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Apple Founder Wants Company to Make an Android Phone

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While Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) founder Steve Wozniak no longer works in the day-to-day operations of the company, he still has strong opinions on how it should be run. The tech genius, who looks like a cross between perennial Hollywood Square Bruce Vilanch and '80s toy Teddy Ruxpin, has never shied away from sharing his opinion on the industry powerhouse.

His latest comments occurred at the Apps World North America conference in San Francisco where he told Wired magazine, "There's nothing that would keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market. We could compete very well. People like the precious looks of stylings and manufacturing that we do in our product compared to the other Android offerings. We could play in two arenas at the same time."

It opens up the world

Apple has been unwilling to offer a truly cheap iPhone as doing so would (possibly) dilute its brand and make it harder for the company to get customers to buy high-end (and high-margin) products. This strategy, while profitable, keeps the company largely out of  developing countries and limits Apple's sales opportunities in markets that can't afford the iPhone.

Offering an Apple-esque phone running Android may be a double win for the company -- it protects the exclusivity of the iPhone but gets customers excited about Apple's style. In that scenario, the Android iPhone wins Apple customers who might then view buying an actual iPhone as an aspiration worth saving for.

Unlikely, but not impossible

In all its years as a computer maker as a distant number two to Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows in the operating system game, Apple never chose to make a computer running its rival's OS. Even though a sleekly styled Mac body running Windows may have been a hit in the business world and with people who needed the more popular OS, but wanted Apple's cool factor, Apple never tried it.

Windows, however, is a fixed platform owned by Microsoft. Android, though it's owned by Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) , is an open-source operating system that Apple (or any company) can use and adapt however it sees fit. Apple, were it to create an Android phone, would not have to make one that uses the current off-the-shelf version of Android. Instead, the company could build off the base, much like (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) has done and make a version in line with the look and feel customers expect from Apple.

How big a market is it?

In the last three months of 2013, comScore, as reported by, said Android had 51.5% of U.S. market share whereas Apple's iOS had 40.6%. According to Apple's quarterly results,  the company sold 33.8 million iPhones -- a record for the September quarter, compared to 26.9 million in the year-ago. Samsung, the leading Android phone maker, "ended the quarter the same way it began the year: as the clear leader in worldwide smartphone shipments," according to IDC, which tracks phone shipments. "The company maintained a sizable double-digit lead over the next vendor."

Adding an Android phone would not only open up more than half of the market to Apple, it also might take market share from Samsung.

Could it happen?

It technically could and Apple CEO Tim Cook has shown in the past he is not entirely bound by the thoughts of his predecessor, Steve Jobs.

In a 2010 earnings call, as reported by AllThingsD, Jobs spoke strongly against making a 7-inch iPad.

"The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn't because we don't want to hit [a lower] price point," Jobs said. "It's because we think the screen is too small to express the software. As a software-driven company, we think about the software strategies first."

Such tablets, Jobs said, would be useful only if they came with sandpaper to file down human fingers to a quarter of their size.

Apple, of course, under Cook released a smaller iPad, but while that move shows that Jobs words are not gospel, it's still hard to imagine the company would completely shift strategy and build a device using someone else's operating system. And while that device could be a hit, it would be a hit that operates outside Apple's ecosystem.

As hard as it is to picture an iPhone running Android, it's even harder to picture one where customers must buy apps from Google instead of Apple's app store.

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Read/Post Comments (10) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 8:11 AM, dbtuner wrote:

    just proves how smart Jobs was

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 8:43 AM, Buzzy43 wrote:

    1) Wozniak is known to all sorts of off hand comments. The state of the web today makes for a virtually perfect ZERO filter environment.

    2) All Macs are fully capable of running Windows, including the latest iteration, the fine Window 8.1. Sheesh, do I really have to tell you this?

    3) Apple will never get involved in a heavily forked , heavily fragmented OS whose raison d'etre is to bilk your personal information in a manner that competes with the NSA and whose motto is "it's easier to say sorry than ask permission."

    4) MF - Do you think posting click bait like this is a plus for your efforts to create investment funds?

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 9:11 AM, Thompr97 wrote:

    Woz is a charming fellow, a real geek's geek, and a fantastic engineer. Having said that...

    Woz has never - NEVER - known anything about business, even though he thinks he does and keeps trying.

    Why do people keep asking his and, even worse, Sculley's opinions about Apple? They are both long gone for good reason.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 9:22 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    There are reasons Woz doesn't work for Apple anymore (probably what @Thompr97 said above is one of them). I don't think Jobs would tolerate those kind of statements based upon the fact that he despised Google (especially Eric S.) for stealing Apple design information.

    And I agree w/ @Thompr97 about Scully -- why would you want to listen to someone who ran the company into the ground?

    And as Apple has stated many time market share is not important to Apple -- margins are important.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 9:44 AM, JaanS wrote:

    This is totally debunked 4 days ago. Where have you been?

    "Steve emphatically told me that the press had the story ‘wrong,’” Smith reports. “In an email to me, Steve said, ‘They got it quite wrong for their own reasons … I’m used to things like this, (where the media turns) ‘could’ into ‘should.’ "


    "Woz continued, “‘I did say Apple ‘could’ make an Android phone. But I (said) total business decisions would be in the hands of knowledgeable Apple execs — not me,’”

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 10:15 AM, lrd555 wrote:

    First of all, Woz was conveniently misquoted. That's was the half-witted media has resorted to to get clicks- lie at every opportunity.

    And secondly, you shouldn't re-published non-sense that was rebuffed by Woz himself days ago-shows you're desparate too for clicks.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 10:24 AM, inn8 wrote:

    Why do writers for this site feel compelled to remind us that the "Fool" is alive and well.

    Maybe they're trying to demonstrate that I'm the fool for clicking their headlines.

    Not nice at all.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 10:29 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    Not defending the financial media (which I think is very low on the totem pole) Woz shouldn't put himself into the situation to be misquoted in the first place.

    He should never mention the word "Android" at all. Jobs (and by association Apple) despised Google for stealing the guts of iOS and making Android. And if anyone doubts that Eric S. and friends stole it you have your head in the sand.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 10:54 AM, dapperone wrote:

    Jobs was right about 7" tablets - they are too small for human fingers combined with Apple software. That's why Apple instead came out with an 8" tablet.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2014, at 11:19 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    I would buy a phone with a larger display instead of a 7" tablet anyway. I prefer the regular iPad over the mini anyway. It's a nice in-between device between the iPhone and the Mac.

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Daniel B. Kline

Daniel B. Kline is an accomplished writer and editor who has worked for the Microsoft's Finance app and The Boston Globe, where he wrote for the paper and ran the business desk. His latest book "Worst Ideas Ever" (Skyhorse) can be purchased at bookstores everywhere.

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