Is it just me, or is the iPad’s autocorrection algorithm a lot less useful than the iPhone’s? I can’t help but notice—repeatedly—that it seems to be trying too hard to be helpful, making spelling corrections on the fly rather than “this is a typo” corrections. It’s corrected “kot” and “kast” to “cot” and “cast” rather than “lot” and “last,” for instance—is it really more likely that users are morons who don’t understand when to use “k” and “c,” or more likely that, you know, “k” and “l” are next to one another on the keyboard? Yet typos like “eith” for “with”—things that the iPhone would certainly pick up—are blithely ignored.
Disclosure: I work for Nokia. I don’t speak for them, they have no input into what I write here, so on and so forth. I usually avoid mentioning them, but on this particular topic, they’re very much the elephant in the room.
So there’s been kerfluffle recently about relative “smartphone” market share between Android-based phones and iPhones. First we had one report from NPD that Android was ahead in market share, and then one from Gartner that no, they weren’t. The Loop reported on this with “New Report puts Apple’s iPhone OS ahead of Android,” which is true. But Jim Dalrymple opens this with, “a new report by market research firm Gartner says Apple is winning the race.” This is less true than, uh, truthy. This particular bit of truthiness has some interesting things to say about the difference between mind share and market share.
The IDC report places the iPhone OS in third place with 15.4 percent market share in the first quarter of 2010. This is up from the same period last year where Apple had a 10.5 percent market share. Google’s Android grew from a 1.6 percent market share in 2009 to 9.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010.
So: yes, worldwide the iPhone is beating Android. Android is growing much, much faster, though, which is definitely important to note—but the interesting bit is the word “third.”
Nokia’s Symbian OS and RIM were number 1 and 2 with 44.3 percent and 19.4 percent market share, respectively.
In all the “Google and Apple in a fight to the death!” reporting that goes on in the tech press, we tend to overlook that right now—and for a year hence, more than likely—we’re talking about a fight for third place. “Apple and Google are fighting to take over has-been RIM’s position on the top of the hill,” the story goes, “with Windows Mobile 7 Phone Mobile 7 Series 7 Phone 7 7 7 as a possible dark horse contender.”
Symbian isn’t even mentioned. Who cares about them, right? After all, their share of the smartphone market—not overall mobile phones, but just smartphones—is only… uh… greater than Android, iPhone and RIM combined.
"Eh," you say, "nobody really thinks about them. They’re irrelevant." Maybe, maybe not. They could coast for years and still be #1—they’re just that far ahead in terms of units shipping. And despite what the complete absence of U.S. coverage of them makes it seem, they’re not coasting. The Nokia N8 appears to be a damn sharp product. The Nokia application store moves about 1.6 million apps a day, and given they only opened a year ago, that’s not bad at all. Nokia’s higher-end phones have terrific cameras, GPS and great turn-by-turn navigation (for free). They have pretty solid syncing and “cloud” capability.
Yet—at least in America—pretty much nobody gives a shit.
So here’s the lesson: market share and mind share often have damn little correlation. I have a lot of friends who have Android phones and a lot of friends who have iPhones, but off the top of my head I can only think of one friend who has an Android phone who I wouldn’t describe as a geek (although she’s computer-savvy). The Android store has by far the highest percentage of free apps versus paid apps, and that’s very likely because they’ve been beating the free and open drum more loudly than anybody else, and it seems that a lot of the “buzz” about Android in the tech community is focused on development philosophy.
Outside the tech community, though, the sales seem to pretty much be driven by Verizon’s “buy one, get one free” push. I believe that’s in fact why my non-geek Android user friend has a Droid. I’m not knocking this strategy, but it remains to be seen how many mainstream phone users are buying Android because they specifically want Android. Apple has done an extremely good job of making people want an iPhone, not just a “next-generation” smartphone.
It’s pretty likely that Android’s market share will eclipse the iPhone’s market share, even with a new iPhone release around the corner. There are more vendors making Android devices, and more carrier availability in the States. (I think comparing iPhone sales and Android sales this quarter will prove a little misleading; after all the widespread reports of the next iPhone’s feature set, the sales of current iPhones is likely to be depressed as people decide to wait a few more months.) But this leaves a few questions unanswered.
Will Android devices be as profitable for their manufacturers as iPhone devices are for Apple?
Will selling Android apps be as profitable for developers as selling iPhone apps?
Two years from now, will non-geeks be explicitly looking for Android devices because they love its UI and want to run all those cool Android apps? i.e., will it expand its mind share, not just market share?
Android fans right now are probably pretty confident that the answer to all three questions is “yes.” Maybe so. But you can be selling a lot of hardware without creating a lot of brand loyalty, and without creating an ecosystem that people take much notice of. Before popping the champagne corks, you might wanna talk to the Finns.
The genius of the Internet is its almost infinite openness to innovation. New hardware. New software. New applications. New ideas. They all get their chance.
If only you morons had adopted SVG.
As the founders of Adobe, we believe open markets are in the best interest of developers, content owners, and consumers. Freedom of choice on the web has unleashed an explosion of content and transformed how we work, learn, communicate, and, ultimately, express ourselves.
Flash is installed on around 98% of desktop and laptop computers in the world, and when we bought Macromedia it was a completely closed system. Go ahead and choose that instead of SVG, will you?
If the web fragments into closed systems, if companies put content and applications behind walls, some indeed may thrive—but their success will come at the expense of the very creativity and innovation that has made the Internet a revolutionary force.
Although we hasten to point out that the many ways Adobe supports DRM across our product line—encrypted Flash video, encrypted PDFs, and for that matter all our software registration—is all about encouraging creativity and innovation.
We believe that consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs. No company—no matter how big or how creative—should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.
When markets are open, anyone with a great idea has a chance to drive innovation and find new customers. Adobe’s business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end—and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.
When you think “innovation,” you think Adobe. And Flash. Right? But we complained to the FTC just in case.
That, certainly, was what we learned as we launched PostScript® and PDF, two early and powerful software solutions that work across platforms. We openly published the specifications for both, thus inviting both use and competition. In the early days, PostScript attracted 72 clone makers, but we held onto our market leadership by out-innovating the pack. More recently, we’ve done the same thing with Adobe® Flash® technology. We publish the specifications for Flash—meaning anyone can make their own Flash player. Yet, Adobe Flash technology remains the market leader because of the constant creativity and technical innovation of our employees.
See, we learned from PostScript® that it’s really easy to Out-Innovate® The Pack® when you’re the only contributor to your Openly-Published® Specification® and can ensure that you update all of your products before the spec itself is updated! You’ll notice we’re not talking about making Flash an ISO standard the way we did PDF. Of course, even then we left in a loophole: the ISO standard for PDF is equivalent to PDF 1.7, but it has “extensibility features” which we can go on to use to still “innovate.” We gave the creative employee who came up with that technical innovation a nice bonus, you betcha.
We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web—the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time.
We would like to strongly encourage you all to keep confusing the Apple app store and the web, and to see it as a great contradiction between keeping the former locked down tighter than a chastity belt and advocating the latter be based on vendor-neutral standards. The more you believe that, to paraphrase the great Kris Kristofferson, “freedom’s just another word for Adobe being able to put Flash everywhere there’s money,” the more we love you.
In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody—and everybody, but certainly not a single company.
Although if you don’t mind, we’d like to keep as much control of it as possible.
One of the most clear-eyed pieces on the subject I’ve seen in a while. Stross does an eloquent job of getting across several important points, including two of my own big pet peeves. First, ebook production costs are not substantially less than physical book production costs, because most of that cost is not about the physical media. Editing, proofreading, typesetting, marketing and indirect overhead (i.e., bringing in sufficient income to pay all the rest of the publishers’ staff)—and, oh yes, paying the author—are the lion’s share, and all the people crying wah wah wah when the ebook and mass market paperback price end up being about the same are missing this. Second, book design and typesetting still matter.
To reach a mass audience, ebooks are going to have to be comparably readable to a dead tree edition: sensible use of screen fonts, layout directives, and some eyeball candy are all part of the package. So is a cover picture, believe it or not, if only so you can spot the iconified version on your virtual bookshelf.
Stross also has acidly cogent commentary about the folly of DRM, which is something that mass market publishers will eventually have to learn. As Alton Brown might say, though, that’s a topic for another post.
(His commentary on “The real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash" is also pretty interesting. With all respect to the fine ranters at Angry Mac Bastards who scoffed at Stross’ assertion that the PC industry is "cratering" and that in five years we’ll be "surrounded by a swarm of devices that give you access to your data whenever and however you need it," in general terms Stross is almost certainly right. Sure, as the AMBs pointed out, PCs will still be in production and still in demand—but as always-on wireless data access becomes ubiquitous and non-PC devices get lighter, smaller and more capable, PCs as we know them won’t be necessary for a lot of work that requires them today. The “internet appliance” concept of a decade ago failed then because the infrastructure wasn’t in place, but the iPad is an IA, and much more. Stross may not be right on his timeline, but he’s not wrong in the larger picture.)
Via benkraal, we find All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher writing:
From wearable devices to sensors that will envelop our world to 3-D screens that will react to us, personal computing is about to get a lot more personal. Internet-based television now in development will recognize a viewer and deliver customized entertainment.
And it will do this without the trusty keyboard and mouse. We’re already phasing them out, thanks to the increasing popularity of touch screens — including the patron saint of all this, the Apple iPhone, and a spate of copycat smartphones. All of these devices allow users to navigate without physical buttons or input devices.
Except, almost without exception, if you want to produce words on any sort of new touch-screen device, you need to use a keyboard — or a representation of a keyboard.
And notes that “none of the alternative ways of creating text are any good.”
What this makes me think of, though, is: shorthand. The pen-and-ink styles have mostly fallen by the wayside and only court reporters learn to use stenotype, and many shorthand systems are phonetic, making them inappropriate for precise written transcription. (Any shorthand input system that isn’t going to be “re-transcribed” by a human the way stenotype is needs to be lossless.) But what weds us to the keyboard as it exists now as an input device is, essentially, tradition. Tradition can be awfully formidable, but it can—and does—change over time.
The Tonga Room is one of the few original tiki bars to survive from its 1950s heyday to the present. From all reports the best thing about it is the decor—if you’re looking for good drinks, there are a number of better choices in San Francisco—but it’s high time we recognized that kitsch and alcohol, when combined, are historically significant.