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The Macalope: Party like it's 1995

The Macalope | Feb. 5, 2014
Prepare for an argument that will shock and amaze you! One that will shake the pillars of your faith in Apple and your commitment to iOS as a platform.

It may even lose out to Microsoft, whose Windows Phone operating system is finally shifting some units.

Indeed. Because "finally shifting some units" is almost exactly like beating the platform currently in second place. Hey, don't forget BlackBerry. It's due for a resurgence! It's the law of low numbers!

Indeed, in some markets in Europe, Windows Phone and Apple's iOS are running neck-and-neck.

Let's ignore all the major markets where Windows Phone is a pathetic also-ran and focus on the handful of smaller markets where it's doing modestly well. Actually, you know what? Let's just type up this Microsoft press release.

Windows Phone sales have largely been propelled by the low-end Nokia Lumia 520. Apple, in contrast, offers just old kit - the iPhone 4S - as its desultory budget offering.

What's the opposite of damning with faint praise? Because it seems to the Macalope to be demonstrably true that selling a few high-margin phones is better than selling a few low-margin phones.

Apple's strategy in the mobile sector, therefore, is reminiscent of its strategy in the 1980s - staying resolutely proprietary and premium. That, though, is a strategy of drift, one that will end in the same way: allowing nimbler, more price-competitive rivals to become the market standard.

What does Burton think is the threat to Apple's platform here? That developers will flee to the "standard" Android platform? The one with several kinds of Android and dozens of screen sizes on thousands of different devices? As the Macalope has pointed out time and time again, the money is, duh, in the platform that costs more. Also, development isn't anything like what it was in 1995. The tools are far more robust and readily available, as are developers themselves.

Yes, the phone and tablet markets are maturing and, yes, if Apple wants 25 percent or higher growth rates again it's going to need to move into new product categories (as Tim Cook keeps saying the company's going to do). What's funny about all this concern about Apple is that no one seems to have the same concern for any of its competitors. Why? Because the onus is on Apple to reinvent product categories. Other companies just have to copy what Apple does.


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