PCs optimize

Apple will eventually lose tablet dominance

The Apple iPad is the single most popular tablet on the market. However, Donovan Colbert believes that a more open tablet ecosystem will rise to the top.

According to a recent post by Jason Hiner, the iPad's success is more about the "i" than the "Pad". He thinks Apple has found a winning formula and dominates the tablet market because the iPad delivers all of the benefits of the Internet in a consumer-friendly package. Users want video conferencing, streaming entertainment, and a decent mobile browsing experience without headaches that require a degree in geekiness.

Jason uses the original iMac as an example of a consumer appliance and less of a traditional PC. At the time, the iMac was the largest selling PC. But there's an important statistic hidden there. The iMac was the best selling PC at the time as a single brand. But even today, all of the Macs in the world combined command less than 6 - 12% of total market share. That's an all-time high for a Macintosh installed base, so we can assume that percentage was lower when the iMac was the best selling PC ever.

I'm not alone in thinking that iOS seems like it's headed for a similar fate. Despite the iPhone being the uncontested single most popular smartphone, Android has closed the gap in a very short time to be -- at worst -- neck-and-neck in total number of shipped units.

Apple may create the most popular and profitable widgets, but this erosion of market has always been the problem with Apple's walled-garden approach. Do you remember ADB or AppleTalk? This model lost with Apple 8 bit vs. original PC, and it lost with Apple Mac vs. modern PC -- so, why would this time be any different?

I recently took part in a video conference with my in-laws. My sister-in-law set the whole thing up on her Mac PowerBook. I'm able to do FaceTime, but to include the broadest number of family members in the conference, she had to use something more flexible -- something that everyone had access to.

FaceTime might be better than the alternatives, but if you've locked out the majority of the world because you've kept it in your walled-garden, you can only use it with others who have the same access. For a group of Apple users, this works fine. Expanded across the entire spectrum of technology platforms, it still means you only have access to a fraction of the user base on FaceTime that you can reach with open, cross-platform solutions. She picked the obvious choice -- the one she uses to talk with her husband who is serving in Afghanistan -- and that's Skype. She was able to set it up, and it worked fine.

This is all a numbers racket. Everyone was so excited about FaceTime, but you don't hear a lot about how it is "revolutionizing" communication. Despite the tremendous number of devices out there running Apple OS platforms, there are still literally millions more running non-Apple platforms. FaceTime is an exclusive country club. Skype is the YMCA. You may have the most prestigious, most luxurious country club in the world that has the largest individual membership -- but you're not going to scratch the surface of the total membership of the Y. This isn't about reducing friction or accessibility or the best delivery. It's a war of attrition by gradual erosion due to overwhelming numbers. At some point, superior firepower doesn't matter.

There are multiple fronts that are assaulting Apple's superior tactical position. Apple is the target. ASUS, HTC, Samsung, and Motorola don't have each other in their sights. They can focus all of their resources on Apple, and they don't have to worry about one another. In fact, they're all using the same weapons dealer, which is Google. Likewise, Apple has to defend against all of these different vendors and manufacturers.

Unless Apple is able to pull out a last minute secret weapon (assuming that the competition has enough resources to stay in it for the long run), they'll eventually lose tablet dominance, the same way that they lost phone dominance. Regardless of who rises to the top -- Android, Windows 8, or even Ubuntu -- we'll eventually see a more open tablet ecosystem.

To be fair, Apple is putting up an impressive fight. Depending on how you define this, Apple is winning as the single most profitable manufacturer. They can stand to lose a lot more ground and retain that title. But ultimately, they're winning the battles and losing the war. If Apple continued to gain massive ground without any setbacks on all fronts, they'd have a shot at really cornering the consumer digital device market in a way that could make their model effective. However, that isn't what seems to be happening. Without that dynamic, I think the writing is on the wall.

Which tablet is truly the best? The answer, of course, is subjective. Apple is no more the "best" than Android, but someone is going to win and become (or retain) the dominant model in this space. Just remember, over the past 35 years of personal technology, the most open platform has always won.

What do you think? Is iOS the next Windows, or does Apple's locked-down model mean someone else will take the crown? Tell us your thoughts in the forum.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

35 comments
Joe Sheehan
Joe Sheehan

Having an iPad v2, we decided to get an Android tablet for our daughter since another $600 was a bit steep. THe $250 Android tablet we got has one tenth as many games available to download as the iPad, relative to her favorites in the iPad, which she still now constantly wants to borrow. The only good thing is that a 7" tablet fits much better in her purse. Loading videos and music is clumsy compared to her 5 year old iPod touch, which does have 90% of her games available ( it's just too small). So I think the best thing to do is buy on eBay a used even iPad v1. So I think it will take quite a while to catch up.

mkottman
mkottman

Nothing lasts forever, so your premise (That Apple will "eventually" lose tablet dominance) is probably correct, although for me to give any points you would need to define a time frame. It doesn't count if it happens in 100 years. I also predict Microsoft will eventually lose desktop dominance, it might take a millenium or two, but it will happen. If we're going to talk dominance, we should define what we mean by that too. Unit sales? Profitability? Technological leadership? User satisfaction scores? So far, I think unit sales is the only one that you have a shot at winning on in the next several years, and even then only when measured as a OS platform. While Android may outsell iOS at some point, it is likely that the iPad will continue dominance over the rest of the table market for quite some time (like that best-selling iMac). In regard to open systems always winning, I guess I missed the turning point when the iPod was no longer the dominant portable music player. Nope, just checked and they are still at 90% market share. I don't want to make the logic mistake of assuming that past events predict future events, but there are MANY parallels between the iPod and the iPad (apart from the similar names). Both were products that entered an established market "late". There were established market leaders that had managed to carve out small niche markets although they had not been able to achieve broad mass-market success. Many analysts predicted the failure of Apple's product prior to the launch. Upon launch, all existing products in the category were suddenly rendered irrelevant and the "competitors" were sent back to the drawing boards to start from scratch. Within the first several years of Apple's product launches, the market was flooded with cheaper products, many with better "specs", and they barely made a dent in Apple's market share. We have now reached that proverbial fork in the road, and the question is if the table market will go the direction of the iPod market or the direction of the iPhone market. I'm predicting the IPod market because of the key difference between the iPod and the iPhone. Limiting the availability of the iPhone to ATT lost Apple a lot of potential customers to Android, particularly on Verizon. Living in an area that does not have ATT service I know that I lot of people got an Android because it was the closest thing to an iPhone that Verizon offered. That gave Android a toehold in the market that they would not have had otherwise. The iPad doesn't suffer from the same problem.

pk de cville
pk de cville

Apple actually notes these guys, but doesn't focus on them. Apple consistently focuses on delivering the best customer/product experience, bar none. When do you think these guys will have the patience, diligence and brilliance to focus on the customer? This is Android's Achilles' Heel; it's why Google bought Motorola. (Remember Google has no revenue to lose when the Android bunch turn to Windows and they will.) Microsoft, with its PC experience, will bring discipline and unity to their tablets. The Win tablets to come, along with Googorola, will begin to take ground this Xmas, but Apple may have the Joker to play with its TV solution. Things will get interesting, but remember this: Apple is all about the product, the experience, the content access, the ecosystem, beneficial standards (WebKit, ThunderBolt, HTML5), the supply chain (lower costs, exclusive access to the latest tech (Retina tablets - when?)). Apple delivers a plethora of solutions within an environment where the customer is king. When's the competition to THAT going to show up? 2014 might be too late.

GeoffMichael
GeoffMichael

And how many different brands of hardware does Android have? And how close is just one brand of Android hardware shipments to the iPhone shipments? Get a life dude.

danfleming
danfleming

Here's a little side comment. I've found Google's group video conference to be less sketchy than Skype; less prone to the video freezing etc.

Nathan.L.Brenner
Nathan.L.Brenner

But the only way Apple is going to win is to open up the IOS to other device manufactures. I agree some of the things I'm seeing from Ubuntu and Win8 have me very interested and I may for the first time in my life be an early adaptor. Since Apple has flourished on the early adaptors out there this may come back and haunt them.

anjali189
anjali189

The tablet market is very dissimilar than the phone market where contracts and carriers contain a larger impact on device purchases. Apple had the hope that with the help of HTML5 they will rule on the tablet world but unfortunately it won???t happened. Samsung is rapidly growing in this war and you truly said might be Apple will be the next Windows.

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

Sure, there is no doubt that Android has its fan base and it is growing day by day, possibly with the result of overthrowing Apple from its lofty throne. However, that being said, Android leaves a good bit to be desired in the consistency department. The user experience varies wildly from Android device to device in terms of performance, look and feel (i.e. SenseUI vs. generic stock UI), and even different installed Android versions. I am secretly rooting for Open webOS to really take off in its own way as a viable alternative to Android an iOS. Sure, you could say that Palm, and then later HP, blew their chance at the market. But unlike Samsung Bada or Nokia MeeGo / Maemo, webOS seems to have the most cutting edge and it has a rabid fan base like no other. Seriously, Android and iOS can't hold a candle to webOS in the UX design department. Now to get Open webOS on some actual good hardware when the software gets released. Hmmm...

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

You said "over the past 35 years of personal technology, the most open platform has always won" -- can you support that with examples? I would think the desktop OS market at least would make you have to soften the word "always" ... and RTOS? MPEG4? Oracle/SQL Server vs. other databases?

phil_simon
phil_simon

Well, 'eventually' is a long ways away. I'm not sure if truly open platforms will wind up dominating. It's a fascinating subject. Is Apple too closed? Google too open? Where do you draw the line? I don't have the answers to these questions, but they are fascinating ones. Phil www.theageoftheplatform.com

ppyo
ppyo

I agree with Donovan. Your walled garden can grow only as you are able to appeal to everybody. That is the case with iOS devices now, but at one point, the "envy" factor is trumped by things like the price factor or the "closedness" factor. I also agree on the fact that iOS is more polished than Android, but only so much. Android is making great strides in that aspect, and I don't see Apple opening the gates of the walled garden, ever. So that will even things up, eventually. Unless, of course, Apple comes up with a total game changer in the future. Yet I see Apple's innovative streak fizzling out. Did that die with Steve Jobs? Other manufacturers are coming up with exciting products (ASUS Padfone, for example?), and you know that many minds can come up with more neat stuff than one mind only. Time will tell.

dominoscr
dominoscr

As things stand now Apple has a good future. Will they be n??mero uno? Who cares! Android is great and so is iOS. Windows 8 is looking good too for tablets. Thought now Apple's lead is in more than just install base. It is in a quality OS platform that works well. Android has a lot of drawbacks in the fractured nature of it's distribution. That is a big drawback! As long as Apple continues to allow third party development to thrive they will be fine. Hopefully as many of the tools we use as possible will become available accross platforms over time. When that happens it will become a question of who can produce the best hardware. Apple doesn't slack in that category, but cost will be a big factor and that is where things are going to get interesting.

dcolbert
dcolbert

$600 *is* a bit steep for an iPad for a kid. But did you really expect a sub $300 Android tablet to deliver the experience of a $600 device? In retrospect, was that expectation realistic? If it sounds too good to be true... I'll admit that for leisure child, tween and teen entertainment, Apple has a better library of apps than Android. It is one of the last remaining niches where this is the case. I hear iPad has better apps for musicians, too. It isn't really the Android demographic at this point. You've got me there. It is kind of like how the Wii is a better choice for a casual gamer than the Xbox 360, which has an emphasis on dramatic, more mature titles. By the way, if you're looking for those latter kind of titles on Android - they've got a bunch of them... matching the iOS selection for similar titles nicely. Dead Space on a powerful Tegra processor equipped Android tablet is *stunning*. Personally, I wouldn't buy an Android tablet for my tween daughter. But if I had a teen son, I'd buy him a reasonable Android tablet like the ASUS TF300 which has iPad v2 matching specs and performance at a $399 price tag. You would get a much more fair comparison between those two devices. Of course, your teen is going to feel like a second class citizen among his or her peers if they get an Android device instead of an iOS device, unless the kid is already a propeller-head. But that isn't about performance at all. That is about the perception that if it isn't Hollister, you're killing their social status. Which is still important to confront. Whatever platform becomes a viable contender against Apple, they have to face that perceptual challenge. In less than 10 years iOS caught up with the Nintendo gameboy among this child demographic. In the same time frame, Wii surpassed the PlayStation as the dominant console gaming platform, then XBox 360 surged against them both. Saying "I think it will take quite a while to catch up" is kind of like saying, "Why would a computer ever need more than 640k of RAM". The one thing the last 30 years should have taught us is that no one is safe from rapid changing, no matter how strong their position seems at the moment. Just ask Atari, or Commodore.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think we could argue the fine details endlessly. But I think you've stumbled onto something here. Calling the iPod dominant is like calling the Sony Walkman dominant. I don't know if that is the case - and I've looked for numbers, and they're hard to come by in this segment. Anecdotal evidence and critical reason indicates this is a misconception, though. I talked about your response to a friend. He works out a lot. He pointed out that if he goes into the gym, there may be 10 people with music players. 4 of them may have iPods or iPhones. The remaining 6 have competitive devices to play back their music. He says this is a consistent observation at every gym he goes to. My experience is similar. I know the people who own iPods in my office. They come to me when they need a sync cable or a charge, and I go to them. I hardly notice everyone else, because there is little reason for me to care - but when I think about it, the "everyone else" is a much larger group than those of us who own iPods. This goes a long way toward illustrating my point. In the war of attrition for portable music players - iPod probably isn't dominant. Everything ELSE is. iPod as a single music player may have the comfortable majority of the market segment - but when you look at the entire market, everything ELSE is the *majority* of the market. He pointed out that on car stereos a non-iPod aux-in jack will often be labeled "iPod" now - but that isn't really the case. It is a standard aux-in jack. Like calling any portable cassette player a "Walkman", even if it was a Panasonic - iPod has become a generic term to a certain extent. Which is a certain sign of the success of iPod - that it has sometimes crossed into being a generic term for a portable music player. But it doesn't imply absolute market dominance. He also pointed out that this is going to a typical "gym" - my YMCA example above. Head to an exclusive Country Club, and your observations may be different. But the reasoning behind this all remains the same. It all remains constant. When you've got dozens of manufacturers putting out music players that are all very similar, they compete mostly on price and being "open". Apple doesn't compete on this. I'm sure the other personal media players all operate on smaller margins than Apple does, and I'm sure the iTunes music store has the most sales. But.... Like any other consumer, I'm not going to pay $9.99 for an album on iTunes if Amazon or Google are selling it for half that price - and that happens, a lot. If it happens a lot for me, a lot of other people are catching on to this, too - and more will too. Beyond that, Amazon and Google don't require me to have an iPod. They don't care if I *do* have an iPod, but they also don't care if I have an Android, or a dumb-phone, or any OTHER device. iTunes can be used in this manner, but it is more difficult by degrees. For the majority of AVERAGE consumers, I think they're looking at a number of things: What is the most convenient. What is the cheapest. What is the most flexible. What is the most competitive. And I think MOST people are saying that Apple is pretty darned convenient, if you're willing to give up the other 3 points, and they're deciding to use alternative devices as their media players. Companies like Archos and Coby wouldn't remain viable in competing in this market if that weren't the case. Cheap 8GB iPod Nano MP3 player knockoffs are another example at the *very* low end, where consumers go, "this looks just like the Apple and is only $19.99" and basically it does the exact same thing I could be spending $149 for. It plays my digital *music*. The whole argument that media players are a dying segment exists because many users have replaced PMP devices with their smart-phones. We already know the majority of those are Android devices and a scattering of other brands, taking more than 50% of the market. Everything left over in that segment is iPhone. http://9to5mac.com/2012/02/02/comscore-iphone-now-at-30-us-smartphone-marketshare-12-ios-marketshare/ So, if these two facts are true (PMPs are dying because of phones, and iPhone only has 30% of the total share) - then iPod isn't actually the dominant force you paint it out to be. Apple LOST that market - through attrition, to the same market forces I describe in the article above. Imagine a world where only Victorola record players were available, and you had to buy your records at a Victorola store. Imagine a world where only RCA television sets were made, and you could only watch content from an RCA store. Imagine a world where only Ford made cars, and you had to buy your gas from a Ford store and drive on a Ford road. This model is unsustainable. The erosion into more open platforms is inevitable. As fast as this market segment is evolving, it will come sooner rather than later. It is already happening all around us, and we just don't see it for what it is. Your iPod dominance example doesn't HURT my case. It supports it.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Is the point flying right over your head.

mkottman
mkottman

Opening iOS would only help them win in terms of unit sales of iOS. The status quo allows them to win on hardware units shipped (vs. any other single vendor), and most importantly profitability, which anyone in business will tell you is really the only important win. The PC business has seen many "winners" go out of business because they weren't winning where it counts.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Apple's past experiences into letting go of hardware control have been absolute failures - and I think a lasting cultural legacy of Steve Jobs at Apple will be a long-term desire not to repeat that mistake. Apple hangs their hat on system reliability. They achieve this in part by having a limited hardware and component supply chain that means that their platforms do not have to cater to a wide variety of different designs. It isn't so much that they use higher *quality* components - as many Apple pundits like to claim. In fact it seems that they realized a long time ago that the only components where higher quality really matters are those where the user interfaces and experiences the machine through. Brushed aluminum single piece cases, high quality, high density, high gloss LCD displays, keyboards, mice and other I/O. This is the *user* experience, and where other vendors and manufacturers cut corners here Apple spares no expense (and passes those costs on to the consumer). Lenovo and Sony seem to get this, too. But inside, Apple tries to keep the component vendors to a minimum - and if you've been inside a Mac you know that you'll see the same commodity parts there that you will see in any other PC - and they're not always the "flagship" components. I guess memory is another place where Apple doesn't generally skimp. But at any particular time, you'll find that they reuse the same components throughout a line of product. But when they opened up Mac Classic to clone makers - for a number of reasons, it was a disaster. One of those was that the clone makers started throwing lots of different components together to cut costs. "This will work as well as what they're using in a Quadra". Only it didn't. Mac clones hurt OS Classic perception overall. The same thing that affects PCs began to affect Macs. Quality control between a budget "DIY" Mac clone and a genuine Apple Mac was huge - but users only saw that "Macs" weren't delivering the quality and stability they were known for. Now, with that experience under their belt - and iOS devices probably the most highly regarded personal electronic devices on the market in terms of quality, performance and stability - what are the odds that Apple would open iOS up to run on devices that they don't control directly? It is fairly easy to get OS X running on a generic PC - and Apple could easily do this and create a huge additional revenue source by selling a PC compatible OS X for PC. They've never made a single step in this direction here. I don't see it happening with their mobile OS, either. Like I said in the article, Apple can lose MOST of their sheer dominance in tablet raw numbers and still have the single best selling and most profitable tablet on the market. All things considered, there is little reason for them to change their approach. But I think it is likely that tablets that ANY manufacturer can make that are NOT iOS based and allow more user freedom will eventually become the typical tablet. More flexibility in features, models, cost, size, processor, memory, ports, and application - supported by dozens of manufacturers. Everyone WANTS a Maserati. Most people buy a Ford or Chevy or Toyota or Honda. Right now we're at the point where there are only a few choices in a new technology and they're all expensive. The car analogy, the earliest cars, only the really wealthy could afford a car - and there was a very limited number of choices. We're at the same place with tablets now. PCs were that way once. In the early days, there is huge differentiation. An Atari 800 and a C-64 had some significant differences from an Apple IIe or a TI-994A. By the 16 bit era, features were getting more similar. By the 32 bit era, the PC architecture had become the Model-T of personal computing - and a Hewlett Packard or a Compaq or a Packard Bell or a Sony... they all started to be built the same and look the same and do the same basic things. Product maturity. That may be the best argument so far. Someone comes up with a widget, and they get a head start, and they'll always be in the game - but when the idea truly becomes a commodity... what are the major differences between the mid-sized 4 door passenger cars on the market today? They all look the same, have the same basic features, and are about the same price and they all operate the same. There aren't many industries where you can't see this pattern take place unless the product remains a relatively niche product with a narrow appeal. I'm betting we see this cycle take place far more rapidly with personal digital devices like tablets than it took with PCs, because the technology itself is already pretty mature. It is the concept that we're working out, at the moment as a society. Moore's law doesn't drive PC sales much anymore - but I think we're going to see 18 month cycles in tablets (and smart-phones) for the next few years.

Xennex1170
Xennex1170

The only problem I see with all the arguments about fragmentation is not many people will be using multiple Android devices that have vastly different experience. Most will only have to deal with the Android on their smartphone and tablet. With all the hubbub it makes it sound as if everyone has to deal with multiple Android devices and thus cause themselves endless confusion. We've all dealt with our PCs not having the minimum requirements for some DOS/Windows software. Even iOS, with each new upgrade leaves more devices behind with a truncated set of the 'new' features and improvements simply because the hardware is not sufficient to make it worth implementing. Apple users should know better by now since they tend to upgrade quite often. Or does the upgrading blind them to the fact that there are still users of the 2nd generation iPhone that don't enjoy all the 'new' features?

mkottman
mkottman

I had a Pre Plus, and now iPhone. While there is no argument that the iPhone is better than the Pre Plus in total, I do still miss some of the features of webOS. If you could get webOS to run on the iPhone and (importantly) all the iOS apps would still work, that would be awesome! I know, that's a total fantasy land, but still...

phil_simon
phil_simon

Apple is winning now and it's hardly the most open platform. Were SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle platforms truly open?

dcolbert
dcolbert

I see your point, and I should clarify. My example is in mainstream consumer and professional electronics hardware and the standards that they ride on. The IBM PC is ubiquitous because IBM lost control of their IP back with the standard ISA bus design on the IBM PC 5150 and XT - and everything that everyone has built since then is built off that reference. When IBM tried to right that mistake, with the introduction of the PS-2 and MicroChannel - it failed. Apple never got much traction with their various designs. NuBus and Motorola and PowerPC. When you compare the current situation - anyone can take off the shelf parts and make an Android tablet - in fact, right now, they ALL end up looking more or less the same - although we're seeing different tiers evolving. This ties into Jason's example with the iMac. It was the best selling PC of ALL time - yet it was probably 1 or 2% of global PC sales that year. Even if it accounted for all 6% of installed Macs at the time, that means the bulk of the rest of the sales were Intel Architecture compatible PCs. Not one single PC model among the remaining 94% sold more than the iMac. Does that make the iMac a success.... well... yeah. Those numbers are HUGE. But they're a drop in the bucket of total PC sales. When we look at other technologies that have met indifference - we see proprietary limits versus mass, open accessibility making the difference. The USB standard isn't OPEN, but it was adopted by the open PC manufacturers when Apple went with Firewire. Which reached critical mass? I mean, all of our phones have mini-1394 connectors, right? Look at how quickly Bluray replaced DVD and let's not mention how the public resoundingly rejected inferior VHS for superior Beta. I think you get my point. I could tick off dozens of technologies, standards, or platforms that had a single closed proprietary standard versus a more open one where even if the closed proprietary standard was superior, it failed. Oddly enough, a lot of those examples would focus on Sony and Apple. Windows IS more open than Mac OS. You've always been able to install Windows on whatever barebones box you want. I'm not talking *nix/FOSS ideals of "open" here. I'm talking about a company that may own and license the technology, but that does so fairly freely, without lots of restrictions, without oppressive costs. A philosophy of embracing widespread adoption compared to a philosophy of keeping that garden walled. So yeah, "always" was a little bit strong of a word for me to use - but I hope this clarifies where I am coming from on this.

Skruis
Skruis

I think being a market leader with a definied "style" is both a bad and a good thing for Apple. It's pretty dang easy to recognize iOS but now that iOS can be considered a, not necessarily THE, standard, it might be tough for Apple to really innovate since they're now boxed into the iOS style. I know that iOS appeals to a lot of users and this isn't to say that iOS isn't a good OS, it's just that it's established and from all the complaining we've seen with Microsoft introducing Metro on Windows 8, we certainly know that major GUI changes cause a lot of problems. Microsoft not having a dominant mobile OS was able to redefine their mobile experience in a way that might be difficult for Apple now.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Except I think that fracturing has been over-hyped. The Intel architecture PC is the most fractured device in the history of computing. You have legacy support that theoretically means that an 8 bit PC XT can run anything that an i7 can - and even today hardware platforms are hugely diverse. Desktops, Servers, Workstations, business and consumer grade PCs, laptops, netbooks - all running IA and with a variety of different form factors, i/o methods, display ratios. Two things happened there. Consumers generally accepted that some hardware just can't really run every app and that if there is an app they want to run they need to have the hardware power to do it. And they realized that they didn't always need the most powerful machine they could get their hands on to do what they needed. Apple's tablet model is a "one size fits all" approach. Android says, "everything from a Coby Kyros for around $100 to a Samsung 7.7 that is all top-shelf components and price is available - you decide what you need". Lots of consumers (and several journalists) have said, "this Kindle Fire thing does pretty much all the things I'm after from a device like this". And honestly, for the majority of what I use a tablet for, an iPad or my ASUS Transformer is overkill. Samsung seems to be doing some interesting things as a major manufacturer with coming out with tiers of tablets. The idea seems to be that you come out with ONE tablet and it alone competes with the one tablet that matters. I've argued elsewhere that if we see a smaller sized iPad arrive - it shows that Apple understands that the variety of options from Android - that "fracturing" - is something they're going to have to face. Apple doesn't want to do this because it complicates *their* model and design. Now they've got different form factors and another level of apps (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and iPad 7"). That leads to the kind of problems that Android and Android users (and developers) already face. Fracturing is just another word for *choices*. It gets thrown around like it is a bad thing. I disagree. You can buy a $99 pre-paid Android Smart Phone at Rite-Aid because Android can compete on fracturing. It isn't a GOOD Android Smart Phone... but you can do it.

mkottman
mkottman

was that open systems win out over closed systems. If consumers are willing to pay the price ($600 vs $250) for the superior system, then the closed system will win and will continue to win until market forces changes. Certainly, as you wrap up, no one is safe from rapid market changes, but that is true whether you are open or closed. Currently closed systems are winning, which at the moment could be said as Apple is winning. Interestingly they have disrupted markets that could be described as much more open; MP3 players, cell phones, tablets, and slowly gaining ground in computers. I don't think there is much evidence to support the premise that every market will migrate toward open solutions over time, that's just wishful thinking.

mkottman
mkottman

Granted it's $ sales not unit sales, but this from Wired coverage of Apple's quarterly results, "...iPod still accounts for more than 70% of the MP3 player market..." Domination, defined.

mkottman
mkottman

I must say that I'm blown away by the effort you made to respond! I certainly didn't expect as much. Now down to business... I'll admit that I haven't checked iPod numbers lately, or if anyone even tracks market share for those things anymore. Could be that their share has slipped, however as I recall Apple was still selling mega-millions of iPods. It does blur the picture some to have the iPod Touch, which is an iPod but also an iOS device. Anyway, this does speak to one of my points, which is that it is important to define how you are going to measure dominance. I contend that the iPod still dominates the music player market in every way except unit sales (assuming that you are correct about the 40% share). Almost assuredly the iPod would still lead in $ sales if they have 40% of unit sales. They certainly still dominate the technology, since everyone else is a copy of one of the iPods. I think that we can all agree that Apple has made more profit on the iPod ecosystem than all other competitors combined. I'm fairly comfortable in guessing that they also lead in customer satisfaction (if it's measured for music players), just like they do for phones and computers. So, if your argument is that they don't dominate the music player market any more based on unit sales I will concede that argument, despite it being based on anecdotal information rather than cold hard fact. I'm not as convinced that this supports the case that a closed model is unsustainable. Instead, I think it argues the point that any model is unsustainable in the long term. Eventually it will be replaced by a "different" model, which may be open or closed. Examples; as mentioned iPods replaced by phones (initially closed, now a mix), netbooks replaced by tablets (pretty much entirely closed so far, could change), landlines replaced by cell phones, CRT's replaced by flat screens, etc. It's called the product cycle; growth, maturity, and decline.

pk de cville
pk de cville

"Apple respects and values their customer like no other company..." Definitely an exception here, but what do you think their 150M customers think? I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten exemplary service. You have several exceptions I'm sure, perhaps scores! OTOH, if you check the widely sourced service polls, Apple's always tops for all the right reasons.

dcolbert
dcolbert

This goes along with the "Stay Weird, Android" article that Gizmodo ran recently. Basically, if you're not the lead dog and the gap is wide enough, you can be really innovative, really embrace risk-taking - because it isn't like you're going to lose your spot at the back of the pack if it isn't a hit. Apple is mature this time around - Android is fairly well established, but still can make some pretty radical changes - Microsoft has a lot of freedom to experiment that they haven't had in decades.

dcolbert
dcolbert

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/04/25/would-you-pay-100-more-for-an-iphone/ The numbers are tough... but a 25% fall in earnings on iPods doesn't indicate that the music player market is going AWAY - it indicates that the music player market is being absorbed somewhere else. I don't think that 25% is being picked up by iPhones and iPads *alone*. That means it is going somewhere else - and I don't think the analyst numbers we can find at the moment are accounting for that. If there is a 25% fall in revenue, we can assume there has been a fall in sales (although their profit margins COULD be getting squeezed somehow, too, but I doubt that is it) - that would indicate that these older "70% of market share" numbers aren't accurate anymore. I suppose it COULD mean that Apple is still above 50% of market domination in music players. I'm willing to concede that much. But the direction I'm seeing here isn't further sustained UPWARD motion in market share in this segment. This reflects a slow, inevitable erosion, by attrition, to devices that offer music players as commodity features. I'm glad Apple had so much success with the iPod and redefined how we purchase and consume our music. Apple made the RIAA wake up and realize that they have to listen to consumer demand. But can they maintain their singular grip on this industry? As it is emerging, sure. Once it matures, I think it is very unlikely. This is more about economics and history than it is about technology or if Apple is an awesomely innovative company or not. Which is why I went out of my way not to paint this as an Apple vs. Android argument or an Apple vs. Microsoft argument. It isn't. It is an "Apple vs. the market tendency to drive products to commodity scale" argument.

mkottman
mkottman

Umm... "Profitability? Technological leadership? User satisfaction scores?" The iPod has defined the category ever since it's introduction. How about all of the above; 70% market share, every PMP looks like an iPod, Apple's customer satisfaction scores always lead the pack, and they likely make more profit on the iPod than the entire category combined. Domination (even in a declining product category) defined.

Xennex1170
Xennex1170

Umm.. Besides individual device sales, what else CAN it dominate in? If you talking music sales, that's a function of iTunes not the iPod. Battery life maybe or levels of volume? Can you make a small list of what exactly you think the iPod currently dominates in within the PMP market.. Just really curious.. Don't quite see anything there.

mkottman
mkottman

Probably closer to 150% profit share because studies show that nearly always the bottom players in any market are losing money, therefore Apple's profit is likely much greater than the profit for the industry as a whole.

pk de cville
pk de cville

iPod dominates >PMP< market with over 70% mktshare. Profitshare must be over 95%.