Steve Jobs this month released the iPad 2 and during this keynote speech he made reference to 2011 being the year of the copycat. But is Steve guilty of hypocrisy?
In February, the media and finance news giant Bloomberg leaked information about Apple creating a cheaper mid-range market iPhone. It’s codenamed N97 (No relation to the Nokia of the same name) and it’s going to be a cheaper cut down version to invigorate the mid-share market. The importance of this is that Apple have finally realised they’re loosing market share and need to quickly stem the leak.
Old Steve knows what he’s doing and he’s not a fool. When he arrived back at Apple in the late 90s he turned around a near-bankrupt PC and Software minnow into the world’s largest tech firm. The problem is that, as research by Canalys shows, they are loosing the budget/mid-range markets whilst they're retaining (along with BlackBerry) the high-end market which has been successfully dominated by Apple.
Apple’s advertising has made sure that it’s connected with ideas of high fashion. It’s usually purchased, according to Nielsen, by 29-39 age group with high-end incomes. This niche means they can charge £599 or the US$ or Euro equivalent without anyone quaffing. The threat comes from Android making discounted or budget phones, mid-range phones and high-end phones.
This copy-cat move from Apple illustrates Jobs fear. As the old adage goes you beat your adversary by beating their argument. Android’s argument surrounds the idea of device-agnostic ecosystem and Apple has reacted by carting out a sick Steve Jobs who took turns smashing into Android, not because of technical prowess but just to knock the competitor. His claim that appStore had 65,000 apps ready for iPad whilst Android had only 100 is just that. In 2009 Android had 6,7 million users worldwide by the end of 2010 this had increased a hundredfold to 67,2 million and by the end of 2011 analysts predict that 202,2 million.
This freedom from handset strictures and a freer ecosystem has its faults (just see the latest app scare on the Android market along with fragmentation fears over OS and microprocessor variants) but it’s winning the market share. Apple knows if it doesn't do something soon it just might loose its crowning glory as the market leader in the high-end market. Samsung, DELL and HTC are creating high-end phones which are being released in 2011 this will create further tensions within Apple.
But all is not lost for Apple, far from it, the support for Mac is legendary. The marmite motto just might fit the mac phenomenon – you either love it or you hate it – its that simple. Android is building a fan-base but without a strict hardware fan-base Android could have problems. Diversifying the iPhone brand will help gain market share in the mid-range section.
So 2011, with tablets, Honeycomb and Gingerbread and new phones coming Android has a good year lined up. But so do RIM with the BlackBerry PlayBook and so do Apple with their iPhone5 and iPad2. This year will be interesting.