Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mobile: Apple's iPhone Leads A Fellowship of iOS Devices and Macbooks

There is this one scene in the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Arwin, the elf princess, with Frodo Baggins near death, raced through the lands as the Dark Lord's minions, the Black Riders raced to catch them and retrieve the one Ring.  In some respects, this is a parallel that seems to be going on in the mobile market

While Android does have the bulk of the marketshare, it seems like Apple is still leading the charge in some respects.  You can point out specific features of one platform that is better than another.  However, it is undeniable that the iPhone is one the most sought after single device on the mobile market.

In fact, the iPhone 4 alone has Apple in first place:  the biggest smartphone maker in the world.  Meanwhile, the rest of the market is trying to catch it. 

And like the scene I described, where Apple goes, so does the market.  But this post isn't just about the iPhone.  It's about the effect of the whole company on all things mobile now.

iPad with 60-80% of the tablet market and could continue to be the one tablet to rule them all even in 2020 (Beta News).  And even now, the iPod touch has no peers in the not-a-smartphone mobile market - along with the other iPod devices, Apple retains 70% of the MP3 market.  

Meanwhile the Macbooks, reinvigorated with the new Sandy Bridge Airs, should help Apple sale through summer weeks of back-to-school sales despite the US economy flirting with another recession on Wall Street (Main Street has yet to emerge from the first one).  

You add all that up with what's coming this fall, iOS 5, iPhone 5, and other new product refresh, what you have is another scene in the same LOTR movie when Arwin crossed a river and beckoned the Black Riders to cross and follow.  And just as they reached the middle of the river, the elvish princess unleashed a flood that caught the riders by surprised and swept them down the river.  

It's the same with those following in Apple's footsteps trying to catch up to where Apple is headed.  You can't.  And you don't want to.  Apple is making up all the rules and, most of the time, Apple abandons the what its doing and moves on while its competitors are still trying to figure out what happened.

Take those ultrabooks that Intel is pushing to compete with the Macbook Air.  Trusted hardware site, Tom's Hardware, has a really good dose of reality in this matter.  The problem for UB makers is that they are simply trying to compete with a moving target.  There are things and features in the Macbook Air that was by design - competitors will not think they are important because they are too worried about prices and cutting back on quality just to compete at the $999 price line.  And so far, Intel's friends are having problems meeting that pricing point.  And what's worse, they're competing on the Air's terms and promising more.  And that could be detrimental to the ultrabook market if Intel and its partners fail to deliver.  And yeah, I want UB to succeed because it would mean Apple will have competition.  

Furthermore, many tech companies, analysts, and data firms have failed to realize the coming onslaught of Apple's mobile gears.  Everyone is taking each of those devices as individual markets.  Apple is looking at them together as one fluid mobile vision.  Gartner thinks Apple will not reach 5% of the worldwide PC market until 2015.  

I think that'll happen sooner rather than later.  We'll see who's right.

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