The problem factory: Where Apple problems get manufactured


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We’re close to the end of yet another year, but take heart! Some silly pundits made progress this year! Take Business Insider’s Jay Yarow, for example, who no longer believes market share is a problem for Apple. No, he just believes the perception of market share is a problem for Apple. OK, it’s pretty minimal progress but still...

“Apple Executives Apparently Think The Data Used To Measure Smartphone Market Share Is Garbage” (indirect link and a tip o’ the antlers to Steve Boothe)

Actually, what Apple says is “off the mark,” but you can’t write a Business Insider headline without BLAZZLEFROZZLE.

Since Apple started selling the iPhone, things have been pretty great for the company.

Actually, things have been pretty great since they started selling the iPod back in 2001. But go ahead, caller.

But there’s been one small nagging data point that’s not so great for Apple...

The nit-witted nay-sayer index?

...smartphone market share.

Oh, well, the Macalope was directionally correct. Because that’s the only group that obsesses over market share.

Market share doesn’t matter, for the most part.

At least Yarow has come to accept this fact, after years of reality intervention therapy. His boss, Henry Blodget, however, not so much. Blodget still believes that any day now, like crabs migrating across an island, driven by a complicated biological imperative, developers will summarily throw out Xcode and suddenly start coding in Java. Because to Blodget, market share means money. Only in this case it actually doesn’t mean money so they’d really just be doing it out of mass insanity.

As a result, developers have not bailed. They’ve done the opposite. They’re building for iOS first, and Android second, despite the market share disparity.


Still! I work at Business Insider and Apple doom is our business model so... here we are.

Pity Yarow who, despite knowing that market share is meaningless, has to come up with increasingly convoluted arguments for why it matters. The Macalope’s had crazy bosses before, who insisted things were one way despite all evidence to the contrary, so he can sympathize.

“Hey, Macalope. This thing that’s more expensive? We need a presentation showing that it’s actually cheaper.”


“By 9:00 AM tomorrow.”

Aaaand that’s why he does this now. And has that twitch.

But did you know you can just create problems for people by talking about them? It’s true. In Business Insider world, anyway.

This market share thing remains a thorn in Apple’s side.


People just don’t think the iPhone business can continue to succeed if its market share remains stalled.

People! They think this! It is a thing that people think! Who are these “people” of whom Yarow speaks? Well, his boss, mostly. But is his boss really “people”? There’s actually some evidence he’s a form of jerky-based lifeform. Some of it turkey, some of it teriyaki, but all of it jerky.

They view it as a long-term threat, despite Apple’s continued iPhone sales growth.

So very many indefinite pronouns believe this about Apple.

Having established this “fact,” Yarow will now helpfully find a solution for Apple as if the problem were actually market share and not his employment situation.

It seems like the only way for Apple to fix this market share “problem” is to lower prices to sell more phones...

“You don’t have a zombie virus working your way up your arm, but some people think you do, so we should cut your arm off to solve the ‘problem.’”

Now, who exactly has the “problem”? Is it Apple, or is it the serial jerky meats like Yarow’s boss who don’t understand market dynamics? Presumably educating Henry Blodget is off the table.

Buried in a Walt Mossberg column on Apple and Google is this tiny nugget, with our emphasis added: “In my conversations with Apple executives, they vehemently insist that market share isn’t—and won’t be—their goal, and even go so far as to say that most public market-share numbers are somehow off the mark, though they decline to explain how.”

Yarow notes that Apple’s the only company that regularly reports its smartphone sales. Market share numbers, therefore, have to be based on estimates of shipments of its competitors’ phones, which often go unsold (cough—Samsung—cough). Also, if we’re talking about what developers might be more interested in, installed base is probably more important and Apple’s devices retain their value longer.

The best thing for Apple to do, though, is to keep doing what it’s been doing.

It turns out what’s most important for Business Insider is writing a piece about an Apple problem. Even if that problem is one they made up.

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