Yesterday I wrote about the growing parity between iOS and Android. Summarizing where I think we are currently, and the key question to ask of Apple:
- If most major points of differentiation are erased;
- the cost of Android devices is lower;
- the selection of Android devices is much broader; and
- sales channel loyalty is somewhere between neutral and favorable to Android,
...how does Apple sustain market share?
Apple's profits are driven by device sales. The world is moving to the cloud, as Amazon and Google knew years ago. Devices are necessary as smooth portals to services and data in that cloud, but device margin is not the sustaining business opportunity.
The competition will therefore be fought on "curated experiences"--who can most successfully integrate a solution which combines device, user interface, and cloud data storage / services?
When the business opportunity is phrased this way, things look better--but not great--for Apple. They historically have not built particularly good software (tried the new iTunes yet?), and they have almost no foothold in services (no, Maps doesn't count, and MobileMe is dead).
But Apple makes gorgeous hardware and does transcendant UI design, which continues to captivate consumers. My thinking is that this simply doesn't add up to the market share they currently enjoy.
In fact, this sounds ever more like the desktop / laptop business strategy they have now. The problem is that OS X has roughly 10% market share. Where will iOS settle?