January 31, 2011, 11:47 AM — You've got to give Netgear chairman and CEO Patrick Lo points for candor, if not common sense.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Lo "launched into a scathing attack on Apple and its founder Steve Jobs" during a lunch in the Australian city:
Lo said Apple's success was centred on closed and proprietary products that would soon be overtaken by open platforms like Google's Android. ...
He said Apple's closed model only worked because, in many product categories like MP3 players, "they own the market".
However, Lo said this was only a temporary state of affairs and pointed to the fact that Google's open-source Android platform for smartphones - which any manufacturer can use for free - recently overtook iPhone in market share in the US.
The home networking equipment company's chief executive also blamed a verbal battle last year between Adobe and Apple on Jobs.
"What's the reason for him to trash Flash? There's no reason other than ego," Lo remarked.
Not exactly "scathing," if you ask me, though I wasn't there, so for all we know Lo was pounding a table and spittle was flying from his mouth. You'd think in this day and age that a video would be up on YouTube by now. (Give me a shout and a link when it is.)
But put aside scathing for the moment and let's take a look at ill-advised:
"Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform," said Lo.
Ouch. The thing is, Mr. Lo, Jobs recently announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence for medical reasons. He's had some serious health issues in the past that maybe you haven't heard about. Pancreatic cancer in 2004, a liver transplant in 2009, stuff like that. Jobs also has appeared quite gaunt in recent years, prompting speculation that he's seriously grappling with some major -- perhaps life-threatening -- physical problems.
Lo (or one of Netgear's PR people) probably will release a statement saying that the "goes away" comment was taken out of context and misconstrued. Even if true, it was a pretty awkward verbal gaffe. And if Lo was intentionally referencing Jobs's medical issues, well, that's just in poor taste.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.