Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 10th Oct 2013 16:37 UTC

Insightful article by John Gruber.

So the irony here is that iOS vs. Android (or, if you prefer, iPhone and iPad vs. commodity smartphones and tablets) is in fact a replay Mac vs. Windows - but not in the way that most who make the comparison would have you believe. Judging by its actions, Apple is keenly aware of the lessons to be learned from 20 years ago. To wit, this has nothing to do with focusing on raw market share, and everything to do with keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality. If Apple maintains a lead over its rivals in those regards, the Mac suggests that Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well - a market that is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and unlike the PC market, is still growing.

As insightful as the article is, it does pivot on the assumption that Apple does, indeed, "[maintain] a lead over its rivals" in design and quality. Design is largely a matter of taste, but as far as quality goes, Apple has, in my view, been surpassed in almost every aspect by Android - at least, when it comes to software. And let's not even get started on internet services, where Apple is a complete and utter joke compared to its competitors. As far as hardware goes, however, Apple's supposed lead is harder to debate - I've held a lot of phones and tablets in my hands over the years, and while many come close to Apple's, I've never held anything that outright surpassed it (save for maybe the HTC One which no one is buying).

Unsurprisingly, Gruber believes Apple does maintain that lead, and as such, arguing his point becomes relatively easy. However, if you ascribe to the view that Android has surpassed iOS in quality (and certainly in design, in my view), it becomes a lot harder to accept that Apple can, this time, avoid the trap it fell into in the '90s.

Now, before people will twist and turn this into me saying Apple is doomed - I don't believe for a second that it is. However, that doesn't mean a repeat of the '90s is somehow magically off the table - Apple has a lot of work to do in order to avoid it. As Tom Dale stated so aptly almost a year ago, "Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services". With Motorola and the Moto X, design might not be the only thing Google is getting better at faster.

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RE: Comment by shmerl
by darknexus on Thu 10th Oct 2013 21:20 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
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Apple today seems not to care about innovating whether in design or quality. Or rather, they stopped experimenting and moving forward. The general feeling - stagnation. So the article could be right for the situation 5-6 years ago. But not anymore.

Remember though that most people don't want constant change. Small refinements over time is the name of the game at the moment, and that's what most people are comfortable having. Look at Windows 8, or the ribbon: Microsoft "innovated" without warning and now users are confused and angry. Some people I know still hate the ribbon, let alone the "modern UI." Not everyone's a techie, and Apple aren't going after the techies. People want improvements, yes, but those improvements have to come in such a way as to not break the foundations users already understand. Look at iOS 7: it looks different, has a few new additions (app switcher and control center), but still operates almost exactly the same as it did before. Opinions on the new look differ wildly, but no one is confused as to how to operate it. You could say the same about Android 4.x vs 2.x. New features abound, yet anyone familiar with 2.x can use 4.x without issue even though they may not know how to access the new features present in it.

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