Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Microsoft Wants Apple’s iPhone To Win (Over Android)

Given the plethora of posts today about how iPhone along on ATT's network is outselling all of Verizon's smartphone sales, I can't help but wonder if we are on the road to total domination by iOS in terms of sales.  Well, for folks in various camps, the answer is : no.  However, iOS will continue to reap in the major of the media and bloggers' attention.  And this is something that Microsoft wishing for: an iOS rout of Android.  

Here's why.

Even now, the consumer attention is on iOS, Specifically, in the smartphone market, it's the iPhone.  And with Apple likely to sell the iPhone with Verizon in 2011 and possibly other networks in the US, Android's position as the counterweight within Verizon becomes increasingly irrelevant.  

More to the point:  iPhone will take sales from Android and Blackberry and defections from Verizon will likely end.  So why does Microsoft want this to happen?

Even now, Windows Phone 7 is just starting to pick up steam though it has a long difficult road ahead.  Microsoft believes it will take upwards to two years to mount a challenge against the iPhone.  They made no mention of Android.  Perhaps they believe, just as the data have indicated, the iPhone has a good chance to dominate the US market.

And if the iPhone does take sales away from Android and Blackberry, it makes it easier for WP7 to mount a challenge against one adversary than having to deal with two major opponents.  

How so?  It is not just about sales but what the media and bloggers are talking about and what information trickles down to the consumers.  Should the day come when Android becomes a "has been" in the mind of consumers, it would be easier for Microsoft to position WP7 as an alternative to the iPhone.

And then carriers and device makers will have to change their strategies.

Like Android, WP7 is licensed by hardware makers to use as the backbone for their devices.  Like Android, it is available in multiple forms.  Should Android sales faltered, Microsoft can argue that Android no longer possess the competitive challenge that Verizon, Google, and others have sought.  

If everyone buys this argument, Microsoft can come in and say "WP7 is the answer to their hardware sales woes" to the iPhone.

Now, wouldn't this work the other way around?  Android dominating the iPhone so Microsoft can go toe-to-toe with Google?  No because of the exact same reasons I've laid out above.  If Android sales continue to be strong, why would hardware makers need to push WP7 against its cash cow?  Not only that, Microsoft charges for licensing when Android is free from Google.

For any of this to happen, we'll have to see what kind of iPhone sales on Verizon will have on the whole mobile market.  

Before we go three or more quarters into the future, let's ask this: is demand for a Verizons iPhone, whether it runs on CDMA or LTE, going to impact Android or Blackberry sales to the point that either of these platforms will be sold only to those most dedicated to them?

I doubt it.  There's likely going to be an equalization at some point.  Just as when you add weight to a small boat, it'll rock violently but will eventually stabilize.  

And there are many reasons Android will continue to sell well and expand.  Android 3 is coming and Google knows that its future lies with mobile. Furthermore, let's not forget Google is still about search, which it dominates by a wide market both on the desktop and in mobile searches.

But for Microsoft, it doesn't matter if Android sales continue to do well so long as bloggers and the media start to sing songs of Android's former glory days.

More on iPhone sales and changes for Verizon-Android at Macworld and Asymco.

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