Category Archives: iPhone

Repeat after me: Chrome is the platform, Android (and iOS) is just the host

I’ve been saying for some time that Google’s longer-term plans for application development all hinged around Chrome. Native Android apps are silos: although Google has built tools which allow developers to make Android apps searchable (and thus a target for ad sales, and tracking) it’s much harder than with a native HTML web app. 

Building an app using native tools is also a dead-end: developers have to work harder to create a web-native equivalent. And web-native equivalents can be easily supported by advertising, supplied by… you guessed it… Google. 

Chrome Packaged Apps, on the other hand, are “native” web apps – and the web is Google’s true focus. So it’s no surprise that Google has released an early release which lets you bring Packaged Apps to iOS and Android. 

Chome is the development platform, not Android: Android is just the host, just like iOS is. 

The iPhone 5c is not doing worse than the iPHone 4S… probably

Ina Fried, reporting on a survey of iPhone users which apparently shows the iPhone 5c doing worse than the equivalent model in the range did last year, the iPhone 4S:

The iPhone 5s accounted for 59 percent of October through December U.S. sales, according to a study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. This compares to the iPhone 5′s 50 percent of sales when it was the high-end model a year ago.

The iPhone 5c, meanwhile, represented 27 percent of sales, less than the 32 percent that the iPhone 4s had a year ago when it was the mid-range model. CIRP’s findings are based on a survey of 500 buyers of Apple gear during the survey period.

How accurate a survey is depends on the sample size. And while 500 is a valid sample size considering the overall “population”[1] of around 50m iPhone buyers, it isn’t enough to reduce the margin of error to the kind of point which would justify the claims being made.

With a sample this size, unless they’d taken a lot of precautions, the margin of error would be around +/–4–5%. This means, potentially, the models could have the reversed share: 32% for the 5c (27% + margin of error upwards of 5%) and 27% for the 4S (32% – margin of error down of 5%).

All that you can say based on these numbers is the iPhone 5c is performing about as well as the iPhone 4S did in the same role. However, a conclusion like that isn’t enough for CIRP. According to CIRP analyst Josh Lowitz:

“If the old iPhone 5 had been the mid-priced phone, we expect that it would have sold a higher percentage of iPhones than the 5c did, as previous mid-priced legacy iPhones have,” Lowitz said. “The 5c seems to have been designed to force certain buyers to the 5s.”

I’m not sure how you can “force” buyers into buying something more expensive if they haven’t got the money. Sure, it probably does well at “upselling” customers: those who would never consider buying the top-end phone and so walk into an Apple Store to get the 5c, but then play around with a 5S and get a case of profound gadget-lust. But I can’t imagine that more of those kinds of customers took at a look at last year’s top of the line phone and didn’t feel equally lustful.


  1. A “population” in survey terms is the number of people who fall into the group you’re trying to sample: in this case, the roughly 50m people in the US who bought iPhones that year. The bigger the population, the bigger the sample size you need.  ↩

IFTTT launches on the iPhone

IFTTT launches on the iPhone:

“IFTTT, if you’re unfamiliar, is a utility that you can use to hook multiple web services together to perform automated actions for you. Want a text message every time you get an email from a friend? Care to have your photos automatically shipped off to SkyDrive or Dropbox or Flickr as they’re shot? There’s a ton more stuff that you can do with the hundreds of channels that support popular apps, services and actions.“

IFTTT is one of my favourite web services of the past year, capable of creating dozens of useful tools, and a great illustration of why open APIs are important and powerful.

Apple is winning. Google is winning. Can we shut up now please?

Ben Thompson on the Google we always wanted

Android did its job: Google’s signals have unfettered access to users on every mobile platform. Microsoft is in no position to block them, and Apple, for all its bluster, isn’t interested.

Chrome is doing its job: Google’s signals sit on top of an increasing number of PCs, slowly making the underlying OS irrelevant.

Google+ is doing its job: Every Google service is now tied together by a single identity, and identity is the key to data collection on mobile.

This is the thing that people often don’t get: while Google and Apple appear to be competing with each other, because both companies sell a mobile platform, in fact they have entirely different aims and objectives. This means that it’s perfectly possible for both to “win” by their own criteria.

Apple wins by selling the best devices, ensuring no one can stop them delivering the best user experience and making a profit from them. Google wins by improving its advertising products and ensuring that no other company can lock it out, depriving it of potential audience. 

This is why the occasional talk of Google pulling or handicapping its iOS products (see the comments here) is laughable. Google doesn’t care if you’re using an iPhone or an Android phone. It cares if you’re using Google services or not. And the best way to get iOS users to use more Google services is to produce better products for iOS, rather than expect them to buy a new mobile phone. 

Why single sourced rumours about Apple should be taken with a pinch of salt

You know, if you wanted two paragraphs to sum up the perils of tracking Apple’s supply chain ‘build plans’, they would be these:

In Nov. 2011 DigiTimes reported that Apple had “slashed” orders for iPhone 4S parts 10% to 15% — a report that generated a flurry of doomsday headlines (Uh-Oh: Apple Said To Cut Orders To Asia Suppliers On iPhone 4S Problems” from Business Insider’s Henry Blodget) and persuaded many on Wall Street that Apple was headed for disappointing Christmas sales.

As it turned out, the company shipped a record 37 million iPhones that Christmas quarter, up 128% year over year.

It needs saying again… and again… and again… single sourced stories just aren’t reliable. 

Hardware in a software world

The inestimable Mr Gruber:

Even “hardware” features are defined by software, and can no longer be judged on their own. Consider, say, mobile phone cameras. The camera itself is important – the sensor, the lens, the physical size – but ultimately what matters is the quality of the images it produces, and software is a huge part of that.

This is something that I have to repeatedly point out to Android users. Over and over again, they point out how the hardware on a particular phone is better than the iPhone, and how the software allows you more precision control over the shot you take with the camera.

And over and over again, I ask “which takes better pictures?”

And the answer is always the iPhone.

(via Daring Fireball Linked List: CES Is the World’s Greatest Hardware Show Stuck in a Software Era)

The end of the beginning in the mobile market

Benedict Evans sums up the current state of the mobile market:

“In other words, Apple has 20-30% of the market by volume, but it is the top 20-30%. Google ‘has’ the rest, but has only a very tenuous connection to large parts of it, and another large proportion is likely to be worth little or nothing for a long time. Roll on uncertainty (link): everything will change, again, in the next year. “

This is only phase one. Whether iOS and Android are even in the same market most of the time is up for debate.

In which someone may be switching to Android (Or, a classic case of Geek Itch)

At Techpinions, Patrick Moorhead is pondering leaving the iPhone, and switching to Android. But take a look at the language that Patrick uses:

With Android’s “Butter” introduced at this year’s Google I/O, the feel is nearly as good as iOS… My front-page apps like Evernote for Android and Windows Phone are still ugly but they don’t keep me from doing my job or having less fun. There is much less of a time delay or quality delta between Android and iOS apps than there ever was before. [My emphasis]

Turn that around, and what it says is that iOS remains smoother, and the apps remain higher quality and usually released first. In other words, for many of the things that affect Patrick’s decision, by choosing Android he’s actively choosing second-best in terms of experience.

That might make sense if there were other features Patrick wanted or needed about Android which significantly outweigh taking the pain there. But if there are, I’m not really seeing them here. Sharing isn’t as hard as you make it out to be: I share from Safari on iOS to Google+ in one click, by using a bookmarklet. There are equivalents for both Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Speech to text and control is a more personal decision. For me, Siri works better than Google Now’s voice control stuff, partly (I think) because Google hasn’t implemented all the features for British English. The dictation engine works better for me on iOS than Android. And voice search from the iOS Google Search app uses the same voice recognition as Google Now (as you’d expect) so if I want to do voice searching, I mostly use that.

It think Patrick also gives Apple a little less credit on new technology than it deserves. For me, a deal breaker with Android has always been integration with a wider eco-system of devices through AirPlay. Despite Android’s focus on this recently, Apple is still a mile ahead in simplicity. Hook up a (dirt cheap) Apple TV to your living room TV, and stream pretty much any content to it. Making something that easy is the best way to implement new technology, because it removes the barriers to “normal” people using it.

I get the feeling, though, that Patrick has classic “geek itch”[1]“. I get this too – the desire to jump to a platform which will allow me to play around a little more, to to spend time configuring things and digging into them. Nothing wrong with that – but it’s not really more broadly applicable as a comment on a specific platform.


  1. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.  ↩

Google’s iOS app strategy

If you think that it’s in Google’s interests to create better apps on Android than iOS, two recent releases should absolve you of that notion.

First, there’s the latest release of Gmail, an app that’s so good even Android sites are wishing it was available on their platform.

Then there is YouTube, which improves so much over the previous (Apple-created) app that I wish Apple had dropped its own version sooner.

So what’s going on? Why would Android’s creator make better apps for the platform it competes with than for its own?

There’s two reasons. First, as I wrote in my most recent posting on Macgasm, the role of Android isn’t to defeat iOS, but to ensure that Apple does not dominate mobile in a way which meant it could lock Google search out. Second, there’s the issue of revenue. Although Google doesn’t break out how much it makes from ads served to iOS devices, given that iOS drives far more web traffic than Android it’s safe to assume Google serves more web ads to it. And that makes iOS a more profitable platform for Google than Android is.

Given this, why would Google want to damage a platform it makes more money per user from, in favour of a platform it makes less money per user from? Google is driven by data, and the data says that providing services to iOS users makes it money.

One product or fifty?

One on One: Jim Wicks, Design Chief at Motorola Mobility – bits.blogs.nytimes.com:

If another company is only making two products and four products, and they’re putting all their resources into that, and you’re making 50, you can imagine the challenges you have. Do you feel like you have the best talent, the best testing, when you’re doing 50 products that cover smartphones, tablets and accessories, which are all in their own right highly complex products

I wonder which “other company” he could be referring to?