Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Android Vs iPhone - will it sell

David Teeghman of Discovery News wrote several articles on why he believes that the Android, Google's phone OS, will defeat the iPhone iOS and why the Apple phone will finally languish.

The last two articles are here;

The problem is that his arguments are full of holes. Lets look at his points.

"...the iPhone is only available through AT&T, where it will languish"
Thus is a typically US centric view. In most countries, as is the case here in Australia, the iPhone is available unlocked and also on most carriers that have 2G/3G networks. Do not blame the sub standard carrier networks in the US for the issues with the iPhone. Neither should he blame the iPhone for the questionable regulatory situation in the US. If you want phones unlocked make sure that your government outlaws anti-competitive practices.

"...Apple's iPhone Operating System only operates on the iPhone"
Good point. And I concede that this is an issue but not as big as he seems to think. It has pushed the iPhone from zero to the biggest smartphone usage in four years. Despite what the punters said at its launch four years ago.

His parallel with the Mac of the 80s is inappropriate. There are many significant differences. The Mac was launched in a different market, was aimed at a difference audience. Was competing against a number of good products and did not provide many unique and groundbreaking features which no other product had. What the iPhone did was re-define the smart phone and every other OS has been trying to catch up since. I am not saying that they will not but Apple has such a lead now the momentum will carry on for a very long time. Apple have to make some serious mistakes to loos the plot now.

"It has always insisted that it develop and sell its own software"
Again he has a good point. However, while people are able to obtain good software for nothing or small outlay and very conveniently then users will not care. What Apple has done is provide a single easy to use portal for all users. Whilst I have serious concerns over Apple's monopoly of iPhone apps it has re-defined the smartphone software market. Despite the issues with this model it has actually worked to Apple's advantage.

"Last time, Microsoft dethroned Apple"
This is a misrepresentation of what happened. There was no throne in the mid 80s. There was no clear leader with many different platforms. There were many runners in the race and it was certainly the openness of the PC that made it the winner. But that was a different market and the OS only rode on the back of the success of the PC. There are many more things that could be said about that time and why it was that MS-DOS/Win won the day but to say that there are any parallels here is to misunderstand both markets.

"And Google will do a better job than Microsoft, which has developed a series of terrible operating systems that are prone to viruses."
All OSes are more or less prone to viruses. The only reason that the PC became the leader was its proliferation. There was no point in trying to load viruses on platforms that only have a small proportion of the market. Why hit thousands of platforms when you could hit millions.

The whole thrust of his final article is cost.

"HP sells five times more computers each year than Apple. It's no wonder, when the HP Pavilion laptop starts at $579 and the Apple MacBook Pro costs at least $1,199."

Not sure about his statistics but if you look at the price/feature comparison then the prices are now pretty close. I think that the issue is that Apple do not want to be in the $579 laptop market. That is a decision they have made and that must suite them. However the market is completely different and this is more or less irrelevant to his point.

"Apple's market share will fall precipitously as more users abandon the iPhone for the more economical Android."

Possibly. I bought the iPhone because it was the first phone that did what I wanted in a handheld device. It has issues and annoyances but compared to whatever else was on the market it was streets ahead.

It is try that the Android has caught up tremendously but the plethora of viable alternatives has not stopped the sales of the iPhone 4.

I think what the author is missing is the true reason that the PC has such a huge market share now. In the late 80s the PC really took off. The reasons for this are more or less unimportant since it is the momentum that this created that ensured its longevity. So long as they maintained a product that was attractive to consumers then they would continue buying them. The iPhone has a momentum that only serious mistakes by Apple can stop. People are still buying them in droves and price does not appear to be such a factor to the consumer as it is to the author.

There is one factor that the author is ignoring and it is an extremely clever marketing strategy for Apple, the app store. Once people buy an iPhone and they start buying apps then they have invested in more than just the phone, they have a good incentive to stay with an iPhone since they have several hundreds of dollars in apps they they will have to abandon if they move to another platform. This reinforces users loyalty to that platform. This means that people who have had an iPhone for a one or two year contract are unlikely to move to another platform. The iPhone is definitely in for the long haul and as good as Android is it will continue to dominate the market.

Maybe the iPhone will decline in the years to come and other smart phones may grow in popularity but the momentum that the iPhone certainly has the market share and will continue for a long time. What I believe that the Android is doing is filling in the gaps for people who would not necessarily buy a smart phone but want to dabble their feet. As well as satisfying the smartphone needs of Apple haters and fence sitters. Now that Apple has shown the mass market that a smartphone can be a smart choice it is now opening the market for all smart phone players and to my mind whether it be Apple, HTC, Samsung or whatever the market has changed irreversibly and the smart phone has now come into its own thanks largely to Apple.

No comments:

Post a Comment