Spot the motivation
You’ve heard of sponsored content, where a site publishes an ad that looks like an article. But there’s a whole class of content that’s not paid for, but in which the author is an industry player with a vested interest in spinning the information. Let’s call it spinsored content.
Writing at Re/code, Si Shen wonders “Can Android Conquer the U.S.?” (No link, which will be explained.)
My iPhone- and Mac-wielding friend from the U.S. had been eager to make the jump to Android. She was willing to defect from Apple to join in on the Xiaomi hype, so I purchased a Mi3 for her.
After one week, I nudged her for feedback, and her response shocked me: “I’m going to get the iPhone 6 when it comes out. Android is too complicated.”
Now let me tell you why my friend is all wrong.
Her feedback hints at the core of why Apple’s operating system, despite iOS fatigue setting in …
If you write things on the Internet, they must be true!
… continues to hold its ground in the U.S. while the rest of the world has embraced Android.
Well, except Japan.
Speculation suggests that Apple’s closed ecosystem is slowly losing to Android on the back of Android’s commanding 78.1 percent global market share, according to the IDC.
When you look at the iPhone’s share of global phone sales, you can see how precipitous its decline is.
Wait, that’s not what that graph shows. Huh. Weird.
Of course, Apple isn’t going anywhere. But during Apple’s Q1 2014 earnings call, the Wall Street Journal managed to get Tim Cook to divulge something about Apple’s struggles with the U.S. market. “North America was a challenge. We had no growth,” Cook said.
And why is that? It’s because Apple’s pretty much saturated. The iPhone is on all the major carriers now, and the only room for growth is picking away at Android.
This struggle is an opportunity for Android to run away with the U.S. market.
Uh, no. As Benedict Evans says, Apple reaching saturation is “not an opportunity for Android,” particularly when you factor in the iPhone’s high customer satisfaction. (Sorry, Tim Cook, house style and the Macalope’s gag reflex prevent him from saying “customer sat.”)
For a long time, many have argued that an elitist agenda motivated smartphone users to purchase iOS instead of Android.
An elitist agenda of people wanting the best device with the most robust ecosystem and user experience. That kind of insidious elitism.
IOS has been a premium device, despite its minimalistic features and lack of customizability, which the U.S. has embraced.
Apple products are toys, really. For babies. And hipsters. 40 million babies and hipsters per quarter.
Smartphones are aggressively subsidized in the U.S. by carriers, and iOS is pitted against high-end competitors boasting similar pricing and superior hardware from LG, Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Nokia and others.
For instance, did you Apple dorks know that you can solder a camera onto a phone? Well, it’s true. It’s an abomination of nature, but it’s true.
WHERE IS YOUR IGOD NOW?
Android’s climb into the U.S. market begins
Uh, Android has been in the U.S. market for years. The last few have seen Apple gain market share as it added new carriers.
With the combination of game-changing, albeit customizable, Android mobile devices entering the market …
Stop, stop, ugh, stop. There’s nothing game-changing about any of these devices. Look at the reviews. The Galaxy S5 was met with a resounding “meh.” HTC makes the nicest phones … that nobody buys. The Moto X flopped.
Phones have reached a maturity level that’s marked by incremental improvements. All of them.
… and with technology increasingly intertwined with our lives, a couple of factors in play will contribute to Android’s chance at running away with the U.S. mobile-device market share.
Phew, this is exhausting. But trying to follow the logic of people who are conducting marketing rather than making a rational argument usually is.
Now, with a heightened awareness of the tech behind a smartphone, Android’s customizability will become increasingly attractive to the growing number tech-savvy smartphone users, among which could be ex-iOS users.
Uh-huh. Because if there’s anything we know it’s that people don’t like their iPhones and want to switch wait, nope, that’s not right.
In parallel, while Apple convinced consumers to buy into a brand that happened to be sold at a premium, emerging Android hardware manufacturers from the East, such as Xiaomi, Zoppo, OnePlus and others are managing to replicate the fanaticism Apple’s users once had.
OK, but to be fair to Apple, those brands are from China, a market where Apple has yet to reach full saturation. Here’s Tim Cook from this quarter’s conference call:
We did have an all-time revenue record in Greater China, just under $10 billion at $9.8 billion. iPhone sales were up 28%, that’s versus the IDCs market forecast of 20% growth. So we gained share.
Yes, the brands Shen mentions have done phenomenally well in China. But they haven’t had to compete against the iPhone on an even footing. The Macalope doesn’t expect the iPhone to reach the same market share in China that it has in the U.S. or Japan, but declaring that because these other brands succeeded in China, they’ll succeed in the same way in the U.S. is crazytown bananapants. They may do well, but if so it’ll mostly be at the expense of other Android manufacturers, not Apple.
So, how do we explain Shen’s argument?
Si Shen is the co-founder and CEO of PapayaMobile, a social gaming network with more than 127 million gamers, and the parent company of AppFlood, the largest global mobile RTB network out of China. PapayaMobile is headquartered in Beijing, with offices in London and San Francisco.
While PapayaMobile’s ad network works on iOS as well as Android, it might have a vested interest in Android taking more market share in the U.S. as ad-based apps are more popular on Android. But it definitely has a vested interest in saying wacky, negative things about Apple in order to get traffic to its site and to try to attract Android developers.
Aaaand that’s why there’s no link.