The iPhone is hard to escape. Love it or hate it, the little device has invaded pop culture in a big way. While most people might not know the ins and outs of the tech industry and its latest products, they know the iPhone -- it has reached household name status.
At a recent developers forum, Intel employees publically insulted the iPhone, saying, "Any sort of application that requires any horse power at all and the iPhone struggles."
While Intel was quick to clarify that its comments were purely criticism of competitor ARM who makes the iPhone's CPU, the comments had already achieved a degree of notoriety. Now Microsoft is fanning the iPhone flames of animosity with its own comments.
Robbie Bach, Microsoft's Chief Officer of the crucial $8B USD Entertainment & Devices Division which includes the Xbox 360 business and the Windows Mobile phone business, was asked about his reaction to Apple's wildly successful quarter in which it saw the sale of 6.9 million iPhones. These sales had surpassed analyst expectations by a couple million units, despite the fact that the analysts are typically very bullish when it comes to Apple sales.
Mr. Bach, without much prodding, proceeded to follow Intel's example and toss a bit more sand in Apple's eyes. He said, "Apple had a big launch of a new product, and they launched at scale in a lot of new countries with a lot of new [wireless] operators. This quarter, RIM is having its big launch, and at some point we’ll have our big launch. We’ll have to see where things normalize," referring to the new RIM Blackberry Bold, set to launch November 4 (which does not feature a Windows OS).
He continued, "Does AT&T like having iPhone on its network? Sure. But they want to have balance in that ecosystem, where there’s three or four big partners. That’s why we’re so attractive to them—because we work with Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, LG, HTC, Motorola. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is a cool device. But it’s not about choice."
The comments by Bach are lighting up the blog community who already holds strong opinions on the iPhone's value. However, more than anything they hark back to the classic playground-esque feud that Microsoft and Apple have carried out over the years, one that is mirrored in their commercials. Microsoft has always argued that its products are great because they provide choices, while Apple's products are weak because they offer no choice. Apple argues the opposite -- its products are exclusive so the quality and design is higher, while Microsoft is a messy conglomeration.
In the end, despite Bach's criticism, it's hard to argue the iPhone's success from a pure financial perspective. However, that will likely do little to satisfy either Microsoft or Apple, which are always looking to get a one up on each other.