This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Next Gen Mobility magazine.
New research is showing that Android (News - Alert) has some real problems. Obviously Google (News - Alert) knows this, and it’s part of the reason the company purchased Motorola and as Henry Blodget of Business Insider points out are opening an online tablet store. David Beckemeyer, the former EarthLink CTO, too weighs in with a chart showing just how dominant Apple is becoming.
But before we get into that, I was at my accountant last week and while he was crunching numbers I decided to tell my wife it was time to get my oldest daughter a refurbished laptop because her netbook takes longer to boot than the time it takes for us to assemble all the documents for the IRS. Without skipping a beat the accountant looked up and said, “Why don’t you get her a Macbook?”
Now mind you, I like my accountant and all, but I didn’t ask him for his advice and/or perspective. Worse yet, I think I may actually be getting billed for a discussion I didn’t go there to have.
But, putting that aside, it shows just how loyal people are to Apple. Again, unsolicited testimonials and suggestions on what to purchase are pretty much the realm of only Apple these days. Eight years ago you would hear similar things about the BlackBerry (News - Alert) keyboard and fantastic e-mail capabilities. But can you imagine anyone telling you to go out and get a Windows laptop? It is just counter to everything we know about consumers and the PC relationship; in fact, most relationships with consumers and computer companies are devoid of the passion Apple seems to exude.
Part of the challenge has to do with the ease-of-use factor – many women I know and men above a certain age seem to hate Android, while techies love it. I guarantee that science fiction aficionados (also known affectionately as geeks) strongly gravitate toward Android.
Back to Beckemeyer, who recently put together a chart detailing how people access the web. He has shown that for all the talk of Android dominance, in the future we will live increasingly in an Apple-dominated world. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that iPhones and iPads are still easier to use. I know many people who purchased Android devices because they were all Verizon (News - Alert) offered, and now those folks can’t wait to get Apple devices.
The words of Roger McNamee below seem to be ringing truer by the day:???? “What if Apple doesn't get 10 to 15 percent market share in tablets but instead 60 to 70 percent? Then Apple will be the largest hardware company out there by a mile.”
If this trend continues, and I am not sure what can stop it, it will be an about-face for how the tech market traditionally has worked. Remember that with computers and laptops, the PC won the war because the price/performance curve favored open ecosystems where hardware vendors were forced to compete on an open, level playing field. The Macs too in the eighties and much of the nineties weren’t so special from a design perspective, so everyone competed to provide the most computing power for the least dollars.
But Apple has turned the computing market into fashion – meaning iPhones are more like personal statements of character than merely consumer electronics. You wonder why Apple doesn’t even show up at CES (News - Alert)? Well, maybe it’s because the company considers its products to be fashion statements which just happen to need a power cord.
Even their flaws somehow turn into selling points. Witness Siri, which doesn’t work that well; people love it. Jim Cramer rants about it on CNBC – so much so that I believe the company must have optimized it for his voice.
As I have said in the past, Samsung and perhaps Sony are in the best position to put up a fight against Apple in terms of making gadgets that look great. But let’s face it, the clock is ticking and at a certain point, Android will take a back seat to iOS when it comes to competing for developer time and attention. And once that happens, it will be very tough for Android to once again gain share.
So yes, the new Google tablet store and coming out with Google-branded tablets (which are likely to be given away at a loss) are the only ways to blunt the iOS onslaught, so it may be a bit premature to declare Android dead. On the other hand, it is clear that Google seems to be panicking.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi