SAN FRANCISCO, Wed Mar 13, 2013 – Apple Inc marketing chief Phil Schiller attacked Google Inc’s “fragmented” Android software and its biggest adopter, Samsung Electronics, a day before the Korean firm takes the wraps off its latest flagship smartphone in the United States.
The marketing chief’s rare attack on a rival, on the eve of the Galaxy S4′s global premier in New York, underscores the extent of the pressure piled upon a company that once stood the undisputed leader of the smartphone arena, but ceded its crown to Samsung in 2012.
Schiller, in an interview on Wednesday, told Reuters that Google’s own research showed the vast majority of Android users were stuck on older versions of the software, and that Samsung’s new phone itself may debut with a year-old operating system that will need updating.
“With their own data, only 16 percent of Android users are on year-old version of the operating system,” he said. “Over 50 percent are still on software that is two years old. A really big difference.”
Schiller said fragmentation, or the host of customized versions of Android in the marketplace, poses a problem for consumers.
Every version of Android’s operating system update has to be tested to ensure a good fit for a multiplicity of handset makers before it can be widely released by the handset makers, which slows updates. That’s because some manufacturers, such as Amazon.com Inc, employ heavily customized versions.
“And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old,” he said. “Customers will have to wait to get an update.”
Schiller pointed to multiple research from third parties that showed that people who have iOS devices actually use them more than people who own Android devices, and more than half of iOS users are using the latest version of the software.
He also said that Apple’s internal research shows four times as many consumers are switching to iOS from Android than the other way.
Schiller also took a shot at the vast sales volume of Android, which sees 1.5 million activations a day, saying even the out-of-the-box experience of using an Android device is far inferior with the consumer having to log into nine different systems to begin using the device fully.
“At Apple we know that it’s not just enough to have products pumped out in large numbers,” he said. “You have to love and use them. There is a lot of data showing a big disparity there.”
Google declined to comment. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.