Steve Wozniak (iPhone 5 launch, Apple Store Brisbain)

One needs not ask Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak twice to comment on Apple’s moves. For better or worse, he always makes headlines, sometimes by dissing Siri or the iPhone 4S battery life and other times by firing pot shots at Apple for not building a phablet of its own. Speaking at the Business Week Best Brand Awards yesterday, the Apple employee #1 discussed the iPhone, Samsung and competition.

Though an Apple loyalists, Woz isn’t gullible and certainly doesn’t shy away from confessing that competition has caught up with Apple. Other vendors did pass the iPhone in certain features and Samsung, he says, is a big competitor now.

In fact, he openly says that the South Korean conglomerate currently makes “great products”. But worry not: the top geek loves the company he co-founded and “if Apple made lousy products, I would not be in line”. Jump past the fold for other noteworthy quotes and a nice video…

MacRumors passes along a Wiwo.de report.

In case you were wondering, Wozniak proclaimed himself an Apple loyalist:

I am proud that we have such loyal fans. But this loyalty is not given, the need to have the best products is always there.

However, competition has caught up with Apple, he warns:

Currently we are in my opinion somewhat behind with features in the smartphone business. Others have caught up. Samsung is a big competitor. But precisely because they are currently making great products.

Competition benefits us all and if the rumors are true, survival in the cell phone space is about to get a whole lot tougher.

Korean site Digital Daily reports that Samsung may add a new feature to its upcoming Galaxy S IV smartphone that will allow for non-touch gesture-based navigation throughout the operating system, ignoring unintended touches and also requiring significantly less power than before.

samsung-galaxy-s4-concept

Previous reports claimed the Galaxy S IV will include a five-inch full HD display, a 1.8GHz eight-core Exnoys 5 Octa processor with 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera, wireless charging, LTE, NFC and more.

The device is seen building an iPhone-like hype ahead of a rumored March introduction.

As for himself standing in the line, Wozniak explains:

The launch of a new Apple product is for me like a big, major concert which you absolutely must attend personally. It’s history. Sure, I could order online or call the store manager so that they smuggled me in the back door.

But that would be nothing. No, I will have the experience like any normal customer. But one thing is certain. If Apple made lousy products, I would not be in line.

The Apple engineer re-iterated how the company from its inception focused on milking the premium segment of the market rather than blindly pursuing market share.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76aM96OUwlg

He acknowledged that Steve Jobs’s passing was bad news for Apple on many levels and opined it’s still too early to tell how the company will do without its iconic founder for “it usually takes at least two years to come up with fresh things”.

The ultimate geek, Woz is currently traveling around the world and giving lectures about his experience as an Apple founder, entrepreneur and engineer. Plus, he’s also a chief scientist at storage startup Fusion-io.

Do read the whole interview if you have time (Google Translate is your friend), there’s tons more other quotes and interesting observations.

Woz also talked last week at the Georgia Insitute of Technology about emerging technologies like self-driving cars, natural language recognition, AI machines akin to IBM’s Watson and more.

Here, check out a few short clips that just went live on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyof5HgDDjc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJdpxUjh4uQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiXblCHvFYM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpUtI79urL8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tFKb_dar8k

And your two cents?

Has Apple really fallen “somewhat behind” in smartphones or is Wozniak exaggerating?