Android Still Dominates Phones, But What About the Rest of Mobile?

On the topic of smartphones, I hear this fairly often in person:

Q: “iPhone is just one phone, how can it be compared against the hundreds of Android phones? By this standard, Android phones should be selling hundreds of times more in quantity than iPhones!”
A: False logic. It’s actually more than one phone, but more importantly, it’s this way by design. It’s a formula that works for Apple which allows them to control vertical integration tightly, but a large variety of phones does not automatically equal a similarly large quantity of sales (ie. having only one model doesn’t mean you restrict production of that one model – ie. Ford Model T). It’s the difference between dividing a pie up into slices, and miraculously creating new pies out of nowhere.

To be fair, also:

Q: “Android devices have majority market share, compared to iPhone.”
A: Mostly accurate, but VERY important to differentiate between a type of device (ie. Phone) vs a platform (ie. iOS / Android). If you want to compare platforms, then iPad and iPod Touch must be added in (which increase numbers from 20M => 37M in the last quarter, very substantial.). Therefore, it makes more sense to compare platforms as a whole, rather than individual devices (since there is no ‘one’ device to compare with on the Android side).

So, some examples of meaningless statements:

“iPhone is the number one handset in the world.” – This is true, but the way that Android is structured, means there is no ONE piece of universal hardware to compare with.

“There have been XXXXX billion app downloads to date.” – Unless the competition started at exactly the same time, this is also of little comparative value. Same goes for any cumulative totals, it’s the current rate and forecasted rates which actually matter.

_”Apple makes more from smartphones sales than Google.” – True of course, this is their very business model. Upfront profit on hardware, some ongoing revenue over the years (App sales, iCloud), an emphasis on renewing hardware cyclically. Google doesn’t make smartphones, they make money when you use the internet from anywhere. Their platform just facilitates this in a better way. Very different beasts.

» Android Still Dominates Phones, But What About the Rest of Mobile?


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