Remember way back in the mid-to-late 90’s when Apple was beleaguered and near death? Beleaguered? Sure. I read about it in the news. Every technology pundit on the web was predicting Apple’s impending death.
Along came co-founder Steve Jobs and the rest is history. Apple became the most valuable tech company on planet earth, and amassed a vast war chest of tens of billions of dollars and became the absolute profit king among PC makers, smartphone and tablet manufacturers, and online media, content, and application sales.
So, why is Apple still beleaguered?
It is, you know. Headline after headline in the past year decries Apple’s marketshare in smartphones and tablets as plummeting against the free Android OS juggernaut. Some research company you’ve probably never heard of announces that marketshare for Apple’s insert-product-name-here continues to fall while Android grows.
Those non-facts are picked up by bloggers the world over and repeated ad nauseam, over and over until even people who don’t care think Apple is on the rocks (again) and cannot possibly survive.
The funny thing is, Apple is the only company in the PC, smartphone, tablet technology industry segments that reports actual sales numbers for each product each quarter.
Say what? I know what you’re thinking. ‘Kate, can that be true? What are the real numbers?‘
It is true. Have you read anything anywhere about how many smartphones Nokia has shipped with Windows Phone inside? No. How many Kindle Fire (based on a fork of Android OS) has Amazon sold? Only Amazon knows. Even Samsung doesn’t provide a breakdown of how many specific model smartphones and tablets are sold.
What that means is that those headlines which say Android’s marketshare is going up while Apple’s marketshare is going down are completely misleading and based upon guesstimates– not actual sales numbers.
Alright, if so, why do those companies put out information that is obviously false? Could it be that many of those same market research companies have clients that compete with Apple? Therefore, isn’t it good for their clients when they publish information which makes Apple’s vaunted iPhone and iPad look as if they’re part of a dying breed?
Go down the list. IDC, Strategy Analytics, Gartner– all of them have as their clients companies which compete against Apple in one market segment or another. Headlines from IDC, Strategy Analytics, Gartner et al should be treated for what they are– guesstimates, not facts. And the guesstimates themselves should be suspect because each of those companies gets paid by companies which want to influence the marketplace in their favor– often against Apple, but to the benefit of Apple’s competitors.
In other words, fake facts about marketshare only hurt Apple, not Apple’s competitors (many of whom fund the fake fact research). Strategy Analytics is a perfect example. From their About page:
Our customer base includes more than half of the world’s largest mobile operators and most of the leading infrastructure and device vendors, 13 of the top 15 handset OEMs, five of the top 10 semiconductor companies, two-thirds of the top twenty global operators, eight of the top 10 global automobile manufacturers, the top 10 electronics-focused tier one suppliers and the top 10 automotive semiconductor vendors.
Put another way, Strategy Analytics could say, ‘We work for Apple’s competitors and make up marketshare research that puts our clients in a good light and which makes Apple look bad.’ The problem with all these headlines and market research which describes the world of Android smartphones and tablets as crushing Apple’s seemingly anemic and overpriced products is that both the data and intent of the research is fact free if not completely suspect.
Someone is getting paid to make Apple look bad in the eyes of average consumers who read little more than headlines (trumpeted elsewhere by unscrupulous tech pundits and anemic journalists who prefer screaming eyeball-grabbing headlines to real journalism and research).
The reality is this. Apple is making the lion’s share of the PC, smartphone, and tablet industry profits because Apple sells tens of millions of products each year while most competitors do not. The so-called news you read about Apple’s diminishing influence and marketshare isn’t news. It’s not marketshare. Let’s call it what it is. Propaganda which would make Pravda proud.