Ask any of my colleagues what it means to criticize Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and they'll tell you it's a two-step process:

  1. Hit the publish button.
  2. Watch as commenters and emailers hurl insults.

But that's Apple. Passionate fans come with the territory. Android fans aren't nearly so sensitive, right? Wrong.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) risked their ire last week with a Twitter marketing campaign featuring the new hashtag #droidrage. Here's the missive that started it all:

Windows Phone Tweet

Source: Twitter.

Android enthusiasts weren't amused. Or maybe they were. Some responses positioned Microsoft's attack as absurd when Mr. Softy hasn't yet shown Windows Phone 8 to be a top choice among prospective smartphone buyers.

Android Central Screenshot

Source: Twitter

Ouch! But also a fair point, I think. Cryptic hints are all we have when it comes to Windows Phone 8 sales. During last month's annual shareholders' meeting, CEO Steve Ballmer said the newest handsets were selling four times faster during their "launch period" than the previous generation had. How many units that actually amounts to remains anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, new figures from researcher IDC find that Samsung -- the leading vendor of Android devices -- accounted for 21.8% of "smart connected device" shipments worldwide in the third quarter. Apple ranked second at 15.1%, followed by Lenovo at 7%, and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) at just 4.6%. IDC counts "smart devices" as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.

Which leads us back to Microsoft. Why attack now? Is it because Mr. Softy is slowly seeing its world upended? Who cares if the software that drives your business (i.e., Windows for PCs) isn't as meaningful when devices vastly outnumber traditional computers?

We'll need years and more data to answer these questions properly. In the meantime, Mr. Softy's Twitter missive smells an awful lot like Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) taking shots at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) for being top dog in a market (i.e., social media) it wants to own.

Microsoft wants to own mobile, and Android is in the way.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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