"When you're the leader, you don't need to, and shouldn't, acknowledge your competition". That fundamental business maxim seems to be lost on Apple the past few days, and I wonder what it says about Apple's self-perceived vulnerability, ironically one week away from the 5-year anniversary of the launch of its iPod franchise, but with Zune's impending launch looming over it.
A few days ago, during a brief (and soft) interview with Newsweek (commentary by Ars Technica and Slashdot), Apple CEO Steve Jobs summarily dismissed Zune's wireless peer-to-peer content-sharing feature, calling it too slow. Even though he admitted that he'd not tried it himself; that he was basing his opinion the fact that "I've seen demonstrations on the Internet". I agree with Microsoft's David Caulton; it was a mistake for him to even address this question in such depth, given that file sharing is a feature that today's wireless-less iPods don't support. And doubly a mistake given that it apparently doesn't take near as long to transfer a file as Jobs claims it does. Then again, Jobs has also spent plenty of time bashing subscription music, which iPods and iTunes also don't support, in the past.
Next we turn to an example of why "people in glass houses shouldn't cast stones". Apple revealed on Tuesday that some video iPods manufactured in the last ~1 month contain a virus which'll infect a Windows PC they're connected to (again, commentary by Ars Technica and Slashdot). While admitting that they're "upset with ourselves for not catching it", Apple couldn't resist also throwing a jab at Redmond, saying "As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses". Even long-time Apple shills such as John Gruber and Macworld Magazine took Apple to task for its cheap shot, which prompted a well-placed and -timed jab back from Microsoft. And it's not like the Mac OS is immune from vulnerabilities, as Mac owners like myself weary of frequent, massive patch downloads can attest, or as Frank Hayes' editorial on the recent Black Hat Wi-Fi spat points out.
Stick to creating cool hardware and software, Apple, and let the market decide who's #1. When you open your mouth, you only reinforce the perceptions of those who think that's not you.