Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Apple Has Already Won Against Android


The war between Apple and Android has supposedly been going on since the first Android handset, the T-Mobile G1, was rushed to market in 2008. But in fact, the two were never even fighting -- at least not directly. Because both Apple and Android are gaining market share, at the expense of things like RIM's BlackBerry.

See, the fight was never between Apple and Android. The two of them were just racing to pick up as many "dumbphone" and featurephone users as possible, and upgrade them to smartphones. And while there are more Android handsets activated each day than there are iPhones, somehow Apple has come out ahead anyway -- ahead of all of the Android handset makers combined.

Here's why:

Apple is making more money

In fact, Apple is making 50 percent of the profits of the entire smartphone industry combined. Take the money that everyone's making, from Samsung to Nokia, toss it all in a pile and then carve half of the whole pile away. That's Apple's share, and it's not bad for a company with only about 5 percent of the market.

That's what the people who keep saying that Apple will fail because "This is like Windows all over again" don't understand. Yes, Microsoft Windows PCs have the lion's share of the computer market. But Apple's also the No. 1 most profitable computer company, so whatever Steve Jobs and Apple's engineers are doing, it's working.

Apple has more high-quality apps

Most Android apps are free, and most iPhone and iPad apps are pay-for. But the thing is, you get what you pay for. Apple's users are getting the best, most polished apps in the world, and us here in the Android world are getting what? New and improved ads, which are more annoying than ever!

Furthermore, Android's numbers are deceptive, because it's a lot easier to get an Android app on the Market than it is to publish an iPhone app. Apple charges $99 a year, and puts every app through a review process. Google charges only $25 up-front, plus $20 to write pay-for apps, and doesn't review anything. So a lot of those "apps" are just ringtones and wallpapers, or jokes like "This is a test." (Read the reviews on that one, they're hilarious.)

Apple's customers are happier

Or at least people who buy iPhones are more satisfied with them than Motorola and HTC's customers, according to J.D. Power and Associates. And according to Nielsen, as of last year iPhone owners were more loyal than Android phone owners were, and more likely to want to get a new iPhone next.

The war is over?

It might be. Because while Apple has won against Android, Google has won against Apple, too. Google did exactly what it set out to do: It made Android ubiquitous. And handset makers like HTC have thrived, thanks partly to it.

The thing is, Apple has done better. A lot better. It's making a lot more money, and it's still driving technology forward with things like the iPad, while everyone else plays catch up.

I personally like my Android phone better than Apple's iPhone, and from the looks of things I may not be in the minority. But I have no illusions about what it would be like, if the iPhone had not been invented.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

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