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LeEco CEO says Apple is 'outdated' and losing momentum

Jia Yueting says Cupertino has 'fallen behind' the competition

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The CEO of LeEco, the Chinese company formerly known as LeTV, thinks Apple isn't as innovative as it once was, characterizing the iPhone maker as "outdated" in an interview with CNBC this week. Jia Yueting made the comments in an interview on Monday, days after LeEco announced its first electric car, called LeSee, which it sees as a rival to the Tesla Model X. Speaking with CNBC, Jia said that the iPhone has "fallen behind" the competition in recent years, pointing to declining sales momentum in China.

"In China you can see that Apple has already begun to lose the rapid sales growth momentum," Jia said. "One of the most important reasons is that Apple's innovation has become extremely slow. For example, a month ago Apple launched the iPhone SE. From an insiders' perspective, this is a product with a very low level of technology."

Jia also took aim at the Cupertino-based company during an address to the China Entrepreneur Club. "Apple only has individual apps. This was the right choice during the first generation of mobile net, when CPUs and the mobile network speeds were not fast enough," Jia said. "However now we're moving into the next era of mobile internet, these problems no longer exist. Moreover, having separate apps just means great obstacles in the user experience. We hope to break down these obstacles."

"We believe the next generation of mobile internet will be more open, more ecosystem-oriented instead of being a closed loop... Ironically, Apple's over-dominance, lack of internet-thinking and the closed off nature of its systems, all hindered innovation in the internet mobile industry," Jia said.

LeEco, commonly referred to as the "Netflix of China," makes a broad range of products, including smartphones, TVs, and mountain bikes. Jia has not shied from taking on Apple in the past; last year, he posted an ad for LeTV that compared Apple to Adolf Hitler, describing the company as an "arrogant regime" that embraces "tyranny."

Apple will announce its first quarter earnings on Tuesday, and is expected to see a decline in iPhone sales for the first time ever.