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Month May 2010

Dell Streak Phone

0,,i=226814&sz=1,00.jpg 643×449 pixels.

Would you buy this?

The reason Robbie Bach was fired

Vague justifications about under-performance of Windows Mobile or cancelled Courier miss the whole point.  The chronic problems with Microsoft’s consumer businesses cited as causes for dismissal have roots in core processes and priorities which management changes will not address.  The failure of Zune was evident long ago. Windows Mobile has not been competitive with RIM for years, and failed to take significant share from Symbian, never mind iPhone. Tablets were the responsibility of the Windows team.  Kin is a rogue project based on a bone-headed acquisition. From a P/L point of view, Entertainment was mostly Xbox, which although deep in the hole over its lifetime, was starting to break even.

No, the reason I believe Bach lost his head is that HP bought Palm.

Apple's R&D Efficiency

In fact it’s rumored that Apple brought the iPhone to market for a mere $150 million, doing so organically without acquisition outside of a touch gesture recognition company named FingerWorks.

This begs the question: how in the world did Apple grow the iPhone platform organically from zero into the most profitable cell phone business in the world with so little investment?

via Apple’s Incredible Efficient Growth.

Apple has always spent below the industry average for R&D.

Here are Apple’s trailing 9 quarters R&D as percent of sales:

3.42% 3.86% 2.59% 2.65% 3.51% 3.50% 2.93% 2.54% 3.16%

Nokia spends at least 10% of sales on R&D and Microsoft at least that much.

But these numbers are not as spectacular as the comment above that iPhone development cost was $150 million.  To date, the product has generated $31.4B in sales.

As the article points out, Apple spent $4.6B on R&D over the past four years and Microsoft spent 7x that or $31 billion. Cisco and Intel spent 4x.

Instant messaging: AFK

In 2007, 14% of Britons’ online time was spent on IM, according to the UK Online Measurement company – but that has fallen to just 5%, the firm says, basing its findings on the habits of a panel of 40,000 computer users.

The study was released shortly after AOL sold its ICQ instant messaging service $187.5m (£124m) – less than half what the company paid for it in 1998.

And in September 2009, a survey of internet use by the New York-based Online Publishers Association found that the amount of time spent by surfers on traditional communications tools, including IM and e-mail, had declined by 8% since 2003.

via BBC News – Instant messaging: This conversation is terminated.

In other news today Yahoo and Nokia announced a worldwide partnership. Yahoo will provide e-mail and chat services on Nokia phones. The services will be co-branded.

OMG LOL.

Does iPhone really have 72% of Japanese smartphone market?

MM Research does not count Symbian as a smartphone platform. This makes them inconsistent with any other analyst for counting smartphones.  So shouldn’t Symbian be included?

In a comment to iPhone has 72% of Japanese smartphone market | Asymco it’s been pointed out that 12 million Symbian sold in the same time frame as Apple sold 1.7 million phones in Japan.

It would seem then that the correct market share for iPhone would be 12%, with Symbian having 83% and “others” having less than 5%.

However

Symbian in Japan is not the same thing as Symbian elsewhere.  Symbian in Japan is used as a low level OS by Fujitsu, Sony Ericsson Japan, Mitsubishi, Sharp and others to provide devices running the MOAP(Symbian) software platform.  MOAP (Mobile Oriented Applications Platform) is the software platform for NTT DoCoMo’s FOMA (Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access) service.

Unlike Series 60 and UIQ MOAP(Symbian) is not a open development platform.

MOAP is also supported by Linux with Panasonic and NEC using it in something called MOAP(Linux).

MOAP(Linux) is also not an open development platform.

So the “72% share for iPhone” in Japan must be stated with this important caveat: that Symbian and Linux are not included because, due to not having exposed APIs, they are classified as feature phone platforms.

US digital music sales exceeded physical media in 2009

US music share 2009

via AppleInsider | Apple’s iTunes lead increasing, now selling 26.7% of US music.

If Apple did not exist, Google would need to invent it

Google’s innovation pipeline:

  • new mobile OS
  • updated mobile browser
  • rich mobile ads
  • Google TV

It used to be that Microsoft’s agenda was written in Cupertino, now they are no longer the only ones in line at the copy machine.

iPad outsells iPhone (part II)

“Checks indicate that US iPad sales remain strong post-launch, driven by rising consumer visibility to iPad’s user experience, sustained PR/word-of-mouth marketing, 3G iPad launch, and broadening iPad apps/content,” Abramsky wrote in a note to clients this morning. “We believe Apple is now selling >200k iPads/week, greater than US Macs (est. 110k Macs/week) and just below US iPhone 3GS first quart (246k/week).”

Retail checks in mid-May showing widespread iPad stockouts at Apple stores and Best Buy. The 3G iPad is sold out at many Apple stores and about 25 percent of them now have only selected Wi-Fi iPads available. Waiting lists are not uncommon.

… Abramsky raised his global iPad outlook for 2010 from 5 million to 8 million.

via Apple Selling More iPads Than Macs | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD.

iPad is not only outselling iPhone version 1, but, soon, iPhone version 3.

The Next Billion Users

Five weeks ago Apple forecast 100 million iPhone OS devices will be sold by summer. This was fairly easy to predict but the question comes up: when will the next 100 million be sold? And what about after that?

The iPhone OS three-legged platform is now the fastest growing platform ever and enjoying network effects which naturally accrue to platforms under solid custodianship. However, I am observing signals from Apple that they intend this platform to become the global standard for mobile computing, which, in today’s world, means targeting 1 billion users. Here are the signals that I’m noting:

  1. Geographic and cultural universality. What plays in Peoria should play in Beijing.  As it has shown by being big in Japan, the iPhone crosses over cultural idiosyncrasies. Not long ago it was taken for granted that “mobile tastes” differ and “one size does not fit all” in mobile phones hence the need for hundreds of phone models in every portfolio. Apple has completely destroyed this myth. (One could ask why should mobile computers be polymorphous when their slightly larger cousins the laptops are rigidly monotonic?) By broadening the platform with multiple screens and connectivity options, Apple is cleverly spanning the jobs that he platform can be hired for.
  2. Avoidance of a pricing umbrella.  Note that this does not mean being low prices, but rather, the protection of their franchise through pricing. Apple has developed a way to stretch a single product across multiple price bands, and carefully builds product to price and margin targets that have strategic placement.
  3. Product cycles and product ramps. Apple has imposed upon itself a yearly product cycle for the iPhone and the iPod.  This is a brilliant move because it keeps the product fresh without having it seem disposable.  It also keeps competitors within its turning radius. However, the challenge is that the distribution network has to be filled rapidly and drained rapidly to maximize availability. This gets harder and harder as the volume grows. Imagine having to manufacture and ship into the channel a billion devices in less than a quarter.

I would point out that all these are marketing, not technical challenges. They are thinly disguised questions about product placement, portfolio, pricing, production and distribution–classic Marketing 101. (Promotion, which is what most people equate with marketing is not particularly challenging, especially for Apple who mostly does it through PR).

It is comforting perhaps to know that Apple is the best marketing organization in the industry today. So to answer the question, 100 million is in the rear-view mirror, 200 million will come up in no more than 2 years and 1 billion will take 5 to 8 years.

Legal Tender

About a month ago, we said we’d like you to use a credit card when you buy your iPad, and that was the best way we could think of to make sure that people only brought two per individual,” said Johnson. “And then it came to our attention that Diane [Campbell], through your story, was very interested in buying an iPad with cash, and we made a decision today to change that.”

Johnson said our story triggered a company-wide policy change. As of today, anyone can pay for an iPad with cash.

As a gesture of goodwill toward Diane Campbell, the woman whose experience brought the issue considerable publicity, two employees visited her home today to offer her an iPad free of charge.

“I am just so excited,” said Campbell. “Words can’t explain right now.”

via Apple Axes ‘No Cash’ Policy for iPad Sales – Mac Rumors.