Where I Save Windows Phone

My name is Brian and I use Windows Phone.

Confession: I want Windows Phone to succeed. I want it to succeed because I believe users will benefit from Microsoft innovation and renewed market competition. I want Windows Phone to succeed because as Android increasingly takes over the computing world I am increasingly fearful of the success of an OS whose very existence is to track and record user behavior across the world.

I want Windows Phone to succeed because I want great, American companies to continue to dominate the global tech market.

I am not at all sure Windows Phone will succeed.

This has nothing to do with the silly, breathless rumors about a Nokia Android device. Rather, even given Microsoft’s money, brainpower and massive “Windows” install base — and 10+ years of fruitless R&D — the world continues to reveal that it is quite happy choosing between Android and iOS.

My hope, thus, is cruelly crushed by market reality. Must be doubly bad for Microsoft, I suspect. Therefore, I offer the following advice to help save Windows Phone.

1. Fewer Apps

Yes, this is counterintuitive, but absolutely necessary. You lost the app battle, Microsoft. It’s over. Accept defeat. We now live in a world where there are far more software applications for Apple products — and they are much easier to buy.

Stop pumping bad apps through the system in a futile attempt to make the actual numbers look not so awful. Instead, focus on offering the absolute best apps of any platform.

I have spent the past 4 years using iPhones as my go-to device. I have spent the past several weeks using the Lumia 1520 almost exclusively. In nearly every case, I’ve found an app equivalent for Windows Phone to match my iPhone. Unfortunately, nearly everyone is awful. Limited functionality, poor to no integration with web services (or iPhone apps), bad design. Indeed, the vast majority of apps in the Windows Phone store appear to me as little more than high school projects. End this anti-user behavior. Ensure that any app offered from your store is absolutely awesome and in no way a pale, brittle facsimile of what’s long been available for iOS and Android. Reject far more apps than you accept.

Fifty thousand great apps is better than 150,000 awful ones.

I also recommend you pledge every single of the many billions of dollars you receive from Android patent scofflaws to fund app projects with the very best app development houses. Bonus: offer huge cash windfalls for successful tie-ins with your very best mobile offerings (Skydrive, Bing, Office, Skype).

2. Fewer Devices

Windows Phone, the platform, will not be widely embraced by OEMs the way Windows was back in the 20th century. Android has won that war and its presence and pace throughout the world is accelerating. Your best hope is to focus on your own great devices. Luckily, you now own Nokia, which makes the most beautiful, best designed smartphones in the world.

Nokia’s problem is its insistence on offering as many variations of devices across every possible region, industry and demographic. This is no longer a viable strategy in a world where we are all connected. Worse, it increases manufacturing and marketing costs, generates user confusion and capitulates to self-serving carrier demands.

This is what you should offer:

  • Student model — for children, students, grandparents and those of lesser means.  The Lumia 520 is amazing for the price. Does the target market even know this?
  • Business model. Your premium offering. The Lumia 920 (or equivalent) with Office, Outlook, Skydrive and Skype included is a powerful combination.
  • Globetrotter model. The Lumia 1020 with 41mp camera is the baseline device for artists, photographers, creative types.
  • Gamer model. Your “gamer” phone fully leverages Xbox and the beautiful large-display Lumia 1520. Maybe offer Xbox credits with every purchase.

Next, you must give each of these devices comprehensible names. 520, for example, means absolutely nothing to absolutely no one. 920 is (obviously) less than 925, which obviously has lesser hardware than the 1020. Right? Nobody knows. Stop such nonsense.

3. Be Mobile First – Really

From this day forward, the role of Office and Windows is not to maximize shareholder value. Rather, it is to maximize profits to fund the future. The future is mobile.

You’ve bravely taken a few baby steps in this direction, and have now evolved from believing smartphones are mere satellites revolving around the PC sun to your current belief, where you appear to grudgingly accept that smartphones and PCs can be equivalents. Still wrong. The smartphone is the center of the computing world. Until you accept this your giant company will continue to flounder.

I fear this will not be an easy fix. Your Surface ads reveal that you, dear Microsoft, can’t even conceive of a “computing” device that is solely and purely touchscreen and mobile. In the second decade of the 21st century you still promote computers and “slates,” such as your Surface, as devices that work best when there is a physical keyboard attached and the user is seated. This is a profound misunderstanding of the future of everything.

Focusing on non-mobile, non-touchscreen devices is like if Android is the Death Star, iPhone is Ben Kenobi and you are Aunt Beru. Don’t be Aunt Beru, Microsoft.

Change your strategy. Radically improve touchscreen responsiveness. Offer a movie store. Make multitasking really work. Fix the (virtual) keyboard. Mobile first — really.

It’s not all bad, of course. Your instincts are sound. Note that the much-lauded Jony Ive continues to parrot what Windows Phone and Nokia have been doing for years: “Unapologetically” plastic devices. Bright colors. Polycarbonite-like feel. Flat design. Lots of white space. He knows.


4. Start A War With Apple

Android is good enough for most of the world. For what it offers, for its price, availability and ecosystem, you aren’t going to convince many to choose Windows Phone over Android, particularly at the low-end. You must prove your worthiness by taking on Apple. Fortunately, that’s where most of the money may be found.

Focus your marketing on a Mac vs PC-like campaign.

  • Your live tiles versus their static icons
  • Skype versus FaceTime
  • 20mp and 41mp cameras with Zeiss lenses and Nokia imaging controls versus iPhone’s 8mp camera
  • Office versus iWork
  • Outlook versus Apple Mail
  • Nokia Maps and real-time transit data versus Apple Maps
  • Xbox versus Game Center
  • Mock Siri. Belittle Touch ID.

Pay no attention to the Apple echo chamber. Ignore what people may say on Twitter. “In marketing, what looks new is new.”

A relentless assault against the iPhone earns you respect, customers, and helps focus your company. If possible, hire the “PC” guy to do the ads.


Reminder: not one moment of these ads, not one image, may include a keyboard or a person seated. Commercials advertising a “real keyboard” to do “real work” is my grandfather insisting that music used to be so much better. Probably, he’s wrong and if he’s right, it’s irrelevant.

Having spent the past month with a Nokia Lumia 1520, and having used every iPhone, several Android devices, BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian, Asha, MeeGo and others, I know that your odds are slight. Your potential remains great, however. Go forth. No excuses — you’re Microsoft. The time to line up your pawns has long since passed. These are the smartphone wars. Ball so hard.

2013 Winners And Losers In Tech

We track, analyze and oftentimes promote technology because of its overarching, mostly positive impact on our own lives and throughout the world. It’s many disparate parts, incorporating intellectual property and global manufacturing, hardware and software, content and creativity, when brought together at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way can be both uplifting and magical.

While we may not fully understand all the long-term ramifications of what our technology has wrought, we can know its winners and losers. In 2013, much like the harsh, unblinking truth at the final whistle of some great sporting clash, knowing who won and who lost was surprisingly rather easy to discern.



There wasn’t even a close second.

Hardware, content, search, real-time pricing algorithms, personalization and a near-infinitely scalable platform. There is no more high tech company than Amazon. Yes, $AMZN has (only) gone up this year. If Jeff Bezos is to be believed, and the evidence certainly suggests so, then the company is just getting started. Amazon is the low-price leader in retail, a behemoth in cloud services, the first place most of us think to visit when we think about buying anything — and the unmatched leader in big ideas.

Google Glass is so Spring 2013. All anyone is talking about now are Amazon delivery drones. Amazon is more than talk, of course. It took Amazon to offer live, personal (“Mayday”) support for every new Kindle tablet user. Did Apple, king of the locked-down, high-margin, customer-focused hardware-based ecosystem, even consider such an audacious idea?

Amazon, not Silicon Valley, is the new home of really big ideas. Amazon embodies a scope of business, a level of execution, and a breathless vision that I don’t think even Google can match. They won 2013.


A highly successful IPO, a highly engaged user base, the new home for breaking news, the place we share our most joyful moments, greatest tragedies, and idle thoughts.  Apple execs say damn near nothing outside of highly staged events. Yet both Tim Cook and Phil Schiller tweet often.


What, exactly, is the purpose of a tablet? No one seems to know. I cover the industry and typically recommend them only to grandparents and toddlers.  Microsoft finds the tablet so utterly confounding — despite 10+ years of effort — that they can still only envision such a device with a keyboard attached. The numbers do not lie, however. At least, not in 2013. Tablets are everywhere. Per IDC, 220 million tablets moved just this year alone.

Team iOS 7

iOS 7 is audacious, shocking, beautiful as a European runway model, and just as brittle.

If you were part of the team that developed iOS 7, congratulations. The iOS 7 adoption rate is already nearing 75%. With around 500 million iOS devices in use, that’s 375 million devices running with your OS — about triple the latest Windows operating system.

iOS should fuel Apple for at least another generation, and iOS 7 points the way forward.

Gaming and Gamers

A new Playstation, a new Xbox, and a new chip (A7) powering Apple iOS devices make 2013 the best time ever to be a gamer. Add in social media gaming, a billion smartphone users, and ‘computer games’ are now as ubiquitous as Miley Cyrus gifs.

Female Tech Execs

I believe Marissa Mayer’s strategy, such as I can divine, consigns Yahoo to a permanently middling presence in our lives. Much content, some personalization, cloud-scale, new acquisitions and several new mobile apps all point toward nothing more than news, views and reviews of the sort our parents now get from morning TV talk shows. Doesn’t matter. The market has spoken and the money people obviously like what Mayer is doing.

Meanwhile, Meg Whitman is righting the busted ship that is HP and Sheryl Sandberg is making the day-to-day adult decisions at Facebook. Since Tim Cook is determined to transform Apple into a “casual luxury” brand, I can absolutely believe the rumors that Apple’s next CEO will be Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts. That’s quite a line-up.

Road Warriors

All praise the glories of the market. In-flight WiFi became possible, then practical, then profitable, then widespread, and then the government — surprise — changed the rules. Now we can keep our electronic devices turned on, legally, throughout our entire flight. Self-interest mixed with technology is a powerful combination.

Google Lawyers

What a year! Google lawyers fought off Oracle, got a judge to agree that digitizing and making “out of print” books freely available was a public service, signed a sweetheart deal with the FTC, despite a monopoly position in search which they have frequently abused, and the late Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear war on Android has not slowed down the world’s most popular OS even in the slightest. I’m assuming there will be quite the cash bonus from Larry Page to his merry band of lawyers.

Considered: Kickstarter, Pinterest, iTunes (seriously), iPhone 5s, and the ‘smartphone’. 


Computing technology is deeply personal yet seeks to connect us with everyone and everything. It can eradicate the worst parts of our past, re-invent our very notions of the future and captivate our present. Oftentimes, however, it flops worse than a petulant soccer player on a losing team. This year’s biggest losers in tech:

Facebook Home

Facebook Home was such an utter, abject, laughable failure that you probably already forgot that it ever existed. I suspect that the mysterious illness that prevented Google’s Larry Page from talking for so many months stemmed from his laughing hysterically when he first saw Facebook Home.

Steve Ballmer

I believe no non-founder ever gave more of himself, his talents, his passions, his sleepless nights, as Steve Ballmer gave to Microsoft. Ballmer helped Microsoft become so big that it — literally — scared governments and sent the mighty Steve Jobs, fortuitously, scurrying off as far away from “personal computers” as he possibly could.

Nonetheless…Microsoft’s stock has done better since Ballmer announced his “resignation” then it did during the decade he actually ran the company. Worse, much worse, and nearly inconceivable, is that there are over a billion smartphones in use plus hundreds of millions of tablets and nearly everyone has absolutely no Microsoft software inside.

For all I admire about Ballmer, and I admire much, the company’s failure in mobile computing is, in my opinion, a far more devastating capitulation than Time Warner buying AOL at the absolute top of the market.


Samsung’s Galaxy Gear commercial is glorious. The watch itself is Kanye-cool. Only, no one bought one because there is no need for one. The year of the smartwatch was anything but. Galaxy Gear flopped. Apple’s iWatch never appeared. The Pebble watch was essentially a high-margin toy purchased by Silicon Valley insiders. Not wanted, not needed.

Google Maps

Every quarter, as Google reports anew the latest Motorola loss, we are presented with yet another reminder that Google’s purchase of Motorola was a profound strategic mistake.

I don’t think it’s their biggest. Rather, that would be Google’s decision to consign iOS users with an inferior version of Google Maps — for years. That led to Apple’s decision to offer its own mapping service. As Charles Arthur notes, Google Maps has already lost tens of millions of iPhone users — possibly Google Inc’s most lucrative customer base. Hubris.


Apple’s existence now spans across five decades. In all that time has the company ever promoted a device or a service as prominently, as consistently and as aggressively that has gone so utterly unused as Siri? Siri is now more than two years old and still doesn’t work as it should. Worse, even if it did we would still rarely use it.


We all learned what this word meant when Apple killed it off. It was time.

The Third Mobile Platform

As of this moment, smartphones now sell about a billion units a year. This massive, industry-shifting market belongs almost entirely to two platforms: Android and iOS. Symbian is dead. BlackBerry is at death’s door. There is effectively no Tizen, no Firefox OS in actual use, no Ubuntu and nearly no Windows Phone.

Has the industry consolidated this quickly, despite being this big, this global? As much as I believe there is room for a thriving Windows Phone ecosystem, the market itself, in every region and across every demographic, tells us that iOS and Android are enough for nearly everyone. Perhaps 2014 will surprise us.

Considered: Obamacare website, PCs, privacy, BlackBerry, the “cheap” iPhone, and RSS.

An Open Letter To App Developers

The smartphone has quickly become our primary interface to the world. The app has become our primary interface to the smartphone. Apps matter. Therefore, app developers matter. Unfortunately, too many apps, too many app developers, likely in pursuit of riches that shall never come, continue to offer copycat apps, apps poorly designed, apps that value ads over users.

I want to help. I know apps, good and bad. I was analyzing the “smartphone wars” back when most tech blogs were still talking Mac vs PC. I have used most major smartphone platforms, at length. This includes Palm and BlackBerry, Windows Phone, iOS and Android, Symbian, Asha and, yes, Meego.

I offer the following rules and declarations in the interest of creating more and better apps for everyone.

  1. The world does not need another weather app.
  2. By 2015, at the latest, I expect Windows Phone will garner at least a 20% share of all new smartphone sales. Create apps for this platform.
  3. It’s absolutely appropriate to ask me to rate your app. Once. If I choose not to, accept this — and never ask me again.
  4. Life is much easier when I can sign in to an app using my Facebook credentials.
  5. Never — not ever — should you request anything beyond my Facebook credentials, however. Do not ask to post my purchase of your app to my Facebook page, do not ask for my location unless there is a clear and present and ongoing user benefit. Do not ever ask me, and especially never require me, to tell you my Facebook friends.
  6. You have 3 seconds, tops. If I cannot fully immerse myself within the wonder and scope of your app in 3 seconds or less, then your app gets abandoned.
  7. Care about your app icon. It really does matter.
  8. Apple does not care about you. Apple provides you, for now, with the single greatest platform for monetizing your app. But do not believe they are your partner. They are the world’s largest (tech) company and do not like to share. iWork, iPhoto, Garage Band, Weather, Maps and more are just the start. Should a new app opportunity arise, possibly one you helped create, Apple will not hesitate to move in. Be ready to out-innovate, pivot, or die.
  9. We take our smartphones with us everywhere. For many, they are the first thing we see at the start of a new day, the last thing we see before going to sleep. This is a tremendous opportunity. At perhaps no time in human history has a single tool been used so fully throughout the day, everyday, for work and play, by child, teen, adult and senior, all over the world. Take pride in your work.
  10. You deserve to be paid. Of the hundreds of apps I have purchased, minimum, I have never once thought that I would rather choose the app with ads over paying $1, sometimes more, for an ad-free app. Even large display smartphones have relatively small screens. Cluttering it up with an ad, ever, is annoying. Worse, it’s a clear intrusion upon my privacy and a waste of time. I never click on a mobile/in-app ad. I can assure you that my time and my privacy are worth far more to me than my ad view is to you.
  11. Users deserve a second chance. Apple, especially, should offer an app trial period. Yes, even for a 99 cent app. Should they ever agree, these rules become even more important.
  12. Apps must be optimized for the platform and device. Always. Smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop. I subscribe to several web services (e.g. MyNetDiary, New York Times). The smartphone app version may look similar to the website, but must be optimized for the device itself (e.g. iPhone). There are no excuses for failing this.
  13. Touch, pinch, swipe. The touch interface is a beautiful thing. Yet, I have absolutely no use for apps, Clear, for example, or Tweetbot, that insist upon a needlessly expansive variety of gestures to access its data and features. This is nothing more than too many fonts on a Word doc.
  14. Almost every single app I have purchased over the past 18 months I discovered from a Twitter follower or a Facebook ad. Nowhere else. Not Apple genius. Not Google search. Not any app-focused website. You should know this.
  15. Specials are viral. I find out about your app on Twitter, for example, and learn it’s half-priced for today only, I am both extremely likely to buy and to tweet my purchase to others.
  16. Apps are like sperm. Only the first survive. If I have a decent grocery list app, say, there is an extremely good chance your far better, newer grocer list app will be irrelevant to me. Similarly, an app not on the ‘home’ screen is likely not long for this world. No advice, merely an acknowledgement. Your work is hard.
  17. Hold the line. Google has taught us that other’s information should be accessible, for free. Apple has taught us that hardware, not software, should be paid for. I don’t really know how you can succeed in this environment. But I hope you do. Most of you do great work.
  18. You get one chance only to ask if I want to connect with my friends. I should not have to repeat this. Ask once, then accept my ‘no’.
  19. I have a lot of friends. I know a lot of people. When you show me people I know or may know or should know and ask me to connect with them via your app, you make me feel nearly as dirty as you are.
  20. Never scan my contacts. Never ask to scan my contacts. It is a betrayal. This is why I can’t have LinkedIn on my phone.

As the world goes mobile, connecting everyone and everything, focused, functional and highly usable apps will serve as the entry point to all the world’s data, resources, people and content. The humble app, then, is a rather noble device. Treat it and its users with all due respect.


Android is Eating the World

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 8.32.21 AM

Benedict Evans has a must read slide deck from his mobile is eating the world presentation. I’m going to piggyback on his title a little and tackle the narrative that Android is eating the world. It is the narrative that is hard to escape and it would be a significant point if it was a unified version of Android which was eating the world. However, when you take a step back, and view Android in the big picture, you learn it is in fact an extremely fragmented Android which is eating the world.

I’m fond of saying that Android in its purest form is not a platform. It is a technology which enables companies to create platforms. Samsung is using Android to create a platform. Amazon has used Android to create a platform. Nearly every major OEM in China is using Android to create a platform. ((There are 100 different app stores in China based on Android. 20 of them are the major players and each has its own billing and certification process)) And Google is using Android to create a Google specific platform. ((Consumer behavior, by way of app download trends and purchasing vary greatly by each app store)) All of these companies and more are taking Android to create their own platform and their own ecosystems. There is no single unified Android codebase which is dominating the world. There is no single Android app store, there is no single Android ecosystem. What does exist is a vast array of different platforms and different ecosystem running this underlying kernel called Android.

Where I think the confusion in the Android is eating the world narrative exists is the line of thinking that Google = Android. That every bit of the Android is winning narrative is a narrative that benefits Google. This view represents a clear mis-understanding of Android and what it is and why it exists.

The Role of the Android Platform

There is only one company in the market right now that does not need platform assistance from a third party. That is Apple. Every other hardware company needs a third party to provide them with software to run on their hardware. Microsoft has been this company for most of the computing era. Google, with Android, has provided the Microsoft alternative to the mobile world. Hardware OEMs need this third party software support because they need a company to provide a platform and standards support for a wide variety of technologies.

However between the two, Android offers to hardware OEMs what Microsoft does not, the ability to differentiate. Ship Windows or Windows Phone and your product from a software standpoint is no different from your competitors. Which means your basis to compete is extremely limited to form and price. Android, on the other hand, allows hardware companies to take the platform which Google is supporting with standards and driver support and customize it in a way to offer some level of visual and feature differentiation at a software level. Microsoft is providing a standardized unified platform. Google is providing a standardized platform to create other platforms / ecosystems. These solutions are very different and enable entirely different ecosystems.

The Multiple Android Markets

I wrote a few weeks ago about how Android is enabling appliance electronics to get more intelligent. In this regard, Android is very similar to embedded Linux. Android is likely poised to power refrigerators, thermostats, coffee pots, robots, you name it. Android as a platform in this regard is very interesting. But again this the embedded version of Android not the one that powers smartphones, tablets, TVs, etc. That is a very different Android. This version of Android is the most interesting to me.

The other Android market is the one for products like smartphones and tablets. This market is the one that garners the most attention. Yet when you look at Android’s smartphone and tablet market share you see that the bulk of it is made up from devices that are considered in the mid-low range of price points. Android’s share of premium handsets is very small, less than 15% globally. The vast majority of Android’s market share rise over the past few quarters has come from the low-end or devices costing wholesale less than $250. ((Creative Strategies, Inc estimates.))

The same is true in tablets where last quarter Android white box tablets costing less than $100 made up just over 30% of device shipments. ((IDC estimates.))

Looking at the share of devices at certain price points, and what OS they run, it is clear that Android owns the low-end and Apple owns the high-end. In many emerging markets there will be a battle for the mid-range between Apple and Android OEMs. Looking at Android in this light highlights its importance. Had Google not released Android what platform would have risen to serve the low-end? Android is in fact helping develop, developing parts of the world. From a technology standpoint, Android’s role in helping to develop emerging markets is in fact a good thing.

So while is true that Android is eating the world, it is doing so in a very non-unified way outside of driver and standards support. This adds to the level of complexity to any analysis about Android. Android is eating the world but what is interesting is that not only Google owns Android. Android is owned by all and benefit all in entirely different ways.

When you take a step back you realize that we have never had anything quite like Android before. While we may make assumptions about what Google may do with their version of Android, we can’t make the same assumptions with what other hardware companies will do with their version of Android. To keep enabling this multiplicity of Android ecosystems all Google simply has to do is keep up with driver and standards support. Perhaps this was the point of Android all along.

What remains unclear is how Google can benefit, which may not be the point or even necessary, from the landscape Android is enabling. They have all but given up in China. iOS devices are worth more to them in every major developed market. They would of course love to see this change but there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. So Android dominants the low-end of the tablet and smartphone market and commodity connected electronics. Time will tell in what ways this benefits Google. But as I mentioned, it may not the point of Android or even necessary for Google.

Google does not equal Android. You understand this when you can see the forest in the trees.

Truth And Lies About Apple

I regularly provide analysis of the computing market, trends inside Silicon Valley, the current state of the smartphone wars. This week, I offer instead my observations on Apple. Starting now…

The persistent view among analysts that Apple can (magically) go down market, whenever they want, is, in my view, utter nonsense. It’s the same as suggesting Burberry, for example, can be WalMart. Apple is high-end, high-margin, brand and image focused, and companies cannot magically transform their market approach. To remake their products, their hardware, to radically expand customer service and to effectively give up the lead role in their global retail footprint — all necessary to go down-market — would make Apple no longer Apple.

To those that point to the iPod as some sort of proof that Apple can go down market, even that is wrong. The iPod was (always) a high-end flash drive with minimal computing capabilities.

That Google continues to develop and support services optimized for iPhone is all you need to know about those who scream that IPHONE IS DOOMED. They are either ignorant or they are lying to you. Why do you continue to reward them with your attention?

Google’s biggest mistake was wildly overpaying for Motorola, which continues to be a noose around the company. The second biggest mistake, however, was saddling iPhone users — for years — with an inferior version of Google Maps. I am not the only one that now uses Apple Maps almost exclusively. I suspect they have learned their lesson, the hard way.

In the most recent Apple patent trial, Phil Schiller stated that “almost everyone” at Apple works on iPhones, not Mac. This is true. It’s also remarkable. The iPhone was an unexpected blessing for Apple, raining down more in profits than anyone ever imagined it could. But, Apple’s management team still doesn’t get the credit they deserve for effectively re-making Apple, once the Mac company, into the iPhone company.

The next iPhone will be just like the new Nokia Lumia 1520. Large display. Unapologetically plastic. Colorful. 20mp camera.

Apple will be forced to develop a “phablet” because the market wants larger display devices. For most, a phablet is simply a better alternative to buying both a smartphone and a tablet. This is especially true for Apple, with its over-priced iPad line. Steve Jobs intended iPad to rest in sort of that middle ground between laptop and smartphone. A great idea for those who can afford three devices. The vast majority of the world cannot.

iOS 7 is beautiful. There is a core design flaw, however. The world is eagerly embracing the visual web — Pinterest, Snapchat, the new Twitter. In an increasingly mobile, real-time existence, visuals convey a great deal of information in an instant. iOS 7 runs counter to this trend. Note that your iOS 7 device insists on using text even where visuals would obviously work better, such as when telling you the current weather. Jony Ive’s legend is no doubt secure, but I expect iOS will quickly evolve to incorporate more visual elements. Form should follow function and most of the time the market wins.

With Rockstar, Apple becomes a patent troll. Rockstar is absolutely no different from Lodsys. That said, there is absolutely validity to Jobs’ thermonuclear war. There was nothing available like the iPhone or like the iPad until the iPhone and iPad. Intellectual property and design should be protected and compensated. On this, I fully stand behind Apple.

I have covered the smartphone wars as long, as diligently as anyone on the planet. Nonetheless, despite the growth of iPhone and the global smartphone market in general, I never thought it would be easier for me to buy more and better software for Apple products than Microsoft products.

Nintendo is hurting. Sony is hurting. We recently discovered that Xbox may not even be a money-maker for Microsoft. The premiere gaming company in the world is…Apple? I know, shocking. At least for those of us who grew up on PCs and game consoles.

The new iWork is so bad primarily because of Apple’s insistence on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ software strategy, forcing the product to be the same on a smartphone, a tablet and a laptop. This will always fail. Giving it away won’t change how bad it is. The only question now is, how long before Apple abandons this silly notion and gives us a productivity suite that works well?

As bad as the new iWork is, Apple does not get the credit it deserves as a software company. iTunes may not be on every desktop, but its close. iOS is now on hundreds of millions of smartphones and tablets. Mavericks is on millions of laptops. Apple’s global software presence is approaching Microsoft’s. This was even recently unthinkable. Even more, Apple’s software is on a larger array of usable devices — tablet, phone, laptop, desktop, set top — and built for multiple modes: touch, keyboard and voice. Remarkable achievement.

Every tech blogger I read, and I think I read them all, is a poor stock analyst. Please do not buy or sell stock, whether $AAPL, $AMZN, $GOOG or other, based on what a tech blogger says. Ever. They are cheerleaders. Save your money.

The next Apple app revolution will be…email.

Email, that boring, dated, derided yet almost universal tool, used — with great reluctance — for personal and professional reasons, is on the cusp of a revolution. At least, I hope so. Here’s an example of what I think Apple will do — what I think only Apple can do. Use the Open Table app, for example, to make a restaurant reservation. Now imagine that the reservation confirmation email you receive contains visually appealing, pre-embedded Yelp reviews of the chef’s best dishes, a PassBook coupon, Facebook credits, Foursquare check-in rewards, your friends list for those having dinner with you, and Apple Maps directions to the restaurant. This is all contained within the email. All secure because each ‘chunk’ of personalized app data is run only through Apple servers. Speed, simplicity, convenience, enhanced benefits. Think Google Now, only on steroids, because Apple will allow its massive app ecosystem to take part. Delivering it all through iOS Mail servers is a nice little knife in Google’s side, as well. That’s my vision, at least.

I look forward to your comments on what you think is true and what you think are lies.

Next week: Truth and lies about Silicon Valley

Google’s Strategy with the Moto G and KitKat

I’m observing several interesting things from Google’s moves as of late. The first has to do with the recently launched Motorola G, premium spec smartphone at low-end prices. The Moto G has a $179 price point. This price range is a significant part of global smartphone sales in developing markets. See the slide below which shows the most recent snapshot of the global smartphone vendor market share.

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 9.22.16 AM

Notice who is missing from this chart? Motorola. From meetings I have had with their teams it was made clear to me that Motorola wants to push to be a more global brand playing in more global regions than they are today. The release of the Moto G is a step in this direction. The handset fits the spec and price range that should make it attractive in the markets they choose to go after. Adding dual sim for India and Brazil makes them a potential competitor for Samsung, Nokia and other regional brands competing at the non-premium price points.

While I think the price is interesting, Motorola will be going up against local brands in markets like India and it will be interesting to see if they can compete with the more established local brands. Brazil, Russia, and other parts of Europe are likely targets as well.

The key for Motorola will be marketing. Right now their brand is not strong globally at a handset level and if they are serious about becoming a global player developing regionally relevant solutions, they need to build their brand in those areas.


Several things have happened with KitKat that I have observed and found interesting. First, the UI seems to be a departure from the more geek centered focus and feel that prior stock versions of Android had. This happens to be one of the things I liked most about stock Android and Nexus devices. KitKat seems to be a OS transition from appealing to geeks to appealing to a more mainstream audience.

Second, it is much more deeply integrated with Google services. Each stock version of Android was always positioned as the best of Google but KitKat takes it to a new level. This is incredibly important. Google’s stock Android solutions get installed on the majority of mid-low range smartphones and tablets. Most vendors just take the generic AOSP, load it on their hardware and go to market. Only a few vendors actually change or ‘skin’ their Android devices with custom software work before they go to market. Samsung, HTC, and Xiaomi being the notable ones. For most other vendors stock Android is what gets shipped. This is why over the past 6 month’s Jelly Bean (version 4.1x-4.3) is now used on nearly half of all devices that have been shipped over the same time frame. Many new devices going to market run the latest OS. We don’t see this in the US but it is true in emerging markets.

For this reason, I feel Google is trying to get a handle on Android’s fragmentation as it specifically relates to their services. As I, and several other analysts have pointed out, Google’s services are practically nonexistent in many emerging markets where locals favor local services over Google’s. This is anything from email, social services, messaging apps, and more. My read with KitKat is that Google understands Android’s growth in the low-mid range is where the volume is and they have yet to capitalize on that market from a Google services standpoint. Android had for the most part been hi-jacked by the low-end and adding no value to their ecosystem. I believe KitKat is a step in the direction to address that.

Finding God In Our Smartphones

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony.”
– Albert Einstein

Smartphones have changed our world. Wearables will change our selves. Together, these amazing devices represent some of humankind’s greatest work, integrating the absolute leading edge of technical prowess, computer engineering, manufacturing skill and materials science. I wonder also if they are bringing us closer to God.

I confess, I do not know the answer.

Silicon Valley is about money, not faith. Real-time, not eternity. Change, not permanence. The worship that occurs here is typically at the altar of wealth, intellect, and luck; a place where residents proudly wear their atheism on their sleeves, and where the obviously religious are, if not looked down upon, then viewed the way far too many view obese people — broken, not quite fully evolved.

The spirit finds a way.

At the intersection of smartphones and wearables is a locus of desire to know ourselves, improve ourselves, celebrate ourselves. And yet, through these devices we are reminded how fully connected we are to one another, and soon, to all things. This strikes me as a form of grace.

At first glance, this notion seems incongruous. With smartphones and wearables, we post in real-time what we ate, how much we weigh. We tweet our passing thoughts on all manner of topics. We update our Facebook page to sanction our latest pleasure or most recent transient annoyance. We take pictures of our self, then another, then another, and display them all for the world to see. We actively seek the affirmation of nearby friends and faraway strangers, asking them to affirm our actions, no matter how small or fleeting.

We may all be, in this age of miracle and wonder, at our most vain.

Nonetheless, that fire hose of data gushing from these personal computing devices lays bare our very human failings, our strivings and our mortality. What comes after that? At the time of our greatest technical and intellectual advancement, do we merely expose ourselves as insufferably common, or are we (unknowingly) unlocking the fullest truth of ourselves?

The very tools used  to elevate our physical and intellectual selves, helping us to be the very best we can be, may ultimately serve to remind us that without a equal focus on the spiritual, it’s all for naught.

Consider that with smartphones, that which was once physical is now digital. Apps, tweets, music, movies, these are abstractions made real. We are contented with their ephemeral realness. Our very best technology, then, may be edging us closer — shaman-like — to bridging the physical and the virtual, and possibly to accepting the spiritual.

Our most advanced personal technologies are not merely uplifting, but guiding. We track everything, or soon will. In the morning our devices will remind us to eat right, to walk 10,000 steps. In the evening they will ask us if we gave due attention to our children, our spouse and our dreams. The daily rituals of monitoring what we do and how we improve may in fact help us find our way onto a narrow, possibly righteous path to goodness.

Yes, we can instantly access all manner of fetishism, violence, pornography, but also the greatest of humanity — and one another. The fragments of humanity, good and bad, are embedded within our technology, and resident inside our iPhones and Fitbits. Humans seek, we care, we dream, we sense there is far more beyond our self, our neighbors, even our world. This is true even if, at least in this infant stage of our meta connectivity, we initially turn such powers upon ourselves.

With smartphone in hand, we are connected to nearly everyone, from anywhere, at any time, and never truly alone. Wearable computer bracelet strapped tightly against our skin, the truth of our self is brightly flashed before our eyes, including our mortality. These devices will change us.

Which may not lead us to God but certainly should lead us all to be better.

Tech Intolerance (Part 1)

There’s something I don’t understand… there is this thing that people do – a lot of people – that I just do not understand and I will likely never understand…it’s been going on for years, almost a decade now, and it just doesn’t make a lick of sense… It didn’t back then… It doesn’t now:

Why do people buy Apple products? (((A)t the end of the day, I just don’t get it… there are droves and droves of otherwise really intelligent and competent human beings out there that will line up for a tablet with a half-eaten fruit on the back… There is no amount of smoothness nor simplicity that is worth opening my wallet twice as wide… This has been called the “Apple tax” for as long as I can remember… It’s absolutely mind-blowing to me that anyone on this Earth and in this economy would buy an iPad mini and pay the Apple tax simply because it’s Apple…At the end of the day, I can’t stop folks from burning money.

If you think the opinions expressed in this article are an aberration, feel free to read the 255-plus comments.))

This is but one example of intolerance. It could easily be reversed and applied to the Apple fan who disparaged Android or to any one of an infinite number of intolerant assertions.

The Twisted Path Of Intolerance

In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.” ~ Andre Maurois

In tech, too, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.

PREMISE: It doesn’t make sense (to me);
THEREFORE: If doesn’t make sense (for anyone).

PREMISE: There is no reason (apparent to me);
THEREFORE: There can be no possible reason.

PREMISE: You are not using (the) reason (I would use);
THEREFORE: You are unreasonable.

PREMISE: Any intelligent person would think and act the way I do;
FACT: You are not thinking and acting the way I do;
THEREFORE: You are not intelligent.

There are two types of people. People like me. And people who want to be like me. ~ The Intolerant Credo


Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. ~ Ayn Rand

  1. Just because we don’t know, doesn’t mean it can’t be known.
  2. Just because we don’t understand, doesn’t mean that it can’t be understood.
  3. Just because we don’t have proof of its existence, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
  4. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be seen.
  5. Just because we can’t fathom it, does not mean that it is unfathomable.
  6. Just because we don’t get it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be got.
  7. Just because it’s not right for us, doesn’t mean that it’s not right for anyone else.

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr


The fundamental contradiction contained in intolerance is one of locus. We don’t understand others. But we can’t be at fault because we are smart. So we employ a form of mental Jujitsu. If we can’t understand you and if we are smart then you must be dumb.

To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality. ~ Ayn Rand

We do not hear a persuasive argument; we cannot articulate a reason that explains the actions of others; we don’t see sufficient proof to overcome our convictions, so we conclude that OTHERS, not ourselves, are deaf, dumb and blind.

get-a-brain-moransIt is the equivalent of concluding that if we do not understand the theory of relativity, that Einstein must have been a moron. Oh, pardon me — I mean, a ‘moran’.

Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason. ~ Ayn Rand

THEIR reason, not OUR reason.


For my grandfather, there were two kinds of people in the world:  Those who agreed with him, and those who hadn’t yet agreed with him.” ~ B. Spira

It’s the usual thing of tech obsessives mistaking their tastes for that of wider public. ~ Charles Arthur (@charlesarthur)

Whenever something gets easier for the masses, there will always be a neckbeard there to complain about it. ~ H.C. Marks (@HCMarks)

Intolerance is not about living as we wish to live. It is about asking others to live as we wish to live. ((Inspired by Oscar Wilde))

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~ Voltaire

The intolerant refuse to grant others the right to think and decide for themselves. And perhaps more importantly, the intolerant refuse to grant others the right to be mistaken.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right. ~ Mohandas Gandhi

The intolerant ask the wrong questions. They ask: “What is right and what is wrong.” But when it comes to personal taste, there is no one single answer to those questions. There are as many answers as there are individuals residing on the planet. It’s not a question of what’s right, it’s a question of what’s right for us.

There are no right answers to wrong questions. ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

— The intolerant place the onus on others.
— The tolerant place the onus on themselves.

— The intolerant ask: Why do you not understand?
— The tolerant ask: Why do I not understand you?

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. – Robert Heinlein


You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.

You cannot overcome ignorance with knowledge.

The voice of reason is inaudible to irrational people. ~ Dr. Mardy’s Aphorisms

It has been my experience that the less we know, the more certain we become.

The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it. ~ Ayn Rand

It’s hard enough to acquire knowledge when we’re actively seeking it. It’s all but impossible to acquire knowledge when we’re actively resisting it.

There is nothing you can’t prove if your outlook is only sufficiently limited.” ~ Dorothy Sayers

Our ability to learn and change is, perhaps, only surpassed by our refusal to do either.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. ~ Douglas Adams


Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all. ~ Voltaire

Why bother to counter the Trolls if we know that they are impervious to reason?

I can think of at least two reasons, one noble, one practical. First the noble.

The phrases that men hear or repeat continually, end by becoming convictions and ossify the organs of intelligence. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It may sound overdramatic, but I truly do fear the memes of this world. There is reality and perception and in the world of nature, reality is the only thing that matters and perception is merely its shadow. But in the minds of men (and women), the laws of nature can be reversed: the shadow can engulf the substance, and perception can become reality.

It is therefore, in my opinion, crucial that we contest nonsense and falsehoods lest they be perceived as truths merely because they are repeated over and over again.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. ~ George Orwell

Falsehoods must not be sanctioned either in word or in deed, but most insidiously, by one’s silence.

Evil requires the sanction of the victim. ~ Ayn Rand

Next Week

Next week I shift the focus to how we treat our customers — how our intolerance for the very people we are supposed to be serving undermines their satisfaction and sabotages our success. Further, I will attempt to introduce a time-tested method used to counter our all-too-human tendency to disparage our customers.

Smartphones Are Transforming Retail Not With Technology But With Messy Humanity

I believe a profound transformation in retail is now underway, one set to equal the changes in buying and selling formed during the modern industrial age. Only, it’s not what you think.

It started with Apple, which launched the smartphone wars. With smartphone in hand, we can now assess competitor price, global availability, level of service, and overall quality of any product anywhere on the globe, even while browsing inside a small store on the very edge of the farthest reaches of our planet.

For today’s retailers, it gets worse.

Amazon has constructed a platform that enables it to sell virtually any item at a lesser price than any competitor anywhere, with all necessary adjustments on price and availability made in real-time.

With Google, we can know everything around us and can locate exactly what we want, whether down the street or on another continent. There are no boundaries, no safe places.

With social media, we are always in contact with family, friends, followers and all manner of experts. Meaning, we need never pay more than the absolute best price available. We never need to choose the wrong product for our unique needs — nor be persuaded by crafty or misleading sales entreaties.

Thanks to smartphone payments apps we have our requisite coupons and loyalty points always at the ready. We can also now instantly send (digital) cash to another person’s mobile device, bypassing all manner of legal and non-legal intermediaries.

Retail — the entire shopping, buying, paying, servicing, researching, promoting ecosystem — is being de-constructed by smartphones, social media, location data and the cloud, with power flowing outward to every potential buyer.

This is only the beginning.

[pullquote]Values equal profits.[/pullquote]

The more profound change, and one that industry analysts seem utterly blind to, is that the very same technologies which enable shoppers to receive the best price, the best service, the best value, will similarly guarantee that their money itself generates maximum impact.

For every $100 you spend, would you prefer that most of it, if possible, stayed within your community? If you could choose between having your next $100 go to retailers that support your child’s school, your neighborhood, your political and social views versus to a faceless corporation of undetermined origin and values, would you? I suspect the answer is a resounding yes and I believe our technologies are rapidly leading us toward this new reality.

When able to easily determine and demand the very best price and the very best product, what comes next is to make sure we spend our (limited) dollars in a manner that fosters and extends our political, social and community goals to optimum levels. Retailers will have to adjust to this new world. Their new reality is thus:

Values equal profits.

We can now get anything, anytime, anywhere and at the very best price available. How then to choose? Simple. We choose Brand X and Retailer Y because the product’s origin, its composition, the people who make it, those who sell it, those who service it, all support a world and a future that most closely aligns with our own.

Seen in this light, smartphones and the mobile web are not merely upending retail and relationships, fostering new services and business models, they are transforming the very notion of retail. No longer will it be about profits first. Rather, values first, then profits.

We can already see the beginnings of this change, of course. Fair trade coffee, handmade crafts, and restaurants that emphasize “local” as much as the food itself. These are merely brief flashes of what’s to come. I predict that within a decade, maybe less, values will be a primary driver behind most consumer sales in the developed world.

Note: I do not mean “values” as practiced in the traditional (20th century) marketing sense. Apple, for example, does a masterful job promoting their values — aspiration, liberation, creation. These are, however, feel-good values designed to please everyone. This will no longer be sufficient. In a world when we can easily find equivalents and get them at the absolute best price, values will become the prime differentiator. No doubt, the values of some retailers will be highly offensive to many. This will not slow this new reality down.

Indeed, with so much information readily available, it may soon no longer even be  possible to make a purchase decision without knowing the values of a product or the political leanings of its sellers. With instant price comparisons, location-aware search, real-time data streams, constant connectivity to friends, family, followers, spiritual advisors, political leaders and product experts, the act of purchasing based on values becomes not just possible but commonplace, probably even expected. In the near future, you don’t merely check in to a place to tell your friends where you are, you check in to make a declaration of who you are — and you can do so with every purchase.

Retail will become less about profit and more about a larger social purpose. To promote particular religious or social views, gun rights, a greener planet, transgender equality, Christian fundamentalist practices, polygamy, animal welfare; the options are as expansive as humanity itself.

Yes, it can get messy. It will get messy. Humanity is messy. Despite such messiness, I believe this trend is inevitable — and ultimately far more liberating. I also expect this new reality, in fits and starts, to be absolutely embraced. Very soon we will have a difficult time comprehending 20th century retail.

We have spent our whole lives focused on price, quality and convenience. We won that war. Anything, anywhere, at anytime and at the best price is now the base level expectation. Deeply personal, values-based shopping comes next, enabled, ironically so, by mass market computing technologies and globe-spanning social media platforms.

We are only now entering a era where we can search and find shops that match our values for whatever we want. We are only now able to instantly declare our purchases to all our friends and followers, telling them and the entire world in semi-permanent digital ink who we are and what we believe in with the very money we spend.

Values will drive sales. Values will drive profits. Values cannot be matched by Amazon, Google or any global conglomerate.

Image courtesy of The Guardian 

Stop Believing Apple Invents Stuff! Where I Interview The Biggest Android Fanboy In The World.

He is known simply as Charbax. You can find him on Twitter, on Youtube, and very often in the comments section of any post that trashes Android. He is in my opinion the biggest Android fanboy — fan, fanatic, believer, evangelist — in the world. His numerous first-hand, homebrew videos showcase the incredible innovation occurring across the Android ecosystem, be it in China, in Europe, or America.

What fuels his passion? Apple makes gorgeous physical products, easy to love. Android, by contrast, is a string of ones and zeros, cold, unfeeling code. There are many more questions, of course. If Android is “winning” then how does he explain Apple’s massive profits? Or the pre-eminence of iPad? Why care about an OS whose primary reason for being is not to get more people online but to capture more personal data to sell to advertisers? And what of Google’s continued moves to tighten control around this once aggressively marketed “open” platform?

Charbax arrived in San Francisco last week and did not shy away from any of my questions — though his numbers are often suspect.

Disclosure: I have followed Charbax online for at least three years. As that rare pundit who has gone on record stating that Android is, well, not very good, and almost certainly to be eclipsed by a far more functional and cohesive platform, I have faced his wrath many times over. Watch his videos, however, and you must admit that no person, no company — not even Google itself — has so well documented the stunningly rapid spread of Android throughout the globe, and into all manner of computing devices, be they phones, tablets, toys, cameras or sensors. If Android does come to rule our world, as Charbax absolutely believes it will — maybe already has — then history will lean heavily upon his work.

Author note: I have edited responses for the sake of brevity and clarity.  

His real name is Nicolas Charbonnier. He is from Denmark. He tells me that he funds his work primarily through his well-trafficked pro-Android website and popular Youtube channel.

What explains the rapid global spread of Android?
Android is the first embedded Linux for smart devices platform that got enough investment to reach full usability.

What are some current examples of innovative development taking place with Android?
Android is reaching sub-$25 Phones this year and it’ll be in sub-$15 phones next year. Android has reached sub-$20 Desktop HDMI Sticks now and it’s going to reach sub-$10 desktop prices next year. Without Android, there would be nothing of interest going on in the tech world.

Android is enabling the next 5 Billion people access to smart technology. You can fly to China and buy an iPhone 5S copy on MediaTek MT6572 (dual-core ARM Cortex-A7, Android 4.2.2) for the same total price as buying a “real” iPhone 5S in America.

It seems as if only Samsung has profited from Android. What if they abandon the platform?
This is the dream of the same morons that sank Nokia and Blackberry. Samsung is hugely profitable only thanks to Android. Android subsidizes Samsung, Sony and LG’s HDTV business and other businesses. Companies make money on Android because it’s free, open source, and optimized for the most advanced consumer products.

Are you affiliated with Google?
Nope. If Google wants to give me a job, they are welcome to hire me.

Why are you an Android “evangelist”?
I’m basically an evangelist of technology.  I think technology is the solution to all world’s problems and all the (latest) technology is powered by Android. I video-blog at 20 consumer electronics shows per year and 99% of what is happening there revolves around Android. Without Android, I would have nothing to video-blog about.


How do you support your globe-spanning work documenting Android?
My Youtube channel passed 25 million views and I make money from ads. A few companies pay for my flights and hotels when they want me to video-blog at their conferences. I have some 300+ members paying me $20/year on my website. I also earn money by offering advice on sourcing devices out of China.

What do Apple users get wrong about Android?
The world is bigger than Cupertino. Most technological innovation is not happening in the USA and especially not in Cupertino!

Stop believing Apple invents stuff! Apple never invented anything! Even selling overpaid hardware pre-dates Apple by millenia. Apple is simply a cash machine. They invest money wisely in components at the right time for them and they make absurd amounts of profits selling those devices.

They convince consumers that it’s worth paying $2,500+ with a 2-year contract for a device that cost Apple less than $150 to manufacture by underpaid workers in China.

While you may stay in love with your Apple plastics if you want, there is much more happening out in the rest of the world. Android has 100 times more engineers and 100x more R&D being invested throughout the thousands of Android companies working on Android innovation right now.

Author note: I did not ask Charbax if he was referring to me with his “stay in love with your Apple plastics” remark or to Apple users in general.  

What is the future of Android?   
Android has about 90% market share today (where it matters, growth markets and non-US developped markets). It’ll be 98% in 2 years. It’ll power everything in the world.

But isn’t fragmentation a significant problem for Android?
With retail prices for Android devices ranging from $20 to $2000, you cannot expect everything to work on all those different types of devices. On the other hand, even without “official” support on perhaps 50% of the Android device output to date, most apps and most Android features work perfectly fine on 98% of the Android devices on the market.

Author note: Again, Charbax did not offer verifiable evidence for his assertions.

Android was very ingeniously designed since day 1 for both massive backwards compatibility and forwards compatibility. The Android apps SDK enables 99.9% of the 1 million Android apps to work perfectly fine on 99.9% of Android devices being used on the market right now. Even your 3-4 year old Android device will support above 99% of the 1 million Android apps today.

This is absolutely not true of Apple iOS. iPad apps don’t work right on iPhone. iPhone apps don’t work right on iPad. iPad (2) apps don’t work right on iPad Mini. iPad Mini apps don’t work right on iPad Mini Retina.

Android is built to accomodate for just about any screen size, pixel density and any optional hardware features. You do not need to design “tablet optimized” apps for Android for example as you must absolutely do so for iPad.

What else is better about Android than iOS or Windows Phone (or any other operating system)?
Android is 100% open source. This is the most important thing. Android is like the web. iOS and Windows are like proprietary competitors to the web. Android is 100% free.

What about claims that Android or Android makers infringe on other’s patents?
All those patent lawsuits against Android are complete bullshit. Anyone who believes Microsoft or Apple have the right to sue Linux open source on smart devices is just out of his mind. Nobody must touch Linux, it’s free and open source. End of story. Nobody can patent any touch UI, any device shape, any essential user interaction idea, or anything that somebody else would have come up with.

Google appears to be transitioning away from the very open source view you espouse.
Admittedly, Android needs to be even more open source and even more free. That means open source GPU drivers, open source WiFi, Bluetooth, and other source drivers. It means perhaps 100% free alternatives to HDMI, USB, H264, Mp3, Dolby, as well as alternatives to whatever else other people are claiming licence fees against Android device makers for. That practice is just wrong and needs to stop.

Connectors, codecs, graphics engines, all those things need to be free to use for any device maker. Google needs to ramp up their involvement in providing 100% free alternatives to the market for these things so that device makers can in fact produce 100% free and open source Android devices worldwide.

But is this something Google should do? What about controlling the Android brand name, the use of Google apps, and controlling development of future releases?
(I suspect) Sundar Pichai‘s role overseeing Android may be to prepare Android 5.0+ to be totally open. Google should (and soon may) allow any third party developer access to see in real time all the future features of Android that Google is working on. Google should release dailies and accept way more third party patches and feature requests. Any improvements to Android that any third parties want to submit should get integrated in real-time.

You think Google will do this?
I think Google knows they are so far ahead of anyone else now that it really doesn’t benefit either Google or Google’s hardware partners to offer exclusive access to future Android development anymore. Give everyone equal, real-time access.

I also think Google will un-licence and un-restrict the use of their Android apps so that anyone will be allowed to ship Android with Google Play, Google Maps, Gmail, and whatever other apps Google offers, as much as they want, with no more need to ask for Google certification first.

Google should also count all Android activations in the future, and not only count certified Android devices. The 1.5 million Android activations per day are only certified Android devices being activated. That does not include the 500,000 – 1 million non-certified Android devices that are sold worldwide and activated each day.

Why are you visiting San Francisco?
I want to interview HP, Intel and others in the region. I will also be attending a Samsung developer conference. Before this, I was  in Shenzhen, China and purchased some Android phones for $36, and Android-powered devices that copy both Windows Phone and iPhone.

Thank you.

Author note: below are some of my favorite Charbax videos: 

Archos Childpad

A $29 Android tablet

Shenzhen Tablet Factory tour

When Genuine Data Leads to Disingenuous Conclusions

I genuinely love the industry analyst business. I love the role we analysts, our data, and our commentary play in helping companies make strategic decisions. However, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. ((It’s a “Jump to Conclusions” mat! You see, you have this mat, with different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO! — Tom Smykowski from the movie Office Space))

The challenge with data is that the truth lies in the interpretation. Without context genuine data can lead to disingenuous conclusions. This is why data cannot be put out in the public without context. Yet this is exactly what happens. It creates a scenario where a media industry who thrives on negativity can take genuine data, miss the context, and create stories around a false narrative. It is not their fault entirely. It is the fault of the data firms who release data to the public, without proper interpretation or context, and allow the media industry to draw their own conclusion, and often a false one.

Genuine data should point out market truths. However, when presented in the wrong way, it has the potential to do just the opposite.

Why We Count Things

The bottom line is data matters. If you are a company that makes touch-based displays or sensors you need a fairly accurate view of shipment growth related to the areas you care about so you can plan your long term product cycle. If you are a company that makes screens you don’t necessarily care what the operating system market share is of specific platforms. All you care about is how many screens will be sold over the next few years, and what the likely segment mix of screen size will be. For you, the data matters because you need to know how many to make. This is why forecasts and segment tracking statistics are relevant.

Data, forecasts, and other statistics, should help reveal an opportunity to the interested party. It should also help point out where there are not opportunities.

Not all data that gets put out in the public leads to disingenuous conclusions. However, it is the market share statistics that do so more often than any other. To make my point, and highlight how this happens, I will use the tablet market share narrative as an example.

The iPad Has Lost to Android

When you track the global sales of tablets, it is easy to look at the market share statistics and say that it is game over for the iPad. You can stare at the chart and conclude that the iPad can no longer grow as the world and the growth shifts to Android. There is some truth to the global statistics of Android’s tablet market share. At face value we create charts that look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 7.10.08 AM

That is genuine data. Android is being shipped on more tablets than iPads. Therefore, the narrative that Android tablets outsell iPads is accurate at a bullet point level. However, the graph does not tell the whole story and yet so many are left to conclude it does.

If you are a software developer ((Software developers are ones for whom a market share discussion does matter. Perhaps the investment community does also but at large it is irrelevant for most.)) you will look at that chart and say “I should be writing tablet apps for Android.” The problem is… that is an incorrect conclusion when you have the context of the market share data points.

The picture starts to get more clear when we look at the market share of each vendor as a makeup of total sales. Here is that chart. ((Graph viewed with a stack chart. Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 11.43.31 AM ))

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 4.48.10 PM

When we look at that chart we realize that the name brands shipping Android tablets are not shipping nearly as many as the iPad. We will also notice that the largest segment of Android tablets being sold come from this category labeled ‘other.’ Upon learning that ‘other’ makes up a significant portion of the number of Android tablets being sold; we must seek to understand what ‘other’ is and ask if it represents the same opportunity as the vendors who are shipping Android as a tablet platform tied to services and app stores.

Understanding Other

The category ‘other’ represents the no-name brand white-box tablets being sold at razor thin margins mostly in China and other emerging markets. Here are some visuals to help with some context.


I wrote about this point in particular where I dug into the gray market for tablets in China. It is a big market.

As I have been digging into the white box segment–which makes up the bulk of Android tablet shipments–I have been trying to understand what consumers are doing with these extremely low-cost devices. As we know, Android tablets globally make up a minuscule share of global web traffic. The latest estimates I saw peg Android tablets at less than .08% of global traffic while iPad is at 4% of global internet traffic. This has always been the stat that has caused us researchers to raise an eyebrow. Android has more volume but significantly less internet traffic. So what is happening?

Nearly all evidence and data we find comes back to a few fundamental things. First, most of these low cost tablets in the category of ‘other’ are being used purely as portable DVD players, or e-readers. Some are being used for games, but rarely are they connecting to web services, app stores, or other key services. I have asked local analysts, local online services companies, app tracking firms, and many many more regional experts, and the answer keeps coming back the same. They affirm that we see the data showing all these Android tablet sales. But they aren’t actually showing up on anyone’s radar when it comes to apps and services in a meaningful way.

Understanding the context, it is hard to genuinely conclude that ‘other’ represents an opportunity for anyone but the white box hardware companies making less than a dollar of profit and component vendors who can supply the parts to make such low-cost tablets. It is certainly not a genuine revenue opportunity for app developers, services companies, or other constituents in the food chain. And other makes up almost 40% of the Android tablets shipped world wide.

So let’s look at the chart without ‘other.’

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 5.30.05 PM

Now we get a slightly clearer picture. If we eliminate ‘other’ Apple’s tablet share goes to over 50% WW with the closest competitor being Samsung at 18%.

Yet we are still left with a legitimate question which is relative to vendor growth. ‘Other’ is causing a downward trend for the competition. We know that ‘other’ was growing but ‘other’ is not an area any branded hardware OEM wants to go near. So, can vendors grow their share in a growing market against other? That is the key question. To shed insight into that question a little more context is necessary.

Our research, and many others, suggests that over half of first-time purchasers of low-cost tablets had buyers remorse and intend to spend up on their next one. This is why with many of the latest branded crop of OEM tablets, prices went up in order to invest in better components to better the experience.

Our research also suggests that those in the market for a tablet–who plan to use it to do meaningful things for the value chain–prioritize the experience over price. The tablet market as a whole is growing and I tend to view that growth separately from the ‘white box’ category. ((There is likely some percent of ‘other’ that does represent an opportunity, however, we have no idea how much. My suspicion is it is very small so I lean toward leaving it out entirely.)) Doing so brings much more clarity to what is happening in the market for the stakeholders.

We are still waiting for updated figures on these but I wanted to add the needed context about what is happening in the tablet market so that accurate opinions, and more importantly accurate business decisions, can be made with regard to this category.

A similar analysis can be done on the market for smartphones, but I will leave that project for another time. Data is good. But it is dangerous when it is released into the public without context. Data should inform not confuse. Yet, more often than not, data that gets thrown around in the public sphere clouds the truth rather than brings clarity to it.

If Jeff Bezos Is Serious About An Amazon Phone He Better Take Out His Wallet

Over the past several weeks, rumors of an “Amazon Phone” have become more persistent, if no more credible. The rumors stick, of course, because Amazon has years of experience designing, developing, selling (and I assume servicing) personal mobile computing devices — the Kindle line of eReaders and tablets. In addition, Amazon operates its own Android app store, has a very successful cloud infrastructure platform, and manages one of the larger direct-to-consumer smartphone channels. Add to this the company’s robust digital media ecosystem — books, music, movies and more — and it’s easy to understand why so many believe Amazon can and will make its own smartphone.

There’s only one problem: every time we might use an “Amazon smartphone” we most certainly are (via their cloud, apps, payments platform, rumored smartphone sensors and integrated services) visiting Amazon.

And Jeff Bezos has taught us that every time we visit Amazon we should demand and we should receive a whole host of free goodies. This alters the entire Amazon smartphone equation.

Free Free Free!

A famous Bezos quote is “there are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.”

I won’t call Bezos a liar, the quote is accurate. Only, it’s not complete. Bezos and Amazon often do charge less than the competition. They are like WalMart in this regard. Where they are different, however, is in making that (slightly) lower price even more appealing by throwing in a feast of freebies.

Amazon Prime, for example, is damn near a steal for my family — just on shipping costs alone. There’s also the many free streaming movies we get for being Prime “subscribers.” We get free books on Kindle, free Android apps, free cloud storage for our many digital belongings and much more. Then there’s all the sales taxes we’ve saved by choosing Amazon instead of buying local. I shudder to add those up.

The modus operandi of Amazon isn’t “cheap” or “low price.” Rather, it’s using other people’s money — including some from Wall Street — to subsidize the company’s most favored customers.

I am happily one of Amazon’s most favored customers.

But I have no intention of getting an Amazon smartphone, however. Not unless Bezos hands me a great deal more freebies than ever before.

All Amazon All The Time

Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch recently provided details on the rumored Amazon smartphone(s).

Amazon is planning two devices, the first of which is the previously rumored ‘expensive’ version with a 3D user interface, eye tracking and more.

Another feature said to be planned for the device, but not yet locked for release, is an image recognition feature that lets users take a shot of any real-world object and match it to an Amazon product for purchase.

Count me as highly skeptical on any of this. An actual value-enhancing 3D screen — before Samsung, Apple, Sony, LG or Motorola? Eye tracking and image recognition that really works? From the company that is primarily a web commerce and services concern?

Worse, the company suggests they may charge us for their smartphone! Recall, Amazon publicly told AllThingsD: “we have no plans to offer a phone this year, and if we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free.”

If it’s not free, what could be the actual selling point? Better hardware? Better software? Better ecosystem? That seems extremely unlikely. Lower prices? Between iTunes and App Store pricing and Google giveaways, how much lower could Amazon go?

Answer: they’d have to start paying us to use the device.

It’s the opposite of free!

This is not so far-fetched.

The Opposite of Free

Smartphones are profoundly altering commerce. We use them to buy, to research what to buy, to see what is available to buy — at this moment, at this exact location, and from whom. We use our smartphones to complete the purchase, to make the payment, to store our coupons, to ask our friends for recommendations.

Amazon wants badly to capture and monetize as much of this action, and as many of these steps, as theoretically possible. Give Bezos his due for thinking in such grand terms.

Everything Google does, for example, is to get us to provide more of our personal information, which they can then monetize. Everything Amazon does is to get us to make more of our purchases through them. An Amazon smartphone would no doubt be designed for just that.

Which, from a user’s standpoint, sounds absolutely dreadful.

An Amazon smartphone could only work if Amazon paid us to use it.

Amazon is a Tiger. Jeff Bezos the Tail.

In a recent piece in BusinessWeek, Bezos and Amazon are reverentially lauded:

Today, as it nears its 20th anniversary, it’s the Everything Store, a company with around $75 billion in annual revenue, a $140 billion market value, and few if any discernible limits to its growth.

I’m less sure of that last bit. Admittedly, I use Amazon regularly. The reasons are clear:

  1. the sales process extracts only minimal pain
  2. the products are available within only a few days
  3. the prices are reliably low
  4. all the free stuff the company throws in with every purchase

Just one of those goes away, however, and I will look elsewhere — possibly even make my purchases elsewhere. Which means there is at least one very obvious limit on Amazon’s growth: if the rubes who are subsidizing Amazon’s most favored customers ever rebel, us most favored customers just might go elsewhere.

I can’t say when or if that will happen. But, I can say that if the Amazon smartphone is not free, as Amazon says, then it will have to compete with other devices. I simply do not believe Amazon can win on a level playing field.

I could be wrong. There may well be an Amazon smartphone on the horizon. It may turn out to be great. Time will tell.

But I am certain of this: Jeff Bezos better be ready to pull out his wallet if he’s serious about entering the smartphone wars. I will make him pay a fortune for my business. I suspect we all will.

Do Android Or Windows Phone Have Any Hope Of Defeating iPhone?


Neither Android nor Windows Phone, apart or in concert, have any hope of defeating iPhone. None. For the foreseeable future, iPhone will remain the world’s most popular, most profitable smartphone by a wide margin. The best apps, the first apps, the most popular accessories, the lion’s share of the industry’s profits all will belong to iPhone.

Indeed, I think the gap in profits and mindshare will only widen from this point forward. The iPhone is simply too good, Apple too rich, iPhone hardware too advanced, the iOS ecosystem too robust, integration across devices and platforms too seamless, retail footprint too large, customer satisfaction too high.

Mobile First

iPhone’s dominance is also partly the result of the right strategic bets. Apple has successfully re-positioned itself as a mobile first entity. Android and Windows Phone not only lag behind iPhone from a financial, technical and platform perspective, their masters — Google and Microsoft — still underestimate just how profoundly mobile will remake computing, work, play, commerce, interactions, our lives. Their smartphones suffer accordingly.

Google, which makes nearly all its money from (stationary) web advertising, continues to focus its efforts on getting more users on the web more of the time. Wise, but not enough. As I have previously shown, the person-to-web relationship is no longer central to the connected user. With smartphones, apps and services such as AirDrop and iBeacons, for example, we will witness a radical jump in person-to-person, person-to-group and device-to-device interactions that bypass the web entirely, never once to cross a Google server or gateway.

Likewise, Microsoft is still designed for a world where the “desktop” is at the center of an ever-expanding sphere of computing devices and services. This is fail. As Ben Bajarin has shown, it is smartphones, not PCs that will serve as the hub of our mobile, social and highly connected lives.

Apple’s iPhone is simply too far ahead of the competition everywhere that matters.

But, there remain opportunities — very big ones, in fact.

As I have written in the past, do not be misled by those who insist that Apple can magically go down-market whenever they wish. This is false. Apple’s skill set, cost structure, corporate expertise and branding all prevent this. Thus, Windows Phone and Android vendors can fight it out over the low-price, low-profit market.

There are several additional paths to take. These can all benefit from non-Apple innovation.

Form Factor

Apple now controls the most robust developer platform for personal computing. No one on the planet foresaw this happening, not even Steve Jobs who initially radically underestimated both the disruptive power of the app and the near-limitless potential of the iPhone.

Therein lies the opportunity.

Apple is now beholden to its developer community. The iPad and then the iPad Mini, the iPhone and then the iPhone 5, all have very specific display sizes in large part because these work best for the nearly million apps available. You may pine for an iPhone “Note” but the fact is Apple cannot offer us a wide array of display sizes because this would harm the performance and presentation of existing apps.

Android and Windows Phone should therefore radically expand their efforts and develop devices that embrace all manner of display size and form factors (e.g. these massive Microsoft ‘tablets’). The upcoming “bendable” LG smartphone and the extremely popular large-display Samsung devices reveal the potential of this market.

Similarly, iOS cannot well support physical keyboards. Mobile devices with physical keyboards — including, yes, the Surface — will remain in high demand for years to come.

The Integration of Things

The shockingly rapid transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7 only hints at the potential power of Apple’s platform. With hundreds of millions already on iOS 7, app developers, payments platforms, makers of accessories and hardware companies all know that building for iOS, unlike all other platforms, is a near guarantee that their service or device will function properly and have access to the most lucrative market.

There is another path, however, one which Apple may simply be unable to support: everything else in our lives.

I want my smartphone to serve as my identity, my credit card, my house key, car key, to manage my heating and cooling, monitor my home when I am not there, control my washer and dryer, serve as my television remote, connect with my medical devices (e.g. blood pressure monitor), track my dogs, offer me instant access to the subway and thousands of other activities.

Given the obvious limits on Apple’s marketshare and hardware development, Android and Windows Phone need to position themselves as the go-to platform for the Internet of Things. Apple and its hardware partners cannot be everywhere.

Government Intervention

Smartphones connect us with content, with the web, with one another, and with an ever-expanding array of devices and services. They are the center of our lives. Not the PC, as Microsoft envisioned. Not the web, as Google still believes. The smartphone is the last thing we see at night, the first thing we see in the morning. The odds of some new tech marginalizing smartphones any time over the next decade, say, are extremely remote.

A far more likely pitfall for Apple’s iPhone is government intervention.

No matter your political bent, the long history of government from at least the beginnings of recorded history clearly reveal that wherever there is a great deal of money, government will be there.

Apple has a great deal of money.

Expect new rules on how this money is taxed, how it may be spent, and a bevy of new and potentially inexplicable regulations on what Apple must do to satisfy each nation’s (or region’s) many and varied constituencies. Also expect nations to directly and indirectly limit Apple’s sales in favor of national entities.

How such intervention might impact Apple and iPhone is simply unknowable at this point. I nonetheless expect ongoing and potentially significant government intrusion upon Apple’s business, at least from China and the European Union, possibly even the US.

I suspect that government intrusion, more than the marketplace, more than any new technologies, more even than industry collusion, will impact Apple’s and iPhone’s continued success the most over this next decade.

Windows Phone And Android Hate

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” 
― Maya Angelou

I want Windows Phone to succeed. More than that, I want Android to fail. I hate Android.

There, I said it. Yes, I am a market analyst, detached, and I have absolutely no stake in the success or failure, rise or fall, of either Microsoft or Google, $MSFT or $GOOG, or Apple, for that matter. I simply do not like Android. I refuse to hide this fact.

I think Android is a pale, poorly executed imitation of Apple’s iOS. I have real concerns about the ethics of Google’s ex-CEO as he simultaneously served on Apple’s board. Google’s scale and de facto search monopoly allow it to undercut competition and stifle innovation in local-mobile services. That’s no good. I can’t stand the way they use terms like “open” the way fast food chains label yesterday’s hamburgers as “fresh.”

Nor can I ignore their duplicitous stance on patents.

Most of all, I am suspicious of Google Android’s business model, which is built upon the capture, store, sift and sell of an ever-increasing amount of my increasingly personal information, all of which is then bundled and sold off to countless unknown people and businesses.

With Google search, Google Maps, Google Android, Google Wallet, Google Play, Google Chrome and Google+, Google knows where we are, what we are buying, who we are with, what led us to that purchase — and has documentary evidence of it.


I don’t want this.

As everything goes digital and as everything digital collapses inside the shimmering smartphone screen, I see no justification for anyone cheering on Android.

I am not fueled by animus, however. I want the new Microsoft – Nokia to succeed because the world benefits if Windows Phone becomes a viable third alternative to iPhone and Android.

A Great Disturbance In The Force 

Yes, I think Apple currently makes the best smartphone and operates the best smartphone platform. But, for sundry reasons Apple will not and cannot stop the global spread of Android. Should Apple release, as is widely expected, a low-cost global iPhone “C”, and if rumors of deals with DoCoMo and China Mobile are all true, it’s still likely that the very best Apple will achieve — ever — is well under 30% of the global smartphone market. Likely, 25% is their ceiling. I don’t want Google to own 75% of the smartphone market as I believe this would be harmful to innovation and a long-term threat to personal privacy norms.

Where Apple will not succeed, Microsoft now can. Pushing Ballmer aside and acquiring Nokia suggests an acceptance of the new world they must now compete in. No, it will not be easy to take on Android. It is unlikely they will succeed. Still, the company that once seemed like the Evil Empire is now more like an aging Annakin Skywalker — and our last, best hope to slay the Emperor.

There are many arrows in Microsoft’s quiver: Windows 8 + Nokia design + Skype + Bing + Office + Outlook + Nokia imaging + Windows Media — plus security and server tools for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft with Nokia also has the necessary global footprint.  Taking on Android is not a suicide mission.

The Circle Is Now Complete

The greatest barrier to success, however, is that Microsoft remains of a world that no longer exists. Smartphones represent a transformative shift in computing – like mainframes to Minis and Minis to PCs. Companies optimized for PCs are, I believe, more likely as not to fail in this new age. Of course, Google is also optimized for PCs. That’s where nearly all its revenues come from, still.

Nokia, however, is optimized for mobile if not quite for this new age of smartphones. Moreover, they possess still another strength that Google does not: the user is also the customer.

This is critical — and little understood by most mobile industry pundits. Smartphones are with us all the time. They are in our hand when we awake and when we fall asleep.  They are our most personal objects, containing our most private data, and the thing we touch more even than our own children. Carriers and IT units may be major channels for smartphone sales but unlike with PCs, the user will be the ultimate arbiter. These devices are simply too personal to allow others to decide what we choose.

Nokia possesses yet another strength, and one not well understood in the United States. The company truly knows how to make quality devices at amazingly low prices.


The pre-Microsoft Nokia lent me various “Asha” phones to test: the dual-SIM Asha 310, and the cute, colorful and long-lasting Asha 501. I also tested the  Nokia 105 feature phone. I was legitimately struck by the functionality and usability of each of these phones, particularly on a per-dollar basis. I would not buy any of them — which means I cannot recommend them. That said, these phones can be had for $25 – $100, a truly amazing feat of engineering, design and manufacturing. In many parts of the world, most do not have the luxury of turning their back on a sub-$100 device like I can.

Analysts that confidently predict Android will forever dominate the smartphone wars on cost alone have likely never used a very-low-cost Nokia device. Similarly, those analysts that are convinced that Android will win because Google offers its services and applications for free badly under-estimate the value of functionality, reliability and security that is built into Microsoft’s software.

The Force Is Strong With This One

Microsoft and Nokia can deliver this to the world:

Low-cost, secure, functional smartphones that seamlessly integrate across multiple devices (e.g. smartphones, PCs and game console), that satisfy end users and businesses alike, that can incorporate Yammer, Skype, Xbox, Outlook and Office, and which provide a hedge against the overwhelming force that is Google Android. That is a powerful combination.

Admittedly, the numbers at present are not terribly good, as this recent Kantar market survey reveals.


Despite its current meager share, the Windows Phone platform is growing. Moreover, the smartphone market itself is only in its early days. Analysts who suggest otherwise are dead wrong. The vast majority of the world does not have a smartphone yet — though almost certainly will within the next few years. In addition, smartphones are becoming more used and more useful for all  users with every passing day — for work, school, play, home, life. “Free” and ad-driven business models like Android may ultimately fail to satisfy the requirements users demand for these truly critical devices. What is critical in your life that you don’t expect to pay for?

I Sense Something. A Presence I’ve Not Felt Since…

When Microsoft effectively acquired Nokia, the company made no secret of their intent:

To accelerate its share and profits in phones. To create a first-rate Microsoft phone experience for its users. To prevent Google and Apple from foreclosing app innovation, integration, distribution and economics.

I am hoping they succeed. It is within them to do so. Their fatal flaw, it seems to me, is do they have enough faith in themselves to do what is right, to achieve what I contend is possible, and build for the future, not the present? After all, the reason Ballmer was so successful and yet ultimately failed is that he chased the easy money, valued Windows profits above all else, and refused to acknowledge the potential for complete market disruption.

Nokia is likewise guilty of this. In a recent interview, Frank Nuovo — once the Jony Ive of Nokia — told the Australian Financial Review that Apple, not Nokia, re-invented the mobile market despite Nokia’s massive head start, because “all of our user testing pointed to the fact that no-one wanted touch phones.”

And yet now all of us have one.

The world can change, and quickly.

As can you. It’s time to let go of your anger. All has been burned clean. Begun the Smartphone War has. Microsoft is now on our side. May the force be with them.

The Very Googley Motorola X

I’ve spent the last week with the Motorola (a Google Company) X. As many who read my columns will know, I prefer iOS to Android and I make that clear. However, when it comes to Android devices I like the stock–Nexus–Android devices the best. Which means, I knew I would like the Motorola X when I first heard about it. However, my desire to experience the device was not because it is running stock Android. It was because I wanted to see if Motorola, the Google company, added any unique differentiators with the software. And they did.

Better Than Stock

What surprised me was that the version of Android on the Motorola X and their new Droid lineup is BETTER than stock Android. It looks and feels exactly like stock Android, but the additions the Motorola software team (I mean members of the ex-Android team) added are very good and feel like features that would come with stock Android on flagship Nexus devices. Yet that is not the case, they are coming on Motorola devices and no one else’s. Not even Nexus devices. At least I am assuming they are not. Time will tell if these great features make it back to the stock Android kernel. But I doubt it.

I kept saying to myself that many of the key new software features felt very Googley. In fact the whole device just felt very Googley. Which is a good thing. Unless you are a competing Android OEM.

So what features make me say this? There are a few. The first is called Motorola Assist. Motorola has had some of these features at a basic level before. But they have now all gotten much more Googley. Take a look at the screen shot below.


That is the screen for the Motorola Assist feature. It looks very Googley. There are many design similarities to Google Now which is a feature of the latest stock Android build. The features of Motorola assist are also pretty slick.

First, if enabled, when driving it will know you are driving and when a call or text message comes in it will alert you via a voice prompt and allow you to answer a call, deny a call and respond with text message, or offer to read you the text message that arrived. Very nice hands free feature while driving with some good contextual automation built in.

The other that was quite nice and worked much better than I thought was the avoid interruptions during meetings feature. When this feature is enabled the service will be aware of your calendar appointments and auto send text responses to anyone in listed in favorites and let them know you are busy and will get back to them. It also keeps your phone silent of all notifications during this time. My wife LOVED this feature since I tried it by blocking off time when we went to dinner on my calendar and our time remained interruption free. This is similar to the iOS Do Not Disturb feature but is automated based on your calendar appointments.

Information at a Tap

The other addition I liked was Active Display. On the stock Android devices, I am a fan of the lock screen widgets. I use this primarily for email. So I can quickly see if I have important messages that I need to respond to without unlocking the phone. Motorola has added some smarts at the hardware and software layers to add to this feature. The home screen on the Moto X will pulse off an on when you have a notification waiting for you. You can simply tap on the icon and get at a glance any recent emails, text message, or missed calls and then choose to ignore or swipe to unlock the device and respond. This is information at a tap rather than a glance but is very nicely done.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 5.52.26 PM

The key to this is that Motorola specifically added some hardware and software features to make use of a low-power processor just dedicated to this feature. This way to look at these notifications on the home screen you can do it without waking the CPU or the whole screen. Since the information is just in black and white the screen and touch features can be used with just the additional low-power core.

The other thing the low-power core can do is look for movement of the device allowing me to just pull it out of my pocket and the screen is already on showing me the time and any notifications without me having to press a button. Very useful feature.

Always Listening and Touch-less Control

The last feature I will dive into is the always listening feature. Also using the low-power core is a feature where the device is always listening for the key word “OK Google Now.” When you say this phrase you can then automate any number of features. You can tell it to call someone, text someone, schedule a meeting, set an alarm, etc. You can do many of the same things you can do with Google Now on many stock Android devices as well as Siri. The difference is that you can initiate the whole process with your voice without having to press a button.

This is the feature that is of extreme interest to me. I’ve always wrestled with the question of what we can do with our devices when they can hear us. Meaning that we can interact with our devices without having to initiate the function physically but rather verbally. We are just scratching the surface in this thinking and when we can train our computers to understand us better and provide fully automated value for functions hands free via voice, I think we will be in some interesting territory.

Measuring Success

From my view as an analyst, I think about how we should measure success for Motorola with this product. We could focus on the hardware which is very good. Motorola has made the most usable 4.7″ screen for one hand operation I have used yet. Or we could focus on the customization trend. Which I think is very interesting and a compelling differentiator for the Moto X. We could also focus on their efforts to make this device locally. I applaud their efforts to build this device in the US and again feel that will have a certain appeal.

For me, however, the way I’ll measure success for Motorola is not in how many devices they sell this quarter or next. Or what market share they gain or don’t gain. For me I will measure success if these devices help establish credibility again for Motorola as a hardware company and specifically a smart phone brand. Brand is everything in my opinion. Motorola had a good one and they are an American success story. I sincerely hope they can re-establish themselves as an innovator, thought leader, and a credible brand. From what I have experienced wit the Moto X, I think they are on the right track.

Other Things I Liked Worth Mentioning

  1. Battery life was better than average. Motorola touts 24 hours and although I never tested that claim, I routinely used my phone from 6:30am and plugged it in around 10:30pm and the battery level never went below 30%
  2. Motorola Connect was a nifty feature where by installing a Chrome plug-in you could reply to text messages on the PC as well as choose to ignore a call and respond with a text message all on the PC through the browser plug in. Very clever Google.

iOS App Store vs. Google Play: Key Stats and Important Observations

I’ve come across a few stats regarding the iOS App store and the Google Play store that are more than just a little interesting. If you follow the industry closely then you are aware of the narrative that gets circulated that iOS garners heavier user engagement than Android. There are many data points to support this but the below picture outlines where things stand today.

Slide 1

All of this is important to understand in context. What all data, like the above, showing engagement is tracking are identical tasks. Yet if you evaluate each platform you realize not all time spent on the device are identical tasks. The ones above are common, yet what we don’t know is how much time is spent on other apps and more importantly how much time is spent browsing or shopping in the app stores. This is why I’m more interested in data showing app stores sales and related behaviors than anything else.

I recently came across a new report from Distimo which tracked both Google Play and iOS App store revenues across many different regions. Below is their data of total revenue of each app store in each country tracked.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 8.07.16 PM

So many interesting observations need to be made from this chart. The first is related to the United States.

What this chart shows, and many other data points I’ve acquired point out, is simply how important the US is from a revenue standpoint for developers and for each platform. One could argue that the US is the most important strategic battle ground in many different ways. The US has just over 313 million people of which 191 million currently own smartphones. In Smartphones, Android has a slight market share lead over the iPhone with approximately 95 million users on Android and approximately 88 million on iOS and the rest with either BlackBerry or Windows Phone. ((I say approximately because I know I’m close with those estimates but possibly not exact))

The second is related to Japan. Japan is clearly the second largest app marketplace in terms of total revenue. Japan has 127 million people of which 45% own smartphones. This brings Japan’s smartphone install base to approximately 57 million. iOS has 33% OS share in Japan with just over 18 million iPhone users. Android has 66% market share giving us 37 million users in Japan. The iPhone in Japan is the single best selling device followed by Sharp, then Sony, then Samsung. I highlight this data so you have context when looking at the App store sizes and revenues.

South Korea has an active Smartphone install base of 50 million of which 70% own smartphones. Out of the 35 million smartphone users 90% use Android or 31.5 million people. The bulk of the additional 4.5 million consumers in South Korea use iOS.

Now with those data points in mind, let’s consider the following:

Japan and South Korea are Google Play’s largest revenue generating regions with significantly less Android users in each region. In Korea, and this is fascinating, 35 million Android customers outspend 95 million US customers in the Google Play store. Please don’t forget Samsung is based in Korea as well as LG and both run Android. Now back to my first point. Not forgetting that the US is a critical battle ground for App stores, what about South Korea? Put yourself in Samsung’s shoes. How much leverage does this give them against Google? Google, from a Play revenue standpoint, can not afford to lose South Korea. Yet Samsung is toying with the idea of usurping Play store and developer revenue from Google. And the scary part is that Samsung can do this just for their home country and bring in a pretty penny. Although I believe they have much more grand ambitions that just conquering their home country, which should have just happened by default if you know anything about Korean culture.

the iOS app store shows strong resilience in all the markets in which it competes. With the battle that Both Google Play and iOS are in at a global level, notice what country is not in the chart. China. Google Play will likely never be in China, yet Apple is still planning their attack.

The data also points out that the Google Play market grew 67% in the past six month’s. Mostly thanks to Samsung mind you. During that same period the iOS app store grew 15% yet the Apple app store generate two times more revenue. Much of this thanks to iPad, and keep in mind without any real help from China..

So here again we see the narrative that although Android has a larger install base, from an app economy it has the weakest position. With that we factor in the interesting question Ben Evans raised the other day:

“If total Android engagement moves decisively above iOS, the fact that iOS will remain big will be beside the point – it will move from first to first-equal and then perhaps second place on the roadmap. And given the sales trajectories, that could start to happen in 2014. If you have 5-6x the users and a quarter of the engagement, you’re still a more attractive market.”

He is just making the point of engagement and not around app store spending. So let’s look at the graphic provided from Distimo on App store growth.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 8.57.47 PM

Note that the Apple App store has remained relatively flat while The Play store is trending up. So the question then revolves around whether the trajectory of the Google Play store will catch up with the Apple App store. I maintain that it will not, since the iPhone and iPad are not standing still and the iPhone is still doing remarkably well in every region. Also if you look at Google Play’s biggest markets currently, Japan and South Korea, they both have smaller populations and South Korea already has remarkably high smartphone penetration. So one could argue that the room to grow in order catch up is simply not there given the timeline needed. And as I point out Google has no ‘Play’ in China (pun intended).

One market to watch with regards to Google Play is India. Per capita it is one of the largest growth sectors but this will also take time to manifest in Google’s favor from an economic standpoint. Android is doing well in India but those customers are not spending or investing much in ecosystems at the moment.

With the picture I just painted you can see what it makes sense strategically for Apple to begin to build out an current generation iPhone line of products in order to target different segments and different price points. It is all about getting customers in the door so they can invest in your ecosystems value chain.

Customer Acquisition and the Entry Level iPhone

From an industry and market standpoint, a lower-cost iPhone certainly has the potential to shake up the market. In what ways we can only speculate but there are a few points about an entry level iPhone that are worth discussing.

The Cost to Acquire a Customer

This is basically how I view any product Apple prices below a premium price point. Any move Apple makes to go downstream is a strategic move to acquire customers who seek value but not at premium price points and get them into Apple’s ecosystem.

If Apple was just a hardware company and that is all, then it would make sense to have a discussion about how fast they can go downstream in order to compete globally. But Apple is not JUST a hardware company. They are a hardware + software + services company and each part plays a critical part to the whole experience.

To analyze Apple correctly we need to understand how the hardware plays into the software which plays into the services. Therefore we look at an entry level iPhone as a way to acquire new customers Apple finds valuable. I make this point specifically because I don’t believe a customer who just wants a “cheap” product is the kind of customer Apple wants or one that adds any value to a computing ecosystem. I say this because these customers don’t spend much if anything in app stores. These customers just want the cheapest data plans possible. These customers are unlikely to spend money on additional services, etc. [pullquote]The fallacy those who think price is all that matters fall into is believing that all consumers value the same thing.[/pullquote]

This is why Apple will never compete with anyone in a race to the bottom. Those customers are simply not valuable in the grand scheme of things and arguably not worth competing for. And luckily those who just want cheap are only a percentage of the overall consumer segment. The fallacy those who think price is all that matters fall into is believing that all consumers value the same thing. It is incorrect to believe that its hard to compete with free. It is easy, all you do is create a better product, experience, or solution, and market it to those who will value it.

So the philosophy of an entry level iPhone pricing is as such: the lowest price Apple believes is necessary to capture the type of entry level consumer who is still valuable to their ecosystem.

Horace Deidu, posted on his site Asymco in May, that iTunes customers spend at a rate of $40 per year as an average. Certainly in some cases, like mine, people spend more than $40 per year, and certainly in some cases people spend less. A person who just wants cheap would not spend nearly as much if anything in Apple’s ecosystem. But the key point for Apple and an entry level priced iPhone is how low does it need to be to still acquire a customer who will spend money and add value to the ecosystem. Apple could take a margin hit in order to acquire said customer and still make up that margin hit on the hardware and then some over the lifetime value of that customer. This is why the services (iTunes, iCloud, and future services) are so important to Apple’s long term strategy.

Redefining Engagement

Some additional necessary thinking was shared by Benedict Evans today with is post Defending iOS with Cheaper iPhone. Lots of good thoughts in this post as usual from Ben but one in particular is worth fleshing out.

“If total Android engagement moves decisively above iOS, the fact that iOS will remain big will be beside the point – it will move from first to first-equal and then perhaps second place on the roadmap. And given the sales trajectories, that could start to happen in 2014. If you have 5-6x the users and a quarter of the engagement, you’re still a more attractive market.”

This is a very interesting point and worthy of thinking and discussion. Engagement is an important metric but we must first back up and ask whether all engagement is equal? For example are even the most “engaged” people on iOS and Android doing the same things? In some cases, like in working professionals or premium customers, the answer may be yes but I’m sure there are also many cases where the answer is no. The other challenge with using the engagement statistics most promote publicly is that they all exclude important metrics. For example we don’t know how much extra time iPhone (or iOS) consumers spend on the device browsing the App store or shopping for music. The same is true on Android. This would be some key stats that would shed more light on engagement and said users value to an ecosystem. ((of course, engagement on tablets is so disproportionate on iOS vs. Android. And on this point, it may never be equal.))

If we just measure engagement by things like talking on the phone, texting, browsing the web, doing email, playing games, etc., then on the surface we can make an observation that at some point this these will be equal by sheer volume of Android. Simply because these are common tasks. What needs to be added additionally for a holistic ecosystem analysis is how much time is spent additionally where things (and all regions) may not be equal.

Regardless, even if the level of engagement does become equal taking Android 5-6x (or more) the customers to reach the same engagement, both platforms will remain and will be a focus for developers.


This is a point I have not seen made yet that I think is very interesting. As much as Apple will benefit from getting new customers with an entry level iPhone that benefits their ecosystem so will Google. We know Google makes more on iOS than Android and interestingly an entry level iPhone will likely help Google’s bottom line as well. When you dig through the numbers on how profitable iOS is to Google’s search revenue, Google may be the biggest cheer leader for a lower-cost iPhone.

The questions around this are interesting. If a lower-cost iPhone does shake up the market in Apple’s favor globally would Google put even more emphasis on iOS? Would Apple even let them? Will Apple do more strategically with Siri to usurp search or other value from Google?

Services are a critical part of the end game for many industry players. Google was always fascinating to me because they are a services company first who worked their way backwards into software, and now hardware with Motorola. Apple came from it the other direction starting with hardware and software and now investing heavily in services.

Strategically, so much is going on in the market that will define the next decade or more of computing.

“Android Dominance” Is An Oxymoron

Alarm Bells Should Be Ringing At Apple: It’s Getting Absolutely Creamed By Android, Which Now Controls ~80% Of The Smartphone Market ~ Jay Yarrow, Business Insider

No, it’s not.

Definition of an oxymoron:

A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction

Fact #1: No version of Android dominates mobile OS market share.

“Android Dominance” is an oxymoron. No single “slice” of the Android “pie” is equal to the 93% of iOS users who have upgraded to iOS 6. iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system.


Fact #2: Historically, iOS customers have been quick to update to the latest OS version. ((iOS 6 Adoption At Just Over One Week: 60% For iPhone And 41% For iPad | TechCrunch))

Fact #3: Apple’s iOS users have even more reasons to rapidly upgrade to iOS 7.


A recent developer survey revealed that 95% of developers are updating their apps for iOS 7.

More importantly, 48% of those developers intend to make their updated apps work only on iOS 7.

With so many new and updated apps working only on iOS 7, iOS users are going be strongly motivated to upgrade to iOS 7 as soon as possible.

Fact #4: OS Versions matter.

Apple, arguably, has higher-quality apps because developers still focus on iOS first. The reason they focus on the App Store is that it generates more revenue than Google’s Android store, and users are more engaged. However, there’s no reason to believe this will continue. ~ Jay Yarrow, Business Insider

[pullquote]People who look only at overall OS numbers without taking OS versions into account are missing the “trees” for the “forrest”[/pullquote]

Yes, there is.

Pundits, like Jay, can’t seem to understand why Android leads in market share but iOS leads in usage, engagement, developers, income and everything else that makes a platform strong. ((Why The iPhone's Usage Advantage Over Android Remains So Important. The latest evidence confirms it: iPhone users are far more engaged with their devices than are Android users.)) ((Why Google’s Android is Losing the Battle to Apple’s iOS)) ((Apple iPhone users use their devices 55% more than Android users)) (("Both in apps and overall smartphone usage, iPhone owners rank higher than owners of Android handsets. After surveying both U.S. and European smartphone owners, researchers not only found owners of the Apple device more frequently use apps, but conduct more tasks suitable to smartphones, such as browsing the Internet. This despite Android’s advantage both in number of handsets out there and in sales. The dichotomy just reinforces our Android in a Drawer theory, which says many owners of the Google-powered devices see their handsets as just a spiffier version of dumb feature phones, ignoring most of what makes smartphones smart.")) ((Apple’s iOS continues to dominate with nearly 60% Web usage share vs. Android’s 26%)) ((Apple Continues To Dominate Mobile Video Viewing, With 60% Occurring On iOS Vs. 32% On Android)) (("Sandvine says that the iPad accounts for more home traffic than any other device, at more than 10 percent; and it says that if you added up all of Apple’s devices (iPads, iPhones, Macs, etc.), the company ends up with more than 45 percent of home broadband usage.")) ((Why FRONTLINE Isn’t Doing Android — Yet)) ((BBC – we have an Android development team that is almost 3 times the size of the iOS team)) ((Why there aren’t more Android tablet apps, by the numbers)) ((Android’s consumer strength hasn’t translated to enterprise, where Apple still dominates)) ((Apple rules the skies with 84% in-flight share vs. Android’s 16%)) ((Apple’s iPhone may have kept 400K customers from leaving T-Mobile)) ((screen-shot-2013-07-23-at-10-21-49-amSource)) ((Google shares were down as much as 5% in after-hour trading following a report of second-quarter net income of $3.23 billion compared with $2.79 billion a year ago. The overall revenue figure came in at $14.1 billion. The main reason for Google’s perceived weakness: less-than-spectacular mobile ad sales.)) ((app-revenue-q12013 Source))

Let me help you out. There is no paradox. The latest version of Android does NOT lead the latest version of iOS in market share. People who look only at overall OS numbers without taking OS versions into account are reversing the traditional proverb – but still making the same proverbial mistake – by missing the “trees” for the “forrest.”

Fact #5: Android hardware and software is split into many, many pieces.

  • 11,868 Distinct Android devices seen this year
  • 3,997 Distinct Android devices seen last year 
  • 8 Android versions still in use
  • 37.9% Android users on Jelly Bean

“And by the way, this is the most ideal state of Android. It only includes a version of android which talk to the Google play store so it doesn’t include things like Kindles and Nooks.” ~ Tim Cook, WWDC (113:30)


Android, for all its popularity, remains a messy, fragmented, less-than-ideal experience for a normal consumer. ~ Jay Yarrow, Business Insider

Ah! And finally we get to the crux of the matter.

Fact #6: It is iOS 6 – not any single version of Android – that is the most dominant and monolithic mobile OS in the world.

“iOS 6 Dominance” is not an oxymoron – it’s a fact. And it is iOS 7 that promises to extend the dominance of Apple’s mobile platform into the foreseeable future.

It’s impossible to look at the landscape today and believe that developers will still be iPhone-focused in five years unless Apple does something drastic to change its competitive position. ~ Jay Yarrow, Business Insider

I sorta hafta to disagree. And reality hasta disagree too. It’s not only “possible” to believe that developers will still be iOS-focused (notice how Jay conveniently ignored iPod Touches and iPads in his OS comparison?), it’s probable too.

You don’t agree? You’re an oxymoron who says that only total OS numbers, not OS versions, really matter? Sorry, I can’t hear you. The facts are shouting you down.

Marissa Mayer Neuters The Cowboy Coder

“All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he’d cut in Night City, and still he’d see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void…” 
Neuromancer (William Gibson)

I suspect we are on the cusp of a transformation in how engineers and computer programmers are hired, valued, rewarded, promoted. The line was drawn when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer effectively killed off telecommuting. With this, she also dispatched the last of the cowboy coders from the Valley.

The cowboy coder has long been the stuff of pop culture mythos: vain, skilled, belligerent, cool. The dark character-artifice presented in film, books and television. Machines rule our lives, everyone’s lives, excepting, we were told, these Silicon Valley cyber-riders who expertly manipulate the algorithmic levers of the world’s digitized power centers.

Supremely valuable to the company he deigned to work for, far superior than the prototypical office “drones” who showed up dutifully for work every morning, the cowboy coder lived by his own rules, his own creed, his exceptional talents.

Thanks to Mayer, he is no more.

Cowboy Coders Dethroned

Without making headlines, coding prowess – long the princely, priestly lifeblood of Silicon Valley – was dethroned.

Here’s Mayer in February:

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. (emphasis mine)

Translation: Meatspace trumps cyberspace.

Here’s Mayer in April:

People are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” (emphasis mine)

Translation: Conversation trumps coding.

Connections Equal Profits

Power and value now flow not from coding but from creating and enabling connections. Connections equal profits. To create deeper, lasting, more profitable connections with customers requires deeper, more meaningful connections amongst the workers.

Cowboys are loners – and they do not play well with others.

Make no mistake, this phenomenon is not restricted to Yahoo, nor to female CEOs. Recall that the big Facebook-Waze merger was scuttled because Facebook wanted Waze’s people – it’s coding talent – to relocate to Facebook headquarters. Translation: The Valley’s most valued social media company understands that far-flung coding greatness cannot equal the value that arises via physical proximity.

Earlier this month, Steve Ballmer made it similarly clear in his Microsoft re-org that collaboration trumps all:

Collaborative doesn’t just mean “easy to get along with.” Collaboration means the ability to coordinate effectively, within and among teams, to get results, build better products faster, and drive customer and shareholder value.


In-person, cross-company interactions that arise from an army of lesser skilled but far more sociable programmers trumps world-class coding.

Which begs the question: how should coders be valued? Who is “best”? Who achieves “most”? What skills are critical? Who gets promoted? It’s still too early to know. I suggest, however, that we look to the iPhone for guidance.

iPhone Changes Everything

The iPhone changed mobile and mobile changes everything.

Consider that last quarter Apple sold 50 million personal computers. Only 4 million were Macs. The remaining 46 million were iPhones and iPads – mobile computers.

Mobile now rules the computing landscape, and unlike their desktop predecessors, mobile “PC” applications are not optimized for intensive processing, use or focus. Rather, they are constructed, rail by rail, across very distinct tracks – all of which are required for success:

  1. Mobile
  2. Location-aware
  3. Social-collaborative
  4. Touch-based
  5. Cloud-connected
  6. Rapid (“bursty”) use
  7. Native code
  8. Highly visual presentation
  9. Entertaining
  10. Personalized

In this new age of computing, an application can only succeed by effectively traversing multiple domains, multiple stakeholders, disparate content sources, and numerous touchpoints. Think: Yahoo’s mobile applications team working with Apple, licensing content from Weather.com, integrating Yahoo’s user database information with Facebook and Twitter APIs, and coordinating this with Flickr, all just to create the new, free Yahoo weather app for iPhone.

Those who expertly develop, sustain and integrate relationships across the pillars will be well rewarded. Horizontal trumps vertical.

The cowboy coder, working alone, magically conjuring his binary alchemy, a master of a single application or system, is now more of a cost center, inhibiting the development of the far more valuable horizontal connections that determine success.

Coding Is Relationships

It’s time to consign the detritus of the cowboy coder to the dustbin of history. Moving forward, personal (mobile) computing must deliver social, visual, delightful, real-time, collaborative experiences.

For good or bad, coding has gone uptown. Everything is digitized and everyone has a computer. The new “best” coders now arrive for work each morning from inside comfy, anointed busses. From their gleaming office they eat the finest foods, they wear a badge and their cube has a number, well-earned. The products and services they build are for everyone to use.

Laudable – but boring.

The cowboy coder is dead. It’s time for a new programming hero to step forward.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia

We Took Grandpa’s Keys Away. Now We Have To Take His iPhone.

Is there any more magical device than the iPhone? With this amazingly light, utterly beautiful device, we can call and text, email, video chat, play games, watch television, read the great books of history.

We tweet and Facebook. We buy and sell stocks. We set our home alarm, monitor our blood pressure, pay our bills – all with a few swipes of our fingers.

Perhaps this is simply too much power to possess by someone on the verge of senility.

Some of us have already had the discussion over taking away a parent’s car keys. Soon, we may all need to decide if we should take away their iPhones, iPads, Kindles and Androids.

The very technology that connects them with the world, with their grandchildren, that entertains and enlightens them, may – regrettably – become more than they can properly control.

Forget Nigerian email scams, what of FaceTime video scams? Will your aging mom or dad accept calls from anyone? Might they give away – to that friendly man on the screen – their banking information? Their Social Security number?

Will your father or grandmother, say, in their current mental state, tweet pictures of themselves – to Facebook or Twitter – that are entirely inappropriate?

Who will they text? Will your daughter in high school be troubled by the increasingly irrational emails her grandmother is sending her?

Will grandpa leave the device open, allowing hackers complete, unfettered access?

That Zynga game that your dad spends so much time with – will he spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on in-app upgrades?

Your mother has repeatedly posted embarrassing information about her adult children on Facebook. How do we make her stop?

How will we take away our dad’s iPhone, or our mother’s iPad?

How do we initiate this conversation?

How do we cut off our loved ones from connectivity and all the joy it offers? These are difficult questions but we may have to face them.

Tech companies are designing smartphones and tablets to make it increasingly easier to connect with search, the web, friends and family. Should we demand tech companies also build devices that are harder to use – at least for some?

Is it right – or necessary – to require Apple, for example, to build in a set of “anti-accessible” controls such that we can limit the functionality, use and time our parents and grandparents spend on their devices? Will Silicon Valley create a start-up that uses biometrics, for examples, or other identity tools to ensure a device is “locked down” when we are not around, or that only the “good” gets through, and no bad can get out?

It seems that tech companies, from Samsung and Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, ought to bear some responsibility to ensure that the powerless elderly aren’t handed a truly powerful device without any consideration as to the potential harm it may cause.

With smartphone or tablet in hand, everyone and everything becomes instantly accessible, all over the world. The frightening corollary: Everyone and everything now has instant access to your parent’s (virtual) front door. At some point, you may be forced to take away the keys – for their own good.

You should not have to undertake this rather depressing familial obligation all on your own.

Image courtesy of ThinkProgress

Do The Math: iOS 6 Is The World’s Most Popular Mobile Operating System

In fact if you do the math, you would find that iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system and in second place is a version of Android which was released in 2010. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC 2013 (1:13:55)


Okay, let’s do the math.

Total iOS Sales vs. Total Android Activations

We know that there are approximately 600 million iOS sales and 900 million Android activations.

Now all we need do is multiply the total sales/activations times the version percentages claimed by iOS and Android.


Source: Is iOS Fragmenting? Not Nearly as Much as Android.

“And by the way, this is the most ideal state of Android. It only includes a version of android which talk to the Google play store so it doesn’t include things like Kindles and Nooks. ((In addition to excluding Kindles and Nooks, Google’s statistics exclude the millions of Android devices in China and other regions that don’t use Google’s services. Google is inflating their total activation numbers by counting them all and inflating their Jelly Bean numbers by only counting units that contact the Google Play Store.))~ Tim Cook, WWDC (113:30)

The Math

558 Million (93.0% x 600) iOS 6 (Fall 2012)
329 Million (36.5% x 900) Android Gingerbread (Winter 2010)
297 Million (33.0% x 900) Android Jelly Bean (Summer 2012 and Winter 2012)
230 Million (25.6% x 900) Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Fall 2011)
043 Million (04.8% x 900) Android older than Gingerbread
036 Million (06.0% x 600) iOS 5 (Fall 2011)
006 Million (01.0% x 600) iOS older than iOS 5

Analysis & Commentary

[pullquote]iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system[/pullquote]iOS 6

— Tim Cook was correct: iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system.
— iOS 6 leads second place – Android Gingerbread – by ~229 million users.
— iOS 6 leads Android’s most recent version – Jelly Bean – by ~261 million users.

And if you look at the customer’s of each operating system that are using the latest version, it’s not even close. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC 2013 (1:13:40)

[pullquote]75% of Android users and only 7% of iOS users are on non-current versions of their respective operating systems[/pullquote]

— 75% of the Android ecosystem is on the non-current versions of the operating system.
— 7% of the iOS ecosystem is on non-current versions of the operating system.

Google reports that, as of June, the largest segment of Android devices are still running version 2.3 Gingerbread (36.5 percent), which was released in the Winter of 2010.

More than a third of android users are using an operating system that was released in 2010. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC (1:15:25)

Jelly Bean
Only 33 percent are running the latest major version, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which was announced last summer alongside Apple’s debut of iOS 6.

Ice Cream Sandwich
Another 25.6 percent are still on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which was released the same month as iOS 5.

Android older than Gingerbread
Another 4.8 percent of Android users use software older than Gingerbread.

iOS 5
Only 6 percent are still using last year’s iOS 5, the last version supported by the original 2010 iPad, 2009 iPod touch and 2008 iPhone 3G.

iOS older than iOS 5
Just 1 percent of Apple’s App Store visitors still use a version older than iOS 5, released in October 2011.

Do Versions Really Matter?

Android advocates claim that fragmentation isn’t really a problem. What nonsense. Ignoring the deleterious effects of fragmentation doesn’t even pass the smell test. ((Definition of “the smell test”: A cursory test of something’s authenticity or legitimacy ~ Dictionary.com)) It stinks to high heaven, both of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.

— It’s terrible for users who don’t have the latest features and the latest security updates.

Now this isn’t just bad for users, but this version fragmentation is terrible for developers. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC 2013 (1:13:45)

— It’s terrible for developers who want to use the latest APIs – who want to take advantage of the newest tools, techniques and technology – but can’t because they have to support years old operating systems.

— It’s illogical. If being on the latest version of an operating system doesn’t matter, then why even do newer versions?

— It’s partisan. It violates’s Kirk’ first law of objectivity ((I feel fairly certain that this will come back to haunt me.)):

“Would you maintain the validity of your contention if the positions were reversed?”

Please. Arguing that operating system versions don’t matter is the same as arguing that reality doesn’t matter. Every piece of data available supports the hypothesis that iOS is the stronger platform, despite Android’s numerical superiority. That either means that activation numbers don’t matter as much to a platform as pundits contend they do, or that Android’s activation numbers need to be discounted.

Or both.


Definition: discounting, verb, Deduct an amount from (the usual value of something)

Even if you think that raw numbers are the essence of a strong platform – and you really shouldn’t – you have to agree that older versions of iOS and Android must be discounted ((Other discounts should be applied as well, such as engagement, usage, demographics, security, ease of access and use, etc.)) if we are to make a proper comparison of the two operating systems. The problem is that the discount rate is unknown. ((Or, at least it’s unknown to me.))

If, for example, you:
— Disregard the versions of iOS and Android that are older than 3 years; and
— Discount iOS 5 and Ice Cream Sandwich by 25%; and
— Discount Gingerbread by 50%; then

Your revised and re-calculated numbers would look like this:

558 Million (558 x 1.00) iOS 6
005 Million (006 x 0.75) iOS 5
563 Million iOS Total, After Discount

297 Million (297 x 1.00) Jelly Bean
173 Million (230 x 0.75) Ice Cream Sandwich
165 Million (329 x 0.50) Gingerbread
635 Million Android Total, After Discount

Of course, the problem is that I just made these discount numbers up out of my head. I showed my math so that you can change the discount numbers and do your own calculations. If anyone knows a way of obtaining a truer, more objective discount number, I would be grateful if they would share it with us in the comments, below.


iOS 6.1.2 is the Most Popular Version of iOS Less than One Week Following Launch

Why Android Updates Are So Slow

Google engineers: We’re trying to fix Android fragmentation

The Orphans of Android: “I believe there are a lot of Android devices from months and years gone by that are sitting in drawers at home or are being sold on eBay.”

Fragmented Android drives big dev to Apple: “(The (BBC) Trust found a series of quite logical reasons why Android lagged iOS when new features were added to iPlayer, mostly surrounding the “complexity and expense” of developing for Android.

The company also noted a couple of other logical reasons why developers dealing with limited time and budget would opt for Apple’s mobile OS:

— Engagement is higher on Apple devices
— Android is fragmented
— Android development is complex and expensive

Comparing The Market Share of Android Phones To The iPhone Is A D@mned Lie

Disraeli is reputed to have said that there were three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. ~ Wikipedia

Comparing the market share of Android phones to the market share of iPhones is a damned statistical lie and it should never be done. Here’s why.

Venn Diagrams

If you drew a Venn diagram of “all iPhones” and “all iPhones that ran iOS”, they would be one and the same. Here is another example of such an overlapping Venn Diagram:


Source: thehighdefinite

— If you replace “Male friends who joke about having sex with you” with the words “all iPhones”; and
— If you replace “Men who would have sex with you if you showed the slightest interest” with the words “all iPhones that ran iOS”…

…you would ruin a perfectly good joke. But you would also have a Venn diagram that accurately represented the overlap between “iPhones” and “iPhones that run on the iOS operating system.” All iPhones run on iOS. But the opposite is not true. iOS is more than just iPhones.

On the other hand, Android phones are made by many manufacturers. About 40% are made by Samsung and the other 60% are made by Motorola, Sony, HTC and a variety of different hardware manufacturers. Why then do we lump all Android phones together and count them as one?

The only legitimate reason to group all Android phones together is in order to suggest a causal relationship between the number of Android phones and the strength of the Android platform. But is there such a relationship?

[pullquote]Comparing Android’s phone activation numbers to the iPhone’s sales numbers is akin to comparing fish to whales and concluding that fish outnumber mammals.[/pullquote]

The Folly Inherent In Comparing Android Phones to iPhones Instead Of Comparing Android To iOS

Comparing Android’s phone activation numbers to the iPhone’s sales numbers – and concluding that Android outnumbers iOS – is akin to comparing fish to whales and concluding that fish outnumber mammals.

Fish MAY outnumber mammals, but not nearly by the margin that fish outnumber whales. And Android devices do outnumber iOS devices but not nearly by the margin that Android phones outnumber iPhones. When making comparisons, one needs to compare like to like, otherwise, it skews the results.

There have been over 900 million Android devices activated and over 600 million iOS devices sold. And – if Flurry’s clientele is representative – the total number of active Android devices may only exceed the total number of active iOS devices by little more than 10% (see chart, below).


Source: Flurry

Comparing an operating system to an operating system; comparing all active devices to all active devices; comparing like to like; ((And don’t even get me started on the limited VALUE that Android’s market share brings to their platform. Android’s market share is literally a joke.

And if you are going to compare Android phones to iPhones, then it would be wiser and fairer to compare premium Android phones – such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, etc. – to the iPhone.

And if you REALLY want to contend that market share translates directly into platform strength, then it would be far better to compare operating system VERSIONS against competing operating system VERSIONS, rather than simply lumping all of an OS’s versions together, totaling them, and pretending that they were of equal value to the platform.)) – now THAT is the proper basis for a comparison.

You do not compare an entire class of things to a subset of another class, and you do not compare phones that run the Android operating system to a subset of devices (iPhones) that run on the iOS operating system ((By the way, the exact same logic holds for comparisons of Android tablets to the iPad. Those comparisons are just as wrong as comparisons of Android phones to iPhones and they are wrong for the exact same reason – a class should never be compared to a subset of a class if your goal is to compare the two classes. Hardware models should be compared to hardware models. Operating systems should be compared to operating systems. Hardware models should never be compared to operating systems and vice versa.)), otherwise, you are likely to get is a skewed result…

…and a damned lie…

…or (-shudder-) a “Chart Of The Day.” ((A “Chart Of The Day” pretends to be based on relevant statistical data – but it often is, basically, the same thing as a damned lie – only worse.))

Legitimate Reasons Vs. Bogus Reasoning

There are legitimate reasons to compare fish to whales and there are legitimate reasons to compare Android phones to iPhones.

images-60Mammals and Fish Venn Diagram

But if you’re actually trying to compare fish to mammals or the Android operating system to the iOS operating system, such a comparison conceals – rather than reveals – the truth. It is deceitful, dishonest, untruthful, false, duplicitous, mendacious; hypocritical, untrustworthy, unscrupulous, unprincipled, two-faced, double-dealing, underhanded, crafty, cunning, sly, scheming, calculating, treacherous, Machiavellian, sneaky, tricky, foxy, crooked, fraudulent, counterfeit, fabricated, invented, concocted, made up, trumped up, untrue, false, bogus, fake, spurious, fallacious, deceptive and misleading.

In other words, it’s a damn lie.

Google, Motorola, and the Future of Android

To hear both Sundar Pinchai, head of Android and Chrome at Google, and Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola Mobility, tell it, Motorola is just another Android OEM despite being a wholly owned Google subsidiary. This may be technically true at the moment, but it cannot be true for the long run. And just what Google does with Motorola has huge implications for the future of Android.

Business realities alone say the current arrangement cannot last. Motorola is a hole of at least $10 billion (purchase price plus cumulative losses, less the gain from the sale of the set top box business) in Google’s balance sheet. Although there was speculation at the time of the acquisition that Google was really after Moto’s patents, the standards-essential patents ase subject to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing worth much less than many believed. Sooner or later, Moto has to start paying its way.

Woodside himself suggested, perhaps without intending to, that the relationship has to change during an appearance at the D11 conference a couple of weeks ago. Competitors, he noted, are earning 50% margins on smartphones. ((Of course, the only profitable competitors are Apple and Samsung.)) “We don’t necessarily have the same constraints,” he said. “One of the areas that is open for Motorola is building high-quality low-cost devices. The price of a feature phone now is about $30 0n a worldwide basis. The price of a smartphone is about $650. That’s not going to persist.”

The difficulty is that Apple and Samsung, by virtue of their enormous volumes and tightly controlled supply chains, are already the low-cost producers. Motorola is not going to beat them on the cost side. So to underprice them, as Woodside is threatening to do, will require sacrificing gross margins, perhaps selling phones at a unit loss. For a business unit already losing money by the bucket, that would seem to be a suicidal course.

Unless, of course, someone is prepared to subsidize this raid on the business models of Apple and Samsung. And that someone would have to be Google, which certainly has the deep pockets needed for this fight. Taking on Apple, while difficult, doesn’t pose huge problems for Google. Over the past few years, the relationship of the companies has deteriorated from best buddies to frenemies to all-out competitors.

Samsung is a very different matter. The Korean giant is second only to Google itself in importance in the Android ecosystem. It is by far the largest seller of Android handsets, from the iPhone-challenging Galaxy S 4 to low-cost units for emerging markets. And it has to be watching the Google-Motorola relationship with an extremely wary eye.

For now, Google and Samsung are co-dependent. That fact is what lies behind Google’s much trumpeted arms-length relationship with Motorola. But the relationship will be severely tested if Motorola goes at the heart of Samsung’s Android business model. (Microsoft’s OEM partners were very unhappy when it went into hardware competition with the surface and surface Pro, but at least it did not try to undercut their pricing. And, for better or worse, poor Surface sales have largely spared it fallout from entering the competition.)

Samsung has options if it comes to view Google as a competitor in a way that makes the current Android arrangements untenable. It could fork Android, going forward with its own flavor of the operating system and its own services, home-grown or developed in partnership with other players,  in place of Google’s. It could accelerate the development of Tizen, the Linux-based mobile operating system it has sponsored along with Intel. Or, far less likely, it could  move to Windows Phone (unlikely, I believe, because while this might be the easiest course to execute, the fact that it is trading one gorilla dance partner for another will make it unattractive.)

The defection of Samsung from Android would put tremendous strain on Samsung, Google, and the Android world. Software has never been Samsung’s long suit. It can afford to buy a lot of talent, but changing a hardware company’s culture to support the software effort required is very difficult. Android would become largely a Google/Motorola business. The viability of all the profitless Android phone makers is dubious, let along their ability to provide leadership.

If all these hypothetical strategies succeed, we could see a very different phone market: Apple would continue to be Apple, mostly riding above the fray. Samsung  would be slugging it out with Googlerola. And Microsoft and BlackBerry would be trying to squeeze out some gains from the confusion.


Google’s Android Activations Are A Lot Less Cash Cow And A Lot More Bull. And That’s OK.

Author’s note: Many of the commentators aren’t even reading the article but, instead, are basing their comments on the article’s title alone. Let me throw one final analogy into the mix in the hopes of clarifying my position:

Apple is in the dairy business and Android is selling meat. Apple has the cream (pun intended) of the milk-producing cows but Android has far more cows that produce far less milk, but far more meat. Both are winning because they are selling different things, but pundits think that Android has won simply because they have more cows.

Apple has the profits. Android has the market share. And they’re both doing great.

Now back to the original article…

“My belief, though, is that what Google is winning with Android is a booby prize — overwhelming majority share of the unprofitable segment of the market.” – John Gruber

The Platform Business Model

“A computing platform includes a hardware architecture and a software framework…where the combination allows software to run. … A platform might be simply defined as a place to launch software. ~ Wikipedia

The advantage of a platform business model is that once the platform is established, others do much of the work to make the platform valuable. It’s like setting up a marketplace ((I never understood why Google changed their store’s name from Google Marketplace to Google Play. I thought that “Marketplace” was the ideal name. Oh well.)). Once it’s set up, the vendors do most of the work. The platform provider benefits either by taking rents or by taking a commission from each sale or by using their access to the customers gathered by the marketplace in order to sell some complementary product or service of their own.

The Mostly Misunderstood Network Effect

“In economics and business, a network effect…is the effect that one user of a good or service has on the value of that product to other people. When network effect is present, the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it (emphasis added).

The classic example is the telephone. The more people own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner. This creates a positive externality because a user may purchase a telephone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case.” ~ Wikipedia

This is key, so please forgive me for repeating it:

“…a user may purchase a telephone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case.”

In other words, every user adds to the value of a phone network – even if they have no intention of doing so – JUST BY BEING ON THE NETWORK.

It is this understanding (or misunderstanding) of the network effect that makes so many mobile computer industry observers confident that:

— Market share alone creates the network effect;
— Android has market share; therefore
— Developers, profits and all the other benefits associated with the network effect MUST necessarily follow where Android’s market share leads.

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.15.59 PM

Source: Benedict Evans, On Market Share

The high priests of market share contend that since Android HAS won the battle for market share, the network effect makes it inevitable that Android WILL win the war for mobile phones.

Derek Brown, ReadWrite:

In the world of technology platforms, ubiquity matters (a lot) when developers, manufacturers, etc., are considering future products/solutions.

Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt:

“Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume, and volume is favored by the open approach Google is taking…. ((“(M)y prediction is that six months from now you’ll say (that Android apps are beating iOS versions to market…)” ~ December 7, 2011))

Matt Asay, ReadWrite

Over time, those developers are going to move to where the market share is. They have to.

John Gruber, The church of market share:

It’s an article of faith in the Church of Market Share that Android is nearing a tipping point where its market share lead will inevitably turn into a developer share lead, too.

So is it true? With Android holding such a commanding market share lead, do developers, and then users, and then profits, and then, ultimately, all smartphone users – including iPhone users – have to convert to Android?

No, of course not. Here’s why.

Phone Networks Are Not The Same As Computer Networks

— In a phone network, the value is in the phone owner.
— In a mobile computing network, the value is in the app, not the mobile phone owner.

— In a phone network, the more phone owners there are – the more people you could call and be called by – the more powerful the network effect and the more valuable the phone network becomes.
— In a mobile computing network, the more developers there are – the more apps available for consumption – the more powerful the network effect and the more valuable the computing network becomes.

— In a phone network, there is no difference between a phone owner and a phone user – they are one and the same.
— In a mobile computing network, there is a HUGE difference between the mobile phone owner and the mobile user.

— In a phone network, the phone owner begins contributing to the platform the moment they buy the phone.
— In a mobile computing network, the mobile phone owner doesn’t begin contributing to the platform until they voluntarily decide to participate, either by buying apps or content, consuming advertising or contributing data.

— In a phone network, the phone owner’s mere PRESENCE makes the phone network more valuable.
— In a mobile computing network, you don”t measure the value of a mobile phone owner by their mere presence, you measure their value by their PARTICIPATION.

Presence, without participation, adds no value to a mobile computing network.

It is fairly easy to simply add up all of the mobile phone sales and activations for a particular operating system. It is also fairly meaningless. The trick is to discern how much those mobile phone owners are participating and the value that their participation brings to the network.

Most mobile computing industry observers are measuring the wrong thing, the wrong way:

It’s not about counting the customers. It’s about having the customers that count.

Android can count more customers than iOS can, but they don’t count for much. The ranks of Apple’s iOS owners are filled with credit card carrying cash cows. As a result, Apple’s platform profits are udderly enormous. The ranks of Google’s Android activations are a lot less cash cow and a lot more Bull. ((Being a bad customer is not at all the same thing as being a bad person. I, myself, am a great Crispy Creme Donuts customer but a very poor customer for exercise equipment. That doesn’t make me a bad person, just a bad customer.))

It’s hard to milk a Bull. Dangerous too.

How Do You REALLY Measure The Success Of A Platform Business Model?

You measure the success of a platform in three ways:

1) The health of the platform – is it self-sustaining?
2) The wealth of a platform – the amount of net profits acquired from the platform.
3) The stealth of a platform – does it serve an ulterior purpose?

The Health Of A Platform

By any meaningful standard, Apple’s iOS platform is robust, healthy and rapidly growing.


Take a look at the two pie charts, below. From Q1:10 to Q4:12, Apple’s share of the smartphone market grew from 16% to 22%. But during the same span of time, the pie itself QUADRUPLED from 55 million units to 219 million units!


Source: KPCB, Internet Trends

Further, “smartphone share” is not even the right way to measure the market that Apple is competing in. The more relevant market is the “mobile phone market”, not the “smartphone market”.

“… there is no such thing as a ‘smartphone market’. Or rather, talking about the ‘smartphone market’ is like talking about the ‘3G’ market or the ‘colour screen phone’ market: you’re picking out a sub-segment that is going to grow to take over the whole market. And ignoring the growth.

The whole mobile phone market is converting to smart. Apple is taking the high end and Android is taking the rest. Both are growing very fast, and Android is growing faster. But what matters is phone share, not smartphone share. ~ Benedict Evans

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.42.20 PM

Source: Benedict Evans, On market share

Finally, the “mobile phone market” is still not inclusive enough. When we’re comparing operating systems, we need to compare ALL of the devices in the operating system, whether they be MP3s, phones or tablets.


Source: “Apple Q2 2013 hardware sales: By the numbers

“Cumulatively, Apple has sold almost 375 million iPods, over 356 million iPhones, and nearly 140.5 million iPads since the respective products were first released. In 23 quarters, Apple has sold almost as many iPhones as it has sold iPods over 46 quarters, and sales of the smartphone are likely to overtake the aging media player during this quarter if the respective sales trajectories hold true. Put that another way: the iPhone has sold twice as fast as the iPod did.” – Apple Q2 2013 hardware sales: By the numbers

I would only add that the iPad has been selling THREE times as fast as the iPhone did.

When one looks at the WHOLE market for iOS vs. the WHOLE market for competing operating systems, the metrics supporting the health of Apple’s iOS platform are so overwhelming and so voluminous that it was difficult for me to even find a suitable method for properly displaying them. Ultimately, I resorted to simply sorting them alphabetically, by category, in the extensive appendix, below. I dare you to read the associated links in the appendix and then tell me that the iOS platform is anything but healthy. No, wait…”I triple dog dare you.”

If the purpose of a platform is to be self-sustaining, then Apple’s iOS platform is as successful as it gets.

Open Trade-Offs

Android is no slouch ((By which I mean it is one of the greatest computer operating systems ever.)) as a platform either, but Android is based on an “open” philosophy. Open is not inherently good or bad, it is a tradeoff. It has many advantages but it has many disadvantages too. The same open policies that make it easier for Android to gain market share are also the same open policies that make it inherently harder for Android to maintain a strong platform.

— An open policy towards carriers encourages rapid dissemination of devices but it also permits the carriers to take unwanted liberties with Android’s core services and allows them to shirk their responsibilities with regard to operating system updates.
— An open policy towards manufacturers allows for rapid hardware iteration but it also creates rapid hardware fragmentation.
— An open policy towards the sales of applications leads to a wide variety of apps but it also leads to a wide variety of piracy, cloning and malware too.
— An open policy towards the operating system allows for rapid feature iteration but it also allows competitors to split off a confusing variety of competing operating systems and App Stores too.

The BBC Trust:

…a couple of … logical reasons why developers dealing with limited time and budget would opt for Apple’s mobile OS:

— Engagement is higher on Apple devices
— Android is fragmented
— Android development is complex and expensive

The Wealth Of A Platform

Google is profiting from their Android platform via advertising, app and content revenue. However, as I pointed out in “4 Mobile Business Models, 4 Ways To Keep Score“, none of these revenue streams add up to very much.

Google could also be benefitting from their Android platform via the gathering of mobile computing data. This is the big “get out of jail free card” that Android advocates play whenever it is pointed out that Google is not directly profiting from Android. “The data alone”, they protest “is invaluable.” Hmm. Unless you can draw a direct line from the data being gathered to the profits being made – and you can’t – data, in lieu of profits, seems like a very poor consolation prize, indeed.

Apple too is profiting from their iOS platform via advertising, app and content revenue. However, that revenue – a few billion dollars – barely registers on their books. The vast majority of Apple’s iOS revenue is generated from the platform’s related hardware sales. (See: “Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke“.)

The Stealth Of A Platform

I have stated that you measure the success of a platform by its health and its wealth. I am, however, keenly aware of a third way to measure the success of a platform – an exception to the rule that is so large that it might swallow the rule altogether.

What if Google had an ulterior motive in Android? What if Android was actually a stealth weapon designed, not as a profit making engine but, as an engine of destruction aimed at Google’s mobile phone competitors?

If the purpose of Google’s Android platform was a defensive action designed to destroy Google’s adversaries and ensure that Google’s advertising and services would run on every meaningful mobile platform, then I will grant you – based on the evisceration of Palm, webOS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 8, Nokia’s Symbian, MeeGo, Blackberry and Linux – that Android may well be one of the most successful computing platforms of our time or of all time. ((However, that is not the end of the story for Android but, perhaps, only the end of the beginning of the story. As Android splits into different self-serving streams – like the Amazon Fire and the various Chinese Android variants – will Google’s Android ultimately be seen as having successfully salted the lands of its enemies while simultaneously sowing the seeds of its own destruction?

“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.” ~ Aesop))


Source: “Apple 2.0, Which is more valuable to Apple, its market share or its brand?

Apple Is Like DisneyWorld And Android Is Like A Chain Of Amusement Parks

Apple is playing the “give away the rides for free once you’re in the park, but charge for admission to the park” game. The purchase of Apple’s hardware is the golden ticket ((A Willie Wonka reference? Really? How many metaphors can this author mix together?)) that gives one entrée to their park. Google is playing the “give away the rides for free to attract customers to the park but make it up in revenues generated from the sale of ads and concessions” game.

Apple’s platform model is stronger – for now – because they get their money up front, at the point of admission to their walled garden. ((As an aside, DisneyWorld has much lower “market share” (total people in attendance) than do the tens of thousands of existing worldwide amusement parks, but does anyone ever claim that DisneyWorld is “niche” or “vulnerable”?)) Google’s platform model is weaker – for now – because it requires people to voluntarily buy the concessions and consume the advertising, and – for now – a lot of Android patrons are choosing not to buy and to just go along for the free ride.

Neither Android nor iOS is going away. Both platforms have different inherent strengths and weaknesses and instead of fruitlessly trying to decide which operating system is going to win EVERYWHERE, we should be focusing our efforts on determining WHERE, specifically, each OS is likely to win.

— Android will take the low end of the market.
— iOS will take the high end.

— Android will continue to grow like a weed.
— iOS will continue to grow like a well tended farm.

— Android will continue selling a mind-numbing array of diverse products.
— iOS will continue selling three year old iPhones as if they were new, because iOS’ value is found primarily in the platform, not in the device itself.

— Android will continue to rapidly iterate their hardware and their operating system.
— iOS will continue to relentlessly integrate their hardware with their software and their platform ecosystem.

— Android will appeal to third-world nations, emerging markets, tech aficionados who admire the virtues of “open”, those who require more options, those who require more diversity, and the cost conscious.

— iOS will appeal to more established nations, maturing markets, non-technical users who admire the virtues of easy and intuitive, those who require more security, those who require more consistency, those who require more integration, the quality conscious, and those who fear Google’s ad-supported business model.

— iOS will appeal to Enterprise, businesses, governments, institutions, organizations, and other entities that require more structure, security and control. ((As one who lived through the Windows v. Mac wars, the irony of Apple’s iOS becoming the favored operating system of the Enterprise is not lost on me.))

Where Do We Go From Here?

Am I criticizing Google or Android? No, I am NOT. Android has some fantastic hardware, a rapidly iterating operating system and a brilliant and innovative company backing it. It’s a clear success story.

What I’m criticizing is the nature of the debate. Market share is not only not the best way to measure success, absent context, it is one of the worst. [pullquote]Just because Android has a winning platform does not mean that Apple doesn’t have a winning platform too. And vice versa.[/pullquote]

It would be a monumental mistake to underestimate the strength of the Android Platform – but it would also be a colossal mistake to underestimate the power of Apple’s iOS too. The truth is that iOS and Android are the two great operating systems of our time and it looks like they’re both going to remain great for quite some time to come. One platform rules market share and one platform rules profit share and – in a rapidly growing market (see graphic, below) – there’s plenty of room for both business models to survive and thrive.


Source: KPCB, Internet Trends

And The Gold Goes To…

3d small people - rewarding of winners— In mobile hardware manufacturing, Apple is the clear cut winner with Samsung coming in a strong second.

— In mobile advertising, Google is the big fish in a small, but growing, pond.

— In content sales, it’s difficult to judge, since the competitors are actually playing very different games. If you judge by revenue (and I don’t), the winner is Amazon. But if you judge by profit, you’ve got to give the nod to Apple…for now.

— In mobile platform? It’s much easier to say who has lost and that would be anyone not named “Apple” or “Google”. But so far as “winning” goes, Apple is already “winning” the only gold that matters to them (profit$) and Google’s Android has already “won” Google a seat at the mobile advertising table, which is the only gold that matters to them. They both sound like champions to me. But then, of course…

…the games are still far from over.

Read Part One of John’s column entitled: Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke

Read Part Two of John’s column entitled: 4 Mobile Business Models, 4 Ways to Keep Score.


Adoption: iOS 6.1.2 is the Most Popular Version of iOS Less than One Week Following Launch
Adoption: Apple’s iOS 6 now accounts for 83% of all iOS-based traffic in North America
Adoption: The Orphans of Android
Adoption: “An OS that is 2 years and 2 months old controls over 45 percent of the Android ecosystem. An OS that is 1 year and 4 months old controls another 30 percent. 75 percent of the entire Android ecosystem is still on the non-current versions of the OS. It’s 2013.”
Advertising: Why 75 cents of every dollar spent on mobile advertising is spent on iPhone and iPad
Advertising: Apple’s iOS Mobile Ad Metrics Dominates Android
Advertising: iOS leads Android in mobile ad revenue
Advertising: iPad Still Dominates Tablet Ads
Advertising: iPhone Still Ranks Far Above Samsung Galaxy Line In Mobile Ads, Says Velti
Apps: Where’s Twitter Music For Android? Why Today’s Tech Companies Are Still Going iOS First
Apps: Walt Mossberg: How Apple Gets All the Good Apps
Apps: The Data Doesn’t Lie: iOS Apps Are Better Than Android
Apps: Why Android Takes Forever to Get Cool Apps
Apps: Games: Why Game Creators Prefer iPhone to Android
Apps: Games: Game developers still not sold on Android
Business: “Apple’s iOS still dominated the enterprise mobile circuit with 75 percent of total device activations last quarter.”
Business: Google Android’s enterprise problem
Business: Study Says iOS Still Trumps Android at Work
Business: Fortune 500 Companies Moving to iPad Hits 94%
Business: Apple’s iOS continues to dominate the mobile enterprise
Business: Apple may have sold up to 4 million iPhones to businesses in Q4
Business: “Gartner: By 2014, Apple will be as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft is today”
Business: Forrester Report Says Apple Will Sell $39 Billion In Macs and iPads To Businesses Over Next 2 Years
Business: Bad news for Android: enterprise share dropped in Q4
Business: More Data Showing iOS, Especially The iPhone, Still Killing It In The Enterprise, At Android’s Expense
Business: Over 80% of organizations plan to support iPhones and iPads
Business: Apps: Why companies are still deploying iOS apps first
Source: “Who’s Winning, iOS or Android? All the Numbers, All in One Place
Commerce: FAB.COM: More Than A Third Of Our Visits Are Now Mobile–And 95% Of Those Are iPhones And iPads
Consumption: Data: Study finds iPhone owners to be more data hungry than Android users
Consumption: Video: NPD Group: iTunes owns the internet video market
Consumption: Video: Apple Continues To Dominate Mobile Video Viewing, With 60% Occurring On iOS Vs. 32% On Android
Consumption: Video: Apple users watch 2X more video than Android users
Consumption: Video: Watching a Video on Your Phone? You’re Probably Using an iPhone, Not an Android.
Demographics: Android Owners Aren’t Real Smartphone Owners
Demographics: Age: Sorry, Samsung, iPhone Is Not Your Mother’s Smartphone
Demographics: Age: 48% of U.S. teens own an iPhone. 62% plan to buy one.
Demographics: Age: Nearly Half of Surveyed U.S. Teens Using iPhones, Over One-Third Using iPads
Demographics: Age: Greater percentage of Generation Y own iPhones than any other age group
Developers: Android fragmentation predicted to squeeze out independent developers
Developers: Apple And Google’s App Stores Now Neck And Neck – Except On The Metric That Matters Most To Developers
Engagement: Why Aren’t Android Users Actually Using Their Handsets?
Engagement: Validating the Android engagement paradox
Engagement: iPhone users found to spend more time on their handsets
Forks: Google’s penetration of Android
Forks: Google Shuts Down Its Shopping Service in China
Fragmentation: Fragmented Android drives big dev to Apple
Fragmentation: Google engineers: We’re trying to fix Android fragmentation
Loyalty: Survey Suggests, Loyalty, Upgrade Frequency, Says Raymond James
Loyalty: Survey shows iPhone loyalty still beating out Android
Loyalty: Apple Has The Most Devoted And Loyal Computer Users [Report]
Loyalty: Survey: Apple to Eclipse Android by 2016
Loyalty: Android’s Leaky Bucket: Loyalty Gives Apple the Edge Over Time
Malware: Mobile malware exploding, but only for Android
Malware: Malware On Mobile Grew 163% In 2012, Infecting Around 32.8M Android Devices
Malware: 99.9% Of New Mobile Malware Targets Android Phones
Malware: Spam: Nearly 60K Low-Quality Apps Booted From Google Play Store In February, Points To Increased Spam-Fighting
Reliability: Apple’s iPhone tops smartphone reliability ratings by wide margin
Retail: Apple retail revenues per visitor reach new record
Retention: The iPhone’s Greatest Weapon: Retention
Retention: Android’s Leaky Bucket
Source: Apple’s 500M user accounts second only to Facebook, viewed as key driver of future growth
Revenue: Canalys: Apple dominates with 74% of worldwide mobile app revenue
Revenue: Apple: App Store Now Makes Over $1 Billion In Profits Per Year
Revenue: iOS App Store accounts for nearly 75% of mobile app download revenue
Satisfaction: iPhone dominates in customer satisfaction
Satisfaction: iPad tops in satisfaction among tablet owners
Satisfaction: J.D. Power: Apple iPad ranks highest in tablet customer satisfaction for second consecutive time
Satisfaction: J.D. Power: Apple ranks highest in smartphone customer satisfaction for 9th consecutive time
Security: ACLU to FTC: Mobile carriers fail to provide good Android security
Shopping: Online: Apple’s iPad dominates online shopping traffic & revenue generation
Store: iTunes: NPD: Apple’s iTunes accounts for 67% of TV downloads, 65% of movies
Support: Apple tops Consumer Reports survey on PC tech support
Trade-In: Study finds Apple’s iPhone retains more value than top Galaxy models
Trade-In: Galaxy S4 announcement spurs trade-ins of other Samsung phones, not iPhones
Updates: Why Android Updates Are So Slow
Usage: You Spend a Lot of Time With Your Mobile Device at Home — Even More if It’s an iPad
Usage: Apple’s iPad expands lead in tablet use at the expense of Amazon, Android, Microsoft Surface
Usage: Apple devices dominate in-flight Wi-Fi usage
Usage: Apple iPad continues domination with over 80% usage share in U.S. and Canada
Usage: Apple rules the skies with 84% in-flight share vs. Android’s 16%
Usage: Apple’s iOS continues to dominate with nearly 60% Web usage share vs. Android’s 26%
Usage: Apple’s iOS ups massive lead over Android in U.S. Web traffic with 69% share in April
Usage: Apple iPad dominates website traffic tablet share
Usage: Apple iPhone users use their devices 55% more than Android users
Usage: Safari jumps to 61 percent of mobile browser share
Usage: Android might own 75% of the smartphone market but all the action is still on the iPhone
Usage: Why The iPhone’s Usage Advantage Over Android Remains So Important
Usage: 5 Apples for every Android on Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi networks
Usage: Apple’s growing dominance of the mobile Web
Usage: Android’s Web share slipped in May, despite 10 million Galaxy S4s
Usage: iPhone owners are on their phones 53% more than Android users
Usage: The Android Conundrum: People Buy More Phones And Do Less With Them
Usage: Apple Is Destroying Android In Mobile Web Usage–Which Begs Key Question: Who Uses Android?
Usage: Apple Is Destroying Android In Mobile Web Usage–Which Begs Key Question: Who Uses Android?
Usage: Is It Time To Conclude That Android Gadgets Are Bought By People Who Don’t Actually Do Anything With Them?
Usage: Apple Continues Its Mobile-Browser Domination
Usage: Apple’s iPad Dominates Tablet Web Usage with 82% Share.
Usage: Android users: More of them than fanbois, but they don’t use the web
Vertical Markets: Doctors Are Choosing iPad Tablets Over Other Devices, Survey Says
Vertical Markets: Hospital Calculates The ROI Of An iPad At 9 Days
Vertical Markets: Why Android is losing in aviation
Vertical Markets: As medicine goes digital, Apple’s iPad is top choice among doctors