Like many things that seem unintuitive that actually work in life and nature, mass adoption of Android may create the most ideal environment for Apple products to thrive.
I was recently reading Chris Rawson’s “Four Android Myths Lazy Analysts Love” and it struck a chord. In the last decade, the folks at Apple have proven they are masterful in crafting precise plans to achieve marketing objectives, hit manufacturing targets, and of course, sculpting market conditions and economic machinery to out-maneuver competitors while dominating key product and service segments.
Is it so far fetched an idea that the maker of all things “i” actually understands the Android platform better than Google itself?
We can’t underestimate Apple’s technical competence and situational awareness of Android, an open-source platform. Google’s recent decision to tightly control access to Honeycomb may be a move to thwart the distinct competitive advantage that Apple has in the mobile OS market. Unlike typical competitive topographies, Apple can see everything Google is doing with Android, but intimate details of iOS are carefully concealed.
There’s an element of the Android vs iOS debate that Tends to confound most who attempt to make sense of it and Rawson is quick to point out the flaw in thinking about Android as a “company”.
“Analysts like to treat Android like it’s a single entity so that they can make impressive pie charts where Android looks like Pac-Man gobbling up iOS, but once you split that up by manufacturer, the story looks a lot different. It’s virtually the same story as the PC market; Apple’s share of the PC market looks trifling indeed when you compare it against Windows-running PCs as a whole, but when you break it down by each PC manufacturer, Apple definitely more than holds its own. When you break it down by profitability, the contest isn’t even close; Apple owns 90 percent of the “high-end” PC market.”
Simply put, we continue to attempt to measure success using outdated metrics while tripping over a key issue – it may not be possible to accurately assess comparative performances because the dynamics of Android are so different than those of iOS. Compounded by the mistaken assumption that Apple “products” are single-dimensioned bundles of goods, makes it very easy to get an incomplete version of reality.
It’s clear that Android will out-pace iOS with its rapidly growing installed base. But is it possible that Apple management is donning cheerleader outfits and encouraging this outcome? If so, how could that possibly benefit Apple?
The answers to these questions may exist in the satisfaction scores of the two OSes. The scores vary widely, but in general, Apple’s offerings, specifically iPhone and iPad, have scored significantly higher than those products running Android. Arguably a low-granularity rating, JD Power’s Power Circle rating places Apple at 5/5 with smart phone products from Motorola and HTC at 3/5.
But what’s unclear about these scores is the relationship between customers who are dissatisfied with their Android-based products and their propensity (and ability) to switch to Apple products.
Is it possible that dissatisfied Android users form the basis for a sales-rich stream of new Apple customers. If true, and this flow of unhappy customers doubles in size, is it likely that Apple’s ability to dominate the market from a profit perspective, also grows rapidly?
Without question, Apple is focused on customers who are likely to spend more money (on average) than those who are premium-product-averse. Android buyers, for the most part, have been well-documented as price-conscious consumers; they typically have no strong feelings about quality of experience or features that are associated with other premium products and services. In many cases, unknowingly, they purchase Android-based devices because they are unwilling to pay the premiums associated with iOS-based devices.
Until an Android customer becomes dissatisfied with the experience of the device or the OS (or both), they’re not likely to be compelled to pay for premium products. But most important – Apple is unlikely to be interested in them as a customer either. Ergo, Android performs a vital role that helps Apple exceed even its own goals.
Just Sayin’ …