Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Aug 2013 21:16 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless I wrote this almost exactly three years ago, to much debate:

Sure, Apple will most likely still make far more money per sold iPhone device than competitors will per Android phone, but the trend is clear: as much as I love my iPhone, it will be relegated to a ~10% market share figure within a few quarters.

It took a little longer than "a few quarters", but here we are. Android has revolutionised the smartphone market. I'm not particularly happy about that (both Android and Samsung are far too dominant, which is bad for the market and thus for consumers), but there it is.

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RE: Apples vs Androids
by Tony Swash on Wed 7th Aug 2013 21:57 UTC in reply to "Apples vs Androids"
Tony Swash
Member since:

The evolution of market share between the big mobile device platforms is interesting but does it mean very much? I ask that question in all seriousness because it is quite clear that in fundamental ways the dynamics of mobile device platform performance, and of related commercial dynamics, seems to be very different to the dynamics of the PC market where market share gained traction as the proxy indicator of choice.

The problem with use of platform market share as some sort of critically important metric in the mobile device markets is it's not a good proxy for anything. Saying X% of devices run a particular OS carries as much meaning as saying X% of devices are coloured black unless market share directly connects to, and therefore is a good proxy measure of, other important and significant characteristics of platform performance. And at the moment it doesn't seem to be.

Looking at the device market I see huge imbalances which could be very unstable and which could trigger very big changes in the shape of the industry over the next few years, and none of these imbalances relate to market share. In fact I am not sure market share has any impact on anything of substance in the device markets.

Consider some of the imbalances in the device market that could trigger profound change:

Apple takes an absurdly large proportion of mobile device profits.

Apple remains critically dependent on it's main device competitor Samsung for crucial component supply

Samsung utterly dominates the branded global Android OEMs

There is rapidly growing sales of Android handsets by Chinese firms that have zero connection to Google services and whose medium term impact on other Android OEMs (including Samsung) are unknown.

Google following the departure of Andy Rubins seems to be repositioning Chrome as the centre piece for the horizontal domination of services across all mobile device platforms.

Google and Samsung are both tied together in strong dependencies at the same time driven apart by separating interests (Google wants to control devices more and make Motorola profitable, Samsung wants more of the services and content revenue cake and wants to control it's own OS destiny).

What's interesting about all those tensions, imbalances and instabilities I have listed, any one of which could trigger profound change in the mobile device markets, is that none of them have anything directly to do with market share.

Edited 2013-08-07 22:00 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Apples vs Androids
by Nelson on Wed 7th Aug 2013 22:06 in reply to "RE: Apples vs Androids"
Nelson Member since:

I happen to agree. It makes for an interesting case study in how everyone else dropped the ball and how the stars aligned for Android, but it isn't a good measure unless accompanied by stories of developer success and consumer delight.

Microsoft, Google, Apple, et all surely don't spend billions of dollars fighting over percentages and install bases. They fight for mind share, a "stage" to provide their services through, and a profitable ecosystem to make it self sustaining.

I guess the point of discussion then pivots to what is a good way to measure the health of an ecosystem at regular intervals? IDC, Gartner, Kantar, etc probably are so focused on because they provide regular snapshots of something.

Its hard to measure engagement, especially in app engagement, or to gauge consumer satisfaction with an OS as a whole. Its hard to source reliable numbers from developers as well to get a view of the platform in aggregate.

Also it begs the question, how are we even measuring the size of an ecosystem? We focus on shipped market share instead of install base share. We focus on a huge Android ecosystem but include dubious white box devices which don't seem to have a tangible impact on the ecosystem. We obsess over devices shipped over users satisfied. Its a major flaw in how the news is reported on the current state of affairs and I suspect there's a very different untold story.

Reply Parent Score: 3