Google Inc.'s new cellphone has gotten a winning endorsement from Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Wozniak, a self-proclaimed "gadget freak" who left Apple in 1987, remains one of the biggest fans of its products. He stood in line in 2007 to buy the first iPhone because he couldn't wait for Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs to send him one.
He didn't have to wait for the Nexus One. Google Inc. executive Andy Rubin gave one to him.
Wozniak first praised the phone this month at an NBC station in the Bay Area. Asked what his current favorite gadget was, Wozniak told education show host Jessica Aguirre: "The latest one. It's a non-Apple product. It's one that just came out yesterday."
That plug got the blogs buzzing. By designing its own phone, Google has raised the stakes in its budding rivalry with Apple. Wozniak, who plays Segway polo and collects gadgets by the truckload, is an influential -- if quirky -- figure in Silicon Valley with a significant following because of the pivotal role he played in the personal computer revolution.
Wozniak quickly clarified that he had not hung up the iPhone. In fact, he said, he carries two at all times. He fields so many questions about mobile phones that he tests them all, even the BlackBerry, which he made his primary phone for four months. He estimated that he has owned about 100 mobile phones over the last two decades.
"I've got six phones on me right now," he said. "Of the six, three are very good phones: the iPhone, the [Motorola] Droid and the Nexus One."
As for the Nexus One? "I was impressed right away," Wozniak said.
Much as he likes Google's phone, Wozniak said he will like it a whole lot better when it's offered with a Verizon Wireless service plan. And if he were to find himself stranded on a desert island or the set of "Dancing With the Stars," he would want to have his iPhone with him. (Wozniak was a contestant on the ABC show last year and danced with Karina Smirnoff. One judge compared his performance to a "Teletubby going mad.")
The iPhone "doesn't let me down," Wozniak said. "Maybe because I am so used to it."
As for the tablet computer that, rumor has it, Apple is slated to announce next week? He'll stand in line for that too.
"Obviously I am going to buy it and experience it to see if it fits into my life," he said. "Do I need it in between my laptop and my iPhone? It would have to be very special, and probably only Apple can do it."