Competition

Competition

iOS devices combined -- including iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch -- may have outsold Android devices combined -- including Android phones and tablets -- by a narrow margin last quarter. During the Q1 2012 Apple conference call today, Tim Cook pegged the iOS device number at 62 million. Android numbers are harder to come by, but last month Andy Rubin said 700,000 were now being activated a day. Given the prior two months were likely less, the following month perhaps more, it probably works out to 60 or 61 million.

During the same call, Tim Cook also revealed that the Amazon Kindle Fire had no affect on iPad sales, far he can tell. Sprint ultimately paid dearly to get the iPhone on their network in order to remain competitive. Verizon announced their results today, and revealed that slightly more than half of their smartphone sales were iPhones.

Apple has long dominated their competitors in terms of smartphone profit share but recently Android was assumed to have a big lead in market share. I've long discounted that, saying it's irrelevant.

And nothing that was announced today changes that.

Apple released the iPhone 4S last quarter, almost 3 months later than many people anticipated. There was massive pent up demand for the iPhone 4S and it sold gangbusters. But Apple probably isn't releasing another new iPhone this quarter. Or next. Or the one after that. But there will be new Android phones. Maybe not next quarter, but certainly the one after, running Android 4.0 and likely once again upping the spec fight.

Carriers, who can control Android in ways Apple will never allow them to control iPhones, will push these new devices heavily -- like they did the original Droid and a plethora of devices since -- and many buyers, geek tweakers and feature-phone replacers alike, will buy them.

The market share trends and figures will change and likely change again.

But they'll remain irrelevant. Because they ultimately don't matter.

Earlier this month I walked into an Apple Store with scratches on my iPhone 4S screen and walked out 30 min. later with a new iPhone 4S and a stern lecture about taking better care of my gear. And without paying a dime.

Last week Apple released iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U, taking the first steps towards mainstreaming digital education.

Just this week, as is almost always the case, I downloaded apps with UI so well designed, UX so thoughtful, they made me smile and delight in using my iPhone and iPad again.

The best devices, the best software, the best service. That's relevant. As a consumer, that's what matters. Not Apple's numbers. Not Google's numbers. That's what all companies should be fiercely fighting over. Delighting us. That's the metric they should all be measured by.

That should be the competition.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Competition

21 Comments

Wait you didn't get the "did you make an appointment for the genius bar"? Cause that's happened to me twice before, so I gave up just trying to walk in the store

Well done Rene. Great post and I whole heartedly agree with you [insert shock and awe here]. :)
Apple support is #1 bar none, the ecosystem is the bar everyone is trying to recreate, and their devices might as well be dipped in gold [hence the gold rush].
Perfect summation:
"The best devices, the best software, the best service. That’s relevant. As a consumer, that’s what matters. Not Apple’s numbers. Not Google’s numbers. That’s what all companies should be fiercely fighting over. Delighting us. That’s the metric they should all be measured by.
That should be the competition."

You scratched your phone!!! You don't deserve the privilege of owning iPhone. You have forever lost the respect of the millions that know how to properly care for their gear.
Is that what the Genius said?

Renee, you scratched your phone and you thought you could ask for a new phone because of that? Apparently it worked for you but may I ask what was your thought process going into the apple store when it was nothing more than a cosmetic scratch that was completely your fault. How does that qualify you as a customer to a phone replacement? I don't get it.

I didn't ask for a new phone. I went in expecting to pay the usual $200 replacement fee for a damaged screen (they swap the device regardless, it's easy for them than swapping the display). The Apple Genius informed me afterwards there was no charge. (And no, he didn't know me.)
Experiences like that tend to make for high levels of customer loyalty and confidence. It should be the norm.

That's been my experience too. You get taken care of immediately. Usually for no charge even if you don't expect it.
There's no wait for a new phone. No getting a temp phone. No inquiries if you have carrier insurance. No talk of phone being sent to a repair center. No worries of having to mail something in.

That's interesting. Because I took my 4 in awhile ago because the home button has been faulty. The "genius" admitted its's a known problem, and because my phone was 1/2 month out of warranty, I can buy a new one for $600 or whatever.
The experiences with the genius bar always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I actually find it to be the worst part of the Apple experience. I once sat there while listening to an apple rep argue with a customer that "our products do not get hot" when he brought his macbook in because of overheating issues.

It is good to hear that at least at some stores Apple is standing behind thier defective design with flimsy glass screens. I sure wish that was the case across the board. Once they can implement this policy on a global scale they will surely delight us all.

I love the end of your post
"The best devices, the best software, the best service. That’s relevant. As a consumer, that’s what matters. Not Apple’s numbers. Not Google’s numbers. That’s what all companies should be fiercely fighting over. Delighting us. That’s the metric they should all be measured by.
That should be the competition."
Sadly to many Apple fanboys get caught up in the numbers and completely pass over that little fact. They point to the numbers like it is all that matter and completely pass over the fact that it is about the service and what is best for each user.

Well said, Rene. As an Apple product owner I totally agree, but as an Apple investor I can't say I'm not happy about the quarterly results, too. Fortunately, Apple is incredibly good at focusing on what matters (the products and services). Sooner or later the market usually reflects that.

I'm a Galaxy Nexus owner. Love the phone. Don't regret buying it at all. I don't want an iPhone, though I respect it. I hate iTunes and blah blah blah. Etc.
HOWEVER, Rene is speakingso much truth. I am not an Apple fan but damn are they successful. Too many other OEM's and networks are cutting themselves up to the detriment of the consumer. It vexes me. To me, Apple is the necessary evil. If you can't compete, which most/all currently can't, then burn and let someone through who can. For example:

  1. Verizon did their typical with the Galaxy Nexus. Result - delayed product. Consumers loose. Competition looses.
  2. I bought the GN in the UK. I counted on GSMArena how many phones (most Android) Samsung has release to date. 30. 30!!! W. T. F.
  3. You can count the minutes between the release of the Droid 3 and 4.
  4. Exactly how many remixes are there in the States of the great Samsung Galaxy S II making it maybe not so great.

I could go on, but it'll probably be tomorrow. I love Android, but you gotta take lessons from where they are coming. Apple release a phone that looks identical to it's predecessor and is by most account a marginal upgrade and STILL outsold world+dog.
I hope Apple keep on doing there thing and the competition up their game and stop being narrow sighted. Competition is good, but someone has to be winning and the rest have to be hungry.

I like your comment about how you can count the minutes between the droid 3 and the droid 4. People have been complaining about how RIM releases the same phone over and over but it's perfectly ok for Motorola to do it.

I put my iPhone 4S in a case the day I left the Apple store with it and then put it in an Otterbox Defender to prevent screen scratches and drop damage. Google lost me thanks to an unsatisfying user experience. My iPhone 4S gets the job done and in two years, irregardless of what ever Google promises with their product, I'll be getting whatever new iPhone is available, if it does something more for me than my 4S does or my 4S dies.

Competition is good for all of the platforms. It keeps everyone on their toes and insures that the consumer has options for products and services that work for each individual. Some will like this. Others will like that. I still like physical keyboards and if I were on Verizon and had not gotten an iPhone 4S on Sprint, I'd probably be looking at a Droid 4 or even a Droid Razr Maxx once ICS was on them, but Apple got to me first on Sprint and at the time, the iPhone 4S was a better option than another buggy and unsatisfying Gingerbread phone.

Nice write-up Rene! I completely agree. I know too many people with Android devices who've tried to "show" me something cool only to have it crash or power off. I want something that works and my experience with the GB is that the customer is #1...and that's how it should be!

I wish they would have offered me that option...as I would have taken it in a second (I currently have to play "home button roulette" trying to open and close applications). But they didn't.
I was actually shocked, as I had heard amazing stories about Apple standing behind their products. My experience was only one of millions that happen on a regular basis and was obviously the exception, but thought it odd that this representative of Apple made it clear to me that Apple would not help me address their known issue, and the only thing I could do was purchase a new phone off contract.

Sensible article. All I look for are good solid tools with quality support and backup. Last year I was supplied a MacBook Pro with defective hard drive and was sent a replacement immediately. I was not required to return the dud until after I was satisfied with the replacement. I took my previous MacBook Pro in to have a screen problem looked at and found, to my surprise that it had a 3 year warranty and got a shiny new screen free of charge.
Good service is the way to attract and to hold onto customers, not specifications......