The iPhone is now available in the US unlocked. Judging by the lack of reaction to the news, one would assume that this is not a significant event. I would argue however that it’s a very significant event.
What is unappreciated is that the iPhone is a very restricted product. Unlike any of Apple’s other products (iPod, Mac and iPad), the iPhone is designed to be hard to get. Apple did not make it easy in the one dimension of ease that matters most: its purchase.
Consider that many people in the world cannot buy an iPhone because it’s not available locally. In case it is, in most cases you need to sign a contract and commit to a long-term relationship with a company other than Apple. In those cases where you don’t sign a contract, you cannot use it with a service provider other than the one (arbitrarily) chosen for you.
A few have been able to buy iPhones unlocked if they lived in a few countries (UK, France, Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong) but those phones could only be purchased online if sent to a local address or in an Apple retail store–of which there are not many.
Consider that in Europe alone, the following countries do not have iPhone distribution:
The iTunes store continues to grow. The data that Apple published in the last event included the following:
- 15 Billion iTunes song downloads
- 130 million book downloads
- 14 billion app downloads
- $2.5 billion paid to developers
- 225 million accounts
- 425k apps
- 90k iPad apps
- 100k game and entertainment titles
- 50 million game center accounts
As this data is added to the existing data and cross-referenced additional insight into the economics of iTunes is emerging.
There are 225 million iTunes account holders. 25 million joined in the three months. As the iTunes store has been operating since April 2003 it’s possible to step back and look at its history and measure the rate of growth relative to other ecosystems.
The following chart shows various platforms/ecosystems in terms of adoption. In the case of phone operating systems and consoles, the cumulative units sold is shown. The scale is 10 years by 1 billion users with users measured on a logarithmic scale.
According to 148apps.biz, the App Store has seen over half a million apps since inception. The number of available apps, according to Apple, is now 425k. (148apps claims 402k apps available in the US store.) The history of the App store catalog is shown in the following chart (showing both US and World-wide measures).
In an interesting new post by Appsfire, APPtrition – or why app store size does not matter that much… Ouriel Ohayon makes a good point: available is very different than accepted. When comparing catalogs it’s important to distinguish between these measures. Apps are published and then unpublished for various reasons. He calls this app attrition and details the reasons it might happen.
What makes this interesting is the contrast between attrition rates on Android’s Market and those on Apple’s App Store.
Critical Path #1: The Five Year Plan – 5by5.
Critical Path is a talk show contemplating the causality of success and failure in mobile computing. Using Apple as a lens to look at both telecom and traditional computing markets, we try understand what it means to be great.
In this inaugural episode, Horace Dediu and Dan Benjamin try to weigh the strategic implications of Apple’s WWDC announcements. We take a look at the impact on RIM, operators, Google and Apple’s flirtation with Twitter.