On eve of Galaxy S4 launch, Apple exec dumps on Android

SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller introduces the iPhone 5.

Apple doesn’t engage in much public discussion involving¬†anything besides its own products, or maybe its retail stores. So it’s extremely interesting — and rare — that Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller went on the record the night before the most anticipated Samsung phone launch to date, the Galaxy S4, to go negative on Android.

In a brief interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Schiller ticked off reasons why he thinks iOS is better than Android: it’s not fragmented (“Android users are often running old operating systems”), the hardware and software for Android phones are made by separate companies, and the devices aren’t high quality (“Android is often given a free replacement for a feature phone”).

These are not new complaints; especially for those used to interacting with Apple, these talking points will seem familiar. And Apple’s not above slamming the competition in advertisements: witness the successful multiyear run of its Mac vs. PC ads.

Schiller did share a nugget we haven’t previously heard before — that “four times as many iPhone users switched from Android than to Android during the fourth quarter.” The number is supposedly from Apple’s own internal research. Obviously it should be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s also true that Apple sold 48 million iPhones in the fourth quarter and the device was the best-selling smartphone in the fourth quarter of 2012 in the U.S.

Whether Apple initiated the interview or the WSJ did, the rarity of a high-level Apple executive commenting on a rival’s looming product launch — something normally assumed to be beneath the company — will come off as somewhat defensive. But it could be yet another subtle signal that under CEO Tim Cook, the company is becoming a bit more open to traditional notions of competitive public relations.

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