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The Android SKU paradox

Next month will be the 24th since the first Android device launched in October 2008. The G1 was followed by another HTC device in February of 2010 and a few others in the spring. The summer of ’09 showed a steady release of up to four new phones every month. Since then the number of Android phone stock keeping units (SKUs, uniquely identifiable stockable products) increased dramatically, with the release rate increasing to 26 per month during July of this year (source: pdadb.net).

Altogether, there are have been

Motorola's Android 2.2 Rollout: What a Mess – PCWorld

From a comment in the article below:

I installed HTC’s leaked version of 2.2 on my incredible last month. It has been noticeably faster, has better battery life, and the extra features are nice. As expected, Verizon put a lock down on the wifi tethering feature, and if I want to use it I have to pay an ADDITIONAL $25/month, which is completely ridiculous. Luckily, my phone has been rooted (it was the only way to get froyo on there) and I can use a number of FREE wifi tethering applications that don’t cost anything extra per month either.

It’s pretty sad that the only way to enjoy an android phone is to hack the crap out of it, and doing so requires relative technical expertise.

via Motorola’s Android 2.2 Rollout: What a Mess – PCWorld.

Reminds me of Windows Mobile in another way: the only real fans were those who could play with cooked ROMs. Conversely, imagine if the only iPhone fans were those who jailbroke/unlocked iPhones.

See also: The Android abdication

Android is a BlackBerry killer

Much has been made of the potential for Android to reduce the growth of iPhone. The iPhone seems to be doing very well and continuing to be supply rather than demand constrained.

RIM however seems to be under significant pressure.  A Goldman Sachs analyst first pointed this out in her last report and placed a “Sell” on RIMM.  The fact is that most of RIM’s sales are in the US on the carriers other than AT&T.  In those very same carriers, Android is being pushed hard as a customer retention strategy, so iPhone is pressuring RIM only indirectly through Android.

The evidence is also in survey data.  In the graph below, we see how iPhone buyers are considering Android as the most credible alternative to the iPhone whereas they considered BlackBerry the best alternative a year ago.  In terms of vendors, what RIM lost HTC gained.

One can only wonder what will happen when the iPhone enters unrestricted distribution in the US.  The results in other markets speak for themselves.

AppleInsider | Apple’s recurring revenue stream: 77% of iPhone 4 sales were upgrades.

Deagol: iPad web usage 20x iPod

So my prediction from six and a half weeks ago came through, with a couple of days to spare. iPad has surpassed iPod in web traffic. It took only two months and two million units, compared to almost 3 years and about 40 million iPod touches out there. That means iPads use the web roughly 20 times as much as iPod touches.

Also, not only has iPad more than doubled Android 2.1’s share, it’s now past all Android OS’s combined. .

via Deagol’s AAPL Model: iPad web usage passes iPod.

Good call.

IDC: I Dream of Claim Chowder

A few eyebrows were raised when Microsoft presented a slide at a French event where they made the claim that 30 Million Windows Phone devices would be sold by the end of 2011.  Given that the first Windows Phone won’t ship until October 2010 at the earliest, or, according to Mr. Ballmer, “by Christmas,” count me among the skeptics.

However, the claim was later retracted by Microsoft stating that they mis-quoted IDC, the original source for the forecast.  The correction was perhaps meant to put an end to the credibility crisis.

However, the actual forecast from IDC was even more preposterous.

At 135 devices, the Android army marches on but what happened to the Windows Mobile legions?

The number of Android devices is rising steadily; it’s already up to 135.  Android devotees should rightly rejoice.  However, Android is not the first mobile platform with an open licensing strategy. A quick visit to pdadb.net lets us count the number of devices that shipped for every mobile platform in history.  We can also see the current market shares as listed by Gartner for these platforms.

The numbers of SKUs (stock keeping units) that have shipped historically vs. the market shares of the mobile phones running those platforms are (see Footnote below for some caveats):

The same data in a scatter plot:

What Happens When You Upgrade an HTC Hero to Android 2.1?

HTC:

TEXT AND PICTURE MESSAGES

Text and picture messages will be deleted with this software update. You can back up text and picture messages by forwarding them to an email address.

  • Open the Messaging application
  • Tap and hold on the desired text or picture message
  • Tap Forward
  • Enter an email address then tap Send

APPLICATIONS

Applications will be deleted with this software update. You will need to re-download the desired applications from the Market after this update completes.

Daring Fireball Linked List: What Happens When You Upgrade an HTC Hero to Android 2.1?.

From the Hacker’s Dictionary:

kluge /klooj/

[from the German `klug’, clever; poss. related to Polish `klucza’, a trick or hook] 1. /n./ A Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson) device, whether in hardware or software. 2. /n./ A clever programming trick intended to solve a particular nasty case in an expedient, if not clear, manner. Often used to repair bugs. Often involves ad-hockery and verges on being a crock.

Visualizing iPhone vs Android Shares

Following up on my last post on how misleading US-only share comparisons can be, I decided to draw charts to visualize the comparison.

As Android and iPhone compete in various ways, it’s hard to see which is the preferred choice given a direct comparison.  In other words, iPhone and Android devices rarely are placed next to each other with similar terms.

Take the US market for example.  The overall data from NPD suggests that last quarter Android reached 28% share vs. 21% for iPhone.  Many of those Android devices were new to market or at least newer than the iPhone which in Q1 was coming to the end of its product cycle.  Second, pricing for Android devices seems to have been quite aggressive with buy one get one free sales.  But I won’t dwell on tactics now; what I do want to note are the differences in share between AT&T users and non-AT&T.

Note that within AT&T, iPhone outsells Android over 4 to 1.  iPhone also outsells “others” (mainly RIM) more than 3 to 1.  However, outside AT&T, where the iPhone is not available, Android does not outsell “others”.

If we exclude the US altogether, we also see that Android does not have a great distribution.

Outside the US, the iPhone also outsells Android nearly 4 to 1, but it has a way to go before challenging Symbian which makes up the bulk of “Others”.

So in markets where Android is head-to-head with the iPhone (AT&T and non-US markets), iPhone’s lead is quite high (still).  The possibility still exists that Android will overtake iPhone given the broad licensing and distribution, but it’s not necessarily a given.  And in any case, iPhone is not the market share leader today and that leadership does not seem to be their objective (note the pricing).

The bigger question is what will happen to RIM and Symbian as Android grows.

NPD: iPhone is 65 percent of AT&T's smartphone volume

Much ink is being spilled over Android outselling the iPhone in the US in Q1.  Here’s what NPD survey data shows:

  • Q1 units for Android reached 28% vs. iPhone at 21%.
  • AT&T stated that they activated 2.7 million iPhones.  That is 31% of all iPhones sold by Apple.  Assuming NPD data is accurate, we can conclude that Android shipped 3.6 million units in the US or 65% of their total.
  • In a previous posting (Global smart phone OS shares « Asymco) I estimated, based on Canalys estimates, that global Android share reached 10% last quarter or about 5.5 million.
  • We can compute that Android captured only 4% of smartphone share outside the US while Apple obtained 14% share.
  • You can also observe that iPhone’s US share increased y/y while every other platform except Android dropped (implying that Android took share from everybody but Apple.)
  • NPD claims AT&T accounted for 32% of the smartphone market, and even though AT&T carried both Android and WinMo and Blackberry devices, 21 out of every 32 phones or 65% of AT&T’s volume were iPhones.
  • We can conclude that Android captured 34% of the non-AT&T US smartphone market.

The table below combines the NPD, AT&T, and Canalys data to show units for iPhone and Android in the US, Global and non-US regions.

One can only wonder what would happen if iPhone would be available non-exclusively.  Would iPhone achieve greater than 60% share as it did on AT&T?  Certainly that’s what happened in France.

HTC to pay Microsoft for Android

While Apple’s patent lawsuit against HTC remains ongoing, the Taiwanese handset maker has reached a licensing agreement with Microsoft to avoid another lawsuit over its Android-powered handsets.

AppleInsider | Microsoft believes Android infringes on patents, HTC strikes deal

Who says Android is “free”?