Most people are incredibly biased when it comes to Apple. I have always chalked it up to personal preferences and never gave it much thought until a very reputable news organisation published a story headlined “Apple increases tablet share to 95 per cent as Android slips” just a few days back.
How can Android ‘slip’ if there are hardly any tablets in the market so far? Most first-tier PC vendors are unlikely to start shipping their tablets until the first quarter of next year, according to a report by the DigiTimes.
You do not have to take my word for it. The article goes on to contradict itself while quoting the Strategy Analytics (a global research and consulting firm) report it is based on.
“Android’s market share will rise in the fourth quarter as devices using Google’s platform enter the market,” it reads.
The only two tablets – the Galaxy Tab and the Streak – that might have offered the iPad have some resistance have either not seen a global launch or are running severely antiquated versions of the Android, making a comparison with the iPad unjust.
Not to doubt that Apple’s tablets have taken over 95 per cent of the market. In fact, it was inevitable, since this is the product that made netbooks obsolete and showed that the tablet form factor is viable.
However, with mobile phones the story is slightly different. In the second quarter of 2010, the Android operating system (OS) easily overtook Apple’s iOS worldwide and RIM’s OS (Blackberry) in the US, according to a report released by Gartner.
Observers believe it was mainly because there were so many phones running it – an estimated 80 mobile phone models are running different versions of the Android.
When Apple came out with the iPad, it had AT&T backing it. They were sold at different outlets along with sims that allowed 3G connectivity. Currently first tier PC vendors, like HP and Lenovo, do not have such carrier contracts in place.
They will first need to negotiate with carriers because a tablet without 3G connectivity is generally useless, unless one is talking about markets like Pakistan where 3G is still not available. But the reason this article does not generally deal with Pakistan is because it is still too small a market to have a significant impact on global tablet trends.
Then there is also the problem of how they will distribute their products to customers who wish to buy them but without a carrier. They will need contracts with large retailers like BestBuy, Amazon and Ebay in order to ensure that their products are accessible to consumers. So the delay makes sense because Google has stated that the current versions of Android have not been optimised for tablets yet.
Although, timing is of the essence because Apple’s iPad may entrench itself in the market, it also gives time to PC makers to see what consumers really want from their tablets and cater to them accordingly.
But that still does not change the fact that there will always be people who will choose to sensationalise selected numbers in order to make Apple look good. And even if Android tablets do start taking over, they will revert to their older rationalisation of Apple catering to quality, not quantity.
Which was what Steve Jobs did when he said: “Microsoft won. The OS wars are over.” But he did not actually mean that he had lost, Jobs just went on to talk about BMW that catered to only five per cent of the world’s car market.
So it was Steve’s vision to cede quantity and stun the world with quality and innovation. And so far, few would deny that he has done that.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2010.
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