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"Everybody has got a smartphone"

… says UBS analyst John Hodulik, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

No they haven’t.

According to the latest comScore survey data, 98 million Americans above the age of 13 don’t use a smartphone as their primary phone. That’s 41% of US mobile phone users.

What’s more, 2.5 million more people first started using smartphones in the three month period ending May vs. the three month period ending in April.

The switching rate to smartphones is shown below:

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7-17-10.32.09 AM

Measuring the iTunes video store

It’s been five years since we had an update on TV show downloads and six years since we’ve had an update on movie downloads from Apple. In Q3 2008 Apple announced 200 million TV show downloads and in Q2 2007 2 million movies. That’s a long period with no information making a tough extrapolation to the present.

Nevertheless, I tried. My estimates for these two quantities were 963 million TV Shows and 108.2 million movies to date.

So I was quite surprised to see that figures for both TV show downloads and Movie downloads were published today. The figures were 1 billion and 380 million respectively.

My TV show forecast has proven to be very accurate but I severely underestimated movie download rates. Apple states that the movie download rate is 350k/day. My estimate  was only about 126k/day.

After adjusting for the new data, the picture of downloads that emerges looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 6-19-6.20.31 PM

The overall iTunes gross revenues by sub-component becomes:

Measuring the latest iOS accessory market

One of the most startling announcements during the WWDC 2013 was iOS in the car. The mockup that was shown seems to indicate the use of the car’s in-dash display as an “external monitor” for an iOS device while control would come from inputs using Siri.

The technical details were not released so it’s hard to know the protocol used to accommodate this interface. However it seems that it will be generic enough that a number of launch brands signed up for the launch. The list includes Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Ferrari, Chevy, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Acura, Opel and Jaguar.

Is this a significant opportunity?

Before we get excited, it’s important to note that this will likely take a very long time. It won’t even begin until 2014 and the number of new models may trickle into showrooms quite slowly. Consider that the time it took for automakers to universally support external audio input (mostly the trivial line-in) was about a decade.

 

To also curb our enthusiasm we need to realize that the car industry does not produce many units. In 2012 there were over 60 million cars produced (with the following regional mix:)

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 6-11-6.02.32 AM

In contrast, 60 million is about the number of phones sold every two weeks. In 2013 there will be more iPads sold than cars.

In particular the companies mentioned had the following production figures in 2011:

Measuring US Mobile Platform Shares: Kantar vs. comScore

The latest comScore US smartphone install base data is in and there are few surprises. iPhone has reached a new record high penetration (39.2%) and user base (54.3 million). Android has reached a new high in user base (72 million) but share at 52% is below the peak reached in November 2012.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 6-5-3.48.35 PM

This pattern of gradual iPhone share gain in the US has been consistent for over two years even while Android has catapulted into an overall lead. The surprising thing is how Android seems to have peaked in share. There are still 95 million non-smartphone users and there seems to be headroom for growth even though the other platforms have been tapped out. But it does not seem that Android phones have any particular advantage over iPhone. My hypothesis remains that as price is taken out as a differentiation, the adoption of iOS is slightly higher than Android.

Another measure of market performance is the implied net platform user gains which is shown below:

Forecasting Windows market share

Last week Frank X. Shaw, VP of corporate communications at Microsoft stated:

 … most of the people around me were using their iPads exactly as they would a laptop – physical keyboard attached, typing away, connected to a network of some kind, creating a document or tweet or blog or article. In that context, it’s hard to distinguish between a tablet and a notebook or laptop. The form factors are different, but let’s be clear, each is a PC.

Actually this “admission” that iPads are PCs is not something new. Steve Ballmer made the same assertion in 2010 pre-iPad (though calling them slates). Arguably, the notion that tablets are PCs has been dogma at Microsoft for over a decade and Windows running on all form factors has been a strategic guiding principle.

Which is why I’ve always added the tablet data to the PC data to create a picture of the “personal computing” market. And this is what that picture looks like today:

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Note how the share of various platforms has evolved over this brief time span:

100 billion App downloads

By the end of May there will be 100 billion mobile apps installed on iOS and Android devices.

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 5-31-9.45.21 PM

 

Not bad for a five year old medium.

With respect to attach rate, the total downloads/install base are currently 83 apps per iOS device sold and 53 apps per Android device activation. The history of this is shown below:

Tim Cook's answer to my first question

Tim Cook was asked the first question (on the iPhone portfolio). His answer is paraphrased here:

We haven’t so far. That doesn’t shut off the future. Why? It takes a lot of really hard work to do a phone right when you manage the hardware and software and services in it. We’ve chosen to put our energy on doing that right. We haven’t been focused on working multiple lines.

Think about the evolution of the iPod over time. The shuffle didn’t have the same functionality as other products. It was a really good product, but it played a different role — it was great for some customers it was strikingly different than other iPods. The mini played a different role than the classic did. If you remember when we brought out the mini people said we’d never sell any. It was too expensive and had too little storage. The mini proved that people want something lighter, thinner, smaller. My only point is that these products all served a different person, a different type, a different need. For the phone that is the question. Are we now at a point that we need to do that?

At a macro level, a large screen today comes with a lot of tradeoffs. When you look at the size, but they also look at things like do the photos show the proper color? The white balance, the reflectivity, battery life. The longevity of the display. There are a bunch of things that are very important. What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. At this point we think the Retina display is the best. In a hypothetical world where those tradeoffs didn’t exist, you could see a bigger screen as a differentiator.

Full interview here, answer begins around minute 37.

Here is how I interpret the answer:

My questions for Tim Cook

Next week at AllThingsD’s D11 conference in LA, Apple CEO Tim Cook will be interviewed by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.

Here are some questions I’m hoping they will ask:

  1. Why is the iPhone not sold as a portfolio product? Meaning, why, after six years, is there no iPhone product range being updated on a regular basis. Having a portfolio strategy is not only followed by every phone vendor but also by Apple for all its other product lines, including the iPad, which came after the iPhone. In other words, please explain why the iPhone is anomalous from a product portfolio point of view.
  2. There are more than 800 operators world-wide so why are there only about 250 of them carrying your phone? Competitors large and small (from BlackBerry to Nokia to Samsung) have cited relationships with more than 500 operators so Apple is being uniquely selective. My question does not stem from a lack of patience: this total number of iPhone distributors has not increased markedly for over a year. Are you limiting distribution through conditions placed on operators (like the availability of sufficient quality data services) or are operators finding the distribution agreement too onerous (e.g. too high a minimum order quota)?
  3. In 2012 Apple’s capital spending has reached the extraordinary level of $10 billion/yr, higher than all but the most capital-intensive semiconductor manufacturers. This is unusual for Apple as it was less than $1 billion in the year before the iPhone launched. It’s also unusual for Apple’s competitors in phones, PCs or tablets. It’s on a level matched only by semiconductor heavyweights. What is the purpose of this spending and what should we read into it leveling off at $10 billion for 2013?
  4. Depending on one supplier is an operational faux pas, and yet Apple has found itself in that situation with Samsung for mobile microprocessors. It may be excusable in PCs with Intel having an architectural monopoly but it’s not excusable for a chip that you designed yourself and purchase in massive quantities. Why did you give Samsung such a concession, especially knowing their potential as a competitor vis-à-vis alternative suppliers who had no such potential? Does the answer have something to do with the previous question?

The allure of iTunes

My estimate of last quarter’s iTunes gross revenues suggested a spending rate of $40 per iTunes account. It would make sense to consider how that figure changed over time. The following graph shows the pattern:

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 5-14-9.49.40 AM

You can read each bar in the graph as the total “ARPU” or average revenue per iTunes user[1].

I overlaid a graph showing the total number of accounts as reported by Apple to the (retroactively) estimated revenue structure. Account totals are measured with the right axis and ARPU with the left.  Note that I also broke down each component of iTunes as currently defined (Music, Video, Apps, Books, Software and Services.)[2]

The time frame covered is from Q2 2007, or the quarter prior to the iPhone launch. A few patterns emerge:

Making rain

The following is a slightly edited transcript of a portion of the Critical Path podcast #79. I am reproducing it here for the sake of brevity and focus of discussion.

I’m going to try to put together an analogy together here that maybe will help us think through the Facebook Home and the Google Fiber issue.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to illustrate Google’s business model. The problem is that discussion has been polarized: Two camps have formed. One camp suggests that Google is a benevolent entity that does great things and only asks that we indulge their hobby of a business model called advertising. Fundamentally they are about pushing the envelope on technology, making wonderful things happen.

That is one camp. I call them the utopians. It may not be a nice thing to call them but I frame it as being exceedingly idealistic.

The anti-utopian camp is one that suggests that Google is an advertising company primarily, and fundamentally and overwhelmingly. And anything they do technologically is in support of that. The implication is that Google is sinister and manipulative, bent on getting away with as much privacy extraction as possible.

I believe that the anti-utopians dismissing Google as an advertising company sounds a bit incomplete. It’s not incorrect. It’s not erroneous. It’s just not a complete story.