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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Tony Swash
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"As a result Windows took over the market and as a result of being reduced to a small market share the Mac fell behind technologically and Apple nearly went bankrupt.

Well, I guess it's a myth in the sense that Apple didn't have any market share to begin with for MS to take over.

that the Mac is once again approaching the 10% to 15% market share it had back at it's peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Talk about myths...
I don't know where that 10-15% comes from but it sure wasn't like that in Sweden. I had friends with PC's, Amiga's, C64's, ZX Spectrum's and TI-99's and whatnot but I didn't know a single person that had a Mac. In fact, I didn't even see a Mac in the wild until I went to Uni in the 90's and then I encountered exactly one.
Mac's where kinda like SGI workstations: some kind of mythical and cool computer but you'd have to be insane or filthy rich to buy one for personal use.

Whether the Mac has 1% or 20% of the current PC market is utterly irrelevant to the argument I was making. If it's a lot less globally than the US figure I quoted that doesn't matter and I bow to your greater statistical knowledge. It doesn't effect the argument I was making and it it doesn't bother me as an Apple fan and customer.

I think non-Apple fans, and in particular Fandroids, often completely fail to understand what is important to Apple fans and Apple customers. Speaking as both a customer and fan of Apple I love to see Apple products achieving high sales and a large market share because I want more people to experience the benefits of using well designed software combined and integrated with well designed hardware and wrapped in first class customer support and service. But if other people want to use non-Apple devices and if a large majority of customers reject Apple I don't care.

The state of market share is of intellectual interest, as is occasionally offering a response to the relentless rubbish that is talked about mobile market share, but I don't think and have never thought that market share matters much in and of itself.

What matters to me, and to other fans and customers of Apple, is that Apple continues to be a successful and profitable business with ample resources to allow it to continue to develop and innovate new products, and that even if reduced to a permanent minority platform status there are no significant disincentives to using the minority Apple platform. On both counts I am very confident about the future.

There is no sign that Apple is going to encounter any sort of financial or business problems in the foreseeable future. Based on the current state of the Mac platform (a small minority player in terms of market share) and iOS (a minority player in terms of market share) it is very unlikely that using either MacOSX or iOS is going to become problematic or impoverished because of it's minority status, quite the contrary as iOS, and I would argue MacOSX, have a richer ecosystem of software offerings. So things are looking very rosy indeed.

I liked this comment by Horace Dediu at Asymco

At this point of time, as at all other points of time in the past, no activity by Apple has been seen as sufficient for its survival. Apple has always been priced as a company that is in a perpetual state of free-fall. It’s a consequence of being dependent on breakthrough products for its survival. No matter how many breakthroughs it makes, the assumption is (and has always been) that there will never be another. When Apple was the Apple II company, its end was imminent because the Apple II had an easily foreseen demise. When Apple was a Mac company its end was imminent because the Mac was predictably going to decline. Repeat for iPod, iPhone and iPad. It’s a wonder that the company is worth anything at all.”

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