iOS versus Android? You’ve Got Better Things to Worry about

by Chris Seibold Sep 17, 2010

During Apple's last press event Steve Jobs mentioned that Apple was selling 230,000 iOS devices a day. Why would Steve give away such delicious info? Because earlier Google had announced it was activating 200,000 Android devices a day. Steve noted that Apple suspected Google was counting upgrades. Google responded by saying "nuh-uh!"

Corporate spat on! The Apple fans were satisfied, 30,000 more devices per day! The Android backers are also mightily pleased: at the rate Android is growing it will soon pass the iOS! No one stopped to note that Google and Apple are really racing to be the runner-up because Nokia is way, way out in front.

Then Gartner rolled out some projections. The initial glee at iOS sales soon turned to uncomfortable fidgeting because the projections from Gartner predicted that Apple would only have 14% of the smart phone market in 2014. 14% is no way to dominate an industry!

A quick word about Gartner's predictions: forget about them. The way Gartner does this stuff (as far as a dispassionate observer can tell) is to extrapolate current trends, work in some voodoo and excrete a number. It is a lot like noting that the sun is going down and there will be an accompanying temperature drop. Plugging that data into a spreadsheet leaves you with the inescapable conclusion that by Tuesday we all might as well sit on sticks because everyone will have turned into peoplesicles. This may be a mistaken notion, the analysis could be much more nuanced and subtle. If so, someone will surely point us towards a 2005 prognostication showing that the unannounced iPhone would hold significant percentage of the market in 2009.

You're smart so you intuitively know that forecasts are like gambling on the spread, guesses at best, but guesses people use to move their money around. Not everyone is as insightful. Some worry that what we are looking at is a repeat of the Mac versus Windows war that never really happened. Those same people are concerned that unless the iPhone comes to Verizon a few hours after you read this the iPhone will be a marginal device in a few years.

Blame the success of the iPod and iTunes for the worries. The iPod had a plethora of challengers and every single one of them failed. With iTunes it seemed like every single company with a website tried to sell music and not a single one gained any mainstream traction. Certainly, domination seemed the norm for products created after Steve Jobs' return. With the iPhone things are different. The iPhone went huge but, egads, another company blatantly ripped off the iPhone's OS and that company is making real headway in the market. It's happening all over again! Oh no!

Except the people who are worrying that the iPhone will turn out like the Mac are worrying for all the wrong reasons. Let's start with the most obvious difference: The iPhone is already much more popular than the Mac ever was. People have it in there heads that, at some indiscriminate point in the past, the Mac ruled. That never happened. The Macs biggest slice of the pie was a meager 12% in 1992. Compare that number with the 87% market share held by PCs at the time and you'll come to the only logical conclusion that the OS wars never really were. The idea did get play because people love a battle, but the PC Mac competition had more in common with rooting for your favorite pee wee football team if they were playing the Indianapolis Colts than it had with an actual competition.

The second big difference is that the smart phones are not analogous to the PC ecosystem of yesteryear. When you're thinking of changing platforms in the 90's you had to consider the software more than the computer. A really souped up machine might set you or your employer back five grand. Those copies of Autocad and Photoshop were worth tens of thousands. Throw in Word and all the other programs every computer had taking up space on the hard drive and the hardware was an almost inconsequential cost.

With smart phones the hardware cost is still almost inconsequential not because of the software but because of the contract with the service provider. People will be far more willing to switch platforms. Does this help Android (available everywhere) or the iPhone (AT&T and select carriers abroad) more?  It surely bodes well for the iPhone in the long run. What would be interesting to see is how the Android phones are selling at AT&T but that company isn't telling.

The final, and most important point, is that market share only matters when it impacts you. Unless you own stock in Google or Apple the market share war amounts to a grudge match between two really, really rich guys. Yes, both companies want your dough and both companies love the fact that you're so invested in the respective success of the platforms they provide that you get bent out of shape about it. In the end, it shouldn't matter to you. Unless you just really love the Apple logo there is no reason to hope that Apple dominates the smart phone market.

The objection at this point is obvious: "If Apple doesn't dominate the market what will happen to my iPhone?" What, you hate your Mac or something? OS X is a vibrant platform and OS X has a smallish market share. Market share doesn't matter as long as the product is profitable and the iPhone will be profitable for Apple for the foreseeable future. So quit worrying about the market share of iOS, you've got better things to stress over.

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  • I am actually a fan of Google but when it comes with mobile devices I prefer Apple’s devices. Apple Inc. contains lots of products that are truly dominating the market. On August 9, 2011, Apple briefly surpassed ExxonMobil to become the world’s most valuable company and surpassed them again the following day. GAR Labs

    chesterfoster had this to say on Aug 21, 2011 Posts: 27
  • I really am not that knowledgeable with regards to the operating system, but one thing is for sure, I am comfortable using Microsoft Windows.  Before, and I mean way back 1980s, Apple is the most popular. However, things changed since then. As we all say, the rest is history. Windows is presently the hot item and for the obvious reason. It is more user friendly. - Mario Romano

    Alan Shortall had this to say on Aug 29, 2011 Posts: 35
  • The good thing here is that it is a no-brainer: there are no options to choose from. undermount kitchen sink

    Undermount Kitchen Sinks had this to say on Sep 01, 2011 Posts: 11
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