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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Comment by majipoor
by majipoor on Fri 11th Oct 2013 16:01 UTC
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Gruber say: "Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well"

Which is his definition of success (and mine).

You say that Android is (arguably) better than iOS: whether it is true or not is irrelevant if your goal is to answer to Gruber's article.

Some say that model X from company Y is better than the iPhone or more often that the camera is better or the display or the CPU or whatever. Other say that Android or WP is better than iOS, Google Maps is better than Plan, GMail better than iCloud and so on.

But people are not buying smartphones by combining the best of dozens of models, picking features from several OSes, they are buying a whole package which includes the hardware, the OS, the design, the fun or fashion element, the AppStore, the ecosystem, the integration between their various devices, the services end everything else.

When you agree that for a company, success = profit (what else?), then it becomes obvious that Apple has by far the better situation in the market to ensure long term success. They have every pieces of the puzzle (some being stronger than others) and they are going to make the puzzle bigger by adding more pieces (TV, iWatch, mobile payments, etc.) and the overall package they offer (hardware, OS, design, ecosystem, services, customer service etc.) is unmatched as a whole for a company (and not by putting in the same bag many companies together against Apple and considering only the strength of each of them: profit and success is not something companies share).

If you want to argue about Gruber's conclusion, you should explain us why Apple may no longer be a successful company in the future and which company is going to take its place as a profit leader.

Edited 2013-10-11 16:07 UTC

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