August 2012
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Month August 2012

Measuring iOS as a gaming platform

At this year’s WWDC Apple offered an update on Game Center accounts. The data we have so far is shown in the following graph.

Before being acquired, another network, OpenFeint, announced 180 million iOS accounts in October 2011. Another figure to consider is the 40 million subscribers to Xbox Live (out of 66 million Xbox users). This subscriber base is paying for a service (about $1 billion per year) so it’s not the same as the free Game Center model.

Rather than being a revenue source, Game Center is designed to engage users and to capture usage information. It also lets us gauge gaming “consumption” on iOS devices. That itself allows us to contemplate it as a gaming platform vis-à-vis alternate platforms.

To consider the figure as a proxy of penetration and engagement, the graphic below shows cumulative sales of gaming devices.[1]

How many iPhone “5''s will be sold?

Phil Schiller stated (under oath) that when assessing sales for a new model of the iPhone, Apple used an easy shorthand:

Each new generation sold approximately equal to all previous generations combined.

That’s a helpful gauge. Did it hold and will it continue to hold?

In order to test this rule of thumb we need to know generational sales. Although we know overall unit sales for a given quarter, since Apple has been selling several versions simultaneously, we need to make some guesses about the ratio of generations in the mix. My guess is about 10% for 3G vs. 90% 3GS and 5% 3GS vs. 10% 4 vs. 85% 4S. That results in the following pattern:

The cumulative totals for these generations can then be generated and they appear as follows:

The biggest loser

According to data from comScore, in the past 24 months 50 million Americans became Android phone users. In the same time frame Apple added 24 million iPhone users. As I mentioned in my Asymmetric Competition post, it would be unwise to consider this data in isolation. Consider the following graph showing the net change in users in the US.

Android and iPhone grew mostly at the expense of non-smart users. The BlackBerry lost 8.1 million users and all the others only lost about 4.5 million.

With penetration at 50% it’s still impressive that there is so little “churn” between platforms. In fact, measuring churn as the net platform user loss as a percent of all smartphone users, we get something less than 1% per month.

The smartphone competition is still primarily with non-consumption.

That will change at some point when smartphone penetration (shown below) will begin to saturate.

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Perspective and Context in Personal Computing

The Mac grew at the extremely low rate of 1.8% over last year’s second quarter. Although it grew faster than the Windows PC market, the gap has narrowed quite a bit. The following graph shows the growth of the two members of the computing Ancien Régime.

We have to wait a few more quarters before we can decide whether the Mac will enter a new phase of diminished expectations. Although it’s not immune from the impact of the iPad, the effect can take a long time to be evident and in either case, growth can come from conversion of Windows users which vastly outnumber loyal Mac users who might upgrade.

If we see the computing market as the superset of keyboard+mouse input and touch-based input then new computing consumption becomes easier to spot:

5by5 | The Critical Path #48: Asymmetric Competition

We turn our attention to the notion of competition. It’s a concept that has many contradictory connotations. What we anticipate as sporting or fair is never the way business or war is conducted. How should you think about this and why does it matter in every decision you make professionally and personally?

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #48: Asymmetric Competition.