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Ballsy Balsille blasts Apple 'distortion field'

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Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsille ripped into Apple CEO Steve Jobs after the Cupertinian worthy took aim at RIM's BlackBerry smartphones and upcoming PlayBook tablet on Monday.

"As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story," blogged Balsille steamily, "and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story."

Balsille was referring to Jobs' remarks during a conference call announcing Apple's fiscal Q4 2010 results. When reading a prepared statement during that call, Jobs said that the iPhone's 14.1 million sales during the quarter had "handily beat RIM's 12.1 million BlackBerries sold in their most recent quarter, ending in August."

Jobs then asserted: "We've now passed RIM, and I don't see them catching up with us in the forseeable future."

Balsille, not to put too fine a point on it, implies that Jobs is lying about padding his sales figures: "Apple's preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIMs August-ending quarter doesn't ... take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple's Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders," he blogged.

The disagreement over sales figures might have remain just that — number juggling — if Jobs hadn't taken it upon himself to don his Harvard-annointed world's best CEO robes to offer Balsille some unsolicited — and arguably condescending — advice:

"[RIM] must move beyond their area of strength and comfort into the unfamilair territory of trying to become a software platform company," Jobs advised. "I think it's going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform and to convince developers to create apps for yet a third software platform after iOS and Android. With 300,000 apps on Apple's app store, RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb."

That patronizing put-down may have been what frosted Balsiile's cookies — that, and Jobs' scathing dismissal of seven-inch touchscreen tablets such as RIM's PlayBook. "We think the current crop of seven-inch tablets are going to be DOA — dead on arrival," Jobs opined.

He did, however, allow the possibility that a seven-inch display might be large enough if it "includes sandpaper so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size."

We at The Reg know schoolboy snarkiness when we see it, and yes, Virginia, that was schoolboy snarkiness.

Balsille snarked back: "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 and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience," he said.

"We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple," Balsille snapped. ®

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