Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Is Apple Losing Its Dominance?

As the tech universe sat in high anticipation of the unveiling of a new iPhone, many of the questions we heard alongside the arrival of iterations 1 through 4 have resurfaced: How will Apple improve its now-signature product this time? How long will the line be outside the Apple store? What’s the price?

But another, newer question has surfaced as well. This time around, an assortment of industry experts and consumers are asking whether Apple is still the dominant player in the increasingly competitive smartphone market. To be sure, Apple’s announcement of an iPhone 5 would probably have constituted the most noteworthy technology unveiling of the year. However the lack luster response to the announcement of the iPhone 4S had led many to question Apple's once dominant position in the smartphone market.

Apple's market share has continued to slip while the market share held by the Android operating system, which was about even with Apple’s a year ago, has more than doubled and now accounts for 43.4% of worldwide sales. Apple’s iOS, in comparison, holds a market share of 18.2%.

And the discrepancy doesn’t end there. Some commentators, in fact, have taken the once unthinkable next step and pointed to this changing landscape as proof that Apple’s product, on a quality and performance front, has fallen behind. App developers are increasingly focusing their energy on Android products, the most cutting-edge display and touchscreen technologies are owned by other manufacturers, and a new wave of lighter, thinner smartphones in the past year have surpassed the storage capabilities of the iPhone.

One phone in particular that compares favorably with the expected iPhone 5, and is indicative of a wider trend, is the new Samsung galaxy s2. The phone, released this past month in the United States, is one of the fastest, most powerful, and slimmest smartphones launched to date. It carries a 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 processor, a 4.3 inch display with Super AMOLED+, and 1GB of RAM. These are specs that any new iPhone will probably struggle to match. But perhaps even more important are the Galaxy S II’s reviews and already-stellar sales record. Glowing reviews of the S II pushed sales to 10 million in five months, a mark that was reached even before the phone was launched in North America. It has been dubbed by some as an “iPhone Killer,” and it’s not too difficult to see why.

Of course, this does not mean that the iPhone is on a path to irrelevance. It still carries a brand name, a deserved reputation for innovation, and a loyal following that would make any competitor envious. But in the fast-changing technology world consumers always look for the superlatives; they want the fastest, most powerful, and most innovative phones out there. If Apple keeps losing ground to the Android OS, it won’t be able to rely on its reputation too much longer.


  1. Anonymous12:16 PM

    The problem with making a comparison between 1 Apple device, or even the 4 devices out now, and Android is that there are so many more options for Android. If you compared 1-1, Apple to any other single device or manufacturer they are clearly still on top.

    Imagine what the market might look like if iOS were available on more devices with slightly less Apple control. Would we still see Android making the sharp gains it has?

  2. Anonymous6:14 AM

    iOS will continue to lose ground in the current market because it doesn't offer nearly as many wins as Android. Single platform, no widgets, old man image, Apple lock in, needlessly expensive hardware the list goes on.

    Android fans are more circumspect and less infleunced by logos. Today they might have an HTC and tomorrow a Samsung. That's the beauty of Droid - no lock in means hardware manufacturers have to work harder to get your dollar and the consumer wins. The app writers will write for whichever market is the most popular, simple economics. For this reason iOS and the iPhone will be positioned where Nokia are in a few years time, quaint retro technology.


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