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Android has good reason to fear Apple's resurgence

Galen Gruman | Aug. 11, 2014
Suddenly, the punditocracy is saying Samsung's best days are behind, and Apple may dominate mobile again.

It's the rest of the world that's up in the air, as Nokia Symbian, Nokia Asha, and BlackBerry devices -- the old market leaders -- fade away and Android and AOSP device makers seek to fill the vacuum. So far, the cheapie Android and AOSP devices are winning the masses. (The iPhone is, unsurprisingly, the choice of the rich.)

But there's a sense that "full" Android devices, iPhones, and maybe (but probably not) Windows Phones will supplant them over time as those countries get richer and want more than substandard devices. The truth is we won't know for several years how the various winds blow there.

So is Apple poised to resurge and dominate mobile as it did in the late 2000s? Yes and no. I do believe Apple's mobile platform is both technically better and more compelling than Android devices, even those from the likes of Samsung and HTC, who both make good products. I'm not one to pay attention to the endless Apple rumors, but the indications I'm getting out of Apple suggest we'll finally see some significant iPhone advances next month that will only add fuel to the iPhone fire.

But as with the Mac, the iPhone is a premium product, whose real price was masked by carrier subsidies now coming to an end. That limits the iPhone's growth mainly to richer nations.

As a result, I believe we'll see a similar pattern for smartphones to what we see in the "Mac versus PC" trend: The iPhone will continue to grow share in richer nations, even as subsidies end. Android buyers will in aggregate take almost all of the rest of the market, divided between Galaxys (which cost as much as iPhones) and basic but reasonably capable Android devices like the Moto G from Motorola Mobility. That'll leave the middle-of-the-road Android devices out in the cold, as well as Windows Phones. The strong Apple bias in the United States is a factor, but we'll see that same basic trend in other developed countries, even if the Apple contingent is a smaller percentage there than in the States.

As for tablets, the iPad will continue to dominate "real" usage -- the Android tablet platform simply can't do what the iPad can. Capable Android tablets aren't appreciably cheaper than their iPad counterparts, and the cheapie models aren't satisfying buyers, as market share data shows. Until there's an Android tablet equivalent to the Moto G smartphone, iPads will continue to dominate across the market's price segments.

Source: InfoWorld


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