All the time I hear different numbers for smartphone market share. I never really pay attention because it seems that in the next day or two another set of numbers come out proving the opposite. So whether the numbers say that Android has the lion’s share of the market or Apple’s iOS has clawed back some percentage of the market. Here’s why market share doesn’t really matter.
Market Share is about the Long Game
Apple, no matter what you want to say or think of them, has always been about the long game. As a company with the number two share of the market they make the most profit from their devices. So they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is important because they have one advantage none of their competitors have, the iPod Touch. The current majority of the market are teenagers and older people who have had other smartphones or have knowledge of all the brands. However what will happen when the next generation becomes old enough to start buying phones? Remember I said the long game.
The iPod Touch puts Apple in a perfect position to take over the smartphone market. The younger generation don’t have phones so what do their parents usually get them, an iPod Touch. So they are getting invested in the app ecosystem and also being immersed in the Operating System(OS) from a very early age. The same can be said with the introduction of the cheaper and smaller iPad Mini. When this younger generation becomes old enough to start owning smartphones and tablet devices. They are going to want one that all their apps work on and that they are completely comfortable using.
So Apple’s stranglehold on the market share in the mp3 player market and by extension the iPod Touch’s dominance. Just might turn the tables on these numbers in a decade or two. Google almost had the same advantage with YouTube. However whether because of short-sightedness or the disconnect between the company making the Android OS and the manufacturers making the hardware. It is available on the iPhone which takes that advantage away. My wife’s 13 year old sister is a perfect example off this younger generation. When we spend time with her she always has a ton of YouTube videos to show us. Videos that she spends time searching for with her friends often. YouTube has become the defacto standard for searching and playing videos like the iPod Touch has become synonymous with music player.
Google, however has an interest in having it on the iOS platform. Unlike Apple making immediate profit from the sales of the iPod Touch, Google wants YouTube in the hands of as many people possible. So now that it is on iOS, any move by Google to remove it and make it an Android only feature would vilify them.
This illustrates the problem these companies bring upon themselves by following “What’s Hot”. Right now smartphones and tablet devices are hot. It’s a relatively young market with lots of advancements to come. So these manufacturers are trying to make the next big device and cash in on it. Apple owned the music player market long ago so since there is no money to be made there. The competition has all but given up on the market (think Zune). If instead they were to view the music player market as the introduction of a younger audience to the OS of their smartphone and tablet devices. Then making similar products as the iPod Touch, it would also be easier to compete with Apple since the iPod Touch is not their flagship product. Except that it isn’t what’s hot now so they have no interest because they can’t see the bigger picture.
Only time will tell!