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May. 10 2010 - 4:28 pm | 380 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

Android outsells IPhone but Does it Matter?

The default Home screen of the iPhone shows mo...

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So, a lot’s being made of the fact that a new report has phones with Google’s Android operating system outselling those with Apple during the first quarter of this year.

“Android demolishing IPhone in sales” is the headline on Fortune’s article.

“WHOA: Google Android Outsells Apple IPhone In The US” is Business Insider’s take on the situation”

and

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s The Tech Chronicles reports that “Android zooms past IPhone.”

The thing is, though… so what?

As Peter Kafka at All Things Digital points out, “this isn’t necessarily terrible news for Apple.”

Let’s turn the news around… instead of expressing surprise that Android overtook IPhone, why not wonder what took Android so long?

First I think we have to consider the possibility that comparing Android and IPhone isn’t entirely fair as Android is an operating system and the IPhone is really a platform.

Android is an operating system that works on phones made for Verizon, Sprint, Motorola and others. Apple makes their operating system for their phones. No one else sells phones with the operating system.

So, you have all these carriers selling phones that use Android against the one company that provides service for the IPhone…

And that company is AT&T, not a company known for providing great service to its IPhone customers (see Jon Stewart on this point).

Again, my feeling is the question is what took all those companies so long.

I’m not worried about Apple here.

We’ve already — much to Apple’s chagrin — gotten a glimpse of what the next generation phone, the 4G, will be and who knows what else they’ll be unveiling at next month’s developer conference?

And while Google Editions is on its way, the fact is when people talk about a cell phone that doubles as an e-reader, the talk drifts to Apple…. there’s not a lot of talk about people downloading books on to their droids (sorry, R2…).

So, let Android enjoy their moment in the sun… don’t bother them with the question of what took them so long… and let’s wait and see what Apple has coming up next? Could the Verizon IPhone be on its way so I can finally have one (absolute disclosure: I am a Verizon Wireless customer… for where I live and travel, it really is the best choice) device that allows me to talk on the phone, write and read?

Will Google try to evolve Android into a system that makes it easier to be a phone and e-reader?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


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  1. collapse expand

    Colin: You are right to point out that Apple doesn’t really care too much that Android phones as a whole are achieving a higher market share. But your hope for a Verizon iPhone neglects the reason why they don’t care.

    Apple’s strategy is to maintain a high rate of profit on its investments in an industry that has a tendency to trade razor-thin profits for volume. As long as its products are seen as higher quality than the competition, Apple can make enough money to maintain its innovational research program and enrich its shareholders. Like Motorola, HTC, HP and Dell, however, most computer bloggers see the low-margin, high-volume strategy as the only way for a hardware company to survive and prosper. Hence the constant prediction that lower market share = death.

    Most cellphone carriers take advantage of this knowledge to squeeze as much revenue out of their contracts with cellphone makers as possible. When Apple first approached Verizon with the iPhone, Verizon insisted upon the same relationship. Fortunately for Apple, AT&T was willing to abandon the old model in the hope that a different relationship would allow them to spring ahead of Verizon in size and profitability. Now Verizon feels the loss of market share, but not so much so that they are willing to change the deal they offered Apple in 2006.

    So don’t hold out hope for a Verizon iPhone; the rumors are Verizon’s efforts to stop the 50% of its customers who would rather have an iPhone than an Android from switching to AT&T. Unless the next generation LTE hybrid iPhone is so compelling relative to its competition that Verizon decides to change its revenue sharing policy, nothing will change. So enjoy your Android Verizon phone if Verizon’s network is the only one that meets your need. Or figure out a way to make AT&T work for you.

    Market share does matter for Apple when it gets so low that other computer companies take advantage of mutual dependencies to cutoff access to Apple’s technological needs. Apple has learned its lesson from the 1990s that they must devote their greatest efforts to maintain their autonomy from companies like Microsoft and Adobe. That’s what the dispute over Flash and Silverlight access to the iPhone platform is all about.

  2. collapse expand

    “Apple makes their operating system for their phones. No one else sells phones with the operating system.”

    Apple is closed source and holds tight reins over its property and basically draconian when it comes to what people are allowed to develop for it. So, you’re right, you really can’t compare Android and IPhone.

  3. collapse expand

    Tell you what, jcalton. When you have succeeded with whatever cross-platform development environment you favor to help the Android OS produce the combination of long battery life, hardware-software integration, UI responsiveness, stability, and long-run security that the iPhone OS brings to the mobile marketplace, then you can complain about Apple being closed source.

    In the meantime, end users have had enough of cross-platform applications, runtimes, and plugins that crash operating systems, sap battery life, and sport interfaces ported from Windows. It’s time for more developers to learn some Cocoa/Objective C.

  4. collapse expand

    LOL

    Not much funnier on a message board than watching an Apple sheeple get his/her panties in a bunch because someone says something they don’t like about the all mighty Apple.

    Endlessly entertaining.

    BTW, it’s difficult and more than a little arrogant to speak for “end users” as a whole.

    I was this close to buying an iPad but then the cold hard slap of common sense whacked me upside the head.

  5. collapse expand

    Kudos must go to Google who manages to sell more of its Android O/S despite the marketing juggernaut that is Apple. What puzzles me is why Apple is anointing AT&T its only carrier? Why make its customers suffer such crappy service, a situation that can only erode its brand over time?

  6. collapse expand

    inmyhumbleopinion: Read comment 1 above and follow the money. The other problem with iPhone on Verizon is that Verizon’s CDMA cannot handle data and voice transmissions at the same time, which means feature reduction for the Verizon iPhone.

    consrfunny: Thanks for the personal attack; that, too, is endlessly entertaining. Know any end users who enjoy crashes, low batteries, and difficult-to-use interfaces?

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    An award winning journalist twice nominated by his editors for a Pulitzer Prize, Miner is the former City Editor of The New York Sun. He has also written for The Washington Post, The New York Post, The New York Times and The Oregonian. His reporting has freed from prison a man wrongfully convicted of murder and another time helped send a corrupt politician to jail

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