War of words as Android's Rubin hits back at Steve Jobs' openness jibe

Steve Jobs' rant over the openness of Android hit a raw nerve, moving founder Andy Rubin to switch his Twitter account back on so he could hit back.

Asavin Wattanajantra
2 min read

Android creator Andy Rubin has switched his Twitter account back on to hit back at a Steve Jobs tirade over whether the Google smart phone OS is as 'open' as is made out.

In a tweet from his account, which TechCrunch said was genuine, Rubin wrote: "the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make."

For those not well versed in geek speak, the snippet of Android code makes reference to the open system accessible to any coders who want to develop for Android.

It is a coded reply to a Steve Jobs rant at Apple's fourth quarter earnings call, where he claimed this developmental openness was creating fragmentation, and that Android handset-makers fiddled with the software to suit themselves.

He aimed fire at HTC and Motorola, which have created their own user interfaces in HTC Sense and Motoblur to separate from the core Android experience. Jobs added that an increasing number of hardware and software combinations were confusing developers.

"Many Android apps work only on selected Android handsets running selected Android versions. And this is for handsets that have been shipped less than 12 months ago," the big Apple boss added. "Compare this with iPhone, where there are two versions of the software, the current and the most recent predecessor to test against."

Jobs argued that developers could be more innovative if they had a single platform to target rather than lots of variants, and that the open versus closed argument was just a smokescreen that clouded over this issue.

But Rubin would only have to tweet about the sheer number of Android phones being shipped to show the benefits of Google's approach. Latest numbers for Android show that companies working on the platform are reaping the benefits of software that is adaptable, and which they can mould to their needs.

The fight does seem a little like handbags at ten paces, as both approaches are worthy and successful in their own right. But although Apple is making huge profits, Android is eating into its smart phone market share. It's little wonder Jobsy felt the earnings call was the right time and place to give Google a bit of what for.

With recent changes to its App Store, Apple has also changed its approach to become more open with developers, so it has obviously been taking some lessons from Google. We're not going to side with either party here as we love both iOS and Android, but we're sure you have an opinion on the matter. Let us know what you think.