I’ve been chronicling RIM’s death spiral, and much more willing than most to call it as a straight-up suicide by bad planning and management, not just a “bad things happen to good companies” episode. Now comes an open letter from inside RIM describing the unforced errors in excruciating detail.
In other news, the trade press has been abuzz for the last week with stories of a dramatic turn in Apple’s smartphone fortunes – Android supposedly stalling out, with significant gains for Apple from the Verizon iPhone. This report now looks like a classic case study in how to (a) lie with statistics, and (b) get the trade press to inflate a non-story into a nine days’ wonder.
The unnamed author of the RIM letter clearly loves the company. He writes from the perspective of a mid-level executive – someone higher up the org chart than a line manager but not one of the board’s direct reports. There are clues in his perspective on things like UI that suggest to me a marketing person with a bit of technical clue; forced to guess I’d say he’s either a senior marketing guy or a product-line manager with a marketing background.
The letter is candid, fearless, and utterly damning. It calls out the crappy product planning and positioning that I’ve been talking about, and a bunch of other failure modes as well. One of the most interesting is the “run by Canadians” bit – the author says there’s a problem with RIM being too nice and not firing people even for disastrous mistakes. The predictable result is that RIM is clogged with deadwood at all levels.
And yes, the author does have the cojones to tell Lazaridis and Ballsillie, the co-CEOs of RIM, that they have to go. But it’s too late. By the time a letter like this happens, the rot is terminal and the demise of the company not far off. If anything, RIM’s response confirms the indictment. It’s a classic of clueless, defensive, near-meaningless management-speak. I cannot improve on the reaction of this commenter: “Foot. Bullet. BANG.”.
On the other hand, rumors of another demise – that of Android’s astonishingly rapid climb in market-share – turn out to have been (as Mark Twain might have put it) greatly exaggerated. The original claim comes from one Charlie Wolf at Needham & Co.; one of the earlier reports of it was in Business Insider on June 21st. The story was subsequently echoed uncritically by any number of other news outlets, and even led to some serious brow-furrowing on Android fan sites.
I initially ignored Wolf’s claims because the article seemed to me partisan, thinly-sourced and vague. It quickly developed that I was right about the ‘partisan’; according to one of the few critical followups on the story Wolf has a record as one of the biggest Apple cheerleaders on Wall Street and holds a long position in the stock.
But there were clues right up front that Charlie was, er, crying wolf. One is the claim relayed in the Business Insider piece that “in the March quarter…Android’s share in the U.S. fell from 52.4% to 49.5%”. The problem with this is that Android’s U.S. market share hasn’t yet been as high as 50% – comScore reported 34.7% in that quarter and it’s not believable that they were 18 points off.
What was being reported as “share” was, clearly, something else – if it wasn’t simply pulled out of Mr. Wolf’s butt. (This and other reports claimed the analysis was based on figures from IDC.). To confuse matters more, the article contained two graphs, one labeled “U.S. market share” and the other “Worldwide market share”, and while the first one bore no resemblence whatsoever to the comScore and Nielsen trends I’ve been tracking, the second one looked familiar.
Another problem was that we already had comScore’s April figures, and they simply couldn’t be reconciled with any story in which Android lost share in March. In fact comScore indicated a healthy 1.7% Android share growth, exactly on the long-term trend-line fron mid-2010, for the same three-month period in which Wolf was claiming Android had suddenly dropped share.
One of those sets of numbers had to be wrong. My choice was between believing a pro-Apple surprise being retailed by a notorious Apple partisan and a continuation of an 18-month trend being reported by a neutral – not a tough call. Actually the Business Insider article looked like such a mess of vagueness and wishful thinking that I half-thought Wolf’s claims must have been garbled in transmission and that his original analysis was more connected to reality.
Subsequently, an Apple fanboy trying to buttress Wolf’s case pointed me at this report of Nielsen results which claimed that Android dropped a point of share, to 36%, in April. A wildly different figure from Wolf’s 49%, but the fanboy blithely ignored that.
Now come the Nielsen numbers for May. Nielsen says Android share went from 36% to 38%. That’s consistent with the earlier Nielsen report, and if I squint hard I can write off the difference from the comScore numbers as statistical noise. This is the familiar picture of Android rising, with a one-month bobble in the near past that may be just an artifact.
But the May Nielsen report said something else that gave me furiously to think. It said that Android’s share of recent smartphone acquirers had been flat for three months – and when I read that I realized what Charlie Wolf must have done.
That 50% to 49% drop wasn’t “share”, it was some measure of share among recent purchasers. Wolf threw those figures on the table, muddying the distinction, thinking he could con a bunch of business reporters into thinking Android’s share growth had gone into reverse. I think he did this deliberately, but I have a nasty suspicious mind when it comes to Apple fanboys and for the rest of this analysis it won’t matter whether or not there was actual intent to deceive on his part.
The effect was certainly deceptive. Wolf exploited the fact that reporters are in general (a) lazy, and (b) under constant deadline pressure, and thus (c) tend not to question stories that are “too good to check” (like, say, scandalous rumors about Republican politicians). At this point “ZOMG! Sky is falling on teh Android!” is too good to check simply because Android has been riding high for so long that reporters are bored with that narrative line.
And that, boys and girls, is how you inflate statistical flimflam into a news wave. Give reporters something that combines looking slightly contrarian with telling them a dramatic story. They’ll eat it up like candy, and before you know it J. Random Consumer will see the same bullshit tossed at him from a dozen different secondary sources.
Meanwhile, Wolf has left himself plausible deniability. “Well, of course I was talking about recent acquirers! My, my, how my innocent words were garbled in transition!” Then he retires to his fainting couch to contemplate the uptick in AAPL.
But there are substantive questions we shouldn’t toss out with the bathwater here. Is it true that recent acquirers have cooled on Android? Is it a result, as Wolf claims, of the Verizon iPhone? And if so, doesn’t that imply that cumulative Android share growth will stall out in the future?
About recent acquirers: possibly, but the evidence for this is weak. Retrospective surveys of behavior based on what people remember themselves doing (like, what they had for breakfast or what smartphone they purchased recently) are notoriously unreliable. That is, as opposed to watching people eat breakfast or counting the smartphones they actually have in hand.
Such “evidence” is also easily manipulated by changing the definition of ‘recent’ in order to cherry-pick a period in which one competitor’s new purchases were up for exogenous reasons. Another commenter here has discussed the effect of sales of dirt-cheap reconditioned Apple 3GS phones in Q1 – these made Apple very little money but would have inflated its new-user share in a way that is not repeatable.
The truth is, until we know what the time frame of ‘recent’ was, all such figures are basically pretty meaningless.
As to the Verizon iPhone: in late April I wrote:
Even on the very optimistic assumption that Verizon sustains its pace through Q2, Android phones are selling so much faster in aggregate (ratio of about 10:1) that iPhone 4V is barely going to budge the needle on the market share numbers (if that).
And, in fact, the needle has barely budged in the comScore numbers. I think I can see a slight Apple-positive trend since February, but it’s so small that it could easily be statistical noise. And Android, according to comScore and Nielsen, is still gaining share at about 2% a month.
For all the sound and fury around it, the Verizon iPhone has not yet produced any improvement in Apple’s relative market position more dramatic than that in four months.
Of course, it could still happen. Any number of other unlikely and improbable things could happen, too. But usually if a consumer-electronics product is going to make that kind of splash, it happens sooner after initial release. At this point, any realistic hope for an Apple comeback has to be pinned to the late-Fall release of the iPhone 5 or the rumored 4S.
The way to bet, though, is that these will be non-events in exactly the same way as the Verizon iPhone and the iPhone 4 were – hugely anticipated, widely touted as the end of Android’s run, and completely unable to derail it.
“Retrospective surveys of behavior based on what people remember themselves doing (like, what they had for breakfast or what smartphone they purchased recently) are notoriously unreliable. ”
If I understand correctly, you’re implying that they could have polled a bunch of people who thought they bought an iPhone but really bought an Android phone. (fanboys: insert your own Samsung joke here)
“…sales of dirt-cheap reconditioned Apple 3GS phones in Q1 – these made Apple very little money but would have inflated its new-user share in a way that is not repeatable.”
How are they not repeatable? There’s every reason to think that Apple will do the same thing with the iPhone 4 next year and so on. Once the smartphone market is saturated, then it may not affect their share but we’re still a ways away from that.
“The truth is, until we know what the time frame of ‘recent’ was, all such figures are basically pretty meaningless.”
>If I understand correctly, you’re implying that they could have polled a bunch of people who thought they bought an iPhone but really bought an Android phone.
I know it sounds nutty, but statistically significant effects of that kind do pop up all the time when memory-reliant surveys are audited.
>How are they not repeatable? There’s every reason to think that Apple will do the same thing with the iPhone 4 next year and so on.
Hmm, interesting possibility. But you still get cherry-picking possibilities for the “recent acquirer” numbers based on when these down-version phones get dumped on to the market. Do you want to bet against the probability that the Charlie Wolfs of the world will exploit that?
This time the excuse on why iPhone 4 wasn’t the return of the messiah has been (from what i’ve seen) “because iPhone4 on AT&T and Verizon were released at different times”.
Of course if i follow that logic through, to me that says their argument is people aren’t converting to iPhone 4V because it is old technology. And so far every “iphone5 is going to win because…” i’ve seen is based on something that already exists in the Android space.
>And so far every “iphone5 is going to win because…” i’ve seen is based on something that already exists in the Android space.
True…and the 4S, if it happens, will be in an even worse competitive position, because everybody will know the 5 is coming not long after and that’ll depress sales. Apple simply can’t do without a 4G-capable phone early in 2012, giving the 4S a time-to-obsolescence of something close to 120 days.
I’d love to be able to say something clever about Apple’s optimum strategy here, but they really don’t have any good choices – falling as far behind the technology curve as they have will do that.
The message from our friend at RIM sounds like the middle stages of what EVE players call ‘failure-cascade’. From this point you can expect resignations all over the place, and only the foolish or brave will hang around.
Who knows where this cavalcade of wonders will end up.
I agree that confusion about whether or not a person bought an iPhone or an Android phone probably shouldn’t create significant error in the survey. However, there is another important source of error: People are likely to do a bad / inconsistent job of estimating whether their purchase was *recent*. In particular, given the newness of the iPhone 4V, I could easily see a situation where most iPhone 4V buyers think their purchase is recent (back to February), but Android buyers don’t go back as far (since Android phones have been available on all major carriers for much longer).
This is where Android’s diversity is a strategic advantage. Android can release some 4G phones (for those that want them, even at the cost of battery life, for example) and have a stable of 3G phones for everyone else. Apple’s deliberately limited variations mean that they don’t have the same flexibility – even CDMA was an obstacle (and a big enough one to feed speculation that Apple will re-unify their product line via CDMA/GSM hybrids).
I also wonder if AT&T / Verizon politics isn’t also constraining Apple. An HSPA+ iPhone would have been easy (potentially releasable with the iPhone 4V because the iPhone 4V uses an HSPA+ capable chipset). HSPA+ iPads also should have been easy (again an HSPA+ capable chipset), but there are none to be found. AT&T did a good job of covering for this for a while by deliberately throttling HSPA+ Android devices on their network, but (last I heard) they’ve stopped and the missing HSPA+ devices must be hurting (especially as the Android equivalents don’t have the battery life or other issues of LTE).
The only theory I have to explain this (beyond stupidity / misunderstanding the incremental value of HSPA+) is that Verizon demanded (as part of the iPhone V deal) that Apple not release HSPA+ devices (or not release HSPA+ devices before LTE devices, since HSPA+ devices matter outside the US). The idea here being that Verizon refused to be handicapped when competing with AT&T (and T-Mobile should Apple end up adding the frequency band) for pre-LTE iPhone customers (since their CDMA 3G does lose to HSPA+). I can see Apple agreeing because LTE was coming “soon enough” (or because they didn’t forsee the HSPA+ -> “4G” rebranding), only to have an unpleasant surprise later.
I don’t know that I’m right (my theory does feel strained), but something strange is going on here regardless. Any other explanations for the missing HSPA+ iPhones and iPads?
>Any other explanations for the missing HSPA+ iPhones and iPads?
Not really. Your theory seems a bit too conspiratorial to me, but there isn’t any alternative I’m attached to.
This. In fact, in the March Nielsen survey (published at the end of April), recent was defined as “in the last 6 months.” That’s a sloppy window for most people, and Nielsen could further smear it around a whole month by picking and choosing and weighing their survey dates, if asked to by a large customer.
Well, that was all pretty obvious to me, but part of it is that that’s the normal definition of market share, because the normal market is who managed to sell what last quarter. I prefer, and usually use, the term “installed base” for the information that helps us gauge network effects.
The charts in the original Nielsen reports theoretically say that. The report for May (released in June) used a 3 month window, but I think this is cherry-picked, because the report for March (released in April) used a 6 month window. I discussed this a bit in a comment on the previous report, but basically, the previous 3 months happened after AT&T’s major deals on the iPhone 4, and before verizon had it available, and the current 3 months has some gain for Apple I think, but that reflects (IMO) much more of AT&T fighting really hard to gain share with discounted iPhone 3s than any good luck for Verizon.
Three last thoughts
In addition to all the elements of marketing duplicity and press complicity that you mentioned, remember the recent report of how Android hardware is much worse than Apple, and how there really wasn’t any data to back that up?
Maybe that’s a classic case of projection (which seems to work really well in marketing and politics some time). We learned a couple of months ago that 26% of iPhones will die within 2 years (for reasons that may or may not be considered to be warrantable).
Note that dropping a phone may not be covered under warranty, but plastic phones might survive better than glass ones for some angles…
Last thought 1 of 3: Maybe Apple’s failure rate is worse than, e.g. Samsung’s. Samsung makes great hardware.
Penultimate thought: Maybe the reason Apple and AT&T managed to sell so many cheap iPhone 3s was that a lot of people had dead iPhone 4s and couldn’t afford to replace them until the price dropped on an older model. Paying beaucoup bucks for a fancy voice/data contract with no hardware is no fun.
Final thought: Assuming there is some truth to either of those other two thoughts (either that Apple’s higher failure rate means more Apple replacement phones are bought than Android replacement phones, and/or that there was pent-up demand for replacement Apple phones because of the high cost of the unsubsidized replacement iPhone4), that would fully explain why all those extra iPhones that were sold in the quarter didn’t budge the trend line.
The projected demise of RIM is remarkable in view of these numbers:
I’m not questioning the prediction. It’s just that by conventional metrics., RIM has been very successful in the last three years. Nay, extremely successful – yet it is an entirely plausbile prediction that RIM will go bust.
Here is quarterly data: [I hope [pre] tags work]
The quarterly data show sales down about 12% in the last quarter, and “cost of sales” down about the same; but “Selling, Gen. & Administrative Expense” unchanged. That’s what eats up such companies: overhead.
Don’t you find it sad that Eric trivializes apple fanboys, but then fails to point out the salinent points of the letter to RIM?
First, the letter was sent to Boy Genius Report, an apple fanboy site:
Second, the letter is full of praise for Apple
Here are some of the most directly relevant quotes to Apple:
As for apple “falling behind the technology curve”, well, he addresses that, too:
As for your doom prediction of an Apple iPhone 5 failure, I think you need to realize that Apple’s modus operandi is to kill off its products *before* someone else can, but not sooner. To kill them off sooner would be a poor financial decision, and few companies make wiser financial moves than Apple.
Right now, Apple’s iPhone is delivering billions of dollars, all reliable, to Apple; quarter after quarter. Sales are still growing around the world.
discuss among yourselves.
And now some welcome news for (privileged) Android users, via Skype:
We are excited to announce that you can now make video calls with the Skype for Android app and share the moments that matter most to you wherever you are.
To enjoy 2-way video calling on your Android device, it must be running Android Version 2.3 and above with a front-facing camera. Supported handsets right now that allow video calling include the HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia pro and the Google Nexus S. We are sorry if your device currently does not support video for the Skype for Android app. But, rest assured, we plan to roll out support for more Android handsets very soon.
I know, I know, fragmentation isn’t really a problem for Android, it’s all just Apple sheeple noise and anyone can root their device and we should all just blame the carriers for not upgrading to the latest Android build and Android is better cause it’s so inexpensive and that’s why so many Android devices don’t have a front-facing camera. So fuck you, anyway. Sellah.
Oh, and Android is open.
All Hail Android. Android uber alles!
>Don’t you find it sad that Eric trivializes apple fanboys, but then fails to point out the salinent points of the letter to RIM?
Actually, all that praise for Apple is one of my clues that the guy is probably a marketer by background, not an engineer. He’s swallowed Apple’s hype about itself too completely and too easily.
Apple keeps selling more phones. Apple will continue to sell more phones. The iPhone 5 will sell more than the iPhone 4. The iOS user based will continue growing strongly for years. The developer base will keep growing. The app library will keep growing.
And there’s nothing Android can do to stop that.
The rest is all bizarre interpretation of meaningless statistics. The most arbitrary of all of them are constantly bickered about here: market share. A ridiculous metric of success if there ever was one.
Prediction: iPhone sales will continue growing, as they have all this time, and ESR will continue insisting the end is near for iOS and Apple. A year later, we’ll see just that. Even with the iOS user base vastly larger and Apple’s stock price vastly higher.
>Apple keeps selling more phones. Apple will continue to sell more phones. The iPhone 5 will sell more than the iPhone 4. The iOS user based will continue growing strongly for years. The developer base will keep growing. The app library will keep growing.
All these things will continue to be true right up to the moment of disruptive collapse. At which point Apple’s smartphone business will look just as confused and doomed as RIM’s does now. Remember – as Rich Rostrom pointed out, RIM has also been a wildly successful company by conventional measures. That’s the most interesting thing about a Christensen-style technology disruption; the victims collapse not because they’re failures but because they’re locked into completely rational patterns of behavior they developed to manage success.
I have to confess to a bit of Schadenfreude whenever I see an iPhone with a cracked screen. I’ve dropped my Pre a number of times, and the worst that’s happened is a hard reset when the (user-removable) battery came off the terminals.
RIM’s products are now significantly worse than iOS and Android products. That, ultimately, is why they’re failing… they’re not failing because Android is open-source or because Android phones are cheaper, although these things may contribute.
In my view (and not in yours) iOS products remain significantly superior to Android products, and this quality gap is not closing very rapidly, if at all. That is why there won’t be a disruptive collapse in Apple’s share, if there is a collapse at all.
>In my view (and not in yours) iOS products remain significantly superior to Android products
Havin’ fun with the Flash games? Changed yer battery lately? And how’s that 4G capabilty workin’ out for ya?
The human capacity for self-delusion is vast; the fanboy’s, even more so.
… and the reason for that, if it’s not obvious, is that there will always be a segment of the market who wants to buy the best phone, not the most popular one. For those of you who keep claiming that this is MacOS vs. Windows round II, I will suggest that the real collapse in Mac’s market share happened when Windows surpassed it in overall quality (which is some kind of aggregation of UI quality, hardware quality, software ecosystem, price etc etc)
> All these things will continue to be true right up to the moment of disruptive collapse. At which point Apple’s smartphone business will look just as confused and doomed as RIM’s does now.
The fundamental problem with your argument is that there is no reason to suspect that Android will be able to deliver a unique, fundamentally game changing technological innovation sufficient to produce a disruptive collapse.
> Havin’ fun with the Flash games? Changed yer battery lately? And how’s that 4G capabilty workin’ out for ya?
With superior battery technology compounded by running superior code, I’ve never had a reason to change a battery. How you could possible rate running dull, clumsy Flash games as being a benefit or in any way superior to the quality of native apps raises some questions about your own capacity for self-delusion.
“Hey everyone! switch to Android! less battery life! CPU consuming and efficient games! Malware!”
Hmm. Not compelling.
Sent from my Walled Garden.
Flash games? They suck batteries!
Battery? Sure, until your background apps … Suck the battery.
4G? Eric, you’re on T-Mobile! The only way you’re getting 4G is if you switch carriers or the AT&T buyout happens.
>I’ve never had a reason to change a battery.
OK, honesty compels me to admit that I’ve never had to either. But I know iPhone users who’ve sworn a blue streak in my presence due to the high replacement cost of that soldered-in battery.
Thinking about it, I think I can identify the point at which Android phones became the superior product pretty exactly. It was the 2.2 release, Froyo. Sales and market-share figures suggest that most of the world agrees with me on this. iPhone has been futilely trying to catch up ever since.
>4G? Eric, you’re on T-Mobile!
True; the best I can personally get is HSDPA+. But if I were willing to switch carriers, I could have 4G on an Android tomorrow. If you were willing to switch, you could have 4G…uh…sometime next year.
> Havin’ fun with the Flash games? Changed yer battery lately? And how’s that 4G capabilty workin’ out for ya?
Since the majority of my income depends on flash games, you’re just guessing wrong when you characterize me as an anti-flash fanboy. I think the absence of flash games on iOS would be a major drawback if you could really play flash games on other devices, and if most popular flash games were not ported to iOS. But since those are both counterfactual conditionals, it’s not a drawback. It’s a vague claim about some future scenario that may or may not eventuate.
I have server logs to look at on this, unlike you, and I can tell you for a fact that nobody who plays my flash games is doing it on an android device. The difference in my web traffic between Android and iOS is 0.32% of my total traffic, in favour of iOS, and the great majority of my android visitors do not play a game. Out of 50,000 visitors per day, about 5 load up a flash game on my site. You look like a prize goose, parading Flash games as a quality differentiator between the two platforms.
I have never changed the battery on any phone, iOS or not. I have never heard anyone complain about not being able to change their iPhone battery, ever, and I know a huge number of people with iPhones. This point is nothing more than FUD.
And my network, like most networks worldwide, is not supplying maximum-throughput 3G, let alone 4G. So that’s a non-feature for the next year or two. It’s nothing but marketing fluff.
In any case, quality is not something you get by matching another product feature-for-feature. Quality is about providing a product that people enjoy using and want to use more. Only geeks care about features – and as much as I count myself in that group, it is a small group, and I must say that even I don’t care about features as much as I used to.
> The human capacity for self-delusion is vast; the fanboy’s, even more so.
Right on, Eric. You’ll note that I said nothing to negate your appraisal of Android’s quality, I just pointed out that we had made different appraisals. Whereas you accuse me of delusion just for putting forward that my appraisal differed from yours. I refer you to the definition of a fanboy.
>I just pointed out that we had made different appraisals.
Yes. They’re different appraisals in that yours discounts the value propositions that most smartphone purchasers find most important, including price for performance. We know this is true because smartphone customers have revealed their preferences in their buying behavior. So when I call you delusional and you call me delusional, the situation isn’t symmetrical. Reality gets the final say.
> Sales and market-share figures suggest that most of the world agrees with me on this.
By this metric, OS X is vastly superior to all desktop versions of Linux combined.
Beyond that, the date of Froyo’s release marks a steep acceleration of iOS sales. Beyond that, such sales figures neither indicate the world’s agreement with you on this issue, nor does the agreement really buttress any point. And I’d also doubt that fewer than a couple of percent of Android buyers even know what Froyo is. Hell, the vast majority of Android owners I’ve run into have no idea what ANDROID is. Hence I have a hard time imagining that around the world in 2010 millions of individuals around the world examined the technical superiority of Android and subsequently engaged in a buying behavior you feel strengthens your point.
Cheap smart phones become widely available that allowed more people to have iPhone like functionality hit the market. That’s about it. Yet despite this, iPhone sales dramatically accelerated.
@esr> That’s the most interesting thing about a Christensen-style technology disruption; the victims collapse not because they’re failures but because they’re locked into completely rational patterns of behavior they developed to manage success.
Hmm, here’s what Clayton Christensen has to say in his 2003 book, “The Innovator’s Solution”:
Companies that develop their products around proprietary, interdependent architectures have a competitive advantage over those whose product architectures are modular. The reason being is due to standardization, modular architectures involve too many companies and products in the design process and ultimately hinder optimal performance.
sounds like Apple will win.
> the best I can personally get is HSDPA+.
Though if you drive merely as far as Lincoln Court Shopping Center or the High School, you’ll be back to 3G coverage.
> I could have 4G on an Android tomorrow
But between the LTE chipset and flash games, your battery will be drained in only a few minutes.
>Hmm, here’s what Clayton Christensen has to say in his 2003 book, “The Innovator’s Solution”:
Clayton has changed his mind since. My wife and I have gladly accepted his invitation to stay at his place next time we’re in Boston, which might give you a clue about the degree of mutual respect there. He’s a big, big fan of open source and my work – so much so that when the first annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards were planned around giving him one, the organizers invited me because they knew he wanted to meet me face to face.
Eighteen percent net profit on sales of almost 20 billion dollars is pretty darned good. However, such profits are not sustainable in the long-run if your sales are in a downward slide. This effect is worse in the tech sector than in any other industrial sector because the king of one market segment today can be fighting over scraps in just a few months due to the rapid changes in technology. Who in 1985 would have guessed that in just 5 years, IBM would be fighting for a minority share of the desktop PC market? (Answer: almost nobody. Well, except for me.)
> But I know iPhone users who’ve sworn a blue streak in my presence due to the high replacement cost of that soldered-in battery.
Apple charges $75 for an out-of-warrantee battery replacement on the iPhone 4.
But complete kits are available online for $12-20, about the same price as a replacement battery for your Nexus One.
Yeah, that was kind of silly. Not my idea; the Tribeca organizers came up with it, and I thought griping would seem petty.
All I know is that right now everyone I know, speak to or see on the NY subway is either getting or is about to get an Android.
> My wife and I have gladly accepted his invitation to stay at his place next time we’re in Boston
Hmm, he’s Mormon. Does he know you’re Wiccan? Does his wife? Mormons are typically closed-minded when it comes to witchcraft.
In 2006, Clayton Christensen predicted that Apple was about to fail. Here he is in 2007 predicting that Nokia was going to be the disruptive force in personal computing. The iPhone was already out by then. And make no mistake: if Android hadn’t come along, iOS would still be disruptive! Closed, restrictive, and bad for consumers in significant ways… but disruptive nonetheless. In this interview, he again says the iPhone isn’t disruptive, but that existing players are going to beat the iPhone.
I think in general his ideas are good; he understands how companies can succeed by reinventing themselves. But he’s bought into the 60 cycle hum of open source ideology which says that closed companies can’t pull the trick off, to the point where he’s willing to ignore what’s right in front of his eyes.
“there is no reason to suspect that Android will be able to deliver a unique, fundamentally game changing technological innovation sufficient to produce a disruptive collapse.”
Huh? Of course there is. I hope we all agree that there is a significant difference between the technical and business architectures of Android and iOS. While neither is at an extreme, Apple’s iOS ecosystem is relatively centralized and the Android ecosystem is relatively distributed. This has advantages for iOS (tighter control over user experience, better out-of-the-box integration, “fragmentation” and so on), but there are also advantages for Android. One, of course, is that Android is much more equipped to attack and capture niche interests (hardware keyboard? fancier camera? bigger phone [e.g. poor eyesight]? rugged phone? 4G? 802.11a/5Ghz 802.11n? cheaper phone? …).
In terms of innovation, however, Android’s distributed ecosystem means that there are more separate groups coming up with innovations that the ecosystem can share. Consider Amazon. When Amazon’s Cloud Player was announced more than one prominent iPhone user said that it was the first time they’d envied Android users. Amazon’s Appstore and, in particular, their “Free App of the Day” seems to be a hit. Speaking as a Kindle user, Amazon has even made the book-buying experience on an Android device better than that on the Kindle itself! And Google didn’t have to do anything for any of this but get out of the way.
It’s not just Amazon. Cyanogen and his crew have been so successful with their custom ROMs that Samsung is coming to them for support. From what I can tell, the phone-based LED flashlight was invented by some people hacking around with their Nexus Ones. iPhone developers copied it for the iPhone 4, but there was a fair bit of concern that Apple might not permit these flashlight apps in their App Store. iOS 5’s Twitter integration may be slick, but Android has had share to Facebook / Twitter / etc as long as there have been relevant apps in the Market (either official or unofficial). Samsung even has a Bluetooth headset that integrates with an Android app for voice commands and email/SMS text-to-speech.
Barnes and Noble was first-to-market with an e-reader/tablet hybrid because they started with Android. After B&N, ASUS appears to have the best-selling Android tablet because they hit on the “Transformer” concept. Win or lose, they’re trying again with a slider tablet and their “Padfone”. We can decry vendor skins, but HTC is working on their Scribe API, which might take stylus integration to the next level (and could always be sucked into a future Android version if successful). Lenovo wants to try making “business tablets”. On Android phones and tablets, Firefox has full-fidelity browser sync (even better than Chrome’s) that they’ve adapted from the desktop. And so on.
Not everything someone in the Android ecosystem tries works out, but Android’s distributed ecosystem is trying out many more things at once than Apple’s is. Moreover, as we’ve seen, any non-Apple iOS success will be copied for Android (by Google if necessary). Even if Apple has a much better “hit rate” with their innovations than any Android player does (including Google), they will eventually get buried in volume. Part of that will be the “death of a thousand cuts”, but part of it is that the Android players are rolling the dice so many more times in so many more places. They’re going to hit the jackpot eventually (if they haven’t already – I have my own personal suspicions about the network effects between Android and Amazon).
Here is Christensen in 2009 still predicting the failure of Apple, while investing in RIMM, salesforce.com and Orbital Sciences:
RIMM, in-particular, was at a peak.
>OK, honesty compels me to admit that I’ve never had to either. But I know iPhone users who’ve sworn a blue streak in my presence due to the high replacement cost of that soldered-in battery.
Pure, unadulterated FUD. The battery is not soldered in (at least on my 3GS) and I replaced it a month ago myself for $20. IIRC, Apple charges around $75, and aftermarket shops charge in the neighborhood of $50.
Sure. I just looked. Most kits include a couple of screwdrivers and some prying tools and something that looks suspiciously like a guitar pick. And how many iPhone users do you expect will be able to use this kit successfully?
To replace the battery on my Evo 4G, you just pop open the back of the case with your fingernail, pull the battery out and put a new one in. No tools (well, other than your fingernail) are required. And if you don’t want to go through that much effort, yes, you can take it to the Sprint store and some pimply-faced teenager in a black shirt with a yellow and white Sprint logo emblazoned upon it will replace your battery for you for the usual fee. Which, BTW, is nothing close to $75.
BTW–I just told my non-techie wife what an iPhone 4 battery replacement costs and she said, literally, “Damn! That’s a lot. That’s like….gouging.”
My memory may be fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure you’re missing a big part of Christensen’s story. Proprietary players may win in the early stage of a market (when optimal performance is required), but as the market develops there is a phase transition when the performance of modular players becomes “good enough”. At that point, the terms of competition change and the modular players have the decisive advantage (in term of cost / flexibility / …). In my opinion, a big part of the argument here is that Android’s performance has become “good enough” and that phase transition has started. In fact, I’d argue that the phase transition has started again. In the last round, Nokia, RIM, Palm (and maybe Microsoft) were the proprietary players (with advantages like radio technology, PDA ecosystem and messaging infrastructure) and iOS and Android were the modular ones (consider the qualitative changes in browsing experience and application ecosystems). Now the wheel is turning again, and, in my opinion, Apple has to move on and/or find defensible niches. Otherwise, they’ll be crushed.
@laughing and other Apple fanboys
In an earlier comment I referred to a very useful way to decode Apple Wins FUD:
Every Apple victory is at a lower market share than the previous victory, and every Android loss is at a higher market share than the previous loss.
>Yes. They’re different appraisals in that yours discounts the value propositions that most smartphone purchasers find most important, including price for performance. We know this is true because smartphone customers have revealed their preferences in their buying behavior. So when I call you delusional and you call me delusional, the situation isn’t symmetrical. Reality gets the final say.
What a weird thing to write. I said we had made different appraisals of quality, not value. Price is not a component of quality.
Buying behaviour, naturally enough, reflects both quality and price (which we lump together and call value). You could make a case that the platform that is being bought more heavily is clearly more valuable. But it’s just dumb, frankly, to suggest that this also tells us that the platform is higher in quality.
My original claim was that the higher-quality platform (whichever that may be) will always own at least one segment of the market: the segment that is more sensitive to quality than price. Nothing you have said has come anywhere near addressing that claim, which for my money is a fairly straightforward and uncontroversial one. You’re on such a hysterical hair-trigger on this subject that we can’t even have a rational conversation about it!
If they had any combination of IQ and work ethic that enabled them to understand statistics properly, they’d have studied something useful in college instead of going to journalism school.
“My original claim was that the higher-quality platform (whichever that may be) will always own at least one segment of the market: the segment that is more sensitive to quality than price.”
This assumes a one-dimensional quality scale. Which does not exist in smartphones. For one thing, you confound hardware quality (made up of part quality and specs), software quality, ergonomics, and esthetics.
It is quite obvious that there will be some Android phone at some point that will have better hardware quality, point for point, than the iPhone. Simply from buying parts to better specs and having better assemblage. So, you are obviously not pointing to hardware quality.
But the rest canNOT be ordered on a linear quality scale. I can have completely different requirements for my phone that you or the average consumer. Therefore, I will weight quality quite differently. And these weights do not have to come out in favor of the iPhone.
>And these weights do not have to come out in favor of the iPhone.
No, they don’t have to, which is why I gave my own appraisal in subjective terms rather than positing it as a fact. My appraisal is that iOS is far ahead on total all-things-considered quality, but what matters is the number of people who share this appraisal.
What really matters is not how many people share my appraisal in total, but how many of the ones who agree with me are also people who are eager to pay more for high quality.
Ravi: I understand the points you are attempting to make about the value of Android’s “distributed’ eco-system, along with the mythology of the obvious superiority of a platform that offers all kinds of variation in hardware as being some kind of great example.
If Android was expected to beat iOS on that basis alone, we should expect that the same dynamic would have propelled desktop Linux past OS X years ago.
The more I follow all of this, the more I regard Android as the next RIM. All the market share in the world won’t bring huge leaps forward or paradigms shifts in a fragmented by design mess.
The problem for Android centered manufacturers fundamentally comes down to this: they are vulnerable to anyone who comes along who offers a better mobile OS/UI.
And really, that’s not much of a challenge at all.
From Clayton Christensen: “I’d be very surprised if three years from now, the proprietary architecture is as dominant as it is now. Think about the PC. Apple dominated the market in 1983, but by 1987, the industry-standard companies, such as IBM (IBM) and Compaq, had begun to take over.”
Dear Lord. It’s shameful people with that understanding of history are making it into Harvard, let alone teaching there.
Comparing iPhones to Android devices is like comparing apples to, not oranges, but, hey, I’ve got to say it, lemons. Perhaps one way to see how price-dependent Android purchases are is to imagine giving an average user a choice between an iPhone or an Android device – both free, no contract or anything. How many would go for Android? Sure, many purchasing decisions are not made on quality but price. But many are also made on prestige. How many users have even a scintilla of knowledge about the capabilities of their devices? I don’t think Steve Jobs is worried about Android – at all.
I have a question. If Apple’s sales are so dominated by the 3GS as keeps getting suggested (with no data to back it), why did their ASP go up from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011?
Q1 ’10 $606
Q1 ’11 $638
esr: “At this point, any realistic hope for an Apple comeback has to be pinned to the late-Fall release of the iPhone 5 or the rumored 4S.”
comeback? They are at their high water mark for market share right now, no?
>comeback? They are at their high water mark for market share right now, no?
No. Consider the smartphone market right after the iPhone issued. Apple is at a high-water mark for the last 18 months – with less than 3% from the low, so it’s all close to statistical noise – but Apple used to effectively own the category.
@Winter “Every Apple victory is at a lower market share than the previous victory, and every Android loss is at a higher market share than the previous loss.”
Umm. Do you have some data to back this up? Point me to the iOS market share decline please.
>Umm. Do you have some data to back this up? Point me to the iOS market share decline please.
By ‘market share’, these guys mean that the share of the market currently owned by Android and Apple. Since Android is eating MS and RIM and Nokia faster than Apple is, iOS has a declining ‘market share’ in this sense. To see why they have this odd definition of market share, understand that they take it as axiomatic that there can ultimately be only one survivor in any technological race.
Apple once had a 40% share of the smartphone market, worldwide.
Yeah, but that measure is totally irrelevant given that the smartphone market is expanding rapidly as it replaces the dumbphone market. What matters is share of the whole market in phones.
no they didn’t. They had 40% of Admob’s network.
Ah, the ever shifting market where shares can only go up.
And? You’re just saying what has been said all along on this blog: price matters. First of all, only a very small percentage of the market will pay extra to buy a product perceived as having a higher prestige. If this were not true, we would be seeing a whole lot of BMWs on the road and very few Toyotas. Second of all, if we imagine your thought experiment to be true, eventually neither would hold any prestige, because prestige is based largely on marketing position, which, by definition, is based largely on price.
If anyone is the new RIM, it’s Apple. Part of the BlackBerry mystique in the beginning was that they were expensive — hence more prestige. Hence those who cared about such things wanted to be seen carrying a BlackBerry. BlackBerry and the wireless vendors tried to produce lots of commodity BlackBerry devices to keep up with demand until Apple came along and suddenly there’s a new kid on the block. But it only goes downhill from here for Apple. Just ask RIM.
No, we absolutely shouldn’t expect Linux to have beaten OS X on the desktop. When you compare Linux vs OS X to Android vs iOS, you’re completely ignoring the elephant in the desktop room: Windows.
Windows had (and still has) a desktop ecosystem that is substantially more distributed and diverse than both Linux and OS X. This was even more true when Windows 3.x and Windows 95 were establishing their desktop dominance. Moreover, then, as now, Windows had the benefit of deep and broad backwards compatibility with the previous dominant desktop platform. Windows relegates both Linux and OS X to niches on the desktop, preventing Linux from leveraging its diversity. Instead, OS X and Linux compete as specialized alternatives to Windows. In that competition, it is not at all surprising that the proprietary, integrated, centralized OS X can carve out a larger and more successful niche than the modular, distributed Linux,
And if you want to think about the counterfactual, Windows-less world look at the server space. Nothing (not OS X, Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, VMS, System/360, …) had established dominance and diversity when Linux appeared on the scene. And what happened? Linux spread like a virus, relegating everything else to niches (mostly backwards-compatible niches) as the long-run advantage of its distributed (and often skunkworks-driven) ecosystem played out.
from your link: ‘AdMob does not claim that this information will be necessarily representative of the mobile Web as a whole or of any particular country market,” it warns at the bottom of the report. “AdMob’s traffic is driven by publisher relationships and may be influenced accordingly.”‘
And I’d need a recent AdMob comparison for this to mean anything. And AdMob was purchased by Google last year, so any comparison would be flawed.
“The hypothesis is that a largish fraction of the domestic sales increase in calendar Q1 2011 over Q4 2011 was due to iPhone 3xx (e.g. vs. Verizon.) I don’t yet have solid data to prove or disprove the hypothesis, but I’m also not sure that sales data from Q1 2010 is at all relevant to the hypothesis.”
The reason this is relevant is the pricing model for 2010 vs 2011 is identical EXCEPT that the 3GS on AT&T was $49 vs $99 for the budge 3G model the year before. So if 3GS on AT&T was a huge seller, you would expect the ASP to do down, not up.
> So if 3GS on AT&T was a huge seller, you would expect the ASP to do down, not up.
(1) Again, I’m comparing Q4 2010 to Q1 2011.
(2) I don’t know how many $99 3G models were sold the year before.
(3) I don’t know the subsidies — AT&T had a lot of incentive to eat some margin in Q1 2011 to stall Verizon out
AppleHolic guy is at it again: http://blogs.computerworld.com/18545/most_iphone_users_stick_with_apple_for_the_apps
He touts this as a good thing, but I would have assumed a priori the number was much higher than that. Basically, 54% think they have an app tying them to iOS, and 46% assume they don’t. I think those are pretty good odds for Android, actually. You wouldn’t find a Windows or Mac user thinking their OS was that fungible, that’s for sure.
Now, this little bit of history re-write is downright hilarious. Apple is “unleashing” a price war? Please. Belatedly responding to a price war? Well, that’s what everybody assumes, but it hasn’t happened yet. Not that Apple couldn’t significantly escalate the price war if they wanted to, but it will be interesting to see if they have the stomach for that.
The segue into the desired result is even more hilarious. You need to read the whole article for the breathless “Apple is the most valuable platform ever because users pay for apps and once they get hooked on apps they’ll never switch” but how could anybody even begin to assume that new, really cost-conscious users will behave identically to Apple’s traditional base?
>He touts this as a good thing, but I would have assumed a priori the number was much higher than
>that. Basically, 54% think they have an app tying them to iOS, and 46% assume they don’t. I think
>those are pretty good odds for Android, actually. You wouldn’t find a Windows or Mac user thinking
> their OS was that fungible, that’s for sure.
Eh, depends on what those numbers are for Android users. How people view their computers is significantly different from how they view their phones. To be honest, I’m actually surprised that as many as 54% of iPhone users have an app that they view as that essential.
@esr: “No. Consider the smartphone market right after the iPhone issued. Apple is at a high-water mark for the last 18 months – with less than 3% from the low, so it’s all close to statistical noise – but Apple used to effectively own the category.”
” Nokia dominated the market, with an overall 52.9-percent share putting it comfortably ahead of rival RIM with their 11.4-percent; the major surprise is that Apple have knocked Motorola from their third-place, capturing 6.5-percent of the market with the iPhone.”
> How people view their computers is significantly different from how they view their phones.
Well, yeah, but how a lot of Apple’s customers view Apple anything is significantly different than how they view non-Apple anything.
> To be honest, I’m actually surprised that as many as 54% of iPhone users have an app that they view as that essential.
It partly depends on how they asked the question. If they simply asked something like “considering the apps you use on a daily basis, would you ever switch away from iOS?” that actually captures more than app use. In fact, it might be relatively hard to define a question or series of questions that didn’t capture more than app use. So my surprise that 46% of Apple users are not committed to the brand was based on my (possibly wrong) assumption that the lack of commitment is in general.
But when I go look at what I assume to be the source, it appears that (as usual) Apple Holic might have completely misinterpreted the data anyway:
That almost reads like they asked a question “are you commited to the apple brand” with a follow up question like “Tell us if your commitment to the Apple brand is based at least in part on this. And this. And this…”
So if you have, e.g. 70% of Apple’s customers totally committed to the iPhone, then when the survey taker asks them “is this why?” there’s a good chance they will answer yes. This sequence of events would probably both explain your surprise that the number is too high (the real answer would be less than 54% of 70%) and my surprise that the number is too high (the real answer for the number of in-play customers would be 30% rather than 46%).
Apple. Is. Doomed. Real soon now. Maybe tomorrow even.
“I know it sounds nutty, but statistically significant effects of that kind do pop up all the time when memory-reliant surveys are audited.”
Doesn’t sound nutty at all. Surveys and web traffic or adclick whatever data seem pretty useless to me in estimating market share. I only pointed to it because, if true, it says that those people equate “smartphone” with “iphone”.
“Do you want to bet against the probability that the Charlie Wolfs of the world will exploit that?”
There is nothing that these hack analysts can do that would shock me. I am offended that some of this people get paid for it.
“True…and the 4S, if it happens, will be in an even worse competitive position, because everybody will know the 5 is coming not long after and that’ll depress sales. Apple simply can’t do without a 4G-capable phone early in 2012, giving the 4S a time-to-obsolescence of something close to 120 days.”
Apple seems content with releasing one model a year (with the exception of the Verizon phone, which I’ll come back to). One model a year is not only an optimum to avoid Osborning yourself (Android has no such concern because it is the OEMs who bear that brunt). They seem convinced that their offering is compelling enough that they can afford to be behind a box or two in the feature checklist until the next revision. Apple’s one model a year cycle extends to their iPad and iPod lines so far.
At the announcement of the Verizon iPhone, it was strongly hinted that Apple would have preferred to have the “4S” be the first iPhone on Verizon and release it at the same time for ATT (whether they had summer or fall 2011 in mind is subject to debate) but that Verizon insisted on having an iPhone ASAP so they released the 4V in February. Based on how they have been operating, the most likely scenario is that there will be an iPhone “4S” or “5” this fall and then an iPhone with 4G in the summer 2012 at the earliest. It is worth pointing this out now so that *if* Apple’s share fails to collapse, it doesn’t get blamed on the 4G carrier rollout having been slower than announced.
> Apple. Is. Doomed. […]
Rock is dead they say. Long live rock!
Joe Wilcox also deconstructs the new Nielsen data and all the Apple fanbois going apeshit over it:
I tried to find the source figures for your ASP claim and failed.
I did find Joe Wilcox claiming that iPhone 3GS is probably doing well, and that Apple didn’t release ASP figures last quarter:
>Apple keeps selling more phones. Apple will continue to sell more phones. The iPhone 5 will sell more than the iPhone 4. The iOS user based will continue growing strongly for years. The developer base will keep growing. The app library will keep growing.
Nokia felt that way before waking up on a burning platform.
The first 100 million Symbian phones took 8 years [from June 1998], the next 100 million will take under 80 weeks.
–Nigel Clifford, Symbian’s CEO 2006
Nokia confirms that Symbian phones will just fade away.
–Harry Fairhead 25 March 2011
Until and unless webOS or Windows Phone takes off (and demonstrates better app governance than Apple) I think the app-switching question cuts in favor of Android (though I admit that may not be the perception yet).
Android is big enough that most successful iOS apps are ported and/or cloned. Because of Apple’s rules for their app store, the same cannot be said in the other direction. Putting aside Google apps (which everyone knows and agrees will be best on Android and are a significant Android advantage), lots of other apps will never be ported to iOS because of Apple’s current restrictions (Amazon Cloud Player and Appstore, Firefox, TTS notification email and SMS and other interception-based apps [unless Apple bakes in the right interception functionality],…). A whole other set of apps have been and arguably still are (Kindle, Kobo, Hulu, Netflix, Rhapsody, …).
@esr: maybe you’d like to know, RIM is sponsoring an app development contest (called “App Genius”) here in the Dominican Republic… they seem to want to boost the application availability for BlackBerry and Playbook… the link to the contest is:
it’s in Spanish, so you’d have to translate… top three contestants get USD5000 and their app goes into RIM’s repository, and fifteen runners up get a BlackBerry and a Playbook. Maybe they have something similar going on somewhere?
Don’t forget VNC. My daughter loves it and was visibly upset when I explained to her to be careful because she wouldn’t be able to download it again.
VNC is available on iOS, although from what I understand, there are no SSH clients capable of doing port forwarding or key-based authentication as you one is able to do with ConnectBot on Android. That means that, although Mocha VNC will encrypt your password during signon, everything sent during the VNC session is not encrypted because there is no way to tunnel your entire session over SSL/SSH on an iOS device thanks to Steve Jobs’ iron fist. This would include passwords entered during the VNC session. Very, very bad, especially if you are doing such things over public WiFi. *shudder*
I don’t see any links to these. I always enjoy the discussion here.
More RIM employees letters:
Freudian slip of the keys. Unlike us, my daughter has zero interest in VNC. I meant VLC.
I remember hearing it Apple’s 2011 Q1 Conference Call (Yes, I own Apple stock as well as Google stock). I Googled on Apple 2011 Q1 conference call and got this:
“The average selling price of the iPhone was $625.” However, $625 is less than the $638 cited by Seeking Alpha…. I don’t really feel like listening to the CC again to verify.
Anyway, it’s a very high ASP. It will be interesting to see what it is for Q2.
I take it back. fiscal q1 for apple doesn’t align with calendar q1. It’s fiscal q2 that is of interest. I did find this blurb: “Peter: for competitive reasons, I don’t want to provide precise
ASPs for any of these products’ here: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/04/liveblog-apples-fy2011-q1-earnings-call.ars
So these guys who have ASP #s are guessing based on published financial data. Here is another guess: http://thesmallwave.com/iphone-average-selling-price-is-increasing
So it appears that Apple quit releasing ASP. So either it went down or they decided they didn’t want it public. Perhaps you are right, 3GS sales brought it down. Or they don’t want the carriers to known because there is a lot of variation between the carrier deals….. or?
> Anyway, it’s a very high ASP.
Yes it is. Makes me wonder if it is “iPhone 4 ASP” as opposed to “iPhone ASP.”
That second link you pointed to got their information from here:
They obviously ignored note 4 in that PDF. Particularly the “carrier agreement” portion. When an independent phone store sells a phone with a contract, I think they get a fairly hefty cut from AT&T. I sincerely doubt that Apple doesn’t get “most favored nation” status, so they could easily get above $100 per phone from AT&T or Verizon for new contracts activated in an Apple store. Add on a $40 case and a couple of other accessories, multiply by the number of phones sold in the Apple store, and that will add a fair amount to that number.
Finally, something I’ve pointed out before in other contexts, but may have failed to point out in this conversation: there were a lot of refurbished iPhone 3GS phones floating around because of all the iPhone 4 sales last year.
AT&T discounted the iPhone 4 quite heavily late last year (early upgrade specials, etc.) to lock lots of people into 2 year contracts, and then sold the refurbished phones this year. Apple might not have had anything to do with a lot of those phones but they would still show up in a survey as “recently acquired” phones.
Also, Apple probably wants to ramp down/transition the iPhone 3GS assembly lines, so if AT&T anticipated selling a lot of new iPhone 3GS phones early this year, they may have ordered them last year and taken shipment on a lot of them last year. That could skew ASP numbers, growth numbers, etc.
esr: ” All these things will continue to be true right up to the moment of disruptive collapse. At which point Apple’s smartphone business will look just as confused and doomed as RIM’s does now. .”
Basically you are saying Apple won’t or can’t adapt? So they are going to F it all up and lose it all…
Can you point to a major error in Apple strategy and execution since Steve Jobs’ return?
I am curious, why the blatant contempt for Apple? Is it just an open source thing?
>I am curious, why the blatant contempt for Apple?
You shouldn’t read it as contempt. Disruptive collapse happens to well-managed companies, too. It’s not a product of incompetence.
I forgot to mention the warranty. $69 AppleCare on some percentage of phones…
On ASP – yep, no telling… it’s all speculation.
I’m not quite sure why the 3GS mix matters that much to this debate. Obviously, it’ s market share grabbing technique.
I haven’t seen any data on this reconditioned stuff… I will point out that the 8GB 3GS was released along with the iPhone 4. Before the iPhone 4, the 3GS came in 16GB and 32GB models. They discontinued the 16/32 with the introduction of the iPhone 4. And all those refurbs you kept pointing at were 8GB as I recall.
> I’m not quite sure why the 3GS mix matters that much to this debate.
There have been several side-discussions on this post and previous ones. One recent example of why it matters is the Apple Holic article I quoted recently about how Apple has all these new customers, they’re going to taste one bite of the app store, and then they’re lost to Android forever.
Personally, I don’t believe that’s as likely for someone who is extremely price-sensitive and bought an iPhone 3GS for $49 rather than an iPhone 4 for $200. Especially when the thing breaks, like 29% of all iPhones do within the first two years. I think a cheap Android phone for $150 will be a mighty fine replacement in some cases for some of these people.
Now, if Apple brings out a new lower cost phone (or, more likely, significantly drops the price of the iPhone 4 when it brings out the 5), that changes the dynamics a bit. But a lot more people are switching to prepaid (Eric: charting postpaid vs. prepaid vs. resellers (which are mostly prepaid) based off of AT&T’s and Verizon’s quarterly reports might be a useful exercise for your data page), and the expected off-contract price of the iPhone 4 will still probably be over $350.
To Eric’s point about disruption, Apple has some hard decisions here. Currently they have a lot of customers willing to pay top dollar for phones. But that is still a very small percentage of the total mobile market, which is quickly moving to smartphones. If they drop the price to collect more customers, they’re hurting margin, and leaving money on the table that they could have gotten from their high-end customers.
Alternatively, if they lower the price on the old model, they can collect some more customers, but they might have to lower it a lot to attract significant additional market share. Now they’re really hurting on margin, and even some of their traditional base might say “you know what? The iPhone 5 doesn’t have LTE yet, and the iPhone 4 is $300 cheaper. I think I’ll upgrade my 3GS to the 4.”
On a side note, Apple was obviously trying to get the iPhone 4 volume up a bit before the end of the quarter. It will be interesting to see the quarterly numbers.
“You shouldn’t read it as contempt. Disruptive collapse happens to well-managed companies, too. It’s not a product of incompetence.”
Part of good management is adapting.
Remember this quote from Steve Jobs to Newsweek in 2004: “the critical juncture in the late ’80s, when they should have gone for market share, [Apple’s management] went for profits.”
I figured out why all the Apple pundits are going gaga over Apple’s slightly increased popularity with US recent purchasers — they don’t want anybody looking very hard at Apple’s popularity with Japanese recent purchasers.
” Apple has all these new customers, they’re going to taste one bite of the app store, and then they’re lost to Android forever. Personally, I don’t believe that’s as likely…”
I haven’t seen any numbers on stickiness. From anecdotal evidence I think both platforms are quite sticky. I would imagine iOS is more sticky since people are much more likely to BUY things on it. But I think they are both much more sticky than say Symbian or Blackberry…
To your point though, Apple obviously has to have a low end model….. they’ve done it with all of their other products. $600+ ASPs can’t last forever, they must know this.
> From anecdotal evidence I think both platforms are quite sticky.
I would concur. But my anecdotal evidence is mostly early adopters, not people who bought it for $50 down at the Wal-Mart. Yours?
That was a great article from Financial Post. Echoes my sentiments exactly, except that they don’t discuss what the shareholders are going to think when Apple’s margins and profits shrink down towards the other vendors, or what the developers are going to think when the Apple app store starts attracting people as stingy as the google app store, or what the customers are going to think when they have better apps with price competition between google and Amazon on one side, or less-frequently updated apps on the Apple side.
I think Apple will have really great customer stickiness at some market share. I’m just not sure exactly where that is, but suspect that it’s a lot lower than some people think, and that if they drop price too much in the process of trying to make that number bigger, they will be leaving a lot of potential money from their most loyal customers on the table for no good reason.
Good article. Steve Jobs’ comment echoes exactly what his core argument with Apple’s executive team in the 1980s was all about. I’m not sure if Apple can succeed with an “iPhone Lite,”
However, I expect that any attempt to increase product mix on the iPhone will have a similar effect on the popularity of the platform as did everything from the Macintosh LC to the Mac Mini — that is, almost none at all.
@Patrick Maupin : “I would concur. But my anecdotal evidence is mostly early adopters, not people who bought it for $50 down at the Wal-Mart. Yours?”
Mine is a mix that skews early adopter.
One non-early adopter was my wife. My company bought me an iPhone. I already had one so I gave her the new one…. She used it for a year or so and then I had to give the phone back. So we went phone shopping – I tried to get her to go Android so I could spend more time trying out the Android universe. She refused…she was hooked on the iPhone.
I know plenty of other “regular” people who have Androids and iPhones. They all like their phones. I’d say the regular people who have Android are less enthusiastic than the tech/early adopter crowd though. And flip that for the iPhone.
Purely anecdotal of course.
@Patrick Maupin: ” don’t discuss what the shareholders are going to think when Apple’s margins and profits shrink down towards the other vendors”
It’s all a balancing act. If they can keep absolute profits and revenues going up (via larger market share) but margins go down, I doubt anyone is going to complain too loudly.
@Morgan Greywolf “However, I expect that any attempt to increase product mix on the iPhone will have a similar effect on the popularity of the platform as did everything from the Macintosh LC to the Mac Mini — that is, almost none at all.”
a) mac market share has gone up a lot this decade, but Apple has never truly tried to compete on price for Macs anyway. Their low end laptop is still $999 b) What does the Mac market share have to do with the iOS share?
> If they can keep absolute profits and revenues going up
That’s a big “if” on the profits, and even a bit of an “if” on the revenues.
Did you read the comscore report that I posted about Japan? Any speculation as to why, over a 3 month period, the increase in the number of people using Android in Japan was over 20 times the increase in the number of people using Apple?
Apple and Android both took off first in the US, then branched out. It would be interesting to know why the Japanese are falling hard for Android. If it’s price, Apple better watch out in the rest of the world. If it’s the renowned Japanese love for different gadgets, Japan will be a crucible that will help hone “best of breed” Android hardware, and that’s got to hurt, too. If they just like the little green robot, well, that would figure.
If I’m reading this right, it appears that Apple might be limited to a single carrier in Japan for now. That would certainly help explain Apple’s inability to maintain market share there:
And their low-end desktop is still $699, though you can get a 1.83 Ghz Mini now for as little as $250, putting it right in line with Windows and Linux desktops.
It’s the same game, different device.
I suspect the popularity of the Android devices amongst the Japanese has something to do with this, but I could be wrong. ;)
Actually, the Japanese overwhelmingly prefer products made by Japanese companies. The iPhone would be seen there as a ‘gaijin’ product. I’ve been saying this all along.
There was supposed to a link in that last post: http://www.karaokeanywhere.net/android/
Patrick, two words: Android Hentai.
Quote Bob Cringely:
Normally Cringley is full of p00p. Who knows if he’s right on this one. There can be no doubt that Google lost on this one (and Apple won).
@Morgan Greywolf “It’s the same game, different device.”
If you say so.
@Patrick Maupin “If I’m reading this right, it appears that Apple might be limited to a single carrier in Japan for now. ”
Either that or one model per year in Japan just doesn’t fly.
Android on a car stereo: http://www.e46fanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=839753
I think lock-in is the wrong question. Because, right now, we’re all in land grab mode.
Maybe you, as an Android user, will or will not switch to a different platform (ever). More critical, though, is if you, the Android user, or the Android acolytes, can convert *another person* to the platform. This does more than merely validate your purchase, (a very real phenomenon — just check out some of the Android fanboy comments here when you post anything remotely negative about the platform). However, since the market is growing so fast, is so big, that issues re: switching are simply way too early.
Rather, it’s about adding more users into the fold.
Worry about lock-in later.
Yes, right now, for a variety of reasons, Android is the biggest seller. It rules marketshare. However, Apple, which unlike everyone associated with Android, makes hundreds of dollars on each iPhone, is also growing.
Cringley’s last line is just standard blogger trash talk, the Nortel patents (assuming the auction is allowed to stand), will not kill Android.
But they will make it more costly for Google and for Android handset makers going forward. As the world slowly, painfully moves toward 4G, expect Apple to begin offering more innovative 4G-requisite services and seek to punish those that try and do the same.
But spending big bucks to grab worthless land that you can’t hold on to doesn’t make any sense. All the pundits say that Apple should offer a really low-cost phone because they can lock people in and make it up on the back end.
My thesis is that if they offer a really low cost phone, (a) some of their base customers will take it to reduce their costs, and (b) the new customers they attract will not act like their traditional customers.
The new customers will buy the $3.00 case at Amazon instead of the $30.00 case at the Apple store. They will eschew the warranty, rationalizing that in a year they can buy a cheap Android phone for the same price as the $125 square trade accidental coverage warranty. They won’t buy expensive apps or magazine subscriptions.
Certainly there is still a window where Apple can achieve really good margins on much higher volumes by dropping their price just a little. But that window is closing as Android gains more mindshare, and if/when Apple decides to play rough and tumble down in the mud with the companies willing to exist on razor-thin margins, they might find that the expected back-end revenue just doesn’t happen at that level.
And raising prices in this business is really hard to do. So if Apple goes all-in on a scorched-earth land grab, and then later realizes that all their new customers have zero loyalty, they will have wasted, not only margin they could have acquired from their base, but future margin as well.
I expect them to be doing some market testing. They’re already probably studying the habits of the $50 and $0 3GS acquirers. They will occasionally run specials. They might even try to use differential pricing in different global markets. But all these have risks. Grey market iPhones will migrate from the cheap markets to the expensive ones, and the longer they delay making their decision whether to go all-in on the land grab or whether to retreat to higher ground, the more gains Android will have made in the meantime.
I suspect that has something to do with it, and the fact that Sony’s offering is fairly popular bears this out to some extent. However, most of the really cool Android phones still come from Korea, I think, and I’m not sure how that plays out…
Possibly, but then the slow start of Android in Japan is somewhat confusing.
Heh. I’m sure that’s it.
Speaking of land grabs and stickiness, this is timely:
I’m not sure that customer loyalty to deodorant is that similar to customer loyalty to a cellphone. For a start, when was the last time one of your friends said “Hey, sniff my armpit! I got this great new deodorant!”
On second thought, don’t answer that. But see what you think about some of the points raised here:
By the way, a tiny bit of googling reveals both the opinion that, in general, mobile brand loyalty is weak, and the purported fact that Samsung has, for 10 years in a row, achieved the number one spot in mobile brand loyalty.
I’ve mentioned before that in Q1, Samsung sold 3.5 times the number of handsets as Apple. If Samsung has a lot of happy customers and a sleek-looking smartphone that sells for less than Apple’s and by most accounts is more than good enough, how is Apple going to steal those customers?
>By the way, a tiny bit of googling reveals both the opinion that, in general, mobile brand loyalty is weak
That’s pretty interesting. Article says: “Apparently, 49% of consumers cited price to be the most important factor and only 7% based their purchase on the phone brand. […] Consumers don’t care about the design as much, as only 10% of them [consumers] chose a phone based on its design.” This is bad news not just for Apple but for makers of higher-end Android phones; it’s clear there are attempts going on to create premium brands in that space, and this suggests they will largely fail.
I think this is what’s going on in tablets, too. Manufacturers are behaving as though they think consumers are feature-seeking and sensitive to brands, but in fact most consumers are price-seeking. The iPad has already captured those who can be sucked by the kind of marketing these vendors are trying on; what they really need to do to energize the market is cut unit prices by another 50%.
Of course, there is also the purported fact that Apple and LG customers are the most satisfied:
Well, Samsung is Korean, but HTC is Taiwanese. I’m not sure how that plays out, either, whether the Japanese consider non-Japanese Asian products to be ‘better’ than products from an American company. Having worked for the Japanese, I can report only that there is a strong nationalism and a tendency to treat gaijin (non-Japanese) differently.
Totally unrelated, but I thought you might want to know that you recently got named by Ted Dziuba (founder of Milo.com) in his piece, “The Most Important Concept in Systems Design”:
Don’t want to get eaten by your spam filter so I’ll omit the link. Google it and check him out though, especially his piece on “Taco Bell programming”, if you haven’t already.
I suspect that most tablet buyers are significantly more sensitive to features than phone buyers; not really having a mental bucket of their own yet, they fall closer to “laptop” than “phone”, and people are conditioned to approach computer purchases with a buy-for-features mindset. Even when buyers don’t have any idea how to tell the difference, I think they’re likely to ask a techie friend about which tablet to buy, and the techie friend really will make recommendations based on features.
One complicating factor is that the interesting features are mostly a new set for somebody coming from laptop-buying—things like “IPS display” and “USB host port” and “dock with extended battery” (and even, to a small extent, “unlocked bootloader”). What makes the tablet space interesting is that these are in fact extras: I think there’ll be room for them, just like there’s room for $2000 laptops, even when basic, what-then-counts-as-no-frills tablets are available for $150.
Having been in Japan recently, my observations suggest that their attitudes towards foreign technology have changed a bit.
For one thing, the iPhone was a smash hit in Japan. In addition to being leaps and bounds ahead of the already advanced Japanese smartphone technologies at the time of its release, the iPhone’s cachet as a fashion item probably helped ingratiate it with the Japanese, who are fond of Western design labels like Louis Vuitton and Hermès. These days Sony Ericsson and Sharp offer plenty of Android offerings, but the most recognized smartphone model outside the iPhone appears to be the Samsung Galaxy S. When I pulled out my Epic, I got a lot of smiles and “Galaxy S desu ne?”
No doubt. The Japanese hipster culture is especially fond of Western culture — including everything from apparel to music. OTOH, from a consumer electronics perspective there was always an attitude that Japanese manufacturers were ahead of the rest of the world. And until a few years ago, that was largely true, especially when it came to cellphones. Apple, Google, HTC and Samsung have changed all that, it seems.
Interesting. So attitudes in Japan towards foreign products are definitely shifting then, just as American attitudes towards foreign products have shifted here. I actually expected such, but I expected it would happen more later than sooner. Japanese culture has been a source of fascination for me ever since a trip to a Japanese art museum I took many years ago, though I obviously haven’t been keeping up with it as much lately as I used to.
Given your sojourns, maybe you could shed some light on the Japanese data I mentioned.
This comscore data has the usual comscore data problem of only measuring installed base, as opposed to the Nielsen data problem of mainly measuring recent acquirers. They both offer the data as teasers because they want you to buy reports, so of course, beggars can’t be choosers.
It is interesting that the number of Apple-toting phone users only increased by about 3% during the quarter. There are apparently 117 million available subscribers in the country, and according to comscore, only 9.7 million of them owned smartphones. So that market is far from saturated. OTOH, it is my understanding that Softbank, the iPhone carrier, has around 20% of the market, so smartphones on their network are a bit more saturated at almost 17% of handsets. Still seems low, although I’m sure Japanese feature phones are more featureful than those elsewhere.
What would be interesting to know is Apple’s Japan sales numbers during the quarter. Did they really tank, or did they sell consistently, with previous purchasers swapping Apple for Android?
If Apple is having trouble attracting new subscribers, it’s probably partly the one-carrier problem and partly that their brand has lost some cachet in Japan. If Apple attracts new subscribers but loses old ones, then it may show that they still have some cachet, but simultaneously that they are definitely not “sticky”.
One other interesting thing I noticed in that data was that one third of the people carrying “other” smartphones switched to (presumably mostly) Android between September and December, but that the “other” column grew significantly from December to March. I wish they had broken down “other” a bit…
The article How Quality Drives the Rise and Fall of High-Tech Products has a really good definition of “quality” which might settle a little of the back and forth on various threads here:
So if customers value an attribute, its possession (or lack) enhances (or detracts from) a product’s perceived quality. So if a user doesn’t care about open source, then being open source or not doesn’t affect their judgment of a product’s quality, while for someone like ESR (or to a lesser extent myself) it does.
> while network effects do affect market share flows, quality prevails.
Maybe the study is more comprehensive, but the summary is kind of naive. For example, Microsoft simultaneously made sure they could interoperate with other word processors but made it exceedingly difficult for the converse to be true.
And the article doesn’t at all address the network effects linking the word processor and the OS.
One last thing on that article. They did a retrospective by looking at magazines. MS was making money hand-over-fist in their OS business and buying their way into the word processor business. They spent a lot of money on advertising at the time…
(In looking at the article again and scrolling all the way down to the comments, I now notice that the second commenter already noticed this…)
Some motley fool thinks iPhone is helping out Verizon much more than I do:
Of course, that completely ignores that AT&T sold 3.3 million iPhones in the first quarter while Verizon sold 2.2 million.
(Note to Phil — that’s one of the reasons I think a lot of 3G phones were sold recently — why else would AT&T’s showing be so strong?)
OTOH, taking the data in that article at face value supports my hypothesis that demand for iPhone on AT&T at the $200 price point was somewhat saturated. Look how the numbers increase on release of a new phone, and then decline. So absent the lower price and the additional carrier, we could expect that the number would have been 9% rather than 17%.
So an extremely naive analysis says that there were 5.5 million iPhones sold, but absent dropped price or verizon, the “natural quarterly demand” at $200 on AT&T would have been 2.9 million phones (5.5 million units * 9% / 17%), and the “natural quarterly demand” on Verizon is probably somewhere north of 2.2 million, so the additional quarterly demand with the lower price at AT&T was at least 400K units (5.5 M – 2.2M – 2.9M) — probably a bit more because some of Verizon’s adds would have been AT&T defectors.
 Credible estimates were that Verizon sold 1M iPhones in Feb. That puts natural monthly demand at the 1.2 M units they must have sold in March, and quarterly demand at 3X that, or 3.6 million units, or only 20% more than the natural quarterly demand at $200 on the fully-iphone-saturated AT&T network.
If Apple’s attempts to sell extra units at WalMart at the end of June paid off, that will give them a lot of breathing room. They already have some breathing room because everybody expects that customers are now waiting for iPhone 5. It will be interesting to see what happens when the iPhone 5 hits the end of the runway.
But looking at the sawtooth graph of iPhone new phone sales, it’s pretty obvious that Apple needs new models (and make no mistake, iPhone 4V was a new model — CDMA instead of GSM was a big deal for some huge customer base) in order to maintain market share, and they don’t have one right now.
So even with the $49 iPhone 3 GS phones and the $147 WalMart special, I expect that the supposed stalling of Android’s domestic growth will soon be revealed to be short-lived.
Here’s what I think is happening. i-mode, formerly the premier Japanese mobile internet service, was state-of-the-art in 2000. Compared to the iPhone and Android, which give you the internet straight up, i-mode — a walled garden in that content and services must be specially designed for the platform and are often made available through the carrier — seems positively rinky-dink. Most i-mode devices probably wouldn’t even qualify as smartphones under the current understanding of the term.
Android in particular, due to its more open nature, is capable of making a few cultural adjustments in order to appeal to the Japanese market. For example, the “flip phone” form factor is still enormously popular in Japan; a year or two ago, Sharp released a flip phone model running Android on Softbank’s network — the world’s first Android phone in that form factor.
The Japanese realize that internet-enabled smartphones with apps are the future and will completely obsolesce the old proprietary content networks. Android provides an easy upgrade path to this future.
Yeah, maybe Nokia and IDC aren’t so crazy after all. If Nokia (which will almost certainly still be the top handset manufacturer, but probably not the top smartphone manufacturer, when the quarterly reports come out) transitions all their phones to really cheap WP7 phones, they could build up a huge userbase before Apple realizes what hit them. As discussed, worldwide, Nokia is a respected brand, and in Q1, they sold 7.6 times the number of handsets as Apple.
BTW, here’s an interesting pie chart and discussion:
Think about this a minute. My analysis a bit earlier showed that, not only did they get 2.2 million new Verizon subscribers, they got 400K additional new AT&T subscribers based on their low-priced offering. So their overseas growth is basically stagnant. Japan’s growth is obviously negative for them, but they might not be a huge outlier.
The cellphone market is similar to the PC market. Apple sells few units, but sucks out all the profit. If they are going to keep up this strategy, their worldwide market share will decline really fast, but their domestic market share could hold quite steady for awhile, especially if they are willing to pump more discounted phones into the supply chain here.
>If Nokia (which will almost certainly still be the top handset manufacturer, but probably not the top smartphone manufacturer, when the quarterly reports come out) transitions all their phones to really cheap WP7 phones, they could build up a huge userbase before Apple realizes what hit them. As discussed, worldwide, Nokia is a respected brand, and in Q1, they sold 7.6 times the number of handsets as Apple.
I doubt it. Why should the Nokia brand be exempt from the survey’s indication that brands only have serious pull for 7% of the market?
The only way this scenario has any plausibility to me is if Nokia can pull the retail price of a WP7 phone below not just an iPhone but a cheap Chinese Android. This seems highly unlikely to me.
Sorry, didn’t flesh out that thought. What I was saying is that I don’t believe that Nokia has a negative image among previous customers. Customers aren’t abandoning Nokia because they hate it — they’re abandoning Nokia because it doesn’t cater for their current needs.
If Nokia can fill those needs (for a cheap smartphone), the manufacturing and distribution clout that gives it a global reach 7.6 times bigger than Apple’s could be used against Apple to great effect.
I think that Nokia is in the same bucket as Samsung and LG — needs more margin than a Huawei or a ZTE, but not nearly as much as Apple, and I think that if they get their act together and start pumping out more capable smartphones, they will help Android to seriously stunt Apple’s growth.
Which is what the IDC numbers that we’ve been pooh-poohing suggest.
Here’s the IDC numbers:
I agree with the sentiment of the article, and have said as much here before: IDC’s reports on what happened are usually pretty good, but their projections are usually fantasies.
At first I thought the Windows 7 fantasy was simply inexplicable. But now that I’ve thought about it, the expectation that Nokia can get it in gear fully explains that particular fantasy.
I have significant doubts that Nokia will actually be able to pull this off. But 3 months ago when this IDC forecast came out, I was sure the idea was completely whack and there was no way it would happen. Now, I think I at least understand some of the reasoning behind it.
> the supposed stalling of Android’s domestic growth will soon be revealed to be short-lived.
I think ‘stall’ is too strong a word, Android can’t grow at the same rate past 50% market share as it did from 20% to 50% market share.
Things probably slowed down a bit, especially with VZW customers now able to buy an iPhone.
Android’s real problem is that Google and various OEMs lack owning sufficient patents to be able to defend against Apple, Microsoft and Nokia. Licensing these is going to increase the real cost for Android. Maybe Android flourishes in China, but in the US, Japan and Europe, these licensing costs are going to be a real issue. Microsoft already gets $10-$12 per phone. Oracle is likely to prevail (esr’s protests notwithstanding) in its suit against Google, and this could be another $10-$20/phone. Once Apple and Nokia finish asserting themselves, it could cost $50 (or more) just to pay the license fees on Android-based phones.
>Oracle is likely to prevail (esr’s protests notwithstanding) in its suit against Google
The court’s and PTO’s early rulings don’t support this.
The only confirmed number I know of is $5 at HTC.
Assume they prevail, how? Google could pay up for back damages, take down their source code, and ask people not to use it any more. Then what?
Interesting take on new Nokia N9:
I don’t know the extent of Nokia’s commitment to Microsoft, but at this point they could do worse than to lock down the hardware design of their (apparently very sexy) smartphone (possibly with some RAM/Flash/CPU speed variants), give some of them to Microsoft and their internal Microsoft developers, some of them to their Meego developers, a couple to the few Symbian developers they have left, and half a dozen to the Cyanogenmod people, and start manufacturing the hardware like crazy.
The only special thing they need to do is to insure that the bootloader is robust, and the thing can always be recovered after a bad reflashing. They can ship it with Meego, then Microsoft’s crap when that’s ready, and let the world decide what the right answer is.
Nokia shipped (if memory serves) around 140M handsets in Q1, about 40% more than worldwide shipments of smartphones during the same time period.
Then the big advantage to licensing Android — cheapness and openness — vanishes, and the ability to release Android smartphones at bargain-basement vanishes. At best, Android becomes a premium OS,
Oh, and I fully expect Oracle to prevail. They are arguably better than Microsoft at turning “being assholes” into a profitable business model. They have the resources and the will to take the case to the Supremes — who will more than likely rule in Oracle’s favor, if their recent trend of upholding obviously trollish patents is any indication. Of course they’re asking for ridiculous damages, but they might get Google to agree to an out-of-court settlement which merely hobbles Android significantly rather than killing it outright.
Should read “At best, Android becomes a premium OS, in which market it doesn’t stand a chance against iOS.”
You haven’t been keeping up with this case, have you? Google asked for a reexamination of Oracle’s patents by the USPTO, and of the claims actually reexamined, nearly 90% of them have been rejected, including all 7 of the independent claims, and 10 of the 14 dependent claims, of the ‘476 patent that I said back in August were subject to prior art. So, um, told ya so! :-P It’s really not looking very good for Oracle at all.
> The court’s and PTO’s early rulings don’t support this.
Not at all, but I’m mildly interested in how this plays out in fake account’s fantasy world. Given that google gives the software away for free, how does $20/phone happen without actually suing the phone vendor?
I could be wrong, but that sounds suspiciously similar to all the fantasies that have open source disappearing because of patents.
Um, no. There’s still the entire world outside the US. Believe it or not, google could legally continue android development outside the US and then oracle has to try to sue each handset maker individually. It’ll be like playing whack-a-mole, and each vendor will learn from the lawsuit of the previous one. If the patents aren’t totally decimated by google, they probably will be by the time they get to the third vendor.
Actually, some more recent patent law probably means that google could theoretically be inducing patent infringement even if they developed outside the US.
But, aside from their internal testing activities, they might not be direct infringers even now:
> The only confirmed number I know of is $5 at HTC.
Even for the $5, I haven’t what I consider “confirmation” myself. All articles I have seen on this seem to point to one source (some analyst at Citi if I remember).
Agreed that “confirmed” might be too strong a word. But companies get sensitive when erroneous reporting indicates that their expenses are higher than they actually are, so the wording of this particular correction may well indicate that $5.00 is in the actual ballpark:
> and then oracle has to try to sue each handset maker individually.
Only if they bundle the software with their hardware. If they don’t, oracle would have to sue the individuals themselves who download the software image (supposedly from a country which does not have software patents) and install it.
The phone makers (who as esr constantly points out are in the business of making/selling phones) would have even more of an incentive to make it that much more easier to root/install OS images on their devices.
> Agreed that “confirmed” might be too strong a word. But companies get sensitive when erroneous reporting indicates that their expenses are higher than they actually are
That actually maybe more true in American culture than chinese culture. In chinese culture people who are wealthy and doing very well are more than happy to tell you in your face that their situation is pitiful and that they are reeling under all kinds of back-breaking expenses. If my interaction with wealthy chinese people indeed gave me a good understanding of their culture, I’d say that HTC would much rather prefer coming across as a “victim” of Microsoft bullying in the press, rather than give an accurate picture of the health of the company.
That works as long as the phone manufacturers ship something non-infringing that lets you make calls, surf the web, and in general exercise all the hardware features of the phone. Otherwise, once google has been put on notice that Android infringes, essentially all the hardware companies will have been put on notice as well, and they could all be sued for inducement. Maybe Symbian or MeeGo will get really popular after all.
Coincidentally, the Supreme court published an opinion this month which makes it more difficult for a plaintiff to win an infringement inducement lawsuit:
So if Google can show that it reasonably believed that Android didn’t infringe Oracle’s patents, and if distributing source code isn’t actually a direct infringement, then google’s only direct infringement liability would be for internal development and testing of Android, and their induced infringement liability would be zero, and even if Oracle had patents that were deemed valid, they would have to directly sue the handset manufacturers.
So if oracle actually prevailed, google might have to mothball development for awhile, but oracle would have to sue the handset manufacturers to see any serious money. And as Uma points out, even this could potentially be only retrospective, if the handset vendors start shipping Symbian or Meego. So I expect that, worst case, oracle would actually settle with google with an agreement that covered all the licensees, but for a much lower royalty rate than fake account’s estimate of $10-$20 per phone.
But the whole thing seems pretty unlikely to me. I think Google’s going to come out of this unscathed.
> The only confirmed number I know of is $5 at HTC.
Then you’re just not paying attention, as General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, and Velocity Micro have all been announced, just in the last week.
> Given that google gives the software away for free, how does $20/phone happen without actually suing the phone vendor?
Simple, Oracle could just collect $n/activation.
> if the handset vendors start shipping Symbian or Meego.
That ship has sailed, … and sank.
> So I expect that, worst case, oracle would actually settle with google with an agreement that covered all the licensees, but for a much lower royalty rate than fake account’s estimate of $10-$20 per phone.
“”Google, if found to infringe, would owe Oracle between 1.4 and 6.1 billion dollars.” (source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/58133136/Oracle-Google-Damages-June-6-Precis-Unredacted)
Best I can figure is 100,000,000 Android devices sold by May 2011. This equates to $14 per device at the low end of the range Oracle seeks.
I saw that article. BUT THERE ARE NO NUMBERS IN IT. NEVER MIND CONFIRMED ONES.
There’s no way that’s happening. Google can simply disband their market and let amazon take over helping people sell software.
There’s nothing to keep companies from dredging it up from the bottom, if that’s what’s required. Meego on the new N9 is reportedly very nice.
Yeah, and IBM, if found to infringe, would owe SCO five billion dollars. WTF does what Oracle’s “expert” say have to do with reality?
Sorry, but no rational judge or jury could conclude that whatever miniscule invention Sun brought to this particular party was worth that much of google’s money. Now, there are certainly irrational judges and juries around, but unlike, say, RIM, who blinked and paid the NTP extortioner before the patent office basically ruled in their favor, google’s not going there.
I knew I was being trolled when you provided an article with numberless numbers, but I kept going, expecting there might be a useful point there somewhere. Boy was I wrong.
>> Then you’re just not paying attention, as General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, and Velocity Micro have all been announced, just in the last week.
> I saw that article. BUT THERE ARE NO NUMBERS IN IT. NEVER MIND CONFIRMED ONES.
HTC has confirmed, in a round-about way. I doubt that GD/Onkyo/Velocity are paying less (they’re volumes aren’t as high as HTC.) Traditionally these
numbers are kept under seal. The HTC number ‘leaked’ because an analyst cooked up a number, and HTC was semi-forced to confirm it (as a slightly lower number.)
>> Simple, Oracle could just collect $n/activation.
> There’s no way that’s happening. Google can simply disband their market and let amazon take over helping people sell software.
You’re confusing the app market with the other Google ‘services’ that require activation (and result in Google branding). Without these ‘services’, displaying ads (the primary source of Google’s revenue for Android) is exponentially more difficult for Google.
>> That [symbian, meego]ship has sailed, … and sank.
> There’s nothing to keep companies from dredging it up from the bottom, if that’s what’s required. Meego on the new N9 is reportedly very nice.
Not happening, trust me.
>> Google, if found to infringe, would owe Oracle between 1.4 and 6.1 billion dollars.
> Yeah, and IBM, if found to infringe, would owe SCO five billion dollars. WTF does what Oracle’s “expert” say have to do with reality?
right, but SCO’s problem turned out to be that they didn’t have valid title on the copyrights they claimed. Had they, things could have (likely would have) turned out very different.
>> Best I can figure is 100,000,000 Android devices sold by May 2011. This equates to $14 per device at the low end of the range Oracle seeks.
> Sorry, but no rational judge or jury could conclude that whatever miniscule invention Sun brought to this particular party was worth that much of google’s money. Now, there are certainly irrational judges and juries around, but unlike, say, RIM, who blinked and paid the NTP extortioner before the patent office basically ruled in their favor, google’s not going there.
You so don’t understand the game in-front of you. Perhaps you seek to not understand. What-ev-ver.
fake account, no he understands the game. Its just that Oracle’s damages expert report is laughable. Not least because it relies on all of those claims that have already been ordered reexamined and rejected by the PTO.
> HTC has confirmed, in a round-about way.
First you say $10-12 / phone. Then when I say HTC is the only one I know anything about a number for, you claim there are numbers. Then when I call you on it, you back off to my statement that HTC gave some confirmation. As you say at the bottom of your last post, “What-ev-ver”.
> You’re confusing the app market with the other Google ‘services’ that require activation
Umm, no. I was just assuming (obviously wrongly) that you couldn’t really be stupid enough to suggest that google owes 6 billion dollars for the tiny incremental advantages of oracle’s “inventions” for a service that might gross them one billion this year.
If (and that’s a big “if”) oracle wins, I could probably see some sort of per-activation agreement, but not $10-20 dollars. More likely, a continuing revenue stream, but not at the 600% level — more likely the 2% level. Until google rewrites Android to get rid of Dalvik.
That was just the most obvious problem. There were certainly others.
I understand there could be a settlement. But I would expect it to be well under a billion for past infringement, and single digit percentage (or below) royalty payments based on ad revenue going forward.
> I understand there could be a settlement.
Well, at least we agree on that.
In other news, Eric attempted to defeat the Nielson numbers, … on the same day that Nielson released numbers that show Android flat amongst new smartphone purchasers for the entire 3 month period.
>In other news, Eric attempted to defeat the Nielson numbers, … on the same day that Nielson released numbers that show Android flat amongst new smartphone purchasers for the entire 3 month period.
From the article: “Android also leads among those who recently purchased a new smartphone” . So: Android market share higher, Android recent-adopter share higher, and the claim that follows is “Apple iPhone that has shown the most growth in recent months.” Except that just can’t be true unless comScore is on drugs. If you look at their numbers, any three-month period since mid-2010 has Android share growing twice as fast.
Conclusion: someone at Nielsen had a brain fart. The only alternative is that comScore’s numbers have been way, way wrong – but it’s not easy to construct a scenario in which that would be consistent with the first two claims, I think.
> Except that just can’t be true unless comScore is on drugs.
I don’t know that that exactly follows. Certainly, the claim that “Apple iPhone has shown the most growth in recent months” isn’t even supported by Nielsen’s own numbers, except for their own very narrowly defined and contorted definition of growth.
But the actual Nielsen numbers don’t seem to square with the comscore numbers, and I think that’s what you are addressing. In addition to other expected discrepancies (round-off error, sampling error, comscore’s moving average, Nielsen’s unknown average technique), you have to remember that comscore and Nielsen are giving us numbers for things that are only tangentially related.
A customer who bought an iPhone will show up in Nielsen’s data. But a customer who bought an iPhone to replace an existing iPhone will not show up in comscore’s data. That probably happens a lot. It probably happens even more when iPhone 3GS phones are available for $49. Hell, if I were carrying an iPhone and had been for awhile and was upgrade-eligible, I’d probably buy one for a backup. And it certainly happens at least a little more when more than one carrier has iPhones available.
A customer who bought a $0 refurbished iPhone for his 12 year old won’t show up in comscore’s data. But he might have answered “yes” to “did you buy a new handset within the last 3 months?”
> From the article: “Android also leads among those who recently purchased a new smartphone” . So: Android market share higher
yes, but we are talking about the gains or losses (the rate of acceleration, if you will) of these trends.
> The only alternative is that comScore’s numbers have been way, way wrong
Actually, I think part of the issue (indeed, if there is one) is that you’re making an error directly comparing Comscore’s data to Nielson’s data.
Notice that the press release: http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/6/comScore_Reports_April_2011_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share
only covers Comscore’s most recent numbers only cover through April, 2011. Then, look inside and you’ll a header that says:
3 Month Avg. Ending Apr. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Jan. 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Jan-11 Apr-11 Point Change
Google 31.2% 36.4% 5.2
Apple 24.7% 26.0% 1.3
What is that? “3 Month Avg”? An in reality, it’s a 3 month average for a period that ended two months ago.
So I went and checked your data sources, (http://www.catb.org/esr/comscore/comscore.dat), and the situation is the same.
You used Comscore’s 3 month trailing average as monthly market share. It’s valid (I’m not fighting you on that), but it does mean that you can’t directly compare Comscore’s numbers for “April” to Nielson’s numbers for “April”, because the Comscore numbers for a given month are blended across the numbers for that month, *AND* the two that directly preceded it.
IF (note my emphasis) something happened in the market in February (something like a Verizon iPhone 4, and AT&T’s response with a $49 iPhone 3GS), then the impact would only start to be seen in Comscore’s April report. Nielson and others, (perhaps even Needham & Co) who use different methods and different models (because, let’s face it, nobody is getting these numbers every month directly from the manufacturers) could certainly be generating valid results that show Android’s growth flattening.
And indeed, using your numbers (http://www.catb.org/esr/comscore/) we see these figures for ‘Change per month’ for Dec 10 – Apr 11:
Android: 2.15, 2.39, 2.41, 2.22, 2.00
Apple: 0.43, 0.45, 1.26, 0.97, 0.91
You’ve provided a graph that makes it easy to see what happened:
Notice the ‘peak’ results in Feb 11.
I understood that (and I think Eric did too). The problem is that in addition to showing the bump that compares apples to apples (3 months later), Nielsen’s data shows that in the most recent 3 months, Apple’s sales were 62% of Android’s. (17 to 27) We’ve never seen anything like that in the comscore data. We’ll have new data in a couple of days.
Anyway, that’s why I’m hypothesizing a significant upgrade rate for Apple.
> We’ll have new data in a couple of days.
>From where/who? [We’ll have new data in a couple of days.]
From comScore. Their statistics, which seem to be the most reliable and comprehensive of those publicly available, are generally released on or a few days before the 6th of each month.
I find it interesting that Apple is using part of their larger cash horde to partner up with competitors to top Google’s offer for Nortel’s patents. This teaming arrangement avoids lawsuits with team members and their OS’s (RIM, WP), yet preserves legal competition with Android/Google.
Clearly Apple is not worried about RIM or WP, but *is* worried about Android/Google.
> right, but SCO’s problem turned out to be that they didn’t have valid title on the copyrights they claimed. Had they,
> things could have (likely would have) turned out very different.
SCO also had no evidence of copyright infringement, and no evidence IBM was contractually constrained to not improve Linux using AIX code.
In short, SCO had only a claim, but no rights on which to base a claim and no evidence those “rights” would have been infringed if they had them.
on brand loyalty being weak and price being the main driving factor….
I can’t comment on the whole planet (which is what the article is about), but I definitely don’t buy it for the US, Western Europe, and other rich areas. As I’ve said before, I think the rich countries and the developing countries may end up with very different market share breakouts. People who have money behave very differently than people who don’t.
This guys is an iPhone fan who recently switched to Android: http://dinnerwithandroid.tumblr.com/
Which brings up a point. I find that almost everyone on either side of the fence (Android/iOS) is very clueless about the other side. If you really want to be an expert on predicting this stuff, you need to try both for a significant chunk of time. And buy try, I don’t mean surf the web for 5 mins. I mean buy some apps, play games, watch movies, etc. ESR: have you tried an iPhone? When you let it spill that you didn’t realize the iPod touch had access to the App Store that threw up a big flag for me.
>ESR: have you tried an iPhone?
Yes, long enough to notice that despite all the talk of superior UI it seemed oddly clunky. Tiny crowded icons, no voice search. poor integration with maps and location services – those were the three most obtrusive problems. I tried hard to spot the difference in animations people speak of – couldn’t see it.
I wonder if all the Apple fanboys on here recognize the fact that with the purchase of these Nortel patents, that Apple has officially become a patent troll.
Brand loyalty depends in the U.S., and I suspect this is true for much of Western Europe, is dependent on a variety of factors, but it does tend to wane a bit during a weak economy. People tend to reassess their priorities and go for the cheaper product during a bad economy — it comes down to “gotta haves” vs. “wanna haves”. One might. concur based on a perceived need to stay plugged into e-mail and social networks that they “gotta have” a smartphone, for example, They might “wanna have” an iPhone, but if they find that their needs are equally met by an Android phone costing less, they’ll jump ship in a heartbeat if it fits in with their budget better.
IOW, down economies tend to curb spending and one of the first things to go out the window is brand loyalty.
@phil: I’ve tried an iPhone 4 for more than a few minutes. I have to say that I’m really not that impressed. Apple implements some things well — the UI is overall more consistent and feels a bit more polished — and other things poorly — the scrolling is too slow, the wall of icons leaves me wanting for Android’s information-at-a-glance widgets, the pinch-to-zoom feels too stiff, the lack of the hardware “back” and “search” buttons that I find indispensable on Android.
Slightly off-topic, but this concerns all those cheap Android tablets esr and others are predicting:
Asian industry sources have suggested that second-grade touch panels that don’t pass Apple’s quality standards for the iPad 2 are making their way into Chinese “white-box” iPad clones, according to a new report.
Absolutely, and three of my recent points have been: (1) the way Apple’s been behaving won’t net them very many of the people without money; (2) there are an awful lot of those who have enough money to buy a cellphone but not an Apple (over 5 billion active cellphones on the planet); and (3) even if Apple does change their behavior, they might not find much, if any, additional profit in it, because, as you say, poor people behave differently. They won’t buy the accessories or as many apps.
So Apple probably needs to stay at the mid-to-high end, but they probably need to release new phones a bit faster in order to stand still.
I don’t claim or even necessarily want to be an expert in predicting this stuff. Unlike you, I have no position and no intention of acquiring a position in either Apple or Google. (Well, I’m sure I do through a mutual fund, but that’s another story.)
I have an interest in avoiding another Microsoft-style-but-worse-walled-garden, so I am definitely an advocate for the Android side of things, but I try to concentrate on challenging and countering the sort of FUD that can become self-reinforcing “fact” if merely repeated often enough.
Well, for that to happen, I’d have to start out by trying one of them for a significant chunk of time.
That’s going to happen some time, I’m sure, but frankly, the 15 minutes I’ve spent with my daughter’s iPhone far exceeds the 2 minutes or so I’ve actually hefted an Android.
Even if I was intimately familiar with both the phones, I wouldn’t feel qualified to judge whether the average buyer is willing to spend $20 or $50 more for an iPhone based on my personal experience, yet even without being intimately familiar with the phones, I feel completely qualified to say that there are a lot of consumers who won’t pay an extra $200 for an iPhone.
But really, it doesn’t matter. Absent other extraneous factors (like losing litigation in a big way), Android will keep evolving, and soon enough we’ll have the cellphone equivalent of clutch on the left, accelerator on the right, turn signal on the left (except for that #$%&! Mercedes I rented one time) etc.
That seems to be slightly misleading. The referenced news source seems to say it’s the IPS displays that are defective by Apple’s standards.
There are probably lots of people who would be willing to cope with slight color issues or a few dead pixels in exchange for spending a lot less on their cellphone. In other news, the electronics industry has been sorting parts by quality and speed for decades.
That search button is sweet, especially when followed by the microphone button. I love speak ‘n search.
The other nice thing is that different applications can hook into that universal search functionality. Hit the “People” app and hit the search button, but if you hit it from the home screen, it’ll search everything in the phone — web, contacts, apps, whatever you select. Something even the most ardent Apple fans will have no choice but to admit is that nobody makes better search interfaces than Google.
And sometimes even the most ardent Android fans have no choice but to admit that what the hell were they smoking when they came up with android market search interface. Dear god… At least i can search it using 3rd party websites.
> At least i can search it using 3rd party websites.
You mean like google? :-)
Tiny crowded icons? As opposed to what? I suppose if your entire set of 3-5 home pages is filled with widgets, but otherwise, I find the icons are just as (if not more so) tiny and crowded on my LG. I will grant that the LG has a smaller screen than the iPhone, but even if it were bigger, it wouldn’t be any less crowded than the iPhone.
As for my experiences using Android, I have an LG Optimus, one of the the cheap ($200 as of this writing) Android phones. My reference point is a 1st gen iPhone.
Voice search is a neat trick, and great for the GPS, elsewhere I could take it or leave it.
My god the built in apps SUCK. The browser is horrible (replaced with dolphin), the email client is a disaster (K9), and WTF is with the calculator that doesn’t have any advanced functionality when you rotate the screen. Also no built in note pad? Really?
Love the GPS. I know the new iPhones are capable of GPS navigation, but I haven’t used it so I can’t say how it compares to Android.
Hardware back button, I’ve complained about this before, but it’s so inconsistently used, and even the built in apps suck with it. For example, my most recent pet peeve. I leave the GPS receiver off unless I’m actively navigating, launching navigation and trying to go somewhere with the GPS off warns you and then offers to take you to settings to turn it on. Pressing the back button doesn’t take you back to navigation, it takes you back to the home screen.
Home button, please take me back to the home screen I launched from, not the center screen.
Hardware search button, meh, it’s nothing one way or the other for me.
Again, notifications still awesome
Application management SUCKS. I should not need to install a 3rd party app just to easily delete apps I don’t like.
App store is just messy. search for something and you get 3 apps that might help, and 10,000 sound, picture and theme apps that just happened to have your key words. Also, really don’t need 50 versions of the exact same app just ripped and reskinned by a different developer.
Silent mode really needs to silence every damn thing. If I put the phone in silent mode, I don’t want applications I launch to open at full volume.
As I concluded before, it’s not horrible, and certainly usable, but a brand new phone should stack up better than this to a 4 year old phone.
Oh, I forgot about super scroll. I don’t know is this is a problem with the phone hardware or the software, but randomly, while scrolling a page slowly for reading (such as this one), my phone will decide to scroll all the way to the top or bottom for no apparent reason. Little things like this are death by a thousand paper cuts moments for android.
I hear a lot of people saying this, but all the complaints I ever see are about how it’s different than the iPhone. I don’t see one solid, quantifiable complaint about usability. I find the Android browser to be quite adequate, but unlike on iPhone, there are alternatives.
HTC shipped over 11 million smartphones last quarter, up from 9.3 million in Q1:
Analysts aren’t sure whether they can keep it up or not though. Silly analysts:
Someone was asking a week or so ago where one might be able to physically fondle a non-Apple tablet before purchase. Best Buy has your back:
Is this the guy that sent the letter to RIM? If so he got outed and found a new job rather quickly. Also, esr would be right that the letter was written by a marketroid:
>Also, esr would be right that the letter was written by a marketroid:
Did I miss something? How do we know this is the guy?
> Did I miss something? How do we know this is the guy?
Sorry, wasn’t clear. Asked if he might be the guy, and (if he is the guy then you were right about him being in the marketing department, and he found a job rather quickly).
Looks like Oracle’s patent claims against Google have further evaporated.
Latest “not even wrong” analysis from beatweek magazine:
Basically, Android is going to lose big because just when the iPhone 5 is coming out, all the Android fanatics are taking their eye off the Android ball (ooh, shiny!) and instead concentrating on google plus. It’s funny how they pooh-pooh geeks as being an uninfluential minority with no social skills, and then in the next article explain how when those same geeks (who obviously can’t multitask) get distracted by the shiny new Google+, that will make all the difference in the world to the success of iPhone 5.
BTW, if Apple gets Osborned, it only has fans like those at Beatweek (who are too ashamed of what they write to sign their names to the articles) to blame.
And with all our lack of social skills we’ve manage to persuade this throng of “every mainstream user [we’ve] managed to manipulate around [us]” to buy up androids at a rate greater than iPhone.
I mean ok, many of us jokingly refer to “the geeks inheriting the earth” and such but really… I think you’re getting to the point of the invisible, inaudible, non-corporeal, levitating dragon in the garage if you’re still trying to ride the “everyone who buys android is a linux geek or a friend of one” bandwagon.
>I think you’re getting to the point of the invisible, inaudible, non-corporeal, levitating dragon in the garage if you’re still trying to ride the “everyone who buys android is a linux geek or a friend of one” bandwagon.
OK, let’s be fair. The Apple fanboys have largely abandoned that one. Today’s analogous self-delusion is that people “settle” for Androids when they can’t get access to or can’t afford iPhones.
On a related note, I wonder if Oracle’s lawsuit is going to go down in history as a spectacular blunder. We have here (http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Another-problem-for-Oracle-s-patents-1273038.html) yet another patent of theirs that’s been deemed invalid. So far, all they have to show for their efforts is a gutted patent portfolio and much money down the drain.
The biggest mistake betaweek makes is to presume that Google+ doesn’t feed back to Android (even if Android is helping bootstrap it today). Even if Apple approves the (already submitted) Google+ app, which everyone knows is nowhere near guaranteed, Google+ will still be the latest a long line of Google services that work best on Android. To take one example, I suspect “Instant Upload” of photos is likely to be less clean on iOS than on Android. I also expect that iOS won’t benefit from the “magic Picasa integration” in their photo viewer that Android has (I think that’s independent of Google+ but it certainly becomes more interesting with it). Not to mention how easy it is to forward a tweet from Plume to Google+…
The author of that article took exactly that position (that Android adoption is due to geek manipulation). No byline, and comments are closed — funny that.
I really can say it’s nothing short of amazing to watch as the months go by and iOS continues to kick the crap out of Android in every important way.. and a number of people on this thread seem to be able to convince themselves that iOS is near collapse and Android is dominant.
And this bizarre obsession with comparing this market to the corporate desktop of 1985-1995.. wow, I really don’t know what to say.
While all of the Opentards have been getting high on misremembered history and misinterpreted market share reports, Apple has delivered more of a blow to Microsoft’s dominance in the desktop/notebook space than Linux could ever hope to.
Meanwhile, we’re rushing towards another holiday season and there’s still no Android tablet. And the bulk of Android phones are bottom of the barrel, largely running on phones of people who have no idea what Android even is.
Big ass kicking on the way, folks.
>I hear a lot of people saying this, but all the complaints I ever see are about how it’s different than the iPhone. I don’t see one solid, >quantifiable complaint about usability. I find the Android browser to be quite adequate, but unlike on iPhone, there are alternatives.
I have a hours experience with iPhone, and a few days worth with an Android (Evo Shift). I never found a real problem with the iPhone’s browser (with the caveat that I barely used it) but did definitely find a serious one with Android’s. There’s a site I like that has ebooks available online in html-only format. Actually reading any of the books is impossible, the browser freaks out when you try to load one and won’t render.
OK, so you don’t think market share is important.
Apple can easily sell many more metric craptons of iPhones and still wind up well under 20% of that market.
Usually when people don’t know what to say, it’s because they disagree but don’t have any good arguments.
Now that’s funny.
As a friend of mine likes to say: “Technology isn’t real ’til you can buy it down at the Wal-Mart for $19.95.”
At what level? Do you mean they don’t know their phone has a thing called Android on it? Do you mean they don’t know it’s composed of several components including a Linux kernel and a Dalvik VM? What don’t they know that you think they should, and why the fuck should they?
This is priceless:
Exactly what kind of drug-induced self-flagellating fantasy world does this narcissist live in? Personally, I’d never even heard of ‘Google+’ before this guy pointed it out. I don’t watch Google’s every move, I don’t watch Google’s announcements with bated breath, and if Sergey Brin and Larry Page packed up and moved to a deserted island in the South Pacific tomorrow, it wouldn’t matter to me one iota.
I wonder if he can say the same about Apple and Steve Jobs?
Analysts think Samsung sold 19 million smartphones last quarter (more than Apple did the first quarter):
It will be interesting to see whether the $0 – $49 iPhone 3xx and the WalMart $147 iPhone 4 were sufficient to keep Apple’s momentum up. A lot of speculation that Samsung beat them, but Apple probably has enough stock to hide at retailers if they want to play that game.
> This is priceless
Yeah, and you didn’t even talk about “they’re doing at the price[sic] time in which Apple is coming out swinging the hardest it ever has.” I mean, iOS 5 has some nice features, but those will also be available on the iPhone 4. By all accounts, the iPhone 5 isn’t going to be anything special hardware-wise, so Apple is going to have to drop the price to attract new users, because the RDF probably won’t be strong enough to entice all the iPhone 4 toters to upgrade.
Another part I liked that I forgot to mention in my initial post was this:
Yeah, I remember how excited Steve Jobs was to get up on the stage and loudly proclaim that “ich bin ein Verizoner!”
> Personally, I’d never even heard of ‘Google+’ before this guy pointed it out.
I’d heard of it. Am extremely interested in it because I don’t trust Zuckerberg as far as I can throw him. Will have to try it out once google gets past the growing pains.
laughing, that was a good parody of the typical fan boi comment.
Trusted computing comes to Android cellphones. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry:
@Patrick: “Don’t forget VNC. My daughter loves it and was visibly upset when I explained to her to be careful because she wouldn’t be able to download it again.”
Your daughter’s phone isn’t jailbroken?
> Your daughter’s phone isn’t jailbroken?
No, see my later comment to Morgan — I meant VLC, not VNC. Neither of my daughters are nerds. They both carry iPhones. One of them has a Mac. The one with the Mac is now quite disgruntled because her iPhone still hangs after the second trip to the Apple store (and a replaced phone).
The one with the 6 year old HP laptop that was full of god-knows-how-many-windows-viruses was planning on looking for a new laptop, and I convinced her that, if her laptop were really unusable, we should strip windows off and put Linux on it, and she could see if that would work for her, or if it was just to slow, or the software was inadequate, or whatever. Then she could make a more informed buying decision later.
She’s quite pleased with the results. AFAIK the only two things she is mildly interested in that I don’t know how to make work for her are (1) the ability to sync her phone with iTunes, and (2) the ability to read sooper-sekret XD cards with the built-in reader. That latter is not all that important because her camera actually functions as a USB storage device when the card is installed in it. Bottom line: as far as she’s concerned, it feels as fast as a brand new laptop should, and does everything she needs.
Some people have had luck installing various versions of Windows iTunes under Wine, but YMMV, here there be dragons, etc. Also, if she is purchasing music from a store other than iTunes, using ripped CDs, etc., she can probably get by just fine with using Banshee to manage the songs on her iPod.
I should mention I spent some time at the verizon store today, and I need to amend a previous statement. Assuming that esr’s point of reference was an iPhone that could do back ground images, I can see where he would get the feeling of crowded icons. They’re definitely not tinier than android icons and are in my opinion larger, which combined with their uniform square shape means that they have smaller spaces between them. On a phone with a busy background, this does indeed make everything feel crowded.
There were a lot of little things (again, death by a thousand paper cuts) that made the stock browser suck. Of the ones I can think of off the top of my head:
Slow, god awfully slow. Loading one of these discussions on a wi-fi connection was a 1 minute affair, and was almost undoable on a 3G connection. Even worse was that randomly, it would stop loading a page without having completed the loading, forcing you to reload the whole damn thing. And god help you if your page included any ads or images.
No indications when a new window was being popped up.
Weird scrolling anchors, where if I scrolled down a page and then clicked a link, when the next page loaded, it would attempt to scroll to the same point I was on the previous page, rather than returning to the top.
Couldn’t handle some web forms. For example, the comment block on this very site is unusable in the stock browser.
By the way, it may not have been true before, but there are certainly alternative web browsers available for the iPhone these days:
others : http://www.macworld.com/appguide/article.html?article=138409
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dual-browser/id380640600?mt=8 (iPad Only)
>The one with the Mac is now quite disgruntled because her iPhone still hangs after the second
>trip to the Apple store (and a replaced phone).
If she’s restoring from backups, it sounds like something in one of the backups is corrupted. To save another trip to the store, the advice she’ll be given will be something along the lines of sync the phone to make sure everything is synced to the computer, restore the phone and set up as a new phone rather than restoring from backup. Re sync things back to the phone a bit at a time until either everything is back, or you discover what it causing your phone to freak out. The only things lost in this process should be text messages and notes in the note pad (unless it’s changed since the 1st gen iPhone, which is may have).
I had a customer one time who had an mp3 they had turned into a ring tone, the MP3 had some corruption, and he just happened to chose the part of the song with that corruption. Well he had set the tone long ago, and then forgot about it because he usually kept his phone on vibrate or silent, so when his phone was randomly hanging it was due to this one ring tone on the rare occasions he would get a call and not be on silent.
Incidentally, does anyone else have Virgin mobile that can speak to whether non 3G data access is simply undoable? When I had my iPhone with suncom, of course 2G was the only available data and while it was indeed slow, I could never understand the absolute fear so many android people seemed to have about not having 3G access in their phone, but now that I’ve been on VM I can see why. I’m trying to determine if this is a virgin mobile thing (and I just happened to get lucky with Suncom doing data right) or an Android thing.
Actually, on the first trip, they told her to put it into DFU mode and do a full restore, and then rename the phone it so it wouldn’t sync to any previously corrupted data. When she went back the second time, they swapped the phone out.
Unfortunately, even with the changed name, it seemed to put pretty much everything back. Also unfortunately, it seemed to work for a relatively long time until it broke again (a week or so).
Color me crazy, but a phone shouldn’t break when you give it a bad ringtone… But you bring up a good point that might explain why it worked for a long time. Is there anything special she has to do to restore things one at a time? I didn’t watch the process, but I thought it pretty much synced up when she plugged it in. Maybe I misunderstood.
Given the iPhone’s multitasking model, or essentially lack thereof, that’s not a surprise at all. What happens if you feed a corrupt MP3 to any program that plays MP3s? The player crashes or hangs if it doesn’t do any error checking of the file first. It isn’t a big deal in an environment with decent multitasking and memory protection since you just kill the hung player and restart it. In the iWalled-garden, it’s another story.
> …so when his phone was randomly hanging it was due to this one ring tone on the rare occasions he would get a call and not be on silent.
WTF??? Seriously? Malformed data should never, ever, ever cause a system to hang. Upon encountering bad data, they system should alert the user that the data is malformed. Anything less is incompetent design.
> It isn’t a big deal in an environment with decent multitasking and memory protection since you just kill the hung player and restart it.
How is it not a big deal? Input validation is the most basic thing. IMHO, any program that crashes because you feed it bad data is broken.
New comscore data out:
If I’m reading it right, looks like Android’s market share gain vs the last report was almost 3x that of Apple’s this time. (1.7% vs 0.6%)
“I think this is what’s going on in tablets, too. Manufacturers are behaving as though they think consumers are feature-seeking and sensitive to brands, but in fact most consumers are price-seeking. ”
Oh, golly, that doesn’t surprise me one little bit.
Input validation of MP3 files isn’t so easy since it’s based on frames. You basically end up having to check the validity of each individual frame. It gets worse with VBR files. Different applications handle validation of the data differently, some are extremely brain damaged. All the but the most fanboyish of the fanboys have to admit that iTunes is horrible pile of crap that crashes when you sneeze on it.
Like I said, it’s more of a problem on iOS than it is on, oh, Android because at least with Android a hung or crashed application won’t hang the whole system.
>Color me crazy, but a phone shouldn’t break when you give it a bad ringtone…
For what it’s worth, when I say hang, I mean unable to perform the action the user requested (in this case, answering his phone), you could still force quit the dialer app and you would return to the home screen, with the side effect of having missed your call. But ultimately for users, the distinction between a hung app that you need to force quit and a hung phone is non existent. Essentially you just needed to, as Morgan put it: “… just kill the hung player and restart it …” but when your player is the same app that allows you to answer the phone in the first place, your phone might as well have crashed completely.
I can’t speak to the specifics of what exactly was happening under the hood because I wasn’t (and am not) privy to that, but this is essentially how the symptoms presented themselves.
>All the but the most fanboyish of the fanboys have to admit that iTunes is horrible pile of crap
>that crashes when you sneeze on it.
On windows? Absolutely. On the mac? Not so much.
I have plotted the May comScore data. Blog post to follow.
>Is there anything special she has to do to restore things one at a time? I didn’t watch the process,
>but I thought it pretty much synced up when she plugged it in. Maybe I misunderstood.
Yeah, when she sets it up as a new phone, it’s going to want to sync up with the default settings. She should cancel that first sync and go into the settings and uncheck the options to sync everything, and then go though and check them one by one, syncing each time until she finds what’s wrong.
Of course, the standard trouble shooting questions apply:
Since it seems to work for a while, what changed just before it stopped? New apps? New pictures? New music? Maybe an app with a bad update?
Any particular thing she’s doing most often when it hangs?
I’ll be the first to admit that not every Genius at the Apple stores are good trouble shooters. Unfortunately, around 2005 when business really started skyrocketing, Apple started tapping out the pool of quality tech guys with strong mac backgrounds and a willingness to work a career in a retail store. As a result, they started hiring more warm bodies and less experienced or knowledgeable techs and the pay rates dropped appropriately, which simply cut the pool even smaller.
They do a decent job with training, but as we all know, sometimes you just have to have to have experienced the little quirks that no training will teach you.
> I have plotted the May comScore data. Blog post to follow.
It’s pretty obvious that Verizon is, in fact, helping Apple. Not as much as some would have liked.
BTW, I’ve been struggling with the best way to visualize the seasonality in smartphone purchases. Currently, I think maybe if you simply add a “total” line to “Userbase by platform, change per month” that it would be very revealing.
>I think maybe if you simply add a “total” line to “Userbase by platform, change per month” that it would be very revealing.
Thanks. I’ve pointed her at this thread. Maybe we’ll get it fixed tonight.
My experience is any iPhone hanging is a mis-behaving app. Even though most apps do go into a “stand by” mode when you switch tasks, some buggy apps can cause hosage. In theory the only background tasks than an app can have are music, location, and finishing a task (like finishing a download). But things don’t always go as planned.
Force close all the apps and I’d wager the problem goes away. Similar to the reason there are a bunch of task killer apps on Android.
Can we also get a sample index.html.in? It’s not posted anywhere on the page and I’m not fluent in M4. (Sad, I know.)
>Can we also get a sample index.html.in? It’s not posted anywhere on the page and I’m not fluent in M4.
Yes, there are alternative browsers in the App Store, but the last time I checked they had two huge limitations:
[without jailbreaking, of course – which I say so often that I wonder if it should be a default disclaimer]
2. No way to make an alternative browser the default (or even just an option when a link is clicked)
In other words, Opera Mini, but no Opera Mobile or Firefox.
On the other topic, what phone were you using with these browser problems? I just picked up my phone and loaded this page on my G2 over 3G and it was perfectly reasonable (using both the default browser and Firefox). In fact, most browsing over 3G is good enough that I hardly ever bother to turn WiFi on (especially as it has some battery-life cost). And while I do most of my browsing in Firefox these days (since the release of Firefox 4), but I got my G2 last November, so I’ve done plenty of browsing in the default browser, too. There is one usability point that Firefox gets (and I believe the iPhone browser does, too, though I don’t have one handy to check) that the default browser-doesn’t: checkerboard pre-rendering. In Firefox this is handy, because I can scroll down one of these pages while waiting for it to load, but it isn’t a big enough deal that I’d call the default browser unusable because of it.
Indeed, there are limitations, but that’s still a far cry from no alternatives. I’m happy to be honest about shortcomings, I just want to be honest.
As for the phone, LG Optimus V
I guess it is a matter of perspective. To me, those limitations mean that there are no alternatives to the built-in browser on iOS. There may be alternative ways of viewing certain subclasses of (and/or certain parts of) of web pages, but I don’t consider that the same thing.
I find RIM’s participation in the Nortel patent consortium amazing. While their core business goes down the tubes, they’re spending nearly a quarter’s worth of operating income and a third of their cash reserves on a legal gamble that they might not survive long enough to see the outcome of. Have I missed the news about their hiring Darl McBride as co-co-CEO and co-co-Chairman? I doubled down my short position on them yesterday.
> I find RIM’s participation in the Nortel patent consortium amazing.
Not me. Whether they are planning on turnabout being fair play, or whether they are simply playing a defensive game, I don’t know, but if any company knows first-hand how dangerous patent trolls can be, it’s RIM.