Tech Rivals RIM and Apple Wage War of Words –

Mr. Jobs made a surprise appearance on Apple’s quarterly earnings call Monday for the first time in two years. After briefly highlighting the success of the iPhone, Mr. Jobs went straight for RIM, arguing that Apple had sold more iPhones in the latest quarter than RIM had sold BlackBerrys.

“We’ve now passed RIM, and I don’t see them catching up,” Mr. Jobs said. He then argued it was going to be tough for RIM to create a competitive software platform and convince developers to make applications for it.

The Apple CEO also criticized a slate of seven-inch tablet computers—one made by RIM— emerging as competitors to the iPad. “This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion,” Mr. Jobs said. The iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.

Mr. Balsillie responded in kind. “For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7-[inch] tablets will actually be a big portion of the market,” he said. “We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options.”

The high-level sniping underscores the brutally competitive nature of the smartphone market. RIM’s position near the top is under assault by Apple, whose iPhone is making inroads in the corporate market and whose iPad has been in stores since April. Meanwhile, Apple itself is being challenged by fast-selling phones built on Google Inc.’s Android software, which competes for the attention of developers with Apple’s iOS software for the iPhone and iPad.

Interesting when the big boys war in the open.