1Jobs on Android Unit Sales
Here’s one good piece of FUD from Jobs: “Unfortunately, there is no solid data on how many Android phones are shipped each quarter. We hope that manufacturers will soon start reporting the number of Android handsets they ship each quarter. But today that just isn’t the case. Samsung released sales figures for its Galaxy S (more than 10 million) and Galaxy S II devices (5 million). Google’s latest count is that 550,000-plus Android handsets and tablets are being activated daily. comScore just said Android has 41.8 percent market share in a market where there are more than 80 million smartphone users. That’s a huge chunk.
2Unrelenting Sales Battle
It’s hard to bash the iPhone’s unit sales15120 million a quarter these days. Android lovers will tell you the iPhone is boring because of the lack of diversity. One device shipped every year, albeit with some nice software and hardware modifications. Android offers more diversity and Apple’s share is 27 percent in the United States, though it has sold more than 100 million iPhones worldwide. What will the iPhone 5 portend? Lots more sales, we predict. The hype is huge.
3Jobs on Androids Openness
“Google loves to characterize Android as open, and iOS and iPhone as closed. We find this a bit disingenuous and clouding the real difference between our two approaches. The first thing most of us think about when we hear the word open is Windows, which is available on a variety of devices. Unlike Windows, however, where most PCs have the same user interface and run the same app, Android is very fragmented. Many Android OEMs, including the two largest, HTC and Motorola, install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves from the commodity Android experience. The users will have to figure it all out. Compare this with iPhone, where every handset works the same.” There is much merit here. First, there are more than half a dozen versions of Android for phones, and a separate Honeycomb branch for tablets, of which there are now three, builds. HTC uses the Sense UI. Motorola uses Moto blur. Android has been routinely criticized for fragmentation and Google has been accused of trying to control how some manufacturers modify Android on their hardware.
4Android App Store
Jobs added: “In addition to Google’s own app marketplace, Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android. So there will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone. Apple’s App Store has over three times as many apps as Google’s marketplace and offers developers’ one-stop shopping to get their apps to market easily and to get paid swiftly.” We actually think the arrival of the Amazon Appstore for Android and other markets promotes consumer choice. Develops will look over the market and pick their platforms. Jobs does have a point with Android payments—Android Market’s payment platform needs work.
It’s not the proprietary nature of Apple that makes it bad for the market—it’s that it is too uptight in the face of competition and it ends up hurting consumers by limiting choice. Having one store from which to buy you apps from is good, Jobs said. Really? Do we all want to shop at Wal-Mart or Sears? No. Jobs’ position there is clouded by his elitist thinking that the iPhone is the only smartphone that matters. As he noted during the call: Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator.”
Apple declined to allow Google Voice on the iPhone for more than a year (something about competing with iPhone features) before grudgingly giving it the pass after the FCC stepped in and threatened to throw its weight around. Note Jobs didn’t address that in his anti-Android screed. Why would he? It was petty.
7Apple’s iAd Policies
Apple also adjusted its iPhone and iPad rules for developers last summer to prohibit applications from collecting data without users’ consent and selling the data to advertisers that are owned by a distributor or developer of mobile devices. This threatened to lock Google’s AdMob, Microsoft, Yahoo and others from selling mobile ads on the iPhone. Apple never actually locked companies out, though, and revised its policy again, showing the market had spoken and disagreed with the company.
8Subscription Rule Enforcement
One area where Apple and Jobs held strong was in its rules regarding subscriptions. Apple Feb. 15 launched its content subscription service to provide a way for publishers of digital magazines, newspapers, music and other applications to make money from their work. Publishers who bring an existing subscriber or lure a new one to an application keep 100 percent of subscription sales. When customers subscribe to an application via Apple’s iTunes App Store, Apple collects 30 percent of the fee. Publishers who opt to use Apple’s platform must also make content available for sale through applications at the App Store for the same price. Subscribing to content through Apple’s App Store requires just a few clicks, so publishers are upset because they claim Apple is attempting to funnel users toward buying content through its App Store. And it’s working: while the Financial Times bowed out, The New York Times and Conde Nast agreed to Apple’s terms and Amazon, Hulu and the Wall Street Journal dropped the links in their apps.
Ironically, Google’s claims of an Android platform set apart from OEM or carrier bias is taking a huge hit in the wake of the company’s $12.5 billion bid to buy Motorola. How do HTC and Samsung, let alone all of the other Android OEMs feel comfortable that Google and Motorola won’t get too cozy? Maybe Google will take Android proprietary and into Motorola only, becoming like Apple. Or maybe the deal will be blocked by regulators, crimping Google’s plans to protect Android from litigation.
10Who Gets the Last Laugh?
Android may seem like it’s “winning” now given the market share disparity between it and iOS, but that may change. Apple is suing HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Barnes & Noble for patent infringement related to Android smartphones and tablets. A few key victories and the Android smartphones will dry up like a Texas creek bed in a prolonged drought. Jobs leaves the CEO post with a legacy of litigation and some of the world’s most cherished consumer electronics devices.