NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple (DELL - Get Report) kicked off the second week of this earnings season, with Steve Jobs making a rare but eventful appearance during the tech giant's fourth-quarter conference call.
As usual, Apple sailed past Wall Street's estimates, but, in a surprise move, Jobs grasped the opportunity to launch a tirade against Google (GOOG), Research In Motion (RIMM) and the upcoming crop of 7-inch tablets.
The Apple CEO boasted that iPhone sales have surpassed RIM's BlackBerries, adding, "I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future."
Clearly warming to his theme, Jobs went on to critique the Google Android movement, calling it messy and rife with too many challenges for developers and too many choices for users. Jobs then went on to discredit the "avalanche" of tablets set to invade the market, citing the inferiority of offerings with 7-inch screens.> > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll This was certainly a busy week for Apple, and Jobs was back in the spotlight on Wednesday, when the company launched new versions of the MacBook Air and a new Mac OS called Lion. Apple shares closed down $2.05, or 0.66%, at $307.47 on Friday.
Not to be outdone, Apple tablet rivals HP (HPQ - Get Report) and Dell (DELL - Get Report) added flesh to the bones of their own strategies this week. HP unveiled its Slate 500 device, a Windows 7 offering aimed primarily at business users, while Dell gave TheStreet a sneak preview of its Inspiron Duo, a tablet/netbook hybrid primed for launch in December. Dell, which is preparing to launch a major ad campaign targeted at consumers, is also planning to roll out new smartphones over the coming months as well as a new family of laptops aimed at creative professionals.
Earnings season really got into its stride this week and all eyes were on tech bellwether IBM (IBM) on Monday when the Armonk, New York-based computer company lifted its full-year guidance and reported a third-quarter earnings beat. IBM shares closed down 16 cents, or 0.11%, at $139.67 in Friday trading. Online retail giant Amazon (AMZN) was also on deck , beating profit and revenue forecasts on Thursday, although soft margins weighed on the company's stock. Amazon shares rallied on Friday, however, closing up $4.16, or 2.52%, at $169.13. Networking specialist Riverbed (RVBD), however, was an even bigger gainer. Riverbed's stock surged more than 18%, to close at $54.27 on Friday following strong third-quarter results and a slew of upgrades. The broader tech sector enjoyed a more modest advance, though with the Nasdaq closing up 0.8%.
In the telecom sector, rivals AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ ) also reported results. AT&T posted its numbers on Thursday, citing e-readers and Apple iPhones as big drivers of third-quarter revenue. The telco also announced net adds of 2.6 million wireless subscribers during the quarter. Verizon followed suit on Friday, saying it added 997,000 new wireless customers, compared with 1.2 million customers a year before. Phone makers were also busy this week, and Ericsson (ERIC), got a boost from a profit beat on Friday despite a slight sequential dip in sales. Rival Nokia (NOK) posted quarterly results on Thursday. The hardware firm announced plans to cut staff and said it lost more market share in the third quarter because of parts shortages in its lower priced phones.