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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I suspect that's not completely true. For now apple's share is still healthy enough, but the more it looses the more it risks loosing the critical mass it needs to attract the third party support that users benefit from. Instead of being a primary target, it could degrade to a secondary target or loose supported status all together if it becomes too irrelevant to developers.

I just don't believe that writing off the importance of market share is wise. Even if you are being sincere that it's not important to you, it is important to other users who want their products to be well supported by third party services. Apple still has tons of market momentum for the near term, but if their share erodes a small bit every single year to competitors, that will invariably result in apple returning to a marginalized market position.

If that were true then the software available for the Mac - perhaps 3% of the global PC market - would be markedly inferior to that available for the PC. In fact there is no general software deficit for the Mac. Some pieces of software are PC only, some are Mac only, most run on both platforms. I use my Mac for a very wide range of functions including office productivity, a very wide range of high end graphics and photo editing, web site design, video editing, music, sound, etc, etc, and I have never felt the software available in all those areas was better or more comprehensive on a PC. So why should it be different on phones and tablets?

Plus of course there is the huge disparity in platform utilisation and monetisation rates between Android and iOS. An average iOS user is worth about four times as much as an average Android user to third parties such as developers and peripheral makers.

Finally iOS is way ahead of Android in corporate and professional adoption and the iPad in particular has way more high end pro apps.

iOS is going to be on around a billion devices in a year or so (it's already on 700 million) and I really can't see how market share is going to undermine third party support in the foreseeable future.

Apple cares about sales but not market share. Apple doesn't chase the low end Android customers because they are just not worth it.

This is avery good article about Apple'' approach to market segmentation:

(Thom - note the use of global figures this time - does that make me less of a 'fanatic'?)

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