform and to convince developers to create apps for yet a third software platform after iOS and Android. With 300,000 apps on Apple's App Store, RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb.

On the Inside BlackBerry blog today, Balsillie wrote:

For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7” tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. And by the way, RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 – 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter. Apple’s preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM’s August-ending quarter doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders. As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story.

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