March 30, 2012
One year ago, Apple was struggling against Google’s Android operating system in the U.S. smartphone market. However, since the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple has come back, according to The Business Insider. In March 2011, Android had gained seven points in the U.S. smartphone market in just one quarter. The iPhone’s share, however, was flat. In total, Android controlled one-third of the market, compared to the iPhone’s 25 percent. That was then. Today, Apple’s handset is having a resurgence thanks in part to what the company learned during the 1990s when Apple failed to compete against Microsoft’s Windows in the desktop market. Currently, while Android still leads in the U.S. (with 48 percent), the iPhone has gained considerably, and now controls 43 percent of the market.
How’d Apple do it, besides introducing a new iPhone?For one, the iPhone is now available in the U.S. through three major carriers – AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Previously, AT&T sold the handset exclusively. Second, Apple retained the iPhone 3GS, which was first introduced in 2009, as the company’s first “low-price” version of the iPhone. The iPhone 4, meanwhile, also remains and at a lower price: $99. Furthermore, the iPhone is now available in multiple distribution channels including large retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy. Fourth, and critically, Apple's products now cost the same as high-end alternatives, instead of selling at a "premium price." Finally, Apple is dominating the global tablet market where Android “is basically nowhere.” Having the iPad expands Apple’s overall reach and at the same time helps them expand iOS at the same time. Apple’s practices are a complete reversal from where the company was in the 1990s. Then, “Macs were always more expensive than PCs. Some Apple fanatics were willing to pay these high prices, but most normal people weren't. This contributed to Apple becoming a niche player.”
Still, Apple’s numbers aren’t all good.In Q3 2011, the last time global numbers were made available, Android dominated, controlling 53 percent of the market. The iPhone’s share during the same time was just 15 percent. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone to China twice in less than a year. If Apple were to dominate the world’s largest consumer market, the company’s overall global fortunes would improve as well. Yet, if the iPhone can continue its resurgence here, Apple’s future remains bright, especially with the iPhone 5 expected to arrive sometime between June and October of this year. As The Business Insider concludes:
In the U.S., it's a two-horse race. And thanks to the lessons it learned from the 1990s debacle, Apple is closing the gap fast. And that's presumably one big reason Google is taking on the extraordinary challenge of buying a dying smartphone manufacturing elephant--Motorola--and going into the hardware manufacturing game. This is a huge, risky, and distracting move for Google, and the odds are that it will fail spectacularly.Will Android continue to dominate the global market, or will Apple eventual control this market? What about in the U.S.?