Tag Archives: android

Buying Market Share

Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke | Tech.pinions – Perspective, Insight, Analysis: “The company that buys market share must inevitably go out of business or reverse its course and fight its way back up to profitability. The company with the value and the profits, on the other hand, has the advantage of holding the high ground and can choose to take market share at will.”

(Via John Kirk for Tech Opinions.)

This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with developers on the App Store trying to get to the top of the charts at any cost. They’re buying market share by maximizing downloads instead of profits. And most end up making little money as a result.

Kirk’s piece here is examining iOS Phones vs. Android, but the same concept applies to the software sold on these devices as well. Having more users is actually a bad thing when the cost per user is higher than the profit per user. 

People like to cite Microsoft when talking about the value of market share, but they always seem to forget that Microsoft never sacrificed profit margin to get that market share. It was the hardware manufacturers—Dell, Sony, HP, Gateway, etc.—who were caught up in the pricing wars. Microsoft pitted them against each other and sat back on a pile of gold as they tore each other to pieces. 

Google? Not so much with Android.

It’s an iPad mini, Not an iPad Shuffle

Reading the Twitter and App.net reactions to the mostly positive reviews of the iPad mini today, I’m left with the impression that many people wanted

  • $199 price point
  • Retina display
  • 10-hours of battery
  • aluminum case, and all the fit and finish you expect from Apple

And anyone who doesn’t criticize Apple for not having all of these is a shill.

But design is about compromise, remember?

There’s no physical way Apple could have kept its “legendary” battery life (Tim Cook’s word, not mine) with the mini without sacrificing the Retina screen. And there’s no way it would have that beautiful aluminum fit and finish for $200. So choices were made. And if you follow Apple at all, you know why they made the choices they did.

Now, you can say that you would have preferred the Retina display in a cheap plastic case, or that you could live with five hours of battery instead of ten. But you have to make choices yourself in your imaginary preferred device. No one can currently make a device with all four of those things.

That’s not to say that Apple doesn’t deserve to get dinged in a review a little for having a screen that’s sub par compared to its competition. But from what I’ve read, the mini has been getting that ding. Most reviewers, even those who tend to be Apple positive, are wishing the mini had Retina.

(I’ll agree that rationalizing, i.e. “most people don’t care about Retina” is silly. Of course they care. And they will notice. But I’m betting the mini will still win most of them over.)

Apple operates on the “all or nothing” principle when it comes to resolution. It’s quadruple the pixels, or it’s not. There’s no in-between resolutions, where none of your apps work right or everything is fuzzy. Obviously I’d rather have a Retina screen on my mini, as I think that would be my ideal iPad. And by next year, when that’s physically possible, thanks to more advancements in battery technology and power management in iOS, I’ll have that. But in the meantime, I absolutely think Apple made the right choice to go with non-Retina before sacrificing battery life or making it even more expensive. And I certainly wouldn’t want a screen with 1200 x 900, or some other in-between resolution that made my apps look like crap.

As far as price goes, I’m also hearing a lot of talk about how Apple could “crush” its competition if it just made the mini $200. Sure. It could crush it even faster if it made the mini $100. Or heck, why not give it away?

Take a look at Amazon’s latest earnings report if you want to know how the cheap tablet market is doing. I don’t think Apple needs to crush anything. Those cheap tablets are money pits. Wall Street may give Amazon a pass for losing money on everything they sell, but when Apple warns profit margins will be lower than their usual 35%, the stock takes a nose dive. I think Apple is right to wait it out until it can make a profitable tablet at that price.

Are people still seriously thinking Apple needs to get into the razor-thin margins game? Because that’s how Apple got to be the world’s largest company, right, by competing on price?

Didn’t we learn anything from Netbooks?

I was as surprised as everyone else when I saw that $329 starting price. But mostly because it’s such a goofy, Marketing un-friendly number. Once I thought about it for a minute, I figured, “Well, that must be the compromise that went along with the manufacturing process.” This is what Apple does. Rounded corners, when squared corners are cheaper. Aluminum, when plastic is cheaper. Glass, when a plastic screen is cheaper. They build a great product, then price it as cheap as they can, not the other way around.

Anyone who takes a look at an iPad mini and a Kindle Fire will immediately know why the mini is more expensive. And they’ll choose according to what suits them best. Apple is happy to let them make that choice. They don’t cater to cheapskates.

But what about the iPod? I can hear some arguing. What about it? It was several years before Apple made an iPod that was cheap enough to not leave the “price umbrella” under it, and that iPod didn’t have a screen.

I have no doubt the umbrella will be gone in a few years. But that will take time, technological advancement, and a lot more creative thinking. Remember, this is the iPad mini, not the iPad shuffle. That’ll come later. In the meantime, let the competitors lose money for a while. Market share is not remotely important compared to making profits and keeping your reputation for best-in-class products.

You can’t beat Amazon in a pricing war. Why would you pick that fight, knowing you’re going to lose?

Jordan Rudess on Developing for Android vs. iOS

Phil Simon: Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess Talks Music Apps: “There are so many people out there with Android, and I know that it’s a really good system. Personally, I’ve had some problems with it — and that’s why I took so long to get into it and am not anxious to keep working on that platform. First, there’s been an inherent issue with the audio on Android, which has been frustrating to a lot of developers. When you touch the screen to play a sound, there’s a delay, which destroys the reality of the musical experience. It’s a latency issue. Obviously the people in charge of Android’s release overlooked this. It’s a problem that’s definitely preventing some of the music developers I know from wanting to create apps for the platform.

The other problem with Android is, as far as I’m concerned, that the systems aren’t set up to allow for a solid business. Android piracy is rampant. For example, we put out a really cool Android version of MorphWiz Play (even better and easier to use than the one on iOS). But, according to the numbers coming back to our company, it’s being ripped off right and left. Android employees need to create a system that’s fairer to developers.”

(Via huffingtonpost.)

But Android is winning, right?

People think the details don’t matter. But they do. It’s not just about iPhone vs. Galaxy whatever. People say “who cares?” when I talk about how much smoother and responsive scrolling is on the iPhone. Well, here’s a perfect example of why cutting down on latency is extremely important. 

And don’t get me started on the App Store vs. the Android Marketplace. It wasn’t easy to make the App Store a place where both customers and developers could make out well. But that good balance makes all the difference, and it’s obvious when you try and find a good app on the Android Marketplace.

I love all of Jordan’s apps. Love that musicians are finding more and more innovative ways to create music with technology. And I’m happy that he can make some extra bucks on the side from building quality apps. His experience with Android is the reason most of us never bother trying to write an app for Android and probably never will. 

My Thoughts on a Larger-screen iPhone

Clearly, something is going on with the next iPhone. The rumors of big screens have been floating around for ages, but there’s a lot more smoke this time around. So I have to think this is at least a possibility.

Personally, though, I’m still not feeling the need for a larger screen. The notion that Apple “needs” to do this because of all the Android phones out there with big screens is preposterous. Android is coming apart at the seams. The big screens were an attempt to differentiate the Android phones from Apple. This wasn’t something most users were clamoring for, and many users who get these devices pushed on them don’t even like the larger screen. They aren’t an improvement, in other words. People in general don’t want larger devices in their pockets. They like their phones small. I think Gruber is right that if the iPhone gets a larger screen, it doesn’t necessarily mean the phone itself will be larger. There’s room for a larger screen without going nuts and making a Galaxy Note hunk of junk. In fact, the screen could be 4 inches without making the footprint of the iPhone any bigger.

(I really don’t think Apple needs to worry about Android in the long run at all, by the way. Maybe that sounds nuts, but watch the numbers carefully. Android’s golden age is already over. It’s peaked, as far as growth rate relative to others is concerned, and it’s nowhere in the tablet race. Google has never gotten the app ecosystem off the ground, and now with all the viruses plaguing Android there’s even less trust from the users, which means even fewer developers are going to make apps. Every OEM making Android devices except for Samsung is losing money. They will jump ship to Microsoft, or whoever else offers them a better deal down the line. And the users will buy whatever the kids in the carrier stores push on them. This is a fickle market. Android will self-destruct without any help from Apple.)

But again, I’ll ask the question none of the nerds seem to be asking. How does a bigger screen make the phone better? More icons on the home screen? Really? That’s it? Widescreen videos a little bigger? Ok. I guess. I have yet to read any compelling argument for how this would improve the iPhone experience. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a compelling argument; I’m just saying that no one seems to be focusing on the only reason Apple would pull the trigger on this.

As far as third party developer concerns, that’s a bit ludicrous, too. Apple ultimately doesn’t care if we developers have to work to get our apps updated to match the new screen size. If they think a bigger phone screen would be better, than they’ll make the phone with a bigger screen, and the developers will fall in line. What choice do we have? They may provide some tools to make the transition easier, but basically, what the developers need or want is the lowest thing on Apple’s hierarchy of concerns. Apple does what is best for Apple, what is best for the customer, and then what is best for developers, in that order. Anyone who has ever opened Xcode knows this.

Now, if Apple announces this new phone, but no apps support it on day one, that’s a problem. And clearly, some apps won’t ever get updated, because their developers have abandoned them long ago. So Apple will need something equivalent to what they did on the iPad with iPhone apps. There will have to be some default way that this new phone adapts older apps to work correctly on the new screen. It doesn’t have to make for a perfect experience—iPhone apps on the iPad are a pretty lame experience—but it does have to work. A stop-gap measure until the developers do the correct enhancements. Other than that, Apple doesn’t need to be concerned about third-party apps at all.

I do worry about the long-term health of the App Store ecosystem, but that’s a subject for a separate post. Right now, Apple is in the driver’s seat, and they can get away with pretty much anything, making us all jump through hoops to be in the Store. But ultimately, it would probably be in Apple’s best interests to start thinking a little more about what kinds of developers are successful in this market. If they’re not careful, they could easily end up in a position where only big corporations like Adobe are back in control of the software side of things. And that’s not in Apple’s best interest.

As soon as someone can tell me why a bigger iPhone screen would be better, I’ll get more excited about this. Whether or not it happens is much less interesting to me than the why.

Coffee Time: Market Share vs Profit

Coffee Time: Market Share vs Profit – journal – minimally minimal.

Have to love his last set of images, comparing Apple’s product line to Samsung’s. Thanks to John Gruber for linking to this.