Yesterday, Apple’s Phil Schiller (Marketing Leader at Apple) told the Wall Street Journal that Android smartphones were ” free replacement for a feature phone”, and today, the company went to another trusted media -Reuters- to add a second layer of criticism: that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will launch with a “year old” update since it is rumored to launch with a version of Android which is not the absolute latest. “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 says. Update: the Galaxy S4 is officially using Android 4.2.2, which completely deflates Phil Schiller’s point…

True, but most users don’t care

To be fair, he scores a point when he says that Android updates often take a very long time to make their way from Google to customers handsets. It’s because there’s quite a lot of work for Android handset makers to adapt the latest changes to all the customizations that they have done to Android before shipping it in a product. Also, the more handset one manufacturer makes, and the more work is required to update them all, that’s why there are less and less handsets per manufacturers. Clearly, the Android eco-system and Google need to work o this, but at the end of the day, this is a by-product of being open-source.

On the other hand, while having an older OS can be frustrating to customers who want some of the latest features, it has not been a real “show-stopper” for Android as an eco-system and for Android users in general. It is interesting to see that the public’s reaction to Apple’s comments on the web is overwhelmingly negative. That’s simply because most people think that the argument is relatively bogus and that Apple should focus on building better products, instead of taking shots at Android problems seen as “mild” by most.

No iPhone update expected before June, at the earliest

And that’s the thing: Apple isn’t expected to launch a new smartphone until June at the earliest, and the company cannot afford to see Samsung take away more mindshare than it already has. In my opinion, Apple’s focus should be on the hardware again and it can only blame itself for voluntarily not building a large iPhone, thus leaving the initiative to Samsung. OS features have been largely “good enough” for most smartphone users, and in the end, this will come down to industrial design, hardware superiority and user experience (which is magnified by a big screen).  Samsung now has a bi-yearly update cycle with the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note lines of products.

Public’s reaction: Apple should focus on building better products

The action item for Apple is simple: swallow their pride and back away from the “one handed phone” dogma. Build two phones (4″ and 5.3″) or face the consequences. In the meantime, I’m under the impression that this media offensive isn’t doing much for Apple, but give the impression that the company is a bit in need for attention. If anything, this makes Apple weaker, which is counter-productive.

What do you think?

The Galaxy S4 launches today (in 4h45mn at 7pm ET) and you can watch it live here. You can also check the latest Galaxy S4 information and rumors, including the possibility that it would be the first smartphone to use the Samsung Octa 5 octo-core chip which uses big.LITTLE, a new technology from ARM.

Filed in Apple. Read more about Galaxy S4 and Samsung.

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