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.

Permalink for comment 574453
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Member since:

Tony Swash,

To be honest, I'm glad that apple has lost their market lead. IMHO they don't deserve a larger share so long as they continue to treat mobile devices like nanny platforms by forcing their customers into using a locked down app store and then censoring applications that end users are allowed to install. I for one do not accept that consumer technology should preclude owners from being in control over their own devices. A platform which restricts control to the hands of the few who built it yields a narrow approach to innovation on that platform. Locked platforms are a decidedly bad direction for the future of technology.

You may not believe it, but this view is driven by pragmatism rather than animosity towards apple. If apple were to turn around and begin championing the owner's right to choose their own software, then I'd be far more supportive of them. I dare say even many fanboys who've been publicly defending the walled garden approach would secretly turn a smile inside too.

Job's fixation on control came to the detriment of the platform insofar as it relates to openness. Apple's products have historically been confined to *his* vision because that was all he ever allowed, yet I believe this egocentric mindset is needlessly costing apple market share. If apple doesn't want to become marginalized again, they should re-evaluate their rigid approach and learn how to play nicer with others. How popular would they be if they hadn't created such high friction with open aficionados with no real gains for their users? I'm not sure if it would be in Apple's character to create a mobile platform that embodies openness and third party innovation, but if they did I think it would be the game changer they need.

Edited 2013-10-11 05:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3