The Macalope Daily: Just because

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The Macalope is here with dire news, dear readers. It has to do with a little metric called “market share.” It appears (are you sitting?) that iOS has a lower smartphone market share than its oft-janky competition.

Yes, here we are again. This time it’s Dan Frommer making the case about “Why Apple’s iPhone market share actually matters”.

That’s the title of the post. Remember that because it’ll become pertinent by the end.

Frommer is probably the smartest guy to make this argument to date, although he did write for Business Insider, so he can’t be that smart. Thankfully he lays off the “IT’S WINDOWS AND THE MAC ALL OVER AGAIN” analogy, but he’s still making the same point.

It’s about building the dominant mobile platform for the next several decades.

Why is this that important?

He does. Not. Say. Literally. Nowhere.

Isn’t that odd? The Macalope thinks it’s very odd. The title suggested we would learn why market share was important, but all Frommer tells us is that present market share leads to future market share.

The reason the horny one imagines Frommer doesn’t really say why market share is important is because he’d have to say something about profits. And any dire warnings about profits would be ludicrous because Apple’s profit share is over 50 percent and growing. Google, meanwhile, has more than twice the market share of the iPhone, yet it makes two-thirds of its mobile search money from iOS-based devices.

This is not the domination you’re looking for.

And a big part of that is getting that platform into as many hands as possible, teaching the world how to use it, and building an addictive experience around it that people can’t easily switch away from.

Except switching isn’t really that hard anymore. Certainly not as hard as it was with personal computers back in the 1990s. PCs were thousands of dollars and applications often hundreds. Now phones are often free and apps usually cost no more than a few dollars (apparently it was that “-lication” suffix that made them so expensive—who knew?). While video is still mired in DRM, almost everyone sells music in open formats now. Platform lock-in simply isn’t as big a factor it used to be, which seems to indicate that we’ll continue to have a mixed platform environment for the foreseeable future as people switch when they feel like it.

Except for iPhone users, of course, whose customer loyalty is 12 points higher than the next highest smartphone manufacturer.

Frommer at least notes that this race is “nowhere close to being decided” but, again, it’s more complicated than he makes it out to be.

Frommer mentions profit in an offhand matter—yes, pedantic Apple nerds, I know Apple has 52 percent of the profit, ugh, let it go already we’re talking about platform lock-in and blah blah blah. But, you know, profit is the name of the game. That’s it. Capitalism 101. This isn’t some side metric. It’s the metric.

Frommer offers a list of things Apple could do to drive market share, some of which are good, some bad.

…experiment with larger screen sizes…

Uh, no. Apple is not Samsung.

Consider sacrificing margins a bit to drive further sales. Billions more in the bank won’t help if Google really does get its act together and pull away.

Uh, actually it will. You can buy a lot of beer and donuts with a billion dollars. You can’t buy jack with market share.

OK, we’re about four-fifths of the way through the piece about how market share matters, so it’s time for the ass-saving pivot!

Now: There is also a good chance that there just won’t be a single, dominant mobile platform for the next several decades—that there will always be two or three companies vying for the position, but never a clear “Windows”-like leader.

Perhaps this market share stuff really doesn’t matter that much, and won’t.

Dan. Dan. Daaaaan. What was the title of your post again, Dan? Read the title and then read that sentence. Daaaaan.


[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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