Market Share Is Like A Bikini…

Market Share is like a bikini. What it reveals is suggestive, but what it conceals is vital. ((Inspired by a quote from Aaron Levaenstein))

Market Share by itself means nothing. If it’s not taking you where you want to go, it’s worse than nothing – it’s destructive.

Trading profits for market share is like selling your car for gas money.

The Missionaries of Market Share are the pro wrestlers of analysis. ((Inspired by Rick Overton)) In fact, calling them analysts is like calling bald a hair color.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. ~ Aldous Huxley

You can always pick out the Ministers of Market Share by the glazed look that comes into their eyes whenever facts begin to wander into the conversation. ((Inspired by Michael Wilding)) The Church of Market Share — like any revealed religion — eschews facts and is largely made up of prophesies. ((Inspired by H. L. Mencken))

Market Share Maniacs staunchly maintain you can’t have a viable platform without market share. When you point out iOS — the minority player in smartphone market share — runs on 95% of enterprise apps and Apple’s iPhone is the most coveted smartphone brand in the developing world, they smugly fall back on scripture:

“Microsoft won with market share. Thus it was, thus it shall be again.”

Great. Just great.

If you gave a Market Share Historian a penny for their thoughts, you’d get change.

Arguing what Microsoft did in the Nineties has to happen again — that the market today is in any way similar to the market in 1995 — is just flat out wrong. There is simply no evidence to support it.

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. ~ James Thurber

Instead of looking solely at market share, we should be looking at what each company is trying to accomplish.

— Apple wants to make profits and build a premium platform. Are they doing that? Yes they are.

— Google wants to sell eyeballs to advertisers. Are they doing that? On the desktop, yes. On mobile, not so much.

— Microsoft wants to sell licenses and build a platform. Are they doing that? No they’re not.

Apple doesn’t need a lot of market share, they need a lot of the premium share of the market. Google doesn’t just need market share, they need the kind of market share willing to open their wallets and buy their advertisers’ products. Microsoft DOES need market share both because they’re a distant third in the race to create a smartphone platform and because their licensing model — unlike Apple’s vertical model — thrives on volume.

Yes, market share matters, but it matters differently to different companies because they’re using a different means to accomplish a different end. Saying market share matters is like saying water matters. Of course it does – but it matters a lot more to a farmer than to a city dweller and it matters even more to a fisherman. Market share without context is like most anything without context — meaningless.


Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. ~ Carl Sagan

Of course, there’s not much use arguing with the true Market Share Believers. As Mark Twain put it: “You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into.”

Not to know is bad not to wish to know is worse. ~ African Proverb

Faith based arguments are not subject to reason. Nevertheless — as Agatha Christie put it: “Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.” So here’s my wholly unsolicited advice for those who insist on making fact-free arguments:

If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much. ~ Ted Williams

Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

8 thoughts on “Market Share Is Like A Bikini…”

    1. depends on what’s behind the bikini. If it looks anything like Scarlet Johanssen or Sunny Leone then I’m all for it.

  1. It seems to me, to some greater or lesser degree, the iOS market and the Android market are two different markets.
    Apologies for the well worn automotive analogy here . . . Does Porsche compete in the same market as the Toyota Yaris?

    1. I think a better analogy would be that Apple sold a premium car — say BMW — and Google sold tires. Apple only needs to control a small part of the overall market to do well. Google wants to have its “tires” on every car – including the premium models made by Apple.

      There’s nothing wrong with market share, but — as I said in my article — it’s only good if it gets you where you need to go. The city dweller needs some water, the Farmer news much more and the fisherman needs an entire Ocean to accomplish their task. Saying that the city dweller has less water than the farmer or claiming that the farmer needs to have as much water as the fisherman shows a gross lack of understanding of the tasks that each is performing.

      Context matters and market share without context hides more than it reveals.

    2. In a sense, they are. They are not mutually compatible, technically and commercially isolated, and distinct.

  2. Not sure that Google want to sell eyeballs to advertisers. I thought it was really about monetising customer purchase intents, which in fact could be a component of a few different business models.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *