Today the Guardian published an editorial called:
Sound familiar? Apple launches a revolution – and then gets overtaken
with the subtext
It happened when the Mac brought a mouse to every desktop. Now, with the iPhone, it’s happening again
They’re contending that Apple has reinvented the mobile phone (echoing Steve Jobs in 2007) but that they cannot hope to become dominant.
The writers, Bobbie Johnson and Richard Wray, are evidently new to technology writing despite their fabulous credentials. They throw out the factoid that Apple shipped 20 million phones and in the same time other vendors shipped 1.5 billion phones. But they ignore their own point that iPhone is a high end phone and when you consider the market for high end phones (smartphones) is only around 150 million per year, then 20 million becomes a good bit more respectable.
Apple is not going to compete for the low end chunky mobiles which make calls and text messages. They’ll happily leave that market to Nokia and other vendors who want to scrape around in the dirt for marketshare. You also have to consider that mobile phone penetration in the UK has already exceeded 100%. Adding or subtracting subscribers is not an important driver – finding apps or platforms which will drive revenue is however.
The article doesn’t actually give any real insight – it just tells us that Apple won’t become dominant in the market. Again – look at Apple – they’ve no intention of becoming dominant. They’re not out there to make the most phones any more than they are out to make the most personal computers. They’re not interested in making the cheapest phone or the most popular phone. They’re trying to make the best phone.
As a result we have the other companies out there scrabbling to create something competitive. They’ve fallen into the iPod trap – trying to beat the iPhone on features like FM radio, OLED, memory card slots and other gimmicks. Other companies tried to beat the iPod with this strategy and failed miserably and they’re going to fail miserably if they try to beat the iPhone this way. Here’s a tip: beat the iPhone by being better at the things they’re currently beating you at. Think Simple. Think Design. Think Less is More. Remove features until the product stops working, then put that one back. That’s the way to combat the iPhone – not by adding more buttons, a clunky slide-out keyboard, a bulky camera-add-on and advertising technologies that the end user simply does not care about. (e.g. I want OLED, I don’t really know why, I just want it. I’m a geek. Not the target market at all)
Their article also ignores the fact that, yes, the Mac launched a revolution and didn’t take over the world – but Apple is one of the few personal computer companies actually making money at the moment.
It also ignores the fact that in more recent years Apple has another arm to their business – that of the iPod and iTunes. While music sales may be a battleground, Apple has claimed repeatedly that there’s no money in selling the music (something that companies like Microsoft and Amazon might want to take on board). The money for Apple is in the iPod – and while the iPod may not have created the music revolution, it certainly defined it and continues to be dominant in the market.
Apple is also, like the rest of us, in the grip of a recession, yet posted that they made more money last quarter than they ever have made in a non-holiday quarter. While their competitors are battening down the hatches to ride out the storm, Apple is dancing in the rain.
So, here we are, two years after the introduction of the iPhone and there’s still not a compelling competitor to the iPhone and two journalists (yes, it took two people to write that article) are telling us that Apple is about to fail?