We've all read the claim that Apple will repeat history and lose their iPhone/iPad dominance the same way Mac OS lost the desktop. Initially I dismissed such claims on the grounds that Android devices and the iPhone earned their market share rather than being handed it by a large install base of IBM clones, but it turns out…
Repeating itself, repeating itself
We know Android devices are being activated by the truckload:
Eric Schmidt has just announced that Android has reached 350,000 activations each day. After doing some dirty and quick math, that comes out to about 10 million per month. And in a year? 127,750,000. That number is huge, isn’t it?
Yet Apple's profit share on handsets continues to rise:
Apple’s share of profits raked in by the world’s top publicly-traded mobile phone vendors rose once again this quarter, as asymco’s Horace Dediu notes in the latest edition of his quarterly tracking reports. According to Dediu’s calculations, Apple’s share of profits among the eight companies tracked rose to 66%, up from 57% last quarter.
How could these two things be true at the same time? One word: volume.
As was played out on the desktop, Android (playing the role of Windows in History 2.0) is becoming the race-to-the-bottom stuff, iOS (playing the roll of Mac OS) takes the profitable top, and everyone else from webOS to MeeGo squabbles over what's left over (the year of the Linux desktop!).
So history is repeating itself. Repeating itself. Repeating itself!
I'd argue though there are two small differences. On a personal level, the Android UI is to varying degrees a flagrant knock off of the iPhone (or of the BlackBerry before Schmidt saw the iPhone prototypes), but it's a better executed knock off than Windows was of the Mac OS.
Historical flamebait aside though, on a technical level it's hard to argue that we don't all benefit from the large install base of standards-based Android browsers (ignoring their support for Flash!) compared to the horror that was IE on the desktop. Microsoft was able to stall development of the web for close to a decade with their inaction (malicious or otherwise) but at least Google are good online citizens.