Apple vice president Phil Schiller took the offense on Wednesday, the day before Samsung launches its long-awaited Galaxy S4 smartphone. Mr. Schiller gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal where he dismissed the user experience on Android and called fragmentation on the platform a fact, "plain and simple."
Speaking of The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper that was once so friendly to Apple had a different take, titling its article, "In Rare Move, Apple Goes on the Defensive Against Samsung." The Journal is right that Mr. Schiller's interview was a "rare move," but Apple's marketing chief was aggressive in his comments, rather than defensive.
For instance, he was critical of the Android experience, noting, "When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with. They don't work seamlessly together."
In addition, he noted that surveys have consistently found Android owners less satisfied with their devices than iPhone owners. The reality is that much of this dissatisfaction is most likely stemming from the low end of the market—that's a logical call on our part—but it may speak to Mr. Schiller's claim that four times as many people switched from Android to iPhone than the other way around in the December quarter.
"Android is often given as a free replacement for a feature phone and the experience isn't as good as an iPhone," Mr. Schiller told The Journal.
In the meanwhile, Samsung has been making much ado about the Galaxy S4 it will announce on Thursday. It's expected to have a larger screen, a better camera, and other incremental improvements over the company's popular Galaxy S3 (look for a spec comparison from The Mac Observer after it's officially unveiled).
Mr. Schiller argued that the iPhone 5 is the best device on the market, saying that the screen is, "still the best display of any smartphone."
He added, "Given the iPhone 5 is so thin and light, the reason that people are making their devices bigger is to get up to the battery life the iPhone 5 offers."
That's the most defensive quote in The Journal's coverage. Apple has taken a lot of heat from some analysts and many pundits for not offering a larger screen like the so-called phablets that have been a hit for Samsung.
Being able to fit a bigger battery may well have been the spark for making phablets, but the market has responded favorably to the devices. Apple has advertised that the display on the iPhone 5 is not only the best on the market—it is a very high quality display—but that it's sized so it can be used with just one hand.
Clearly some of the market simply does not care about such considerations because the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note II have both been very popular. There is every expectation that the same will be the case with the Galaxy S4 once it is announced.