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AT&T exclusivity, Steve Jobs' personal war against Flash, and app rejections played a big role in Apple dropping behind Android in the smart phone market.  (Source: AP)
I have a bit of advice for Apple on how to avoid slipping further...

Oh iPhone, you are:
Open yet closed, weak yet strong
If but you were free.

-A haiku on the iPhone's bump to third place

No one wants to be second place in most races, but in the smartphone war, that's precisely what Android has aimed for over the last couple quarters.

RIM rests atop smartphone sales charts thanks to the fact that the smartphone population initially consisted almost exclusively of business users -- a group that still makes up a large portion of the total smartphone market.  

Apple's iPhone changed the market by delivering the first smartphone truly accessible for the masses.  True, others (Windows Mobile phones, Palm designs) could argue ownership of such a title.  But Apple's App Store, advertising blitz, and slick hardware won over the masses like never before.  And they earned it a solid spot at number two -- a very desirable place to be.

Then came Android.  Google's OS didn't start off beautifully.  From the start many questioned the patchwork alliance, the at times unclear objectives of the project, and lacking first generation hardware such as the first Android handset, the G1 phone.

But slowly, Google began to catch up and pick up steam.  It picked up multi-touch.  Its hardware partners, particularly HTC, flooded hot new designs onto every major U.S. carrier.  These designs like the HTC Incredible and Motorola Droid (Milestone) matched the iPhone in hardware or came awful close.

Apple still had one key advantage -- the App Store.  Google's app count will soon hit 50k, but that pales in comparison to the 150,000 apps that the App Store has.  But Apple made some critical missteps.  First, it banned Flash from the iPhone.  Then it even banned Flash ports to native code, further alienating both developers and customers.  Second, it practiced inconsistent policing the App Store.  Sometimes it rejected apps only to later approve them, other times it approved them only to reject them.  Google, too did a bit of this, but Apple did it far more often.

In the end it's easy to see why Apple lost the coveted second place position to the army of Android handsets.  How could its one handset on one (U.S.) carrier hope to keep up with a plethora of high end handsets backed by a multitude of carriers and a more open app marketplace?

If Apple feels bad, we can only wonder where that leaves Palm (recently acquired) and Microsoft's Windows Mobile division who have been bumped further down the ladder as well.  At least Apple still is solidly holding on to its third place position.

I've developed apps for the iPhone, and while I admit I am now eyeing the Android phones, I still have a soft spot for the old iPhone.  I bear it no ill will.

Thus it is out of best wishes that I give Apple the following advice:
1.  Adopt multiple carriers in the U.S.  Lucrative exclusive contracts are not worth cornering yourself into obscurity.
2.  Release multiple phones.  You already did this with the iPod -- imagine how hot an iPhone Nano would be!
3.  Most important -- drop the rhetoric on Flash and shore up the app approval process.  If you want to be the world's premiere mobile applications provider, there's little room for such poor behavior as you have shown.

If Apple can follow such advice, perhaps it can once again become competitive in the race.  Otherwise, with other hungry competitors (Palm, Microsoft) and hot new Android handsets (Samsung Galaxy, HTC EVO) it seems destined to sink down the sales charts, much like Palm before it. 



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Suspect figures
By blueline99 on 5/10/2010 3:26:33 PM , Rating: 1
Doesn't anyone question these numbers... the Daily Tech doesn't even source how these figures were gathered.

They were gathered by on-line surveys and did not include business accounts.

These figures are not based on sales figures, which is really the only measurement.




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