Mark Twain said it best. “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Indeed. That means we can compare and contrast all sorts of numerical information and still never have a winner.
Or, worse, everyone is a winner. For example, Samsung sells more smartphones worldwide than Apple sells iPhones. Yet, which of two makes the most revenue and profits from smartphone sales? Android smartphones have a much larger marketshare than iPhone, but is that important?
One of the most important components of product marketing is differentiation. Samsung struggles to make a profit that competes with iPhone because cheap-assed $200 Android-based smartphones have the same software and ecosystem as an $900 Galaxy-whatever. iPhones are differentiated from competitors by a variety of factors, including 1) hardware, 2) operating system, 3) resale value, 4) ecosystem, 5) application platform, 6) upgradeability, and more.
Marketshare might be the least meaningful metric used in business. Would you rather own the company that sells the most smartphones? Or, own the company that takes home 80-percent of the entire industry’s profits?
iPhones lead Android smartphones in a number of key areas and they are not likely to change in the coming years.
CPU – Apple designs its own central processing unit (CPU) which powers each device. That means new iPhones outperform new premium Android-based models from Samsung and other makers. Importantly, that also means older iPhones– new or refurbished– also outperform Android devices with the same or lower prices.
Face ID – Apple has a long history of taking complex or complicated processes and making them simple for the average user. Touch ID is a perfect example because it married convenience– a fingerprint scanner– with high security. Face ID does the same thing and based on Thomas Brewster’s recent tests of Android facial recognition vs. Apple’s facial recognition, the iPhone maker remains a few years ahead of competitors.
We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google’s operating systems and Apple’s iPhone to see how easy it’d be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple’s phone, however, was impenetrable.
Operating System – it pays to remember that Apple’s iPhone started the current smartphone revolution in 2007. Google’s Android team had a smartphone OS but started over after viewing Steve Jobs’ presentation that announced iPhone. Started over? Android remains a less secure, more cumbersome to use copy Apple’s iOS.
Security – this is a no-contest because Android remains a toxic hell stew of malware while iOS a pristine enclave of user friendliness. Each year, about 90-percent of all iPhone and iPad customers upgrade to the latest iOS, while only a small percentage of Android devices are ever upgraded to the latest OS.
Cost vs. Price – this argument has been around forever and still surprises me that people do not understand the difference, and equate cost and price. iPhones carry a surprisingly high resale value. For example, a new two-year old iPhone 7 with 128GB of storage is priced at $549. A similar used model sells for $400 on Gazelle. A Galaxy S9, two years newer than the iPhone, sells for barely $500. iPhones may have a higher price, but they do not cost more.
I can tout many more such differentiations as keys to Apple’s successes; brand, distribution, durability, warranty and service, but you get the idea. From my perspective, Android smartphones are targeted toward two specific groups. Those who want an inexpensive smartphone, and members of the technorati elite politburo who love to tinker with their devices and compare bullet point lists of features and functions. The former dominate sales, while the latter dominate the media.
Apple prospers because of the company’s delicate balance of differentiation.