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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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RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By Ted Landry on 5/11/2010 2:58:27 AM , Rating: 0
but that's only a brief moment don't forget, the current iPhone is almost a year old, so in 30 days, the iPhone will be far the fastest phone, with by far the most apps, by far the best UI with the best multitasking approach.

the Android just won't hold up long term since sales have been poor and the software and hardware is so primitive.


RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By Bateluer on 5/11/2010 8:10:59 AM , Rating: 4
Uh, what? The upcoming iPhone will likely have hardware on par with recently released Android phones, such as the Evo and the Incredible. Perhaps slightly better. But only for a short period until the next crop of smartphones hits.

Best UI is a strictly relative opinion to the user. I couldn't stand the overly simple UI of the iPhone, neither was I particularly crazy about Android's stock UI. Fortunately, there are hundreds of available themes available for Android phones, allowing me complete freedom to have the device look and feel anyway I wish.

With multi-tasking, I believe WebOS would likely get the best implementation for multi-tasking by popular vote. The multi-tasking on the iPhone is extremely limited, only a paltry handful of Apple approved applications. That's not multi-tasking, period. By Apple's logic, the user is too stupid to manage their own applications on their device.

And where do you hear that Android sales have been slow? Sales of the Moto Droid exceeded those of the iPhone 3GS during the first 74 days, and has continued to sell very well. Sales of the Droid Incredible has also been impressive, with the device being sold out of most Verizon stores and periodically going in and out of backorder on the web site. Fact of the matter is, Android handsets move off shelves. Just because one single device doesn't dwarf the iPhone sales does not mean that Android handset sales are stagnant. Tally up all the sales of Android devices, and they'll easily dwarf the iPhone sales in the same manner that PC sales dwarf sales of Mac computers.


By corduroygt on 5/15/2010 6:11:35 PM , Rating: 1
If you read the study that says 74 day sales of Droid are higher than the iPhone 3GS, you'll realize that it's a load of bollocks.

1. It's an estimate, not actual sales numbers from reputable tracking company like NPD.
2. They use original iPhone sales to estimate the 3GS sales, which is BS. The original iPhone was $499/$599 with no subsidies, vs the 3GS at $199/$299.

So I'd appreciate if you wouldn't use some two-bit website's estimate to declare the motorola droid outsold the iphone 3gs, because in all likeliness, it didn't. Hell, all Android's combined with BOGO deals can barely pass the iphone by itself, the moto droid surely isn't enough by itself.

I've used the Motorola Droid, and it's nowhere as easy to use as the iphone, and the hardware keyboard is too stiff and dreadful. The HTC incredible looks much better though, I'll admit.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

















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