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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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By bldckstark on 5/10/2010 4:43:16 PM , Rating: 3
1. A new iPhone per year does not equal 15 new Android phones per year. The numbers will skew Apple's direction after the iPhone 4 release, but only until the holiday season. (Illegal? No charges have been filed.)

2. Do you know why they are dumping them on the market? Because they get a slice of the profits from EVERY advertisement that gets shown on an Android phone via admob. Android phones are the gift that keeps on giving (back to the carrier!). They can give the phones away and still make money on them.

3. The iPhone gen 4 is not going CDMA this year. That means another year of AT&T only.

I'm an ex-Blackberry user. Don't underestimate RIM. People are using those phones for a reason. The messaging on those phones is the best, bar none.

I just got the Incredible. I waited a long time to get an Android phone because Android just wasn't ready yet, but this phone has it all. My iPhone friends are all jealous. They didn't even realize how tightly their phone is wrapped up until I show them simple things like changing the background.


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

















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