The Smartphone Wars: The Stages of Apple-Cultist Denial

It has been quite humorous watching the acolytes of the iPhone sink into deeper and deeper denial as Android blows through obstacles at ever-accelerating speed. It would require an epic poet, or perhaps a psychiatrist specializing in religious mania, to do full justice to this topic. But I will attempt a brief tour through the more prominent delusions here.

Back in the beginning – I remember first hearing this just weeks after the G-1 shipped (I got mine on day 3) – There was “Android will never gain any significant market share because the user experience is inferior.”

The latest fashionable form of denial is “It doesn’t matter that Android is now the #1-selling smartphone in the U.S. and worldwide, Apple is making money hand over fist.” Heh. What this actually says to any long-time tech-industry watcher is: disruption from below succeeded, Apple marketshare and revenue collapse coming in 3, 2, 1…

Ah, but let us consider some of the intermediate delusions. “Developers won’t write for Android because the Apple app store already has too big a network-effect advantage.” That was an early one, more recently replaced by “Nobody’s making any money writing for Android.” Somewhere, the Angry Birds crew is laughing at that one all the way to the bank.

Remember “The iPhone 4 is coming! It will rule OK and whip all you whimpering Android weenies back to your fetid holes!” I recall that one being quite the favored invocatory chant around this time last year. It was, of course, followed by the Antennagate fiasco and the utter failure of the iPhone 4 to slow Android’s rise even enough to show up as a speed bump on comScore’s 2010 quarterlies.

Blaming Android’s rise on the AT&T carrier exclusive had always been a popular evasion. After the iPhone 4 failed to deliver salvation, the faithful switched to “The iPhone 4V is coming! It will rule OK, etc.” Alas, sales out of the gate were unimpressive. Two months later it appears that the iPhone 4V is now being outsold on the Verizon network not just by Android in aggregate but by a single Android phone – the HTC Thunderbolt.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Apple boosters assured us repeatedly that what consumers wanted was slick industrial design, iTunes, and the close, comforting embrace of the walled garden – not all that icky, chaotic openness and freedom and choice. They’ll pay extra to have Steve Jobs tell them what they really like!” chorused the cultists. The consumers…disagreed.

Ah, yes. And do you remember when version fragmentation was the sure doom of Android? This one was particularly popular in early 2010, when the 2.x versions hadn’t completely replaced 1.6 on smartphones. Having learned almost nothing from that go-round, the Jobsians are now singing the same tune in a minor key about Android tablets.

In fact, now that Android has blown the doors off Apple zooming past it in the smartphone market, the belief that Apple can somehow make the tablet market come out differently from smartphones is probably now the most cherished of the Apple fan’s delusions.

One popular version of this myth is Apple cleverly bought up all the parts, preventing anyone else from ramping up production of inexpensive tablets for years!” Uh huh. Anyone except every single electronics company on the Pacific Rim, seemingly all of whom are piling into the Android tablet market like sharks smelling blood in the water. Archos, Heropad, Samsung, eLocity, Viewsonic, scores of others – it’s nearly a full-time job just tracking the product announcements.

It’s all quite like the mid-2009 explosion in inexpensive Android phones. Yeah, sure, no threat to Apple’s marketshare at all there. Low-end disruption? Never heard of it. iPad 2, superior user experience, quality leader, la-la-la-la-la-la-la. One only hopes that Apple’s product planners are less prone to self-delusion than the company’s fans.

126 thoughts on “The Smartphone Wars: The Stages of Apple-Cultist Denial

  1. An inferior user experience never seemed to be a problem for Windows; it never pays to underestimate the effect of secondary stakeholders (in the OS market, system OEMs; here, the carriers).

    I have to say that I found this post quite funny–mostly because I literally did not know the iPhone V existed. Up until right now, I thought people were talking about an upcoming release. Just the comparison with the wall-to-wall coverage of the iPhone 4 says all that needs to be.

  2. I am still puzzled by these “fanboyz”. Why can these people not live with the idea that there are others who do not like iPhones, or cannot afford them?

    These fanboyz must project their own personal likes and circumstances onto all humans. Why even dream of every Chinese or Indian shelling out a years salary for an iPad rather than a months salary for a cheap tablet? Why assume those Vietnamese and Nigerians like the exact same design as Europeans or USA Americans?

    When I sit in a bus, I see school girls using blackberries (they are quite popular here), adults using iPhones, Nokia’s, or Android phones. I see billboards advertising Android phones (with small android cartoons). And all these people currently not on Apple, somehow, yearn for an iPhone 5, and only an iPhone 5?

    Is this some kind of schizophrenia, or similar delusions? I cannot imagine they are actually paid to proselytize, as Apple has better PR people than that.

  3. Well, I have an iPhone. I don’t have to go in to “denial” just to know that if I switch to Android at the moment I will not be able to do everything with my smartphone that I currently do with my iPhone.
    In the end it all comes down to apps. I really like the look of the new LG and Samsung offerings, but until equivalents for all my iPhone apps exist I can’t really consider them.
    I also don’t have to be an Apple Cultist to state that it is quite remarkable to grab such a market share with basically one single model.
    In some European markets sales figures for iPhones are still higher than all android models combined. In Europe iPhone basically means smartphone and that is quite striking given that Europe usually lags the US when it comes to getting the latest iPhone models, but leads the US when it comes to getting the latest Android handsets. So the mobile phone market does seem to operate very differently on both sides of the Atlantic.

  4. History repeats.

    Apple vs PC. Now with Apple vs Android. Outcome exactly the same. I expect iPhone to end up at less than 10 percent of the market as the cheaper wins out in the end.

  5. 1. It’s not clear, in any of your posts, why you are taking so much glee in the fact that an inferior-quality OS is gaining ground in the market. At least I assume you agree that it is inferior, although you never have explicitly addressed the quality of iOS vs. Android, you just give alternate reasons why Android will win. For my 2 cents, I don’t think apple will ‘win’ the war, and I never have thought that, but I don’t think a repeat of the Windows vs. Apple desktop OS war is anything to be celebrated. Not even if the winner is ‘Open Source’ (and it is questionable how open Android will be by the time they have 90% share, or how open anything is when phone manufacturers can prevent you from upgrading the system software). I say that as a person who had windows PCs all the way through that process — Windows is a piece of crap and computing as a whole suffered as a result of its dominance.

    Having said all this I think your analysis is flawed and an exact repeat of the Windows situation is exceedingly unlikely. I think the model for the market is videogame consoles, not desktop OSes. For one thing, within 2 years most people will use their phones mostly for games, in terms of hours-spent-per-device.

    2. Didn’t the Angry Birds guys say that sales were very poor on Android compared to iOS? And I think Epic’s Tim Sweeney just recently said there was no money to be made on Android. This situation will probably change as Android gains market share, but it hasn’t changed yet.

  6. 1 – addendum: The other thing of course, is that a big part of Windows’ leverage was that business owners only want to support one OS. There is an enormous consolidation pressure in the business environment that just doesn’t exist in cellphones. During the Apple-PC war, documents, business software and networking were just not compatible between Mac and PC. But to the extent that people use their phones for business, it’s on email, and on the web, and maybe document reading, all of which are perfectly compatible between Apple, RIM, Palm and Google devices. As a vocal proponent of open standards, it boggles my mind that you have failed to factor in this difference.

    When iOS didn’t support Exchange email servers, it was common enough to hear of businesses insisting their employees have a blackberry. But now, it’s very common to see mixed-OS environments in the workplace (on phones, not on computers).

  7. why you are taking so much glee in the fact that an inferior-quality OS is gaining ground in the market.

    You’d have to define what you mean by inferior quality. By at least one quality metric, iOS is closed therefore quality = 0. Thus the inferior quality OS is remaining stagnant when it should be booming.

    I’m assuming you actually mean usability(“design”) as quality, therefore see below.

    you never have explicitly addressed the quality of iOS vs. Android,

    Actually he has through comments plenty of times. From my perspective (he can correct me if i’m wrong) it sums up to iOS may be subjectively better, but not enough better to actually mean anything without preconceptions.

    and it is questionable how open Android will be by the time they have 90% share

    Don’t believe this FUD. If you read this whole saga on A&D you’d see that it’s very much in google’s interest to keep Android open. If android gets closed then it loses it’s advantage with the manufacturers.

    I think the model for the market is videogame consoles, not desktop OSes. For one thing, within 2 years most people will use their phones mostly for games, in terms of hours-spent-per-device.

    Why? Why would people suddenly stop looking at web pages and doing other communication tasks on their communication device? Why is a small, battery limited, small screen, technology constrained device going to replace the multicore, multigpu power guzzling monster thats plugged into my widescreen TV.

    Didn’t the Angry Birds guys say that sales were very poor on Android compared to iOS?

    No, they said they’re making a projected $1 Million per month with 80% retention(Retention based on successive updates downloaded). Actually the quote you’re thinking about is essentially that you don’t make money from straight sales on android but through advertising.

    There is an enormous consolidation pressure in the business environment that just doesn’t exist in cellphones.

    There is an analog in the mobile space. App Stores. the more apps you have purchased in one app store, the more resistant you are to moving to an incompatible one. The new store may not have what you use and even if it does, you’d have to buy it again.

  8. >Don’t believe this FUD. If you read this whole saga on A&D you’d see that it’s very much in google’s interest to keep Android open. If android gets closed then it loses it’s advantage with the manufacturers.

    Nah, it’s main advantage with the manufacturers are 1) that it’s free for them to use, and 2) it’s *available* for them to use (unlike iOS), and 3) it’s sufficiently good from the consumer’s perspective (unlike WinPho 6, Symbian, etc). Open is a plus for them, since it means they can put in their own branding and sell crapware placements (like on Windows desktops) but it’s by no means the main draw.

    >Why? Why would people suddenly stop looking at web pages and doing other communication tasks on their communication device?

    Nope, I don’t believe I said that they would. I said they will spend more hours playing games than doing these other tasks. There are a whole range of reasons for this, but here are two: games don’t require a cellphone connection, and games can be designed to be looked at on a 4″ screen.

    >Why is a small, battery limited, small screen, technology constrained device going to replace the multicore, multigpu power guzzling monster thats plugged into my widescreen TV.

    This is an idiotic question. Does your widescreen TV fit in your pocket (if so, it may be time to upgrade it).

    > There is an analog in the mobile space. App Stores. the more apps you have purchased in one app store, the more resistant you are to moving to an incompatible one.

    Yes, but native apps don’t matter for business. As I said above, business on a phone takes place in the form of email, the web, and (sometimes) document reading. I can count maybe three businesses that use native phone apps as part of their core workflow. Apple uses a native app to process credit card payments in store (I think), but even they use a web app to check people in for support.

  9. @Bennnett
    “Nah, it’s main advantage with the manufacturers are 1) that it’s free for them to use, and 2) it’s *available* for them to use (unlike iOS), and 3) it’s sufficiently good from the consumer’s perspective (unlike WinPho 6, Symbian, etc).”

    Sorry, wrong, no cigar. The main advantage is that there is no entity that can put a tool booth on the OS. So there is no one who can come knocking at the door to cream off the profits (iOS and WP7) nor is the developer of the OS a direct competitor (Nokia or Apple). Furthermore, the developer of the OS make their money with business that are indifferent to the phone market (search). Neither the networks nor the hardware makers have any connections to Google’s revenue stream.

    In short, Android is the only OS that leaves the handset makers and the networks alone to make as much money and profit as they want and can. All the other parties involved in the end want to get *all* the profits the handset makers, developers, and networks can generate.

    @Bennet
    “I said they will spend more hours playing games than doing these other tasks. ”

    Stating the obvious. But the more interesting prediction is that in future we will use our phones as our central computing engine. Screens, mice, and keyboards will be used where needed, but we will carry our data and computer with us. That is the point of “the future of computing is mobile”.

    @Bennet
    “Yes, but native apps don’t matter for business.”

    You bet they will! All these bar code readers, navigators, and ebook readers are just the beginning.

  10. Nah, it’s main advantage with the manufacturers are 1) that it’s free for them to use, and 2) it’s *available* for them to use (unlike iOS), and 3) it’s sufficiently good from the consumer’s perspective (unlike WinPho 6, Symbian, etc). Open is a plus for them, since it means they can put in their own branding and sell crapware placements (like on Windows desktops) but it’s by no means the main draw.

    But Open does guarantee #1 and #2. If Google were to close Android then the smart money prediction is that they’re going to start charging rent or limiting who can use it.

    No argument on #3.

    Nope, I don’t believe I said that they would. I said they will spend more hours playing games than doing these other tasks. There are a whole range of reasons for this, but here are two: games don’t require a cellphone connection, and games can be designed to be looked at on a 4? screen.

    Does your widescreen TV fit in your pocket (if so, it may be time to upgrade it).

    I think you missed the thrust of my questions. (I don’t blame you, my quick comments have a tendency to be cryptic)

    The smartphone market isn’t particularly new anymore, my assumption is that, unless something changes, the current uses of smartphones are likely to dominate trends. And research suggests that people spend the majority of their time communicating through email, text and phone calls with the next runner up being browsing the internet.

    What you’re suggesting is that something is going to change to take games from between 2.5 and 5% to >50%. Why? I don’t see us spending less time communicating with our phones as more people start using them (if anything, network effects would suggest the opposite). Your two reasons (screen size and network connectivity) aren’t going to get any worse and in some cases are likely to get a whole lot better.

    The extension of what I read you saying (” the model for the market is videogame consoles”) is that they’ll gain the perception of being video consoles and compete on that model, thus gaining the extra usage by displacing video consoles. But that model is one of Power, more gigaflops, more polys, more interactions, more exclusive franchises. And the mobile is a poor second choice on the first 2, marginal on #3 and doesn’t seem to be playing the way that would suggest #4 (the big name mobile titles tend to be the first to get converted to be pan-platform). If anything I see the videogame console model moving more towards the cellphone model (especially in terms of mobile usage, the next PSP will apparantly use a 3G connection).

    Yes, but native apps don’t matter for business. As I said above, business on a phone takes place in the form of email, the web, and (sometimes) document reading.

    The time of business dominating the push for smartphones has pretty much ended, just as the time of businesses dominating the push for better PCs ended a long time ago (oddly enough this is perhaps some support for your games theory, since thats what replaced business use in the PC market). When IT departments had to come up with a policy surrounding attaching iPhones to the network (as opposed to saying “Here, the CEO said you have to read email constantly on this piece of toast with a keyboard on it”) business needs stopped driving smartphones.

    But your argument (again seen from my perspective) was that businesses didn’t want to support multiple operating systems and now they don’t care. My point is that rather than being about business saying we don’t want to support this, it’s about a user not wanting to acclimatize to a new App Store. Not exactly the same, but an analog to the same kind of OS inertia.

  11. Mrf. Eric, do I qualify as an Apple fanboy? Or an iPhone one?

    I’m in the “it doesn’t matter what the market share turns out being as long as Apple keeps printing money” camp. AAPL wouldn’t be one of the hottest stocks on the market long-term if Wall Street thought it was sitting on a bubble.

    I’m still a Mac user, and an iPhone owner – with a shiny new iPhone 4 on AT&T – because it just works. Paul’s Android phone falls into that category, to be sure, but I’ve had that capability ever since a couple of months after the original iPhone came out. I’ve also got a lot of money sunk into iPhone apps, especially several for aviation. Finally, the iPhone integrates tightly with OS X, and that makes life much easier. Switching just doesn’t make sense for me.

    As long as I’m on an OS X desktop/laptop, there’s very little reason for me to switch to an Android phone. Yes, it’ll cost me $300 instead of $100 every couple of years to keep current. I think the benefits are worth the cost.

    Even if the iPhone finds its level at the same point Apple’s computer market share sits, Apple is still going to be printing money, and Apple’s developers will still do well. There’s plenty of room in the market for them.

  12. AAPL wouldn’t be one of the hottest stocks on the market long-term if Wall Street thought it was sitting on a bubble.

    OTOH, a bubble has to be unacknowledged pretty much by definition, or it pops.

    Even if the iPhone finds its level at the same point Apple’s computer market share sits, Apple is still going to be printing money, and Apple’s developers will still do well. There’s plenty of room in the market for them.

    I agree, but that’s a big “if”—in no small part because one of the reasons Apple’s share of PCs (especially laptops) is precisely because Apple’s made sure everyone knows that Macs can, if necessary, run Windows; even when virtualization’s just a security blanket, it vastly eases the decision to buy a Mac. The iPhone will certainly stay around as at least a niche player, but app development is very quickly moving toward tools that allow developers to write an app once and build it for different platforms; every one of the mobile hackers I know has either moved there already or is seriously playing with the tools. Once the app gap is essentially closed, it’s going to be a hard fight for Apple to maintain even a Mac percentage in the phone market.

  13. Google has no incentive to “close” Android. Ever. They have the value chain set up so that they don’t make money on the software itself (as is typical with open source).

    And I’m still loving my G1 (upgraded to Android 2.2 thanks to the fine folks at CyanogenMod). I’m hoping that those sub-$100 single-chip smartphones start showing up around this time next year when I go off contract.

    Thanks, ESR — there’s no *big* news here, but it’s a nice summary and dismissal of all the denialism our iFriends keep trying to pull off, all in one convenient place.

  14. @Jay Maynard
    “Mrf. Eric, do I qualify as an Apple fanboy? Or an iPhone one?”

    I cannot speak for others, but I understood that the fanboys eric was discussing were the ones who predicted the fall of Android, or better, it to be “nipped in the bud”. Especially those who insisted that the iPhone/iPad would dominate the market now and in the foreseeable future.

    I think I have seen no comments or posts that indicated that anyone was worried about people liking iPhones, Apple selling iPhones, or even Apple making shiploads of profits. So I do not know why you think anyone would object to you having fun with your iPhone?

  15. >Mrf. Eric, do I qualify as an Apple fanboy? Or an iPhone one?

    No. You’re actually rational. You don’t seem to have an emotional craving for Android to fail.

  16. >What you’re suggesting is that something is going to change to take games from between 2.5 and 5% to >50%.

    People have always lied on these surveys. In the 1990s, if memory serves me right, Intel ran a series of surveys to ask what people were going to use their PCs for. 5% said games. When they finally ran an observational study several years later, 85% were using their computers primarily for games.

  17. @Bennett
    “5% said games. When they finally ran an observational study several years later, 85% were using their computers primarily for games.”

    I do not think I need a survey for that. Just watching people in public transport. Whether it is at home or abroad, I always see people playing with their phones. And ig they are not texting/emailng, then they are doing some game.

    And that is what you need a smartphone for: Chat with friends or playing games. Is there any other aim in life? ;-)

  18. Revenue/Profits don’t neccesarily drop with marketshare. But you know that.

    I have to take some issue with “Antennagate fiasco” though. Surely that’s running close to the Android fanboy line? (No-one in Australia had any issue with the iPhone 4 Antenna)

  19. Jay Maynard Says:
    > AAPL wouldn’t be one of the hottest stocks on the market long-term if Wall Street thought it was sitting on a bubble.

    This is a poor data point from which to judge the long term prospects of a company. Wall Street (and the entire US financial industry) is famous for their inability to recognize bubbles.

  20. 2. Didn’t the Angry Birds guys say that sales were very poor on Android compared to iOS?

    No. According to this article (different, more current one than the last one I posted), sales are roughly even.

  21. >Once the app gap is essentially closed, it’s going to be a hard fight for Apple to maintain even a Mac percentage in the phone market.

    I think the app gap is already closed everywhere other than in DRMed movie and music streaming. The tools for write-once, run-on-both-phones may not be perfect yet, but it appears most of the serious app shops bit the bullet and started writing twice six months ago. They couldn’t just leave all that money on the table.

    DRMed video and music streaming isn’t a stable advantage, because the pressure not to leave the money from Android sales on the table is (as I have pointed out before) rising along with Android’s market share. The studios will probably start to crack once it reaches 55%, with the last holdouts capitulating at around 70%.

  22. It isn’t a walled garden if you can only talk through others in defined places through glass and legacy phone headsets, where you are locked in your little area most of the time, aren’t allowed “contraban”, and the doors are locked to keep you in whatever they say about keeping things out. “Jailbreaking” is a more accurate term than “walled garden”.

    The earlier post about the OODA loop being 4x faster for android is the key. If we get LTE or unmetered 4G, they won’t be on iPhone for another year. Hitting one home-run every year while the other team is getting walks or singles every month is a way to lose. The Xoom was released a bit early, but lets see what it does 3 months from now after a few upgrade cycles – the hardware looks solid.

    Apple does serve a useful purpose in that people accept them as an innovation leader – and they are. There were tablets before the iPad2. My nokias worked well for what I needed and even did flash!. But even if Nokia, Microsoft/Intel, HPalm, or Dell came out with a tablet with the SAME FEATURE SET AS THE IPAD, done as well, it would be ignored or be on the side because it wasn’t from Apple. Consider the iPad 1 – if anyone else came out with a tablet with non-replaceable battery, a less than 720p screen, very limited connections like no SD, no camera, current but not spectacular hardware, mostly scaled phone apps, etc. they would have been laughed at. Apple can make great industrial design encasing a mediocre hardware/software combo into something people will pay attention to.

    So the iPad2 is out. By summer-fall we should have multi (4) core ARM graphics accelerated chips which can combine to a real 720p or higher rez screen (why 1024 pixels across on the iPad? Why the crippled camera as only option? No GPS if you don’t get 3g). Apple has drawn a line that will last a year. In one or more features, android tablets will soon be available with that one killer feature (or two) the iPad won’t have – for at least a year but maybe not ever. Maybe it is size, connectivity, camera, controls, or something, even cost, but the “any color as long as it is black” will cause Apple problems like it did Ford about 100 years ago. They can keep moving the line, but instead of lasting almost a year, it is crossed in a few months.

    Meanwhile, we are watching the slow starvation death of Windows phone 7. The OODA loop again, but this time the carriers are preventing even the patch-tuesday monthly fixes. Nokia is NOT going to have a new, updated windows phone every 3 months. They couldn’t even do linux on their mostly open tablets every year!. Android at the app level can adapt every 2 weeks. WP7 is iOS done badly – As Paul Thurrott pointed out, when the iPhone first came out there were a flurry of small fixes and updates every few weeks. Even now the iOS minor digits increment every quarter. If Microsoft were smart, they would subsidize a $100 ARM based windows pad 7 wifi tablet if only to keep developers and buzz active. The XBox took forever to take off, but it eventually caught on. The last thing Microsoft needs for its credibility is for WP7 to join “plays for sure”, the Zune, the Kin, and other products that had big flashy intros and promptly went into a death-spiral, crashed, and burned. If you are very windows-centric, WP7 has some nice features, but will you wait a year for basic features and fixes to be updated? Even now WP7 is being looked at with the history – “wait until or see it catches on”. It is going the way of Palm and WebOS. Microsoft has enough cash to at least keep it from irrelevancy, but it needs to do something before WP7 devices sell at a discount to Palm WebOS phones.

    Although android might move downscale, I don’t think it will go into feature-phones, at least not beyond something simple. I have a very simple phone that I use as a phone. I don’t do web, video, or anything else – I have other devices for that including a mifi. I just need bluetooth headset/handsfree linkage, compact size, and a battery life that will last days, and it should be easy to dial. My phone-as-phone should be like a unix command line program.

    Another observation: a $500-$1000 (with accessories) ipad with non-replaceable battery, and the other defective by design hardware is only going to be purchased every 2 or more years. The $100 chinese Android tablets are disposable (some less than replacing an iPad/Pod/Phone battery!) and the apps easily transferred. Burner tablets anyone? Consider kids and seniors or other situations where it might be handled roughly. Cracked or dunked? Pull out the SD and/or restore from the cloud on another.

    As things move into the cloud, tablets will be a door to that data. I can see cheap tablets being sold at airports with GSM SIM with X megabytes data sold at airports, hotels, or other places. Apple is doing something with the big data center, but I don’t trust Warden Jobs.

    I need to add a gratuitous insult to that horrid program, iTunes, which is required to be dragged along on something to manage your iOS device. The old Palm(pilot)s needed hotsync. Your new baby iPad crys until it is attached to the mothership. Apple can’t or won’t free iOS from iTunes. (my pet example: I can’t delete audiobooks direclty on an iOS device, if I call them podcasts, I get the speed options, but it scrambles the order, and if I didn’t use the specific instance of iTunes to rip the CD I can’t combine the audiobook tracks). And with Apple’s app agreement, you aren’t allowed to replace any dysfunctionality.

    Kindle has the right model for now – the cached cloud. My library is in the cloud, but I check out or in a backpack full of media. At least until real (broadband) wireless is ubiquitous. And the media runs on anything and everything.

  23. @Glen Raphael:

    You may have to wait quite a while on that prediction, given that people are *still* camping out overnight to buy new iPads the moment they come in. (I saw the line at the SOHO store on Friday):

    http://www.cultofmac.com/resellers-are-still-camping-out-for-the-ipad-2/90648

    Apple has gotten a lot of mileage out of the whole “long lines are meaningful” meme. So much so that, when they got slammed for not having long lines on the iPhone v introduction, they vowed to insure long lines for the iPad 2. Steps they have taken included no preorders and managing pricing and production such that initial iPad 2 demand far outstripped supply.

    It will be interesting to see their quarterly for last quarter, but even more enlightening to see the one in three months — this is the quarter where, if overall gross margins are to be impacted, it will happen in a bad way.

  24. >Wall Street (and the entire US financial industry) is famous for their inability to recognize bubbles.

    Recognizing bubbles is easy. Recognizing when to get out is hard.

  25. K Says:
    > Well, I have an iPhone. I don’t have to go in to “denial” just to know that if I switch to Android at the moment I will not be able to do everything with my smartphone that I currently do with my iPhone. … but until equivalents for all my iPhone apps exist I can’t really consider them.

    I’m curious as to what apps are available for iPhone but not for Android?

  26. In the 1990s, if memory serves me right, Intel ran a series of surveys to ask what people were going to use their PCs for. 5% said games. When they finally ran an observational study several years later, 85% were using their computers primarily for games.

    Best part about that “survey”. It didn’t ask them squat. They gave the volunteers free phones that had usage trackers on them. Perhaps the biggest negative about the study was that the majority of its data was on windows mobile. HOWEVER, interestingly enough, the amount of gaming done was higher (as a percentage) on windows mobile than on Android (the extra going mostly to “productivity” apps on android). Still more than 4 times the amount of time was spent on comms and slightly more time spent on browsing even in windows mobile.

    Oh and based on drilling down into the guts of that report, i want to revise my suggestion of 2.5-5%. It resulted from me trying to think about other things at the same time. It SHOULD be closer to 10%.

    Anecdotally it wouldn’t surprise me if games was a little higher than 10% especially in small subgroups, but the 50% for comms seems about right (especially on average) and I don’t see that changing any time soon. As i said, I don’t see comms use going down and certainly not below games anytime soon.

  27. I do not think I need a survey for that. Just watching people in public transport. Whether it is at home or abroad, I always see people playing with their phones. And ig they are not texting/emailng, then they are doing some game.

    Reading news and watching videos are also big. For me, it’s not public transportation, but watching people at Starbucks. I’d say “coffee houses,” but this is Florida. We don’t seem to have very many good coffee houses.

  28. About the number of apps. That is purely a function of user base.

    More specifically, the number of apps is simply determined by the total market size in monetary units available for the developers. I formulated a rather opaque model here:

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2993#comment-299948

    Basically, the relative numbers of apps corresponds to the relative sizes of the user bases corrected for the money creamed off by the app-store toll booth. Everything else is irrelevant.

  29. So, Eric, where does the iOS zealot rate on your religocity scale? Do I need to start hording ammunition to use against the Jobsian Zombies? ;^)

  30. Steps they have taken included no preorders and managing pricing and production such that initial iPad 2 demand far outstripped supply.

    I’ve heard anecdotes that they’ve also sent larger tablet supplies to out of the way stores, limiting the supply to the central CBD stores (that are more likely to get press coverage). In particular, one of my housemates (a long term Apple fan) came back with the story that the central CBD Myer (high end department store) in Brisbane got a total of 60 iPad2s whereas the staff were saying that a gold cost branch got 100.

    Needless to say i’m a little skeptical of any “we can’t keep up with demand” PR right now but don’t have enough evidence to call shenanigans and reach for my broom.

  31. I’ve my new Android a few days now. Even with the stock skinning, carrier-locking and limiting it has enough ‘toy’ value that I can have a hard time putting it down. Part of that, I am sure, is simply that it is my first smartphone so it *can* be more than a clock/calculator that does phone calls. I have purposely limited my looking at apps to the freebies (partly because it means less to dig through, partly because I’m chea…, uh, thrifty) and I’m still looking through things. If there’s an “App gap” I don’t really notice it and unless something truly mind blowing comes up, I don’t care. And if something truly mind blowing does come up and only on iPhone (or other not-Andriod) initially? I wait a couple weeks. Big whoop.

  32. Basically, the relative numbers of apps corresponds to the relative sizes of the user bases corrected for the money creamed off by the app-store toll booth

    To be fair, both app stores take the same amount off at the gate. So that term is a wash regarding IPhone app store vs Android Market

  33. “I am still puzzled by these “fanboyz”. Why can these people not live with the idea that there are others who do not like iPhones, or cannot afford them?”

    It’s a Cult of Narcissism. They are damaged people who possess a pathological need for power.

  34. @JonB
    “To be fair, both app stores take the same amount off at the gate. So that term is a wash regarding IPhone app store vs Android Market”

    Indeed. I added that purely for completeness.

    Someone, say MS, might use a zero-cost app store, or even pay subsidies, for competitive reasons. It is easy to take that into account as a relative increase in the money available for apps. Currently, there is no real difference between iOS and Android on this point.

  35. @JB
    “It’s a Cult of Narcissism. They are damaged people who possess a pathological need for power.”

    More like to worship power, or worship “my team”.

    It is some time ago that I realized that even the worst “home team” that never wins a single game, will have ardent fans.

  36. > It’s a Cult of Narcissism. They are damaged people who possess a pathological need for power.

    Nah, that’s not it. They’re just insecure and possess a pathological need for external validation.

    I’ve written about this several times before, but there are people who will never go to lunch early, because they need to be at a place that a lot of other people are eating at. The whole reason (absent seller shenanigans) that “sniping” is a useful strategy on ebay is because there are a lot of people who want something, but can’t price it properly for themselves, and attach a higher price to it if they get in a bidding war.

    It’s easy to change restaurants to follow the cool kids, but a bit harder to change cellphone models to follow them when you’re locked into a contract. So the strategy shifts to trying very hard to convince the world that the cellphone you are carrying is (still) cool, in the hope that the cool kinds agree and decide to carry the same one.

  37. @Patrick Maupin
    “So the strategy shifts to trying very hard to convince the world that the cellphone you are carrying is (still) cool, in the hope that the cool kinds agree and decide to carry the same one.”

    Sound plausible to me. That would make it also sound desperate, as the cool kids will hardly listen to these whiners.

  38. @Winter
    > Sound plausible to me.

    Sounds plausible, but in the past I have noticed the exact same behavior from old Mac-heads towards Windows PCs (always without the ‘Windows’ qualifier, of course). Could be something about the specific culture and mindset that Apple appeals to. It reminds me of someone saying, for instance, ‘I ride a bike everywhere. It is a more efficient, elegant solution that works great for me. Therefore, we should get rid of all cars and make everyone ride bikes.’

    In the late 90′s early 00′s, I figured it was just reactions from having the underdog system. Now I’m less inclined to think so, and that Apple tends to attract a certain kind of person.

  39. > Sounds plausible, but in the past I have noticed the exact same behavior from old Mac-heads towards Windows PCs

    Not sure what you mean by “but.” It’s exactly the same phenomenon. These people don’t want to be doing what everybody else is, just what the cool kids are doing. They don’t want to go to McDonald’s. They claim it’s about the food, but if you taste the food at some of the trendy places they frequent you would realize that McDonald’s is better in quite a few cases.

    If it happens that, in the case of cellphones, the cool kids figure out that Android is just fine, then these people wasted a lot of money on a signifier that may be worse than meaningless — “I got stuck on Apple while the world went to Android.” They are going to do absolutely everything in their power to stop this from happening. Fortunately for them, there are probably enough of them around that, just as with the Mac, they can go on deluding themselves that they are the true cool ones, but right now it hurts to see people who they thought had taste, and who obviously have money, abandoning their preferred platform in droves. Once the market share situation stabilizes, expect the vitriol to recede and the vapid superciliousness to increase.

    > Now I’m less inclined to think so, and that Apple tends to attract a certain kind of person.

    Obviously, Jobs is a smart, cool, rich man who is passionate about good design, and this is inherently appealing to people who don’t know what to think for themselves. Apple is the anti-IBM. For the past several years, if you wanted to look trendy, you couldn’t go wrong buying Apple.

  40. > Not sure what you mean by “but.” It’s exactly the same phenomenon.

    That’s what I was driving at. There seems to be a lean in the discussion that this is a phone phenomenon when I see it more as a general Apple thing.

  41. You really seem to think that every tech market (caveat: with commodity players?) ends up like the PC industry.

    Maybe you’re right.

    Some asides: it’s pretty evident that money doesn’t flow as freely on Android, which only provided $80 million of the past year’s $2 billion in app revenue. While Angry Birds is doing alright, the rest of them don’t nearly have the scale required for that cash, and here Android is currently deficient. That gap can be closed though.

  42. @twilightomi, I completely agree with you. I’ve been reading all of Eric’s post on this with a bit of apprehension. Does all this technology stuff have to be winner take all? I really hope not.

    Like it or not, Apple did definitively change what it meant to be a smartphone. Android adapted and enhanced marvelously and is doing very well. This battle has been FANTASTIC when it comes to providing users with the experience THEY want. If the iPhone is reduced to a footnote in the market (read < 10% share), then my prediction is that this advancement will come to a screeching halt and well be forced back into that "we have a monopoly, so we don't have to innovate" hell exactly like the one Microsoft has subjected us to with respect to PC operating systems for the LAST TWO DECADES!!!

    Fucking monopolies DO NOT lead to innovation, and I think cheering for monopolies to come about is bad form.

    Sure, Eric, I understand your excitement. This is Linux's second big win (after the server space), and its a huge deal. It's effecitvely the only path that may eventually lead to PC Linux being a winning platform (based on your insightful prediction of the phone connecting to the screen and becoming your PC too). But, I really do want to see room for more than one winner at a time in the IT industry. Many many industries have grown to the point where there are multiple compelling products available for the consumer to choose from. GM doesn't make all the cars that people in the world use. Coke isn't the only soft drink in existence.

    Hopefully the standards, interfaces, and systems that people are using are approaching the standardization necessary to provide for a wide variety of interfaces (iphone, andriod, webos, and I suppose windows phone 7) to all exist in that ecosystem.

    I know you'll have all kinds of possible responses to this viewpoint, so I'll just simply state it this way.

    Would the tyranny of an android smartphone monopoly be any better than the tyranny of the windows PC monopoly? My answer is no, it wouldn't be.

  43. Jason Says:
    > monopolies DO NOT lead to innovation, and I think cheering for monopolies to come about is bad form.

    Who has been doing this? Not Eric or anyone else. See below.

    > Would the tyranny of an android smartphone monopoly be any better than the tyranny of the windows PC monopoly? My answer is no, it wouldn’t be.

    Yes, it would be noticeably, significantly better. Because there cannot ever be a true android monopoly. Remember Eric’s truism: the ability to fork the code is the crucial freedom. With android we have that and it would be very difficult to lose it. With MS or Apple we never had it and never will. MS and Apple constantly move in the direction of less freedom.

  44. The ‘app gap’ does raise one interesting question.

    For any sort of normal user, is there any practical difference between 175,000 and 350,000 apps available?

    I’ve added three or four to my phone. A flashlight app, a gps mapping app. Gps status looked interesting. And as an experiment for a possible inhouse app that I may do something with someday, I added a bar code reader.

    It’s hard to imagine the time, much less the ambition to cosider 175k apps. I note some of the articles that say ‘this one is cool’, or occasionally find a need or whim and go looking for something specific. My guess would be that with 175k apps, someone has done something at least pretty close to amost anything that might occure to me. The real trick will be finding the good one from among the dozen or more that might seem to address my need.

    A better index on the app store woudl be good — do suppose there’s an app for that — , :)

    Sounds like I’ll look into angry birds ‘real soon now’, you guys finally talked me into it.

  45. @Jason:

    To expand a bit on what Michael Hipp said, I’ll add that open source fosters significant competition, but usually at a much lower level than closed source. Tired of some UI mis-feature, or some app doing something really slow? Even if you’re not capable of fixing it yourself, or paying someone to fix it yourself, you might be able to convince someone else to fix it if you mention it the right way in the right place. Although there are competing packages (GNOME vs. KDE, for example, with fanboys on each side acting just like the Apple ones, btw), most competition (and cooperation) happens below that level.

    And if TPTB aren’t interested in accepting reasonable patches, they won’t be TPTB much longer. Kind of like the right to bear arms, the ability to fork code is one of those rights that derives so much power from its mere existence that it seldom has to be exercised to the fullest extent.

  46. >If the iPhone is reduced to a footnote in the market (read < 10% share), then my prediction is that this advancement will come to a screeching halt and well be forced back into that “we have a monopoly, so we don’t have to innovate” hel

    Why do you think that? Remember, Android is open source. If Google doesn’t continue to innovate after Apple’s share crashes…somebody else will fork the code and run with it.

  47. >It’s hard to imagine the time, much less the ambition to cosider 175k apps. I note some of the articles that say ‘this one is cool’, or occasionally find a need or whim and go looking for something specific.

    That sounds like my pattern, too.

  48. It sounds you guys just don’t use apps much.

    It’s not a big deal, like any other material good or opportunity. You tend not to care about it until you already care about it. I wouldn’t be using Twitter or RSS today if it wasn’t for Instapaper, Reeder, and the Twitter apps on my iPod. It’s just too easy.

    At any rate, maybe this view can be summarized? Something like…

    “In a given market (defined by similar products, not companies here) of technical solutions (that is, a combination of hardware and software for a specific use), assuming that solutions are roughly equivalent and no other factors unfairly (legal/moral/economically/etc) shift the balance in favor of a specific vendor, within the market an ecosystem of solutions will predominate centered around the software component of the solution that is more easily licensed or available to multiple vendors.”

    The limiting factor in any tech industry or market being not the hardware (which in general is available and commoditizable) but the software, as software creation is not so easily commoditized.

    Thus, the software (assuming competing software products to be equivalent) which is most easily available to be reused, will come to predominate most of the solutions in the marketplace.

    It seems a very logical one assuming equivalent software components (and economics for app developers aside, Android and iOS do seem to be functionally equivalent platforms).

  49. >Kind of like the right to bear arms, the ability to fork code is one of those rights that derives so much power from its mere existence that it seldom has to be exercised to the fullest extent.

    The analogy is quite exact. I mentioned it in Homesteading the Noosphere, I think.

    And still some hackers wonder why I’m a pro-firearms-rights activist. Must be inability to put 2 and 2 together to get 4.

  50. @twilightomni:

    > It sounds you guys just don’t use apps much.

    Can’t speak for anybody else, but I don’t even carry a smartphone yet. (I have a dumbphone, which I actually bother to charge and carry on a trip about once every three months or so.)

    But I long ago switched to desktop linux, and am now quite unlikely to use any proprietary software product on an upgrade treadmill, unless that product has overwhelming value to me.

    So when I do start carrying a smartphone, it is extremely likely that it will be an Android and that > 90% of the apps on it will be open sourced.

  51. I see. I confess I gave up on open source for compelling application experiences a long time ago. The closest they’ve gotten in the desktop userland to truly-nice-to-use on its own software (as opposed to merely an alternative to closed source) are Banshee and Amarok.

    Consider missing out on Angry Birds because it’s closed source. It’s not vital at all to your development as a person/programmer/human being, but it’s quite an interesting mobile experience all on its own.

  52. @twilightomni
    “I confess I gave up on open source for compelling application experiences a long time ago.”

    That must be the difference. I, for example, tend to prefer raw functionality over “compelling application experience”. To give a quote about a real drill:

    The Hole Hawg is a drill made by the Milwaukee Tool Company. If you look in a typical hardware store you may find smaller Milwaukee drills but not the Hole Hawg, which is too powerful and too expensive for homeowners. The Hole Hawg does not have the pistol-like design of a cheap homeowner’s drill. It is a cube of solid metal with a handle sticking out of one face and a chuck mounted in another. The cube contains a disconcertingly potent electric motor. You can hold the handle and operate the trigger with your index finger, but unless you are exceptionally strong you cannot control the weight of the Hole Hawg with one hand; it is a two-hander all the way. In order to fight off the counter-torque of the Hole Hawg you use a separate handle (provided), which you screw into one side of the iron cube or the other depending on whether you are using your left or right hand to operate the trigger. This handle is not a sleek, ergonomically designed item as it would be in a homeowner’s drill. It is simply a foot-long chunk of regular galvanized pipe, threaded on one end, with a black rubber handle on the other. If you lose it, you just go to the local plumbing supply store and buy another chunk of pipe.

    Pre-Hole Hawg, I used to examine the drill selection in hardware stores with what I thought was a judicious eye, scorning the smaller low-end models and hefting the big expensive ones appreciatively, wishing I could afford one of them babies. Now I view them all with such contempt that I do not even consider them to be real drills–merely scaled-up toys designed to exploit the self-delusional tendencies of soft-handed homeowners who want to believe that they have purchased an actual tool. Their plastic casings, carefully designed and focus-group-tested to convey a feeling of solidity and power, seem disgustingly flimsy and cheap to me, and I am ashamed that I was ever bamboozled into buying such knicknacks.

    From:
    In the Beginning was the Command Line
    http://artlung.com/smorgasborg/C_R_Y_P_T_O_N_O_M_I_C_O_N.shtml

  53. >Recognizing bubbles is easy. Recognizing when to get out is hard.

    Not quite. It depends on your tolerance for risk. If you want to play it safe, you start liquidating immediately, you don’t rush since you don’t want to leave too much money on the table and you know it isn’t likely to pop tomorrow, but you don’t wait around either. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you go for the big risk, big return of playing it to the edge (and hope you’re big enough, or associated with someone big enough, that the government will bail you out if you wait too long).

  54. @ twilightomni
    > The closest they’ve gotten in the desktop userland to truly-nice-to-use on its own software (as opposed to
    > merely an alternative to closed source) are Banshee and Amarok.

    Hm.

    XBMC. Blender. Firefox. Chromium. Wesnoth. VLC. Just off the top of my head.

  55. @twilightomni:

    Consider missing out on Angry Birds because it’s closed source. It’s not vital at all to your development as a person/programmer/human being, but it’s quite an interesting mobile experience all on its own.

    I watch one of my iPhone-carrying daughters play it quite often enough, thank you. Not that it’s bad or anything, but I’m not really that into videogames.

  56. You’re assuming there *is* a difference between us. I’m thinking my use of “application experience” was your flashpoint buzzword – that this somehow tells you everything you need to know to make a judgement about my usage preferences and patterns.

  57. > I watch one of my iPhone-carrying daughters play it quite often enough, thank you.

    Forgot to mention that games are actually the primary category where I am likely to not care so much about the openness of the source. Since I never do any massive multiplayer, it seems unlikely that a vendor could trap me into their ecosystem.

    @jsk:

    > XBMC. Blender. Firefox. Chromium. Wesnoth. VLC. Just off the top of my head.

    Inkscape is nice.

    But to twilightomni’s point, “a long time ago” there arguably were no compelling open source application experiences.

    The world changes, and most of the changes are small and incremental, but the last three years each really have been “the year of the linux desktop,” at least in the sense that my wife doesn’t bitch at me about not being able to do something she really wants to…

  58. @Patrick

    Totally understandable. I actually don’t prefer it myself. I think the Tiny Wings game is absolutely genius, however.

    @JSK
    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…VLC? Psht.

    Now allow me to list a set of applications…to draw some general inductive point or another.

  59. @ Patrick
    > Inkscape is nice.

    Yes, thank you. I use it fairly often, it just wasn’t coming to immediate mind.

    @ twilightomni
    I was just providing an expanded list of top-class open-source stuff in addition to Banshee (never used it actually, I avoid mono as a matter of principle) and Amarok (better pre-version 2).

  60. Completely OT, so shut me down if you don’t want to go there, but I am interested in what you think about the other big walled garden out there: facebook. I see a disturbing trend where people don’t post their urls only now, they also post their facebook ids, kind of like AOL keywords of old. Do you think facebook, with its nice cozy protected garden is a flash in the pan, or do you think grandma and Tiffany’s posse are going to keep hanging out there and not venture out into the big bad scary world of, say, wordpress?

    ESR says: I don’t know. I haven’t studied the matter.

  61. You know, watching the Appleheads at this point in history reminds me of the early days of Google, before it was positioned to take over the world.

    “Who needs another search engine! What a stupid idea!” Was all over the place. As a teen, I was the only faintly normal person out there saying, “Well, hey, Altavista [et al] is out there, but it SUCKS! Yes, it’s the best you can find, but that’s not that great!” This is pretty much how I feel about Apple, btw. I don’t want them to fail, because hey, it’s the principle of the free market. If they can hack it, they’ve earned it whether I like them personally or not. I’d just rather they either get over the ego issues or actually have something to crow about, you know?

    I didn’t predict that Google would be ghod, but hey, I was a teen-ager. What did I know?

    As for Open Source experience… it was pretty rough and ready in the early 1990′s when I jumped on board. I am not a programmer. I hesitate to call myself a power-user, because I have background in systems administration, but have never done it for profit. Also, power-users as commonly stereotyped frequently
    over-clock and overestimate their knowledge, and I have firm grasp about just how little I know. Anyway.
    I’m not Aunt Tillie, but I’m not an ESR equivalent either. I want my software to work, nice to use, and uh… documentation, please.
    Granted, it’s not where I’d like it to be (*especially* with documentation)… but is anything, really?

    Things are…rather different now days. You don’t have to desire a Hole Hawg to actually enjoy Open Source anymore.
    YOu can just want it to work, and nine times out of ten, if you choose wisely, it just will. I have had pretty great luck with Android aps.
    I should also point out that I don’t pay for ANY of my android aps. I can’t even shell out .99 cents for a *game*. Dunno why. Too many Fred Fish disks in my youth, I guess.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had better luck than I did with my proprietary Sidekick. Not only did you have to pay for everything, but many of those pricey aps had this ugly habit of crashing the OS.

    Say what you like about Linux culture… It learns, which is more than you can say for many closed systems. See ref. Sony, as a nice example.
    Besides, it’s not as closed as all that, as ESR and others point out.

    One last point about apple culture. It is driven a great deal by artists and image-conscious folks who like the idea of phones laptops and music players that double as status conscious accessories and fashion statements announcing a certain philosophy to the world. They are willing to put up with many of the roadblocks
    that are thrown casually around by the process of owning them because it’s like belonging to a club with a secret handshake. All those hoops just make you look more special. So yeah, cult-like indeed.

  62. I’ll second Jessica Boxer. Within my circle of friends, Facebook has completely overtaken email when it comes to social interaction.

    Want to hold a ski trip, hiking trip, brunch, or pub crawl? It’ll be organized via comments off a Facebook status. No email, no textting, no phone calls – it’ll all be handled on Facebook, either via comments, or via the built-in instant messenger app.

  63. AAPL wouldn’t be one of the hottest stocks on the market long-term if Wall Street thought it was sitting on a bubble.

    Is it really that hot? The P/E on AAPL is only 18.32, which is high, sure, but it’s lower than Google, Oracle, Sony, Lenovo, or HTC.

  64. Jessica Boxer:

    Once it dawns on people a) that facebook is a clusterfuck of privacy violations and b) that this is a bad thing, they will jump ship to the next thing. AOL seemed an unstoppable juggernaut in the nineties, and the ruthless efficiency with which it funnelled retards onto the internet was poised to forever change and corrupt networked culture. But even it petered out.

  65. @twilightomni:
    You’re assuming there *is* a difference between us.”

    There must be as I would never say “compelling application experience”.

    @twilightomni:
    “I’m thinking my use of “application experience” was your flashpoint buzzword –that this somehow tells you everything you need to know to make a judgement about my usage preferences and patterns.”

    Nope. It tells me about one difference. Not a particular important difference. And it is certainly not a value judgement, more a difference in taste. If good looks are possible, why not use it?

    However, your original comment sounded like you judged the book by the cover. Which I find shortsighted.

  66. @twilightomni:

    > Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…VLC? Psht.

    Interestingly, my iPhone-carrying, Angry Birds-playing daughter was absolutely horrified when I overheard her telling a friend that the friend should download VLC because it was absolutely the coolest thing, and I had to break the bad news to her that VLC was no longer available in the Apple App store… She went on and on about how it was absolutely the best app on her phone, plays everything, etc. and how she was glad she downloaded it before that happened.

    More interestingly, I don’t even know where she heard about VLC. Wasn’t from me. In any case, I like to incorporate as much open source software into my workflow as possible, and not have to worry about license issues if I share, so I only use permissively licensed libraries, but will quite happily use GPL-licensed applications, and I am more than happy for the friction between the GPL and Apple to give the advantage to Android on this one.

  67. @Steven Ehrbar:

    Is it really that hot? The P/E on AAPL is only 18.32, which is high, sure, but it’s lower than Google, Oracle, Sony, Lenovo, or HTC.

    I think that might be comparing Apples and, well, you know. Google and Oracle just ship bits. No nasty inventory problems. And although capital flows are theoretically international, Sony, Lenovo, and HTC are probably playing to a different set of institutional investors.

  68. >> AAPL wouldn’t be one of the hottest stocks on the market long-term if Wall Street thought it was sitting on a bubble.

    Is it really that hot? The P/E on AAPL is only 18.32, which is high, sure, but it’s lower than Google, Oracle, Sony, Lenovo, or HTC.

    Apple’s valuation is actually pretty cheap at 18X earnings. Only slightly higher than the average company in that space, where Apple is the top dog, and among the fastest growers.

    Contrast that with Netflix, also a good company that sells at 80x earnings.

    And Apple is actually growing faster than Netflix.

  69. *sigh*…

    I don’t see much “Android must die!” around here any more, but there sure is a lot of “Apple must die!”.

    Can’t we just get along? There are some of us for whom Linux on the desktop is the wrong answer, and there are some of us for whom Android on the phone or tablet is the wrong answer.

  70. @Patrick

    I luckily managed to keep a copy of that one. But they’re designed by a completely separate team than the normal VLC project, I think.

    @Winter

    Not quite true re: original comment sounds like cover-judging. “Experience” happens to sum up the…well, experience of actually using stuff. A separate phenomenon on top of functionality and aesthetic. You seem to have a different meaning to what I thought was a commonly accepted word in application design.

  71. @JSK

    Amarok v2 is perhaps a good example of aesthetic at the expense of functionality in FOSS. But I haven’t used it since 2009′s 2.2, so maybe they’ve gotten to feature parity with the original by now.

  72. @Jay Maynard:

    > but there sure is a lot of “Apple must die!”.

    Where?

    I seriously believe that “Apple should not be allowed to own the space!” but I’m pretty happy right now because google seems to have taken care of that.

    OTOH, you might see me screaming “Apple must die!” if they open up yet another front in the patent war. I hate fucking wounded dinosaurs.

  73. I don’t see much “Android must die!” around here any more, but there sure is a lot of “Apple must die!”.

    Easy there, Jay. I’m not perceiving an Apple-must-die attitude, but more of a sense that Apple simply will descend into niche status, and satisfaction that that appears to be natural justice for insisting on paranoid micromanagement of the ecosystem around their products. If Apple were to, say, open up the App Store to open-source apps and approve everything content-neutrally after just checking for malware, I think many around here would be happy to keep them as a major player, just as many in the community advocated and even switched to Macs after the glasnost of OS X . (Doesn’t Linus use a Mac?)

  74. @twilightomni:
    “Experience” happens to sum up the…well, experience of actually using stuff. A separate phenomenon on top of functionality and aesthetic. ”

    Then I have become oversensitive to everything that reminds me of marketing speech. Experience is too vague for my taste, too “Disney”.

  75. > Apple must die!

    Actually, I don’t see much ‘Apple Must Die’ here.

    A quite a bit of ‘Apple’s bubble is over and they’re headed for ~10% market — and this is a good thing.’
    (if you don’t like 10%, insert 5-25% — seems plausible and tolerable to me.)

    Which, when it comes down to it seems like a win-win for most of us here (except perhaps those that are long in APL)
    If you want an iPhone, you will probably be able to have one for the foreseable future. If you don’t want an iPhone, you won’t be forced to use one because Apple owns the market.

    I personally don’t really care how profitable Apple is so long as they can’t force me to buy their stuff. And I don’t feel in the slightest bit threatend by those that do like Apple stuff and are willing to pay the money and other costs to get the cool and other bennies.

  76. Then I have become oversensitive to everything that reminds me of marketing speech. Experience is too vague for my taste, too “Disney”.

    I’ve seen UXD (User Experience Design) criticised (and in some cases rightly so) for being too vague and non-specific than is good for a research discipline so you’re not alone on that. To me experience sums up everything that goes into the usage of a device, how it’s used, how it’s perceived, why it’s used, how you learn to use it.

    The big problem for the UXD field and selling experiences in general is that past a certain threshold life becomes subjective. Mac is the best example of this. Point and shoot everywhere, it is (or at least was) impossible to use the thing without touching the mouse (despite what Star Trek 4 implied). To some that is the right thing, but to others it’s the very wrong thing and at that point it’s so wrong its jarring.

  77. @ Morgan Greywolf
    > For me, it’s not public transportation, but watching people at Starbucks. I’d say “coffee houses,” but this is Florida. We don’t seem to have very many good coffee houses.

    Whoa. If Starbucks in Florida is anything like the Starbucks outlets in Australia, sounds like you are in serious trouble.

  78. @V: “One last point about apple culture. It is driven a great deal by artists and image-conscious folks who like the idea of phones laptops and music players that double as status conscious accessories and fashion statements announcing a certain philosophy to the world.”

    In the business world, all the ad agencies and design agencies run OS/X and all the clients run Windows.

  79. @Bennett: “I don’t think a repeat of the Windows vs. Apple desktop OS war is anything to be celebrated. Not even if the winner is ‘Open Source’ (and it is questionable how open Android will be by the time they have 90% share).”

    What share of the web server market does Apache have these days? Is Apache sufficiently open for you?

  80. > Reading news and watching videos are also big. For me, it’s not public transportation, but watching people at Starbucks. I’d say “coffee houses,” but this is Florida. We don’t seem to have very many good coffee houses.

    Hmmm. Since I don’t get out to people watch much, is there an app for that? Like a constantly panning Starbucks webcam?

    Come to think of it, people watching is so enjoyable in some limited respects for me and in much greater respects for others that we could probably use a bunch of said webcams. And since that would sell advertising, Google PeopleWatch is probably on the way, and why isn’t there a set of channels on my cable box that does the same thing….

    Yours,
    Tom

  81. oiaohm said: History repeats.

    Apple vs PC. Now with Apple vs Android. Outcome exactly the same. I expect iPhone to end up at less than 10 percent of the market as the cheaper wins out in the end.

    So are you buying Apple stock now?

    Because I would be if I expected exactly the same outcome and had the disposable cash – reaping the lion’s share of the profits in the market, and increasing share.

    Cathy: Web servers aren’t desktop OSes. Open source’s greatest weaknesses (at least as “the open source culture” is NOW, and as discussed repeatedly in comments on this blog) are almost exactly tailored to make it suck for desktop OSes and great for servers (and development tools for same).

    Christopher: Is there some prohibition on “open source apps” in the App Store now? I’m not aware of one.

    JonB: I suppose it’s true that someone out there must hate “having to use the mouse to do everything” (or a touchscreen, I suppose, if we want to broaden things a bit), but that sure seems to be a trivial subset of the world – even the Crazy Unix Developer types tend to like using X and a mouse, let alone the 99.whatever% of the computer market who just wants to Do Some Stuff With A Computer.

    (And indeed, one can boot OSX into a console mode… but why would you want to, apart from crisis-management?)

  82. @Michael Hipp:

    Hmm, there’s an update on that article that now points to this one:

    http://mobilized.allthingsd.com/20110418/apple-files-patent-suit-against-samsung-over-galaxy-line-of-phones-and-tablets/

    Trademark and at least some design patents. Yes, you’re right. “Style.”

    Never mind that there are probably purely functional reasons for most of the design elements covered.

    At least Samsung is a big boy. Might be time to stock up on 5 years worth of popcorn.

    Perhaps Samsung should hire Kurt Denke to lead their team of lawyers.

  83. @Sigivald: “I suppose it’s true that someone out there must hate “having to use the mouse to do everything” (or a touchscreen, I suppose, if we want to broaden things a bit), but that sure seems to be a trivial subset of the world – even the Crazy Unix Developer types tend to like using X and a mouse, let alone the 99.whatever% of the computer market who just wants to Do Some Stuff With A Computer.”

    Personally, I use the mouse and windowing system frequently, both at work (Windows) and home (Kubuntu),a and wouldn’t want to give it up…BUT, I really like being able to do as much as possible without removing my fingers from the keyboard.

    Yes, this means that vi is still my editor of choice, and likely to remain so…

  84. Sigivald: ‘Web servers aren’t desktop OSes. Open source’s greatest weaknesses (at least as ‘the open source culture’ is NOW, and as discussed repeatedly in comments on this blog) are almost exactly tailored to make it suck for desktop OSes and great for servers (and development tools for same).”

    I was responding to a comment that claimed that successful open source products would, once they achieved dominance, invariably become closed. There are so few examples of open source leading to total dominance in the consumer space that examples of open source products achieving dominant market share are generally not going to be consumer products.

    See ESR’s essay on “The Luxury of Ignorance” to see the key reason open source has lagged in this area.

  85. @sigivald:

    > Is there some prohibition on “open source apps” in the App Store now? I’m not aware of one.

    There’s an ever-changing prohibition on whatever apps in the app store Apple deems unacceptable, for whatever lame reason Apple dreams up at any time (and they have already dreamed up several). That level of control and uncertainly is certainly hostile to the principles of open source all on its own, but Apple did actually manage to go farther than simple hostility and add a license on top of all software distributed through the app store that is, in fact, incompatible with the GPL.

  86. >Kind of like the right to bear arms, the ability to fork code is one of those rights that derives so much power from its mere existence that it seldom has to be exercised to the fullest extent.

    @Patrick Maupin: You found your way into my signatures collection. Thanks for the contribution. :D

    > The analogy is quite exact. I mentioned it in Homesteading the Noosphere, I think.

    @esr: Kinda. I don’t remember references to the right to bear arms, but it all starts in “Promiscuous Theory, Puritan Practice”. You just gave me the push to start reading it again, thanks.

    > And still some hackers wonder why I’m a pro-firearms-rights activist. Must be inability to put 2 and 2 together to get 4.

    I’ve seen people doubting your judgement for being a libertarian and an Open Source supporter at the same time (not hackers, mind you, but still). I think they can’t even count to four.

  87. Jay Maynard Says: “*sigh*…

    I don’t see much “Android must die!” around here any more, but there sure is a lot of “Apple must die!”.

    Can’t we just get along? There are some of us for whom Linux on the desktop is the wrong answer, and there are some of us for whom Android on the phone or tablet is the wrong answer.”

    It’s not just a matter of getting along. Actually, these things are going to inevitably converge, due to pressure from ordinary, non-hacker, consumers. No matter how much effort Apple puts into differentiating their products, people are going to gravitate to a single, standard interface that everyone knows how to operate, just like automobiles all settled on steering wheels (instead of tillers), and foot brakes (instead of hand levers). If Android phones win 90% of the marketplace, and all those phones work one way, Apple will be forced to go along, or quit.

  88. All right, maybe I’m reading a little too much into the unadulterated glee at Apple’s falling market share. Still, it feels to this Apple user like there’s a howling mob around here with torches and pitchforks calling for Steve Jobs’s turtleneck.

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m from from an open source hater, and Apple isn’t squeaky clean by a long way. But if open source is about choices, why shouldn’t people be able to choose closed but industry-leading functional and gorgeous? (This, BTW, is the exact choice the Stallmanites overtly want to deny you.)

    The iPhone is a better choice in my particular circumstances. Android is better for others. I’ve got no problem with that, and I wish the folks around here didn’t, either.

  89. Jay Maynard Says:
    > But if open source is about choices, why shouldn’t people be able to choose closed but industry-leading functional and gorgeous? (This, BTW, is the exact choice the Stallmanites overtly want to deny you.)

    You may be right that Stallman et al would see the abolition of closed solutions if they could. But the thing is that they can’t and won’t. So it’s mostly good for a laugh.

    But likewise Apple would gladly deny us any solution not made by Apple. The difference is that they *could* actually accomplish this (using the long arm of the state in its various forms of patent law, trademark law, and now evidently “style”). They would also lock up everything from the content producers with exclusive contracts and such. And even if all that failed, network effects could make it an effective monopoly (a la MS Windows). Some of us rightly regard all that as a genuine threat. So yes, I will cheer when they don’t succeed, but try to stop short of wishing perdition on them. Apple is a benefit to the industry, but only in small doses.

    Stallman is a threat to no-one. Apple is a threat to anyone not a member of their cult.

  90. >Stallman is a threat to no-one. Apple is a threat to anyone not a member of their cult.

    Michael has that exactly right. It is not required that we hate Apple, but it is required that we oppose their lockdown.

  91. @LS: “If Android phones win 90% of the marketplace, and all those phones work one way, Apple will be forced to go along, or quit.”

    Well Android largely copied how iOS works, so seems like a non-issue to me.

    A few other comments:

    Anyone who touts the position that market share doesn’t matter to apple, all that matters is profits is fooling themselves. Market share matters, if it falls too low the platform loses any network effect and no one will bother to develop for it. Apple needs to maintain some substantial level to make the big bucks (not sure what it is).

    A blog post calling Apple bulls delusional isn’t very useful or convincing. This is Android fanboy-ism. All this talk of Android inevitably taking 90% of the market is OPINION. There are a lot of assumptions going on. You are assuming that all the other platforms fade to oblivion (Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, WebOS, and iOS). You are assuming that Apple doesn’t adjust and make a play for market share (low cost iPhone?). You are assuming that price is the primary motivator for almost everyone. Maybe these assumptions prove out, but acting like anyone who disagrees is an idiot is arrogant and trollish. There are a lot of very smart people who think Apple will keep well above niche status.

    The reason I like Apple is I like the products. I love good, thoughtful design. It’s that simple. It has nothing to do with image or style or cultism. What’s the deal with all these ad hominem attacks?

    And I would actually have an Android phone (Nexus S) if I weren’t developing mobile apps as I find iOS too restrictive for my uses. Right now the money is in iOS, so that’s what I develop for. The types of apps I develop aren’t high volume, so advertising wouldn’t work for me, and from what I see, people on Android don’t pay for apps. I actually tried to get my wife to opt for Android so I’d have an Android device to mess with, but she insisted on an iPhone…. For the average user, I would definitely recommend an iPhone over Android. Better apps, easier to learn, better integration (esp on a mac).

    Lastly, the best outcome for consumers is to have at least 2 strong competitors. Don’t forget windows and IE6 circa 2001. No competition leads to mediocrity.

  92. >Do you think facebook, with its nice cozy protected garden is a flash in the pan, or do you think grandma and Tiffany’s posse are going to keep hanging out there and not venture out into the big bad scary world of, say, wordpress?

    I don’t think this is too off-topic. There will always be the appeal of the walled garden. Whether that’s AOL of old, iOS, or Facebook. At least for grandma and Tiffany.

    Think of it as training wheels for Internet users. But just as AOL became effectively null, the importance of the iOS training wheels is less as time goes by. Apple gave us a good starter smartphone operating system, but I believe that as Android becomes more ubiquitous and continues to improve, Android will gain market share.

  93. >A blog post calling Apple bulls delusional isn’t very useful or convincing.

    Oh? Then you deny that the “Apple bulls” have been spending the last two years asserting the things I called out in the OP? Dude, I could link you to hundreds of comments on this blog alone that exhibit exactly the delusions I’m describing. And I’m sure I left out some delusions…

  94. Except that I don’t see them trying to lock things down, and certainly not succeeding, not in the same way Microsoft did. They can succeed, and they can make boatloads of money, and they can define new standards in user experience…but they can’t screw up the ecosystem.

    There is only one source of danger of a monoculture, and it’s not coming from 1 Infinite Loop.

  95. @phil:

    Anyone who touts the position that market share doesn’t matter to apple, all that matters is profits is fooling themselves. Market share matters, if it falls too low the platform loses any network effect and no one will bother to develop for it.

    Agreed. The only people I know who are saying that market share doesn’t matter are the same ones who were saying that Android would never get any market share two years ago. In other words, Apple fanboys.

    In fact, if you look at a comment I made yesterday, you will see that I think that Apple’s actions indicate that they, themselves, care very deeply about market share, possibly to the point that their investors are going to be chiding them about falling margins in a quarter or two.

    However, I also believe that the market is big enough that Apple can probably carve out a small, but profitable niche, like they did in PCs, if they manage the transition cleanly. If they spend all their cash chasing market share, they won’t have enough for R&D to keep coming up with cool stuff to keep the right people interested, and they will be simultaneously flooding the market so that “everybody” will be carrying an iPhone. That worked on iPods because of iTunes, but a repeat of that sort of success seems unlikely, and iTunes itself is probably up for some serious competition from multiple directions within the next few months. iPod sales have already peaked, but once Apple doesn’t have a lock on the one click paid music distribution business, iPod sales are going to drop like a rock, and even iPhone sales may be adversely impacted.

    All this talk of Android inevitably taking 90% of the market is OPINION.

    I don’t think anybody seriously said this. Bennett was using it as a “what if” and didn’t seem happy about the prospect. I do have an opinion that Android will be between 50 and 75% of the market within 18 months, based on current trends and the sheer size of the dumbphone market that is ripe for conversion. Apple doesn’t even have to (and probably won’t) lose sales for this to happen, but their market share will most probably naturally decline a bit as the market gets bigger and they don’t care to compete at the bottom.

    The reason I like Apple is I like the products. I love good, thoughtful design. It’s that simple. It has nothing to do with image or style or cultism. What’s the deal with all these ad hominem attacks?

    Speaking for myself, these are meta-attacks. I’m not attacking anybody because they like Apple products; I’m attacking those people (and they are legion) who attack Android because they can’t stand to see it succeed. If you look around, you will find there are many of these, and if you read carefully, they pump out a lot of drivel. Merely discussing theories about why the drivel happens is really not an ad hominem attack, and pointing out that the same people who were desperately wrong a year ago may have changed their words but didn’t really change their tune is not an ad hominem attack

    Personally, I think the success of Android can only help those people, like you, who simply like Apple products, for the usual reasons why competition is good for the customer.

  96. @Jay Maynard:

    Except that I don’t see them trying to lock things down, and certainly not succeeding, not in the same way Microsoft did.

    No, they’re locking things down much worse with their curated app store. As far as not succeeding, Android is actually a large part of why.

    I don’t think MS is the threat it was even three years ago. Linux desktops are more than good enough, and to the extent that consumer computing is moving into tablets and phones, Microsoft has… whatever they can manage with Nokia, I guess.

    The phone started out as a closed ecosystem though, and if it weren’t for Android bribing the carriers to lower the barrier to entry for new models, Apple would have a much larger share of the smartphone market.

  97. I suppose it’s true that someone out there must hate “having to use the mouse to do everything” (or a touchscreen, I suppose, if we want to broaden things a bit), but that sure seems to be a trivial subset of the world – even the Crazy Unix Developer types tend to like using X and a mouse, let alone the 99.whatever% of the computer market who just wants to Do Some Stuff With A Computer.

    I know of one (me). I’m sure more exist otherwise mousekeys wouldn’t exist.
    Also don’t conflate “i’d like the option of not having to use a mouse” with “likes to use a mouse sometimes”(or even most of the time). They are not the same scenario.

  98. The phone started out as a closed ecosystem though, and if it weren’t for Android bribing the carriers to lower the barrier to entry for new models, Apple would have a much larger share of the smartphone market.

    Not to mention that the other efforts were generally pretty bad.

    RIM always struck me as the cynical entry “how bad can we actually make the user experience and still sucker business people into buying them”. I’ve never heard a positive comment about blackberry’s that didn’t contain either the word “security” or the phrase “with exchange”

    IMO Nokia’s major contribution to the smartphone stakes is giving J2ME such a terrible reputation that the risk/reward on creating dalvik didn’t seem so bad.

    And the brightest point about MS was HTC who were busy dragging windows mobile into the new age kicking and screaming. It doesn’t surprise me what they’re managing to do now that they’re working with Android.

  99. @JonB:

    > Not to mention that the other efforts were generally pretty bad.

    I guess that was the implication I was trying to make: “high barrier to entry” -> “very little competition.”

    This is why Apple completely rocked the existing vendors’ worlds — they were actually competing. They just finished sewing up the MP3 player market, and saw no reason (and, really there was no reason), why they shouldn’t just attach a couple more peripherals to the high-end iPod and own the phone market, too. Their goal, which they probably could have come very close to achieving without Android, was all the marbles. They negotiated a good deal with AT&T, and, sans Android, would have been able to negotiate a very good deal with the other carriers later.

    Google decided to spend the kind of development cash that only Apple was spending, not to compete head-on for market dominance, but to try to make it impossible for a single handset maker to achieve dominance.

    There’s no way Android could have happened without Apple. I don’t mean the UI or anything like that — something feasible could have happened there — but just the carriers letting Android in. OTOH, Apple was really the only reason that Google needed Android to happen in an extremely fast fashion.

  100. @JonB:

    “IMO Nokia’s major contribution to the smartphone stakes is giving J2ME such a terrible reputation that the risk/reward on creating dalvik didn’t seem so bad.”

    I found Nokia and SonyEricsson to be the good two when it came to J2ME. If it ran on a Nokia, it was almost certain to work on a SE device without change, and any changes required worked on the Nokias as well. It was all the other bit-piece players that made J2ME development a nightmare. Motorola was painful, Seimens just didn’t work, and everything else could be ignored as a statistical irrelevance.

    The biggest thing stopping me from getting an iThing is that it costs so much to get set up to develop for it. I can program stuff for Android and Nokia (Series 40, S60 and Maemo) without spending any more than I normally would on computers and phones.

    I’ve also just ordered a Samsung Galaxy Tab on a 24 month contract, and Optus are going to send me a bonus ZTE tablet. The only portable device I’ll have that doesn’t run Linux will be my N96, which I only use for navigation and as a backup phone.

  101. >Stallman is a threat to no-one. Apple is a threat to anyone not a member of their cult.

    This isn’t strictly true. Anyone trying to exert control over the system is ultimately a threat. The only difference really is that Stallman is only a threat to himself and the people that get sucked into the GPL. See the above exchange over VLC and the AppStore. There isn’t really anything in particular about an AppStore (whether Apple or anyone else’s) that is contrary to open source, any more than apt-get is. Unfortunately, Stallman seems to be on a crusade to ensure that the GPL is incompatible with everything. As a result, VLC doesn’t get a shot at the AppStore.

    >There will always be the appeal of the walled garden. Whether that’s AOL of old, iOS, or Facebook. At least for grandma and Tiffany.
    >Think of it as training wheels for Internet users. But just as AOL became effectively null, the importance of the iOS training wheels is less
    >as time goes by. Apple gave us a good starter smartphone operating system, but I believe that as Android becomes more ubiquitous and
    >continues to improve, Android will gain market share.

    Dragging further into the realm of off topic, this strikes me as a fundamental misunderstanding of the lure of Facebook, and AOL before it. The training wheels approach is not the why, it is the how. Allow me to explain. AOL’s main success for most folks came in the fact that it was easy to get started, that much is clear. But there were plenty of easy ISPs in the heyday of dial-up, so why did AOL win? Community. AOL fostered a community of users, it was where the people, where your friends were. Chat rooms, AIM, profiles, homepages all of that came with your AOL account. Sure there were plenty of training wheels, but that was the grease in the wheels so to speak. People got AOL because their friends had AOL because that’s how you chatted with your friends then. AOL’s demise was in some ways, its own doing. In response to the new threat of broadband, they tried to break out the community parts, AIM and email were disconnected from the service. It didn’t help that suddenly they were an extra expense rather than the cost of service itself, but such is life if you didn’t own a cable line. Unfortunately, by breaking up the main community parts, and then suffering the loss at the hands of newer ISPs, AOL lost the community, they moved on. For a while it was MySpace, but that didn’t work so well. It had the homepages / geocities-ness of the old days, but you still needed to use separate email for mail, and separate IM for instant communications, and no real “chat room” to speak of. Enter facebook, AOL for the new age. Same deal, training wheels makes it easy to get in, but it’s the community that makes you want to be there in the first place. And facebook in some ways really represents the AOL of old. All the narcissism of homepages and profiles, “e-mail” of a sort with messages (which you can have emailed to you), “chat rooms” by way of your wall. The only thing truly missing might be IM, but facebook is so prevalent that any communication done via it could be pretty much handled as instant, or as instant as people need it to be. In fact, the more I think about it, instant chat, whether IM or the old style chatrooms made perfect sense in the dialup days. Getting online was a pain, and done in discreet chunks of time, so quick livetime communication was the way to do it. These days, the internet is pretty much pervasive, why sit in some scrolling live chat room, when you can simply check for responses whenever you want, and be notified just the same? Ease of use might have brought the crowds, but it’s the crowd which keeps itself around, not the training wheels.

  102. “Apple doesn’t even have to (and probably won’t) lose sales for this to happen, but their market share will most probably naturally decline a bit as the market gets bigger and they don’t care to compete at the bottom.”

    The reality is that the vast majority of growth is going to happen at the bottom. Those who are willing to spend in the mid-to-upper range probably already own a smartphone, regardless of whether it’s an iPhone or an Android model. I don’t see any way that Apple’s market share can fail to fall, and fall dramatically, even if they continue to grow sales.

    It would be interesting to see if there’s some way to get get data on the following question: “How many *first-time smartphone buyers* purchased an iPhone in 3Q 2010? in 4Q 2010? in 1Q 2011?”

  103. The only thing truly missing might be IM

    You kind of say this(i think) but facebook in the more recent incarnations has something in the bottom right that is so close to MSN (including presence) that someone at Microsoft would be pulling their lawsuit boots on if not for the fact that half a billion people did it before MS.

    Facebook is not missing IM. :)

    Regarding your AOL analysis… that actually makes sense to me in a way that should have been obvious but I never really thought about it.

    Ultimately the thing that, time and again, hooks people on the internet is community. Even if that community is built around being truly horrific to one another.

  104. Cathy Says: The reality is that the vast majority of growth is going to happen at the bottom. Those who are willing to spend in the mid-to-upper range probably already own a smartphone, regardless of whether it’s an iPhone or an Android model.

    Not only that, but the fab houses will be pushing out the phone-on-a-chip ICs very soon now, and that will make for enticing prices. Will Apple stoop to market to the hoi polloi? Android is free, making for smart phones that are (almost) free.

  105. JonB Says:

    > I’ve never heard a positive comment about blackberry’s that didn’t contain either the word “security” or the phrase “with exchange”

    I would agree with you if you add a third positive comment: ‘with Lotus Notes”

  106. Aha. And now comes the first credible rumor about the iPhone 5. The analyst who wrote it thinks he can deduce the product specs from what companies in Apple’s supply chain tell him. Which is at least not crazy.

    According to this rumor, the iPhone 5 is basically going to be a minor refresh. Faster processor, higher res on the rear-facing camera, and (heh) improved antenna design. Serious hardware improvements – notably 4G capability – will have to wait until the iPhone 6, which the analyst thinks might be accelerated into early 2012 in order to respond to competition from Android.

    Of course this rumor could be wildly wrong. But if it’s true – weak! Very weak! To maintain share against Android, Apple needs to make each and every one of its hardware releases more aggressive, not fall into a holding pattern hoping it can score a home run with a product that isn’t even on the drawing boards yet. This plan risks leaving Apple a year behind the 4G adoption wave at exactly the time that 4G network buildouts will have advanced enough to hand a serious performance advantage to a flood of cheap 4G Androids.

  107. @esr:

    From the article: “and a Qualcomm baseband for both GSM and CDMA models”

    That says they’re worried about margins. The new camera, though more powerful, is probably cheaper, too.

    They might also be making moves to increase build capacity. Still looks like they’re aiming for market share uber alles, like they’re trying to carve out a profitable niche for themselves in the middle of the pyramid.

    I don’t think they will ever get the bottom of the pyramid, and if they’re busy doing this, then somebody else will take the top of the pyramid away from them. This makes them vulnerable from both the top and the bottom, but, even so, if they drop their cost of goods and are prepared to squeeze their own margin for awhile, they can probably sell everything they can pump out the door for many months.

    It seems like a dangerous game, but we have to remember that Apple is currently getting a lot more revenue on the backend than the average handset maker, through their control of the app store. So maybe shoring up the competitiveness of the volksiPhone is good enough for now. They will be competing with hordes of Kias and Yugos, a few Chevrolets, and the occasional Ferrari, and they will eventually need to bring out a new Porsche, but I can’t say that it’s the wrong strategy for them, especially if they have multiple teams working on new handset designs, and this is just the one that’s going to come out first.

  108. @esr

    The linked article points out what came immediately to my mind: they are probably not going to fight with hardware on iPhone v5, but rather software in some capacity. I don’t see Apple doing a new iOS release with major changes for ‘minor refresh’ hardware, though, so I do highly expect this one to be exceedingly lackluster. Expect the iOS release with iPhone v5 to drop support for 3GS. To ‘encourage’ upgrades.

  109. >Still looks like they’re aiming for market share uber alles, like they’re trying to carve out a profitable niche for themselves in the middle of the pyramid.

    As you note, that’s a very dangerous game to be playing. I don’t think I’d have the nerve for it if I were Apple’s planners. How the hell can they think they would win a capacity/price war for the low end against the entire Pacific Rim? And what happens to Apple’s brand mystique if someone else is seen to seize the high end? Seems to me like an occupy-the-middle strategy incurs all the risks of retreat upwards without the fat margins retreat upwards at least collects in the short term. Really, really unstable – investors won’t like it at all. I know I wouldn’t.

    I think you’re underestimating the risk of ceding the high end. More importantly, I think Apple’s whole history and corporate psychology makes it effectively impossible for them to do that. A conventional retreat upward into a high-margin deluxe position seems far, far more likely – or would if Jobs were still running the show, anyway. I wonder if this holding action doesn’t really mean he’s too ill to steer and the company is drifting.

    Good point about multiple design teams. On reflection, I think we more or less have to assume this is true; otherwise this plan for the iPhone 5 would be, bluntly, fucking nuts by anyone’s standards, not just Jobs’s.

  110. @esr: “I wonder if this holding action doesn’t really mean he’s too ill to steer and the company is drifting.”

    Given his health condition, I’d say it’s past time for him to resign outright and appoint a new permanent successor.

    The fact that this hasn’t happened may indicate that Apple has no clear succession plan; or if could mean that they do, but they’re terrified of the markets’ reaction once they acknowledge what everyone knows in their gut already: Steve’s days of steering the ship are over.

    The timing of Steve’s severe illness and leave of absence coinciding with a growth spurt in Android could hardly be worse for Apple.

  111. A conventional retreat upward into a high-margin deluxe position seems far, far more likely – or would if Jobs were still running the show, anyway. I wonder if this holding action doesn’t really mean he’s too ill to steer and the company is drifting.

    Is it a simpler explanation that this is a shift in focus because the guard has changed and Tim Cook has decided (right or wrong) that splitting the difference is the best policy? (I.E. don’t bother with the fire chasers, maintain the kind of UXD design policy that is part of Apple DNA and make it “as expensive as it needs to be and no more”)

  112. >Like the one that iPods matter, for a start:

    They do. Not all of them of course, just the ones that run iOS. I mean if we’re talking about installed bases and user numbers discounting iPods would be stupid, for most iOS developers, they’re practically the same. Now if we’re talking about winning some nebulous smart phone war then yes they don’t count for nearly as much, but that seems like a small picture sort of view. iOS and android both are about more than just phones, they’re about the next level of portable computing, and to limit the discussion to just phones would be akin to limiting discussions about computers to just desktops.

  113. @esr: No. You’re actually rational. You don’t seem to have an emotional craving for Android to fail.

    I don’t think most Apple fans want Android to fail; they just want it to be inferior. I also think that most owners of iProducts would prefer to see Android and Microsoft dominate the market so they can feel like part of an elite minority.

  114. @tmoney:

    > They do. Not all of them of course, just the ones that run iOS.

    You have to keep your eye on the big picture. The number of smartphones is growing exponentially into a practically insatiable market, and the number of iPods is smaller and shrinking.

    @BPS:

    > I don’t think most Apple fans want Android to fail; they just want it to be inferior.

    There’s a fine line, there, though. It’s hard to be too inferior without failing.

    > I also think that most owners of iProducts would prefer to see Android and Microsoft dominate the market so they can feel like part of an elite minority.

    OK, but the ones posting all the crap about how Android will never amount to anything either (a) aren’t this silent majority you’re referring to, or (b) are stupidly working against their own emotional interests.

  115. Apple is the Ferrari of phones and Android will power the Fords for now. The Apple cultist are the rich now, but we used to be just a bunch of crazy loyalists to the multicolored Apple logo. But your old school Linux guru Microsoft and Apple bashing serves no purpose. Sure Android will win the market share, but who cares… but the suits in the accounting department.

  116. I think that smartphone wars are so over as to be boring. The battle is in tablet land. Sadly, today, when consumers think “tablet” they mean iPad.

    In the past month, I sprang for a MacBookPro and iPad for development. The price was steep, but its a NRE. What boggles my brain is how piss poor iOS is as a development platform. Manual memory management? That is so 1980. OK, for an embedded device, manual memory management is a necessary evil. Is this really an embedded device? It sure isn’t priced like normal microcontrollers. An iPad costs more than a desktop PC that has quad core and 4GB of ram.

    IMHO, one of the key reasons that Windows 3.0 kicked OS/2 was that the price of developing (the C/C++ compiler, and tools) was $200 from Redmond, and several thousand from Armok. At the time, the tools were roughly comparable. Not so with Android vs iOS. Not only are the tools much more expensive, but they are braindead.

  117. The world changes, and most of the changes are small and incremental, but the last three years each really have been “the year of the linux desktop,” at least in the sense that my wife doesn’t bitch at me about not being able to do something she really wants to…

    I hold that the year of the Linux desktop was 2007. This is because that was the year the Asus Eee 701 came out, and for the first time Microsoft actually had to compete on price with Linux. This was when they started selling XP to netbook makers for prices ranging from $5 down to $0, just to keep Linux the hell off the things. 2007: the year Linux became active desktop competition.

  118. > Not so with Android vs iOS. Not only are the tools much more expensive, but they are braindead.

    Maybe so, but at least after you develop you app, you can jump through Apple’s hoops and then give them 30% for distribution.

  119. Have to agree. I wrote an iphone app just to see what it was like. I borrowed a mac mini to build it on as I refuse to buy hardware just to write a test program. And it killed me to pay $100 for the privilege of writing software for the iphone. But my god what a lousy dev environment. It really is 2011 now. They have a long long way to go.

  120. @Jessica: Re Facebook.

    Network effects. First mover (well, third :-).

    Metcalfe’s Law.

    There are some projects looking into an “open” social network, but there are certain things which are theoretically impossible without a trusted central node, and they seem either to not know this, or to not care…

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