TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion’s Jim Balsillie on Tuesday brushed off Steve Jobs’ critique of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer, saying the Apple CEO’s barbs made no sense outside of his company’s “distortion field.”
Jobs on Monday said a batch of seven-inch-screen tablets, including the PlayBook, that will compete with Apple’s 10-inch iPad would be “dead on arrival” when they hit the market. He also boasted that iPhone sales had overtaken sales of BlackBerry smartphones.
“For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that seven-inch tablets will actually be a big portion of the market,” RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in a statement.
RIM’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone, along with a slew of devices based on Google’s Android operating system, are aggressively competing for dominance in the booming smartphone market, while Apple’s iPad has a headstart on competitors in the nascent tablet market.
RIM, which announced the PlayBook in September, doesn’t expect to sell the device until early next year. It has touted the device’s ability to support Adobe’s widely used Flash multimedia software — what it sees as an advantage over the iPad. Apple disagrees.
It is not the first time the two rivals have taken shots at each other. RIM also reacted curtly in July when Jobs sought to deflect consumer complaints about the newly released iPhone 4’s antenna and reception by defining the issue as an industry-wide problem.
On Tuesday Balsillie sought to counter Jobs’ observation that Apple’s iPhone had outsold the BlackBerry in its latest quarter by saying RIM’s staggered quarters made the comparison difficult. RIM’s last fiscal quarter ended August 28, while Apple’s ended September 25.
“Industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months,” Balsillie said, adding that the 14.1 million iPhones sold in Apple’s fourth quarter may have been padded by slow sales in the previous quarter.
RIM shipped 12.1 million BlackBerrys in its last quarter.
“As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story,” Balsillie said.
RIM shares dipped 2.5 percent to $47.30 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday, while Apple lost 2.7 percent to $309.49.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Frank McGurty