RIM CEO Balsillie Blasts Jobs' 'Distortion Field'

When top executives address analysts on quarterly corporate earnings calls, they are often guarded in their remarks, cautious in their predictions and reluctant to criticize competitors.

Not so with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs.

Jobs' comments on Monday's earnings call, when he pronounced that the "current crop of tablets will be DOA, dead on arrival" and took shots at several rivals, notably Google's Android, have provoked a flurry of responses, including some from the executive suites from some of the biggest names in tech.

The latest volley comes from Jim Balsillie, co-CEO at Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), who took exception to Jobs' assertion that the market wouldn't support tablets with seven-inch screens, a not-so-veiled shot at BlackBerry's forthcoming PlayBook device, among others.

"For those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field, we know that seven-inch 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," Balsillie wrote in a blog post.

Support for Adobe's (NASDAQ: ADBE) Flash media playback technology has become a major fault line in the emerging mobile-device war, with Jobs having publicly criticized the technology over security and reliability issues in defending his company's decision not to support Flash-based media on the iPad and iPhone devices.

"We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple," Balsillie said.

Balsille's retort closely follows a rejoinder from Andy Rubin, head of Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android, relayed via Twitter, taking issue with Jobs' assertion that the characterization of Android as an open platform is "disingenuous" and a "smokescreen," and that the so-called open source operating system actually contains numerous barriers for developers that result in a choppy experience for the user.

The latest salvos in the war of words come as the heavyweights are vying for share of an increasingly competitive market for mobile devices, encompassing smartphones and the emerging crop of tablets.

RIM, for its part, is planning to introduce the PlayBook, running the new TabletOS, next year, and is due to begin bringing to market new smartphones running the BlackBerry 6 operating system later this month.

Apple and Google, meanwhile, continue to spar in both tablets and smartphones with their respective operating systems, iOS and Android. At the same time, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is planning to seed its Windows 7 OS across a new crop of tablet computers, or slates, as it calls them, and has big designs on the smartphone space this holiday season with its recently unveiled Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


iPad, Apple, steve jobs, RIM, Jim Balsillie