The Progress of the Platform.
On why there is a ban on intermediate layers of software development on the iPhone OS.
But the reason isn’t technical. It’s partly business (Apple doesn’t want another company to control any important part of the iPhone platform), but it’s also in no small part grounded in aesthetics and the progress of the platform. Apple wants developers to do things the iPhone and iPad Way because they believe it will result in a better user experience and better designed apps. That’s an aesthetic, design-centered argument about how touch apps should be done. Apple has created tools customized to the iPhone and iPad; hell, they built a whole new touch-based operating system. They created a whole set of user interface metaphors that are supposed to be standard and system-wide, and they want developers to do things the new way not because Apple just loves power, but because they believe it’s necessary to force developers to think about the new world of touch-based computing correctly. All of this in service of giving users who are taking their first steps into touch-based computing a great experience.
Developers who want to write software for the iPhone have to write iPhone-like software. To do otherwise will hinder the progress of the platform.
This is active users in the US only.
iPhone now tops WinMo and is second only to RIM. The only line that is going down is the dumbphone category which lost 10 million users.
Those users were mostly switched to RIM and Apple. RIM gained about 4.3 million users and Apple gained about 3.5 million.
Android user base still lowest of all platforms and increased by about 0.6 million. They are likely to beat Palm however next few quarters. At this rate however it’s very hard to see an installed base that is going to challenge Apple for a long time.
Palm gained 0.44 million. Symbian gained 0.41 million. WinMo gained 0.3 million.
With a 1.4 multiplier for iPod Touch, the platform would have 12.5 million users, pretty near RIM’s base. We might see that tipping over next quarter.
When thinking about the number of devices shipping out of Apple, and the relative value of those units compared to the competition you have to always think of the platform.
The market leader Nokia claimed to have sold 16+ million smartphones in the quarter. When comparing platforms, to whatever Apple ships in iPhones you have to add the iPod touch units. I see that number being about half of the iPhone numbers or about 4 million. Let’s say 10 to 12 million as a range for the platform. Already this is within striking range of Nokia.
It may sound that Apple has some catching up to do, however the important thing is that most of the Nokia devices are not uniformly addressable by developers because they are different platforms and the Symbian platform itself will be broken next year as it has been broken many times before. This is also true for Blackberry and Windows Mobile and will become true for Android as vendors fork and splinter the code to differentiate.
This already puts Apple in the pole position today in terms of contiguous addressable units volumes.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this platform effect. It’s what made Windows dominant and it should be the most important issue in the planning of new mobile products, but it clearly isn’t for Apple’s competitors. Either product planners are ignorant of history or completely hamstrung by other constraints on their businesses (I expect the latter).
As a result it’s inevitable that Apple will have a dominant platform. The numbers in apps and consumption of apps already are telling this story, and devs are voting with their code in a landslide. But going into 2010, this will become evident in the units and Apple share numbers will accelerate toward lead position.
The bogie therefore is to look for contiguously addressable installed base. On this basis of competition, I expect at least 100 million for Apple at the end of next year and less than 10 million for any competitor. At that point the game will be officially over.