Sometimes you read articles which present such multifaceted arguments many of which are accurate and indeed entirely logical, but intersperse them with fables, exaggerations and stretched logic in order to support an argument.
Today, thanks to Daring Fireball, I found one such article.
I used to think I was neither an expert nor a strategist. And while I’m slightly one-eyed in the tech stakes, I’m now officially putting my hand up as an expert strategist. Lets see if you think my logic is as…logical…as Brandt Dainow’s.
Brandt started his article rather sensibly, so I was kind of confused by John Gruber was so sarcastic about his view. Then I read this;
…smartphones are subject to the multi-layered business model common to all computers. Technology manufacturers, such as Nokia and Samsung, build the physical hardware. Above them we have the providers of operating systems, of whom the major players are Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Now, as I wrote above, I’m not an expert, especially not in Mobile. But even to the uninitiated, there is so much wrong with this statement, and following that the bulk of the rest of the article.
Lets start with the statement above;
- Nokia build an OS.
- Actually Nokia build/licence TWO OS’s – Symbian and Meego
- Apple are not an OS provider. exhibit 1: iPhone…yes they are, and continue to be a HARDWARE company.
- Microsoft are a MOBILE VENDOR. Yes they produce an OS, but they also build a platform in conjunction with their OEM’s
- Microsoft, with WindowsMobile7 are following a hybridized Apple Model where in order to help the OEM’s, who apparently know squat, they dictate to them how the user experience will run
- Google is a search and apps company. The Android and Chrome OS services are simply an ability to ensure that Googles monetisable services drive revenue from more locations as we move away from the traditional computer.
- Did I mention that Apple are also a Content delivery company and just like Google attempt to control the user experience in order to drive more people to their, in the future, potentially more valuable properties?
- I don’t see the Mobile Network operators in here at all.
Later on he writes;
…the success of smartphone hardware providers is inextricably linked with the development of an active mobile app marketplace and a dynamic service provider community.
When in reality aside from Apple’s AppStore he has no proof of this at all! Yes, in the ensuing three pages of waffle about the past of ‘desktopcomputerland’ he fails to provide any proof of this statement.
I suggest he notes Nokia, the only really successful mobile device manufacturer over the long haul. It has developed it’s own OS or two as mentioned above, but has had a dreadful result to date with Ovi. The failure so far of Ovi doesn’t appear to have affected its success in the Mobile device market.
In fact, the recent Gartner report says Symbian devices increased their Global sales YOY by more than 6 million devices in Q1 2010.
He nexts goes on to write;
“Macintosh now runs Microsoft Office because no one else was interested in providing a compatible office suite.”
Now, I’m probably a fanboy, so I should leave this one alone. But, wow, does he not forget that Excel was developed for the Mac? Perhaps he should tell us about all the other Office suites which are poplar on Windows and which don’t run on MacOSX?
In the next line he seems to forget, conveniently to suit his argument, that both Word and Excel already existed on the Mac prior to 1997. I worked for Apple at the time and have to agree it helped Apple that Microsoft committed to the platform at the time. But we often make short term strategic decision to assist our companies growth.
Soon after he talks about how competing OS’s eventually give way to ‘open’ platforms. He writes, mistakenly thinking the mobile market will go the same way as the Desktop market did;
Apple’s iPhone OS and BlackBerry’s RIM are not candidates for that role because they’re not available for other phones, which only leaves Google’s Android and Microsoft’s WinOS as candidates for global domination.
This is of course because Windows Mobile has had such success with WinMo over the years that it is the Number 1 ‘Smart’phone OS…oh wait!
He then follows up with perhaps the nadir of his arguments;
“Apple cannot sustain the iPhone as a purely U.S. phenomena. “
It isn’t. The US market is hampered by the Network. It’s widely known that AT&T just doesn’t cut it and is hampering iPhone adoption in the USA. Globally, Apple sell about 70% of their iPhones outside the US. Here in Australia, admittedly a small market, iPhone was 35% of mobile device shipments in Q4 2009. With early hints from IDC (who do the stats here) saying it was greater in Q1 2010.
He then starts to touch on the tired old Flash argument and that HTML5 is going to be slow out of the blocks;
“It is likely to be another year or two before HTML 5 is even finalized. “
Perhaps, but all the better browsers already support it and there are already HTML5 video players in the market
To finish, this article was presented as a reason for the death of Apple. Marketers will read this and it may set an agenda. It’s five pages long (from an online page perspective), but the only valuable input is the first couple of paragraphs, a short reference to the history of app development in the middle which are facts worth sharing. Then finally to present the opinion and Argument against the iAd system, perhaps a couple of paragraphs at the end.
The iAd system isn’t a means to an end, its a way of creating value for App Developers who otherwise would need to charge for their apps. In many cases charging for apps means they don’t get bought and deveopers get no ROI.
Apple are providing options to App Developers, and I imagine many app developers, despite the noise to the contrary are seeing this value and working toward it
The rest is just bias and tautology to stretch an argument and perhaps meet a word count. Either editors are afraid of contributors these days, or the art of editing is DEAD in the online word.
All this article says to me is the author doesn’t appear to neither get Apple’s strategy – except in the context of his own ‘experience’ – nor does he seem to be able to see the Mobile Device business as something substantially different from the existing computer business models in operation today.
I continually find it odd that so called experts like this get paid for this insightful analysis while I sit here with a three year old computer to type on.