The mobile world is Google’s oyster


I’ve spent most of my tech reading time over the past few days reviewing the world’s reactions to Google I/O. Google announced some pretty cool stuff for Android, and the company clearly has Apple in its sights when it comes to market share. Even more interesting to me, though, was that the “Microsoft” didn’t seem to be on anyone’s mind. John Gruber put together a great read on the subject, so I’ll defer to him here.

As Gruber sees it, Google is taking its gigantic, Android-shaped bite out of Microsoft’s pie, not Apple’s. Google is the licensed OS player because it licenses Android for free, not on a fee-per-unit basis. That says nothing of Microsoft’s crazy volume requirements to turn a profit. The company currently charges something between $8 and $12 per handset. When you hold just 6.8 percent of the world market share, that license fee is a joke.

The volume game isn’t necessarily where you find the profits, either. Nokia sells a LOT more units than Apple, but Apple still makes a better profit. Microsoft is in an absolutely awful position to make a dent in the market. Hell, they still haven’t even launched a competitive platform. Microsoft was already too late when the iPhone launched three years ago. I have to thank John Gruber for this Ballmer quote about the iPhone launch, which I had never seen before:

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get.”

Well, Steve, I have bad news. The iPhone OS was just reported at 15.2 percent of the global market share. That 80 percent market share you were hoping for? Yeah, that’s never going to happen.

Source: Daring Fireball

Android passes US iPhone web traffic

iPhone vs the Android platform.According to the most recent AdMob stats, the Android platform has surpassed the iPhone’s web traffic in the US for the month of March. It’s a strange statistic, considering that AdMob is one, in the process of being picked up by Google and, two, reporting data based on ad traffic. I’m not trying to suggest that Android users are bigger suckers than their iPhone-toting counterparts, but it isn’t exactly the most accurate method on earth for analyzing web traffic.

Still, it is a method – probably the best we have – and by that method Android has pulled ahead. The iPhone is still ahead worldwide, but while it may see a domestic jump this June with the launch of the new iPhone, I can’t help feeling like Android will keep gaining ground. A lot of people really love the departure from the Apple platform, and I don’t think that’s likely to change with new iPhone hardware. There’s also the simple matter of variety – Android has it, the iPhone doesn’t. If you like the iPhone OS but don’t like the hardware, tough shit. With Android you at least have some options.

Source: Business Wire

Blackberry users ready to swap for an iPhone

Blackberry vs. the iPhone.Despite slow sales growth over the past three months, the iPhone is still fresh in the minds of most smartphone users. So fresh that a lot of them wish they owned Apple’s handset instead of their own. A new study from market research firm Crowd Science shows that 40 percent of Blackberry users will be switching to an iPhone when their current plans are up.

It’s not just the iPhone. Some 32 percent of Blackberry users said they would switch out for a Nexus One when the time came. The real trouble, it seems, is RIM’s platform. While Android and Apple’s iPhone OS have matured into serious entertainment platforms, RIM has tried to rally a stalwart defense of its corporate clientele. Oddly enough, that defense has looked like offering more of the same that made the Blackberry a success in a pre-iPhone world.

It’s already too late for RIM to turn this ship around. The company needs a new operating system and a completely different pitch, neither of which are likely to happen in the next six months. By then the defectors will really start to hurt. Don’t bet on Android or iPhone users heading RIM’s direction, either. Some 90 percent of those users plan to stick with their current platform.

iPhone sales growth nearly halts

iPhone handset sales.It’s funny how one success story can send the world into a frenzy. The iPhone has been an undisputed success, gobbling up market share by the full percentage point. It’s not unstoppable, though. As the latest comScore stats show, actually, sales growth is nearly nonexistent.

Let’s start with the good news, though. Apple is sitting at 25% market share – an incredible number for such a young presence in the market. This is the number that had everyone scared. The bad news for Apple is that it has stopped growing. Relative to the market, the last three months have only been up .3% for Apple. Compare that to RIM who’s up 1.7% on its 41.3% market share in October of last year. Android more than doubled in the last three months, granted only from 2.8% to 7.1% but that is still massive growth.

Part of the problem is no doubt that Apple has conditioned the world to believe every summer will bring a new iPhone. If that’s not the case in 2010, we might see some very stagnant iPhone numbers before year’s end.

Source: comScore

Android Marketplace has superstar apps too

Car Locator on Android.You don’t have to be an iPhone developer to make a bunch of money from mobile applications. Take Edward Kim’s Car Locator. The free version of the app has been downloaded 70,000 times, while nearly 7,000 have picked up the paid version. Total revenue? How bout $13,000 a month.

Sure, it’s not the millions you’ve heard about in the App Store, but Kim has just one among a couple hundred “top” applications that are likely grossing at least as much as his if not more. The app had always done well, but it really took off when it was added to the featured list on the Android Marketplace. “it was netting an average of about $80 – $100/day,” Kim wrote on his blog, “until it became a featured app on the Marketplace. Since then, sales have been phenomenal, netting an average of $435/day, with a one day record of $772 on Valentine’s Day.”

Almost $800 for something that probably didn’t take all that long to code? Why do I write again?

Source: Eddie Kim

Android is a sausage fest

A little Android.AdMob has compiled some interesting data concerning smartphone usage. One of those fun facts is that the Android population is dominantly male by a vast majority. In fact, 73 percent of Android users are male, while other smartphone platforms remain much closer to 55 percent.

It’s pretty easy to see why. The Droid, Android’s most successful phone to date, was clearly marketed at males. Remember the stealth bombers? The upper-atmosphere spaceship drops? Not exactly your feminine hype.

Among the other stats AdMob compiled was the fact that free app downloads outnumber paid almost 10 to 1. Also, a meager 21 percent of Android users purchase apps on a monthly basis, compared to 50 percent for the iPhone.

You can find the rest of the stats over at ReadWriteWeb.

Are Android phones releasing too quickly?

HTC Desire.Take a look at that phone. It’s like the Nexus One, right? Just prettier. That UI looks great. And is that an optical trackball I see? This is the HTC Desire, the Nexus One’s smoking hot younger sister. It seems a bit strange that HTC would enter a contract with Google, build the Nexus One, and then release a better phone just a couple weeks later. It’s a trend that’s happening often with Android phones, and I think it’s starting to hurt the platform.

Consider the Droid. It was, at the time, the best Android phone to date. It looked great, pioneered Android 2.0, and debuted on America’s favorite network. By all accounts, Droid owners should have been very happy people. That is, until the Nexus One rolled into town. It had a newer version of Android, a better hardware interface, and it did away with that hideous physical keyboard. Unfortunately, a lot of Android fans had already flocked to the Droid to show their Google support. It’s a big problem in the US, where most consumers lock into contracts for subsidized hardware prices. The Nexus One released with lackluster sales.

Now this. There is no official word on a US release, but it’s headed for Asia in April and likely stateside shortly after. As pretty as this phone is, and as great as the Sense UI may be, I’d bet we’ll see some underwhelming sales numbers. If people didn’t buy the Android, they almost certainly picked up the Nexus One. Anyone that’s left is there by mere happenstance – an unwillingness to pay a disconnect fee a few months early, perhaps. This could be the best phone in the world, but the pace of Android hardware release will turn it into an anecdote.

Apple has been prone to the same thing in the past. If you ever bought an iPod you know it was playing second fiddle in just a few months. It’s something Cupertino got right with the iPhone, though. Even though there have been several iterations, Apple has kept its mouth shut about the product until just days before launch, giving it time to offload some of the older hardware before the newest version launches. Does it piss some people off? Sure. But much less so than watching new hardware roll out every month or two or getting an announcement of new hardware on the same schedule.

Samsung Wave: The phone that should run Android

Samsung Wave.Samsung has always impressed me as a hardware manufacturer. Their phones are usually decent looking, easy to use and personally I’ve experienced minimal hardware failures. The same holds true for the Samsung Wave, which, if anything, is their most impressive handset to date.

Just unveiled at a Valentine’s Day press conference, the Wave is Samsung’s entrant into the upper tier of the smartphone market. It runs a 1 GHz processor and boasts 802.11n, an 800 x 480 AMOLED, Bluetooth 3.0, a 5MP camera, 2GB or 8GB internal storage with a microSD slot for expansion, and codec support for WMV, DivX, XviD, MP3 and 720p decoding and recording. The spec sheet is incredible, until you get to one little detail.

Bada. Samsung dropped its brand-new OS on this phone – yes, it’s the operating system that’s meant to make feature phones all fun and featurey. I tried to be understanding when Samsung launched Bada, but with a phone this fantastic there is no reason to run anything but Android.

The phone launches in April. Prices remain unannounced.

Google pays Apple more than $100 million annually for iPhone search

Jobs and Schmidt.Rumors have been flying ever since Android launched that Apple will be replacing the search giant’s services on the iPhone. The latest, which seems completely ridiculous for a reason, is that Apple is going to build a search engine. The Business Insider says the biggest reason to keep Google on is that the search provider pays Apple upwards of $100 million a year for the iPhone deal.

For a company like Apple, $100 million isn’t exactly a lot. It’s more like mortgage payment, but it’s enough to keep Apple from entering an already saturated search market. There’s no denying that Google and Apple now have a contentious relationship. As Business Insider has it, it only took two weeks to nail down the original Google Maps deal for the iPhone. When the 3GS launched it took six months.

Source: Business Insider at Gizmodo

Nexus One only moved 80,000 units in its first month

Google Nexus One.The world’s first self-titled “superphone” isn’t posting super sales. Frankly, the numbers are terrible. Embarrassing. Worse than I ever would have expected. The Nexus One has only sold 80,000 units in its first month.

It’s hard to say where the problem lies. Sure, the phone wasn’t marketed very well, and what efforts were made were aimed a demographic that likely already has their smartphone of choice. It also launched shortly after the Droid, so Android fans had just picked up a new phone. There’s also the fact that it was being subsidized by T-Mobile, which just doesn’t have the kind of support Verizon’s got.

Whatever the reason, I was surprised by the number. The iPhone, by comparison, sold 600,000 units in its first month. The Droid sold 525,000.

Source: Wall Street Journal