The Macalope Daily: Picking cherries

The Register’s Matt Asay must really love cherries, because he sure does pick a lot of them.

Google’s Moto move spells iPhone doom

DOOOOOOM!

Apple, the company that prides itself on building beautiful things, is partly to blame. They’ve now built a beautiful patent mess, one that may have been merely designed to stop Android, but which but mostly just makes mobile computing an unpleasant business in which to compete.

Or, Samsung and others have actually violated some of Apple’s patents.

However much some observers may want to explain away Android’s success by claiming that its tablet momentum is a mere matter of shipments and not real adoption, the reality is a bit different. Or, rather, it soon will be.

Tablet momentum? Android has tablet momentum? Did he really type that?

Dude, what fight are you watching?

Consider that Android has already displaced iOS at the top of the smartphone heap, according to Gartner and a number of other analysts.

By some estimates, Google now activates 650,000 Android devices each day. That’s pretty incredible.

Yes, it is. And, by other estimates, up to 260,000 of those devices are returned and just 46,800 of those not returned are used on the Internet! Of course, those numbers may be exaggerated, just like the activations number might be exaggerated.

Those that rightly point out that Apple still dominates mobile profits completely miss the point. Actually, several.

Uh-huh. Because, as we know, companies run on market share, not profit.

Wha-huh?

Asay then notes that it doesn’t matter how much Android OEMs make, because Google makes its money in a different way: through ads. Which apparently negates the massive profits Apple’s making. Or something.

In fact, while Apple is the single largest recipient of mobile-advertising money among the smartphone manufactures, as a group Android OEMs dominate the category.

Uh, yes, but whose growth is higher? Follow the link and you’ll see that Apple almost tripled its share of ad impressions—from 11 percent to 31 percent—from March of 2009 to June of 2011. Of Android OEMs, only HTC increased its share, going from 5 percent to 10 percent.

Second, it’s critical to remember who buys Android devices versus iOS devices: kids buy Android (“It’s cheap!”) while adults largely buy iOS (“Pricey, but it makes me cool with the other soccer dads!”). Guess which group will be buying devices long into the future?

Android owns the future global mobile buyer.

It’s really “critical” that you remember things that Asay just pulled from someplace you really shouldn’t be pulling things from. You’ll note that in this instance he conveniently doesn’t provide a link to anything validating that assertion. Although the Macalope has seen some surveys that say iOS users tend to be older than Android users, what Asay doesn’t want you to know is that iPhone owners are way more loyal to the platform than Android owners are. He also—oddly, weirdly, strangely, completely bizarrely—doesn’t want you to know that half of Android users would rather own iPhones. Curious, isn’t it? It’s almost like he’s deliberately only showing you things that help prove his point.

But not yet, of course, the current tablet buyer. That’s still an Apple iPad market, as The Wall Street Journal reports, and for good reason. Apple basically created the market and has the best product at a price that remains very competitive with its would-be competition.

For now.

Ah, so early Android adopters will only buy Android devices later, but early iPad buyers are somehow still up for grabs. Got it. Good things only happen to Android, bad things only happen to iOS-based devices.

Gosh, you’d think Apple would have looked into that before making iOS, wouldn’t you? Consulted some seers or druids or something. What terrible luck.

Or, here’s a ridiculous thought: Android phone owners would rather have an iPhone but can’t because of the price and, when they get older, they’ll drop Android like a hot potato struggling to play a Flash video. As for Android tablet owners, well, there aren’t any.

Guess what?

You’re high on mescaline?

I’m betting that discounts will move competing Android tablets, just as they have moved Android smartphones.

Oh. You’re sure you’re not high on mescaline? Because the Macalope thinks that would explain more.

Apple’s Steve Jobs can declare victory all he wants at Apple love-ins, but the reality is that Apple has serious cause for alarm: cheap Android is going to eat its high-end lunch in tablets just as in smartphones, unless it can litigate away the threat.

Any day now! Just you wait!

The other thing Asay—conveniently—doesn’t talk about here is the role carriers play in making Android phones cheap. Carriers are eager to get Android phones in users’ hands, so they can lock them into contracts. The same doesn’t apply to tablets, which is one of the reasons they’re not as cheap—OEMs aren’t getting the carriers’ help.

Which brings us back to patents, the last refuge of scoundrels and mobile competitors.

Or, sometimes, people who actually invent and make cool things.

No, this deal wasn’t about building an integrated, Apple-like experience for Android-based tablet and smartphone users. It was about stopping the Apple-like patent madness that is the only real threat to Android’s mobile dominance, and that could have cost Google $2 billion each year.

See, here we are again. That $2 billion estimate is the high end of what Google might make off Android devices in 2012, assuming a) current growth, b) that returns aren’t at 40 percent, and c) that people actually end up using the darn things on the Internet (because that’s the only real way Google makes money off of them).

$2 billion a year in revenue.

Google just spent six times that in profit to acquire a collection of patents that were already under attack by Microsoft and Apple, a fact that leads Florian Mueller, an honest-to-gosh patent expert, to the opposite conclusion of the one that Asay is touting.

It would be a mistake to look at this as just (or primarily) a patent deal.

Time will tell who’s right, but for now let’s just say accounts of the iPhone’s impending doom have been greatly exaggerated.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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