The Great Tablet Segmentation

The tablet category is getting quite a bit of press lately. Apple’s iPad is a solid barometer for the category. With Apple’s latest few quarterly results showing the slowing of the growth of the tablet sector, many are left scratching their heads as to what is happening with this product category. There is still a tremendous amount of growth potential for the tablet. The problem is, Apple is the only one driving the class in a meaningful way. Which isn’t all that surprising given Apple makes nearly 80% of the profits in the segment. With such little revenue to fight for, more OEMs have focused on the smartphone segment not the tablet segment.

But I believe we are on the cusp of something new in the tablet sector that will hopefully drive growth back to it. I believe we are about to see the great tablet segmentation. This is a chart I’ve been using in our industry trend presentation over the last year outlining some of the first segments we saw.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.32.42 PM

Inevitably, when markets mature, they segment. Consumers must be self aware of their needs, wants, and desires, in order for me to consider a market mature. They must know what they want and why they want it. Tablets, being so new, are just now reaching maturity. Most developed market consumers have had a chance to at least use an iPad or other tablet and what the product means to consumers, families, corporations, etc., is currently being defined. As consumers become more self aware, segmentation opportunities will begin to exist in the tablet market. Nabi, a company focused on making tablets for kids of different ages, sold nearly 2m units in the US in the holiday quarter of 2013 according to our estimates. Not bad for a specialized product. But perhaps the most interesting example of this segmentation opportunity is what NVIDIA is doing with their newly announced SHIELD tablet.

What makes the SHIELD tablet interesting is the way it was purpose built for gamers. Everything from the graphics engine, connection to Steam PC game portal, integration with Twitch, access to NVIDIA Grid technology, a custom controller, and access to multiplayer game engines, sets it apart from any other tablet in the eyes of any serious PC or console gamer. NVIDIA is hoping to appeal specifically to the gamer niche, which is not necessarily high volume but is extremely lucrative. The NVIDIA SHIELD tablet is an excellent example of a segmentation opportunity in the tablet form factor. This product also leverages NVIDIA’s strengths and highlights another trend of companies getting into the hardware businesses they weren’t in before because it is a natural extension of their existing products and business model.

The iPad, as of now, owns the crown of “general purpose tablet”. It can cover the most ground for most consumers’ use cases.
At this point, we must conclude that segmentation opportunities like the nabi kids tablet, or the NVIDIA SHIELD tablet, present the more lucrative opportunities for vendors since competing with Apple in the general purpose form factor appears to be a waste of time.

While the nabi and SHIELD tablets present some of the more interesting segmentation examples to date, I still expect more experimentation by vendors to attempt to discover what other segmentation opportunities may exist. All of this is a key part of the tablet market maturing.

Published by

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

118 thoughts on “The Great Tablet Segmentation”

  1. “still expect more experimentation” = throw lots of sh_t at the wall and see what sticks.
    I think, as an owner of 2 iPads, that some of the slowing is due to “good enough”.
    We have no incentive to upgrade hardware.

    1. Yeah, I’m in the same boat. iPad 3 continues to run more or less perfectly fine for me for most non-game apps, even on iOS7. I like the iPad Air but for me, it would only be a nice-to-have. Right now, mine is fine. Although we’ll see if that’s the case when iOS8 comes out; maybe that’s the tipping point where the current hardware becomes tougher to use and you see replacements start happening.

    2. I don’t really think we quite grasp yet how over sold the PC market really was, either to the consumer or the enterprise. Maybe that is being reflected now in tablet sales. I am amazed at how well a tablet handles even audio and video recording and editing when once we needed the most top of the line PC we could afford to do even the most basic multi-track recording and mixing. I can use an iPad now to replace my entire FX/foot-pedal rack for my guitar. That’s mind altering, as a guitarist.

      Joe

      1. I’ve had similar thoughts myself. We got extremely useful work done, even under DOS. Compared to those devices, tablets are a rocket ship. Of course, compared to modern desktop performance, tablets are a joke.

      2. I agree 100% There are so many tasks that can be done so much better and quicker on a mobile device than a traditional desktop PC even if the PC is in a laptop form factor. The sooner we can get rid of systems that waste energy and have fans are consistently running and sound like jet engines taking off the better. It is not just the fans it is just a lot more simple to deal with issues on mobile systems and in the case of iOS systems they can be a lot more secure as well.

    3. This seems to be the situation for our consumer gear right now. Each new year has introduced incremental improvements which are nice but don’t justify the cost and effort of upgrading. But since I have a large family, I have upgraded as I have been able to repurpose the older iPad or iPhone or Mac. Even our first generation iPads are holding up in daily use by our kids. In our extended family we have purchased 16 iPads through the years and only one has broken when it was repeated thrown down by an autistic child. None of the remaining 15 have ended up in a drawer; at least half are used daily but the other half have much less frequent use as their owners tend to do more work on their Macs.

    4. I agree. I think the novelty is certainly wearing off of the mobile market as a whole – meaning the simplified OS with “apps”, whether on a smart phone or a tablet. The market is flooded with apps, the platforms and devices are more or less at parity when it comes to features, and people are now faced with paring down their options to what they personally need. The desire to have the “latest thing” is disappearing.

      In other words, I have a smartphone, and it can do a million things. But I don’t want to do a million things. I want to do the things I need to do, and that takes up more than enough time and screen space. Sorting through the options and finding what works for me is a constant chore, that gets old.

      There is also some exhaustion from the “digitized life” that seemed like a new frontier a few years ago. I personally have started to feel weighed down by all the apps and devices I have to keep track of. The phone that’s always with you sometimes starts to feel like the master rather than the servant.

  2. The Nabi is quite interesting. It looks like they have a pretty diverse product line from entry level ($99) up to the top of the line one at $270. Very competitive with even most quality Android tablets. The apps on it seem to all be native; is there an app store exclusive to the device where parents can make purchases from? And of course I’m sure it’s made to be durable as all hell. 🙂 Plus it runs Android now, so they have access to the whole Play store: http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/12/19/fuhus-nabi-2-finally-getting-google-play-ota-should-start-rolling-out-sometime-today/

    The other thing I wonder about when thinking about tablet segmentation is whether or not we’re going to see an influx of cheap $50 tablets in North America (and Western Europe) like the kind you see in China and other emerging markets. As more people cut the cord and siphon themselves off of traditional cable, I wonder if you see people who normally wouldn’t have bought a tablet going in that direction and basically buying an inexpensive tablet to use as a portable TV from which to watch Netflix and other VOD.

  3. I would expect buying to shift mostly to the back-to-school quarter (fiscal q4) and the holiday quarter (fiscal q1 2015). If my math is correct Apple needs to hit 16 million iPads sold in fiscal q4 to be level with 2013. So I guess we’ll see what happens. For me, it feels like the iPad is more of a slow burn now, with longer upgrade cycles. I’m waiting for a larger screen iPad, my iPad 2 is just fine, runs like new. Out of the gate the iPad was incredible, beating the iPhone to every milestone, it wasn’t realistic to expect that kind of growth to continue.

  4. I think segmentation in this market is temporary for the same reason dedicated word processor computers had their day but disappeared. All purpose devices were not yet best at everything and many people were still learning why they would want an all-purpose PC.

    But in the long run (a year or two?) most people are going to realize they don’t want a limited tablet, the all-purpose tablets end up best-in-class for most everything, and people figure out that older all-purpose tablets can be used as great specialized devices years after they are “obsolete” (i.e. TV remotes, kids games, or whatever).

    Even high end gaming is going to benefit from the much larger investments that Apple is making in ARM processor power, development tools and fast low-level GPU control (like their new Metal interface). Nvidia will never keep up with the whole technology stack or deliver wide market revenues to developers like Apple can.

    Specialized built-in touch screens might still be appropriate as parts of appliances as the basic hardware gets really cheap, but if you or your kids carry something around its going to be all-purpose.

    1. I agree with you completely. I don’t agree with the opening sentence of the article as applied in the context of computing devices. The big attraction of computers is that because of the magic of software, there is no limit to the functions that a computing device can perform. And you are right, Wang disappeared because as the technology progressed, manufacturers and customers realized that the hardware that goes into a dedicated word processor is not much different than that for a personal computer. Any difference in functionality was just a matter of software.

      That’s why we didn’t see any significant segmentation (of the type described by the article) in PCs and smart phones, why would there be segmentation in tablets? The segmentation has already occurred in form factors, any segmentation within a given form factor is an artificial, software-driven distinction that no manufacturer can sustain in the face of intense competition. “Not only can we match our competitor’s ‘media tablet’, our tablet can do these other things as well!” There goes your segmentation.

      1. Yes, early super computers, then main frames, then personal computers each had two decades as the hub of information innovation. Each took on new tasks and replaced wave after wave of special purpose devices. For the next two decades, innovation will happen AROUND mobile phones and tablets, and less capable specialized alternatives will continue disappearing.

        The “Universal” in “Turing Machine”, indeed!

    2. I don’t think money is the decider on who will have the best gaming experience. Intel tried to beat nvidia in pc gaming, using lots of money, but failed.

      And since andorid is open and supported by google , nvidia only has to keep up with the gaming part, which it has shown being very good at. And the shield does support opengl which will make porting games from pc relatively easy.

      And as for money from users – the shield offers double the game performance of an IPAD at almost half the price.It’s also considered a great general tablet for it’s price. That could attract plenty of gamers.

  5. Ben, I had a similar article cued up for last Sunday, but I was unable to pull the trigger. (Wrote about Chesteron’s Fence instead because I loved the metaphor :-). Interesting how much we agree and yet how different our takes are. If possible, I’ll make it my Insider’s article for this Sunday.

    1. I look forward to your take on the issue. Even though I am sure you will have similar views on the subject. I am sure more will need to be written on the subject as the tablet market is still trying to figure out what it wants to be and how big it can become. Plus it is great to see what quotes you pull to backup your points.

  6. I wonder how many of these segmented tablets are going to be sold as stand-alone products versus additions to a pre-existing product/service. In Japan, the largest education subscription service is now providing their own tablets for free with their service. Also, we can imagine many home-automation companies providing tablets for free to control their numerous appliances.

    I haven’t thought it out, and I’m wondering what impact these devices will have on sales of iPad and regular Android tablets.

      1. That’s actually a very timely point.

        The education company (Benesse) giving tablets out for free with a subscription had a huge personal information leak a couple of weeks ago.

        Money is being spent on privacy and security, but security is often much more a human issue than a technical one. Benesse had a contractor pull huge amounts of customer info and sell it to a personal information broker.

  7. Apple has a consistent pattern, going all the way back to the original Macintosh. They produce a new, innovative product at a premium price, then other manufacturers create products that do all or most of the same things for a lower price, and Apple loses ground.

    The Apple business model required Steve Jobs hitting home runs on a regular basis, and selling Apple products with his well-practiced P.T. Barnum ringmaster routine. He finally figured out how to put it all together starting with the iPod, then the iPhone and the iPad.

    Without that new and different product coming down the pike regularly, and without the glue of Steve Jobs’s cult leader persona, Apple cannot withstand the undertow of lower priced competition. People who deny that fact are denying the well proven pattern of history and chanting, “this time will be different”. I’m not saying Apple is going to go out of business tomorrow, but their trajectory is as predictable as the sunrise.

    I own an iPhone 5S. It’s still doing the job for me, and I’m still willing to pay extra for it. But I was in the store the other day buying a new case for it, and there were two young ladies in their early 20s shopping for phones. They stood in front of the iPhone display and said very negative things about it, with the general gist being, “it’s not that great” and “it’s not worth the money”. The trendiness of Apple is fading away. People without a lot of money to burn are looking at the cheaper alternatives and seeing no reason to buy an iPhone.

    The iPad is in an even worse position, costing more than Android devices that do the same thing, and with a variety of Windows options that cost less or more, but do infinitely more than the iPad does. The bid to relevance in enterprise applications with IBM will give them a small amount of legitimacy in that environment, but companies focused on the bottom line (and with existing Windows infrastructure) will never shell out en masse for expensive iPads when there are much cheaper alternatives.

    This is pure common sense.

    1. I’d hate to disagree with your FUD post but I’ve had plenty of people say plenty of bad things about Apple in the past about price and so forth only to buy other products and find out the hard way that what they are purchasing is inferior. After going through the torture and turmoil they end up giving up and buying the Apple product down the road since they actually like good products, and realize that good things have a cost associated with them. However, I do believe that they can do some things to improve their product lineup to put more pressure on their competition. We’ll see what happens over the next few months with their product strategy and actual products that many of us are looking forward to.

      1. I agree with you Steve, JoeS54 post is total FUD and not valid today. The numbers just do not back up what he is saying. While the things he is saying do fall in line with the going feelings on Wall Street about APPL they are not in line with what most of the people who use Apple products. Of course there are going to be cheap knock off products that are going to sell better but at lower costs and in larger numbers. But the key thing he seems to forget is that Apple has never been about having the biggest marketshare. They are going for the biggest share of the profits. What I like to call ProftShare. He seems to think that all customers are the same and have the same value. They do not. Apple knows this and is happy to take the mid to top end customers who are not as price sensitive and are not bargain hunters. This is why you do not see massive discounts on Black Friday. Apple knows that their products are worth what they ask for them and they know that they do not need to discount them to sell them to their target customers.

        He mentions two young ladies who did not like the iPhone and thought it was to expensive. What we do not know is if they where really in the market for an iPhone or if they where just browsing. Also, more importantly we do not know if their contract was up and how much they where planning on spending on a new phone. It is quite possible that they had a limited budget and did not see the value that Apple and the iPhone brings to the table. All of the good things that you get for free post sale.

        Also, Apple knows they do not want to become the next Burberry brand. This is why they do not do clones or license out their technology to others. They know that they need to stay on the cutting edge. While I am sure that there are going to be some people that have grown bored of the iPhone and will try out one of the other offerings I suspect that as long as Apple does produce a larger screen iPhone along with the more open nature of iOS 8 it will check the boxes of a lot more of the right buyers.

        I also think that he is discounting the importance of OS X Yosemite, iCloud and iOS 8 working a lot better together in the fall when they are released. I do see more home users who can afford to picking up Macs as a replacement for their aging PCs that have become slow and overloaded with junk software. In the same way that iPods where a good gateway in to people who really like their music and wanted to get the best iTunes experience we are going to see the same thing with iPhone users looking to have a Mac to use as a companion device.

        So in conclusion, the slope is not downwards but upwards. The future does look bright for Apple.

        1. Or more simply put, two young ladies (or gentlemen, or grandfathers, or accountants), do not, by any stretch of the imagination, constitute a statistically significant sample set.

        2. The problem is that many of the things you mention as “upgrades” are areas where Apple is lagging behind the competition. They’re playing catch-up instead of leading the pack, and you cannot be in that position when your products cost more than everyone else’s.

          1. Well, observable reality tells us that apparently Apple can be in that position and continue to succeed. Apple has waited on the implementation of many features, choosing to integrate new concepts thoughtfully rather than First! I’m sure you’ll remember how late Apple was to the portable music player market, and to the mobile market, and to the tablet market. Those seemed to work out okay. There really, really isn’t a prize for being first.

            And again you bring up the cost issue. We’ve got a good couple decades of evidence to the contrary, the segment Apple is focused on just isn’t price-sensitive in the way you seem to wish they were.

          2. SG, So true! People like JosS54 seem to forget that there are lots of technology that others have been 1st with but they did not have the right solution that consumers wanted. We could start all the way back with the 1st mouse and graphical user interface systems. Then as you have mentioned the portable music player (MP3 player) market. Remember Rio? How about the Zune?. On to the tablet market. Where are all of those tablets that Bill Gates loved to talk about at CES for a while? Gone! Or even with the Smartphone space. Palm Treo 650’s. Gone!

            All sorts of products where there 1st and I am sure many of us have used them but the point is that this idea that being 1st is so important in the world of tech is nonsense. Having the right product is more important. Just look at Google Glass. An alpha product that was released on the public to satisfy the desire to be 1st in the market of wearables. All because Google is trying desperately to find the next big thing for Wall Street and the tech nerds that are bored with the current offerings in tech.

            In the case of Google Glass, it is Googles lack of understanding of how humans interact and our desire to not all live our lives online and have what we say and do be recorded. Plus how there will be places and situations where it is totally inappropriate to bring Google Glass. The problem is that Google did not think about these things and instead just tossed the product out to the world to let their “explorers” deal with.

            Or how about Google TV. Instead of asking for permission from the networks and content holders Google just releases the product and again leaves their users to be holding the bag. As we know when the content providers found out about it they where pissed and used technical means to block its use.

            I assume you see the pattern here. Being 1st is not always the best. Also in many cases it is best to let others test the waters and see what works and what does not.

            Lastly, you are so right about the cost not being an issue for most of Apples customers in the way that JoeS54 thinks it is.

          3. You seem to think that being 1st is all that matters when in fact being the best is what Apple is about for their customers. We know that Android has done many things before iOS and the iPhone but in most cases the need to be 1st has lead to products being rushed to market before they are ready.

            What Apple does lead in are things that are much more important to Apple and their real customers and developers. Things like customer satisfaction. Or in the case of profits they lead in that too. This is good for the long term health of Apple and their ecosystem.

            In regards to products costing more. Apple knows that their products are worth what the price they sell them for. Most of Apples customers agree and are willing to pay those prices as they see the bigger picture that goes way beyond the sale of the product but the long term use of the product. There are plenty of examples of Apple products lasting a lot longer than what others are making. This is actually a problem for Apple in both the iPad and Macintosh line. The better they make their products the slower the upgrade cycle will be. Plus more of their products will be handed down in the family or resold on the used market. This is something that you really do not see happening with Windows PC’s or Android devices in any meaningful numbers.

            So for Apples customers they are able to see the value in the higher prices. Of course this is not true for everyone as most people are price sensitive so most people will not ever own an Apple product. Thats fine as Apple is not really loosing out at all because they are not willing to play the race to the bottom game that we have seen destroy the PC OEM market and now is doing the same thing with Android OEM devices.

          4. The specific service in question is iCloud, which has been around for some time, and continues to be vastly inferior to the competition. Microsoft’s OneDrive (for which there is an iPhone app) absolutely crushes it. iCloud fails even to be as useful as a simple service like Dropbox. The other “upgrades” are things that every PC has been doing forever.

            Apple is very clearly playing catch-up to Google and Microsoft in many areas. It’s not the same as saying there were .mp3 players before the iPod.

            Anyway, I’m not going to waste too much time bashing my head against the wall of Apple-can-do-no-wrong on this site. Just injecting a little reality.

          5. Oh, there’s plenty of Apple criticism happening here, you seem unwilling to recognize it. I agree that iCloud isn’t good enough, and Apple’s current management of multiple devices in a single household isn’t good enough. But I see Apple working on these things and Apple has earned my trust over many years. I’m confident iCloud will steadily improve. I suspect Apple is doing some fairly complex long term things with iCloud. It’s obvious if they wanted to create a Dropbox clone that would not be difficult.

            The great thing is, with iOS, because the user base is so large and so valuable, we have many third party options if iCloud doesn’t work for what we need. I recommended OneDrive to a friend recently, over iCloud, as an online archive for her photos. iCloud doesn’t offer enough space yet. I think that’s coming in the Fall with one terabyte options, but as far as I know it isn’t available today.

    2. “The sad, clinging Apple cult that still thinks it’s 1984 or 1997 or 2007”

      Sorry, Apple is steadily marching towards a billion users, the cult meme died a long time ago. It would seem it is you that is stuck in the past, somewhere in the 90s it sounds like going by the very weak arguments you are recycling.

      We don’t need to wait to see what happens to Apple’s products over time as low cost competitors come in with their own versions. We can look at the Mac, which is thriving. If what you say about Apple losing ground to low cost competitors is true (as predictable as the sunrise) then the Mac should not exist today. And yet it does. Not only does it exist, the Mac is doing very, very well.

      It would seem, for you, all roads lead to Apple’s doooooooooooom. Let me help you out, it will save you and everyone else a lot of time if you simply post the following on any article about Apple:

      “No matter how much Apple succeeds, Apple is not succeeding.”

      1. The “cult”, of which you are clearly a member, is a tiny subset of the population that owns and uses Apple products. They generally are people who have been clinging to Apple since the 1980s, and were using Macs even when the company was almost dead. Even with Apple’s success in recent years, they can’t let go of their bunker mentality. They’re stuck in the past, even though the world has changed completely.

        The only wise path as a consumer is to approach every product and every company with skepticism. You mean nothing to Apple. Your devotion to them is misplaced.

        1. I’m sure there is some small group stuck in the past clinging to their Macs, but that simply can’t be the vast majority of Apple’s customers today, there are just too many Apple customers now. Most of Apple’s customers today have no idea what you’re talking about. As I said, that old cult meme is long dead.

          I have no devotion to Apple, never have, never will. I enjoy using products that work well and that satisfy my needs. I also own some Samsung gear that I enjoy. Gasp!

          I’m not price-sensitive so I look for long term value rather than the cheapest option. If you find Apple gear too expensive, don’t buy it, but don’t make the mistake of thinking your personal opinion equals truth.

          You’re looking at Apple the wrong way. I buy Apple gear because Apple has earned my trust by delivering a great user experience and quality products. When Apple stops delivering, I’ll stop buying. The same is true of any normal consumer. And that is Apple’s customer today, normal people who don’t know anything about the 80s or 90s, Windows vs PC, they aren’t even aware of any of that old nerd stuff.

          There’s no trickery or magic in what Apple is doing. They’re just making good products that people get value from, and selling those products for a profit. It’s not terribly hard to understand.

          It’s so weird, Apple’s success seems to genuinely upset some people, I would guess because they don’t understand how it happened. Apple was always supposed to die because they were ‘doing it wrong’. And yet Apple’s approach has turned out to be very successful.

        2. Most analysts believe the Apple customer base is now somewhere between 600 and 700 million users (including iOS and OS X users). A few months ago, Apple said they have 800 million iTunes accounts, most with credit cards. That would be about 9 to 11% of the earth’s total population. So if the “cult” is a group of “people who have been clinging to Apple since the 1980s”, they can’t be more than 20 million, and obviously can’t account anymore for Apple’s success. So why are they even worth mentioning?

          1. It’s worth mentioning because this site is an example of it. It has zero credibility because of its clear biases. Coverage of Apple on this site is always positive, and coverage of Microsoft is always negative. And when you read most of the posts, they consist of a small group of people repeatedly agreeing with the authors about how great Apple is. It’s very sad.

          2. What you haven’t considered is the possibility that observable reality happens to have a pro-Apple bias right now, for good reasons, and that Microsoft is in the opposite position. Many of the articles here seek to understand and provide analysis. From many of your comments it does seem like you have an axe to grind when it comes to Apple (you’re spouting pretty much all the tired memes from the 90s), hence your emotional reaction to articles that have positive conclusions about Apple. The current success of Apple is causing a good amount of hysteria among the old nerd/anti-Apple crowd. I predicted this back in 2009 when it was obvious how successful Apple was going to become. Back then there were still anti-Apple folks ranting about how the iPhone would soon die out, how it couldn’t possibly keep selling, and so on. My advice to that crowd back then was be prepared for things to get much worse (more Apple success! nooooooooo!) over the next five years.

          3. So why do you come here and read it? (I’m not being sarcastic; I really do want to understand.)

            My POV is that it’s the Bajarin’s site; they can publish whatever articles and comments they want. If you read it, it’s up to you to discern what the truth is, given any analysis and data they might offer.

            I don’t know of any objective site on the Internet, even if they claim to be. Every one has their own biases based on their worldview and mental models (or monetization scheme). It’s your job to figure out what that is, so that you are then better able to appropriately use the info provided.

            I occasionally read sites that I mostly disagree with because I might find something true and valuable. These are things that would’ve never occurred to me (because of my biases) or been offered to me by others at the sites that I mostly agree with.

    3. “I own an iPhone 5S. It’s still doing the job for me, and I’m still willing to pay extra for it.”

      Hmm, this just twigged in my memory, months ago when iOS 7 came out I’m pretty sure you said you hated it so much you switched to a Samsung Galaxy. Yes, I’m sure it was iOS 7 and the far superior hardware of the Samsung phone that made you ditch the iPhone. So what happened? Did you get used to iOS 7? Did the Galaxy crap out? Seems like you’ve switched back now, in less than a year.

      Ah, this is fascinating scrolling back through your comments here, six months ago you said this “In 2013, Apple sold about 23 million iPads and about 48 million iPhones. Windows 8 sold 100 million copies in the first six months of its existence.”

      Interesting, because in 2013 Apple actually sold over 70 million iPads and 150 million iPhones.

      1. It’s interesting, and slightly creepy, that more than one person here remembers (or researched) posts I made here 6 months ago.

        I did indeed switch from an S4 back to a 5S. There were a few reasons, but the number one reason was music. I use my phone heavily for music consumption, and it is the area in which the iPhone exceeds all others by a wide margin. Both in terms of the way music is handled in software, and the hardware of the phone. Even though the iPhone’s Music app was completely butchered in iOS7, it’s still better than what Samsung provides. I got sick of fighting the Galaxy’s inferior methods for organizing and accessing music, the poor quality of its external speaker and D/A converters, and the lack of a direct audio out through USB.

        As for the OS, I still think iOS7 is terrible. But over time it became clear to me that Android has just as many drawbacks, albeit in different ways. I’ve never been a fan of Google, and owning an Android phone intensified my dislike. In that sense it became a wash, a choice between two less than ideal options. What Apple REALLY needs to do is to allow users more options to customize the interface. Even if it’s just a few different default themes to choose from. The current one could be called “My Little Pony”, and a new one could be called “Adult Male”.

        As for the things I had to give up, I think owning a tablet (the Surface Pro 2, which I still think is great) made it easier for me let them go. There is no question that surfing the web, watching video and playing games is dramatically better on a 5″ phone than a 4″ one. I avoid web surfing and video almost entirely on the iPhone, unless I’m desperate to look something up on the web. Before I had a tablet, being able to do those things on a phone was a big deal. Now it’s much less so, because I can just grab the Surface.

        That last point is a significant one when it comes to questions about where these markets go in the future. My previous opinion that Apple had to go for a bigger screen on the iPhone is less intense. Ideally, they should offer multiple screen sizes. It seems clear that in terms of sales, bigger phones are the trend. But I think there is also a lot to be said for a phone that fits comfortably in your hand, and can be operated with one hand, using your thumb. The Galaxy generally requires both hands to use efficiently.

        So my opinion has changed slightly on that subject. I may look into a Nokia Windows phone at some point, but for now I’m sick of switching, and I’ve begun to accept the fact that the phone I would design for myself simply doesn’t exist.

        1. “It’s interesting, and slightly creepy, that more than one person here remembers (or researched) posts I made here 6 months ago.”

          I can’t speak for others, but I happen to have an incredible memory for details. But it’s also very easy to sort your past comments, in seconds.

          You obviously made a simple mistake in your iPad/iPhone sales data, that was a single quarter, not all of 2013.

          “It seems clear that in terms of sales, bigger phones are the trend.”

          That may be true in China, it does look like the data points to this trend, but in the overall market larger screens are a small fraction of sales. The phablet trend has been mostly hype to this point. But it is real in Asian markets. I expect Apple will come out with larger screen iPhones in the Fall, it’s good timing, since the sales trend is only now becoming big enough to matter.

          As I often say, the screen is the computer. We will simply pick the screen size that fits our needs best. I would prefer a larger screen iPhone actually, and a larger screen iPad, I dig large screens and I carry a very nice shoulder bag for my iPad (in a ZAGGFolio) already.

          1. Thank you for telling me that you can easily search anybodies past comment history. It’s a great feature. Great way to check up on a commenters credibility and consistency.

          2. I think users can lock that down on Disqus if they choose to, not sure. I’ve never messed with any settings. As a business mentor of mine once told me, always tell the truth and you don’t have to remember what you said.

            It’s a handy feature, one I’ve used mostly to do stuff like read other comments from people I think are particularly smart.

        2. Not creepy. After Space Gorilla’s comment, I just reread your past posts here, which is easy to do.

          Your experience does highlight that consumers don’t limit themselves to specs and feature lists. The quality of the implementation, including the user interface matters. And though it may not have mattered to you, customer service matters to most. People are willing to pay more for a product/retailer that is better in the things that matter; they don’t care if the product/retailer lags behind the competition in the things that don’t. The key question is whether, post-Jobs, Apple will continue to identify and focus on the things that matter.

          So it’s interesting that you want more interface customization and alternative (in this case, larger) screen sizes. Exactly what Steve Jobs would have been against giving you. These things matter to you and Tim Cook looks like he’ll give you some of it, and yet you think he isn’t it. (As for iOS 7, Apple has sold 12% more iPhones yoy since it’s release, and the pace of iOS 7 adoption exceeds previous upgrades, so I don’t think many despise it.)

          Your assertion that Apple loses ground with each product isn’t that clear-cut. Mac may have had 100% of the nascent GUI market in 1984 and lost most of it, but it’s the only surviving Windows competitor and has grown its PC market share each quarter (except one) over the last 8 years. iPod and iTunes music have never lost their dominance (though that market has been swamped by the smartphone market). iPhone has grown its cell phone market share every quarter since it launched. Market research concludes that more consumers are switching to iPhone than away from it.

          Apple is now, in many ways, different than it was before. Unlike the Mac days, Apple has a thriving third-party ecosystem surrounding its products (from which it derives growing revenue). Apple has a much closer relationship with its customers/users through its own physical and online stores/services, and its cloud services. Apple’s products are far more personal now. Computing devices are no longer primarily sold to enterprises via IT departments, but rather directly to consumers/users. And computing devices are far cheaper (as a percentage of a household budget) than ever before. With all these changes, it’s not clear to me that the Mac memes from the last century still apply to today’s Apple and its markets.

    4. JoeS54, why were you willing to pay extra for an iPhone 5S and switch to it from the Galaxy S4, since you “despised iOS 7,” “saw how badly the 5S was lagging behind other phones spec-wise,” and found “the 5S is tiny (and) completely fails to deliver the same experience as a 5″ screen”? How did Apple “withstand the undertow of lower priced competition” for you personally? Given your strong liking of the Surface Pro 2, I would’ve expected you to switch to a Windows Phone if and when Android failed to live up to iOS.

    5. What occurred during the Steve Jobs era will never be repeated by Apple, if we’re looking at the percentages. In FY97 (the year of Jobs return), Apple sold 2.8m Macs, with revenue of $7B and a loss of $1B. If we give Jobs (who died in 10/2011) credit for Apple’s products sold in FY12, Apple sold over 230m Macs/iPods/iPhones/iPads, with revenue of $156B and a profit of $41.7B. So if Jobs run was to happen again, Apple would have to reach sales of about 19b units, garnering revenue of $3.4 trillion. So there’s no way Apple is going to sustain that trajectory, (which actually is even steeper as most of the growth occurred in 2008-2012), thus the slope will be downward.

      So given Apple’s size, Apple, if they do much right, could still sustain 10-15% growth per year for the next 10 years. It could grow its customer base from 10% of the world’s population to 15% or 20%. If it does so, will it just be “riding on what they’ve got for a good while” or will it disprove your contention?

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