My Photo

Ordering Information

Tomi on Twitter is @tomiahonen

  • Follow Tomi on Twitter as @tomiahonen
    Follow Tomi's Twitterfloods on all matters mobile, tech and media. Tomi has over 8,000 followers and was rated by Forbes as the most influential writer on mobile related topics

Book Tomi T Ahonen to Speak at Your Event

  • Contact Tomi T Ahonen for Speaking and Consulting Events
    Please write email to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and indicate "Speaking Event" or "Consulting Work" or "Expert Witness" or whatever type of work you would like to offer. Tomi works regularly on all continents

Tomi on Video including his TED Talk

  • Tomi on Video including his TED Talk
    See Tomi on video from several recent keynote presentations and interviews, including his TED Talk in Hong Kong about Augmented Reality as the 8th Mass Media


Blog powered by Typepad

« Tidbits from Smartphone Wars - Carl Zeiss, HTC, Sammy and look out for Huawei vs iPhone next two quarters. | Main | Whispers From the Void - When nothing is going on in tech, a few brief observations on the occasional news tidbits »

August 04, 2017


Jim Glue

The jury is out whether the Chinese "turned away" from Apple or are holding onto their phones longer. That's what we are about to find out with the new iPhones. We don't have evidence that people who have iphones are switching to Android.

Doubting Apple will take the premium market? Apple already has the premium market. The only story line of interest was how much Samsung might get back with it's Galaxy S8. Well, and soon with the hope-it-doesn't-explode new Galaxy Note 8. Nobody else is in the running at the moment. The Google Pixel and soon the Essential phone are vanity projects with no hope of significant market impact. What impact they do have is going to come directly out of Samsung's pocket.

"Apple will have a hard time going forward". Nonsense. During this years long fall in marketshare, Apple's active base has continued to grow at a very nice pace. By the end of this year, there will be 650M active iPhone customers. The days of 30% and 40% growth is over for sure. But that type of growth has been over for years excepting the iPhone 6. And you can see already that even Android's growth rate has plummeted from it's hey days. You are down to expanding the market to the illiterate and those without regular power now.

The new high end iPhone is going to create separation just like the iPad Pro did. After Apple sets a new high point, there will be room for a price cut and product at a lower end (for Apple, which is upper mid range for everybody else). AR, cameras and bezeless screens will keep demand at the high end going.

Just think, the iPhone 6 is now a 4 year old phone and is still a terrific phone. There is starting to be enough distance between the latest, and the still really good older tech that Apple has the option at any time to venture out and capture the next lower price tier.

Abdul Muis

"The jury is out whether the Chinese "turned away" from Apple or are holding onto their phones longer. That's what we are about to find out with the new iPhones. We don't have evidence that people who have iphones are switching to Android."

Well, perhaps you need to explain your theory. Because when I see apple sales number going south in China, while android sales number going up, thats the only logical explanation to me.

"Doubting Apple will take the premium market? Apple already has the premium market."

No, Im saying apple user were changing. In the past enthusias who want the best device buy iphone. Now, grandma/grandpa who think apple easy buy the cheapest iphone.

And i was also talking about india, where's iphone sold there were mostly not the top of line.

"Just think, the iPhone 6 is now a 4 year old phone and is still a terrific phone."

If you not power user, its terrifix for you. For me, using iphone 6 in 2017 is considered shitty phone.

Jim Glue

It's not too hard to understand, really. 100% is always the total market share. Sales counts vary, but the 100% of the market is always 100%.

Android can increase sales by selling to those who never had a smart phone or already had an Android phone.

All Apple customers COULD just keep their phone another year and not buy anything.

The market is still 100% and Android would grab 100% of the scenario I just present without taking 1 single existing Apple customer. Likewise, the iPhone share that quarter would plummet to 0% and STILL Apple would not have lost a single existing customer.

So no, you do not know at this point if the lowered sales of iPhone in China are representing a shift to cheaper Android phones or Apple customers holding out for the rumored iPhone 10th Anniversary Edition (it certainly won't be called that).

Look at the growth in the install base of the iPhone. Unrelenting growth. Not a single quarter ever have we YET seen a decline. A decline in the install base would DEFINITELY signal a turn away from the iPhone and toward Android BY actual iPhone customers.

We know that both sides experience churn. Tim Cook did not tout the "2 to 1 switcher advantage" this past quarterly results call. He's been saying that for the last year, and then nothing this past quarter.

So yes. Apple can indeed drop marketshare, grow their install base, and capture more swtichers than they lose because the smartphone base itself is still growing and Android is getting almost all of the "new to smartphone" customers at this point.


"Apple did 5x-8x better/more in china than in india."

Well Apple went to China firts because of the "political reasons". India had and still has lots of ristrictions what you have to do there and that was and is a problem for Apple. It took years for Apple to negotiate the deal with the Indian goverment how to proceed there. So the China was "low hanging fruit" for Apple to pick. Apple did not make a deal with China Mobile before their manufacturing capability was on the right level. You can be sure that Apple will make success in India when they get the production up and all the Apple Stores in place. This wont happen over night that is sure, but now when the wheel is turning nothing can stop it.

Jim Glue

Hi LongAaple,

I disagree only in suggesting China was "low hanging fruit". Apple spent years working on sales in China before they took off. China Mobile resisted Apple and it's iPhone for the same reasons Verizon in the US and Docomo in China did....they didn't like Apple's insistence on iPhone being free of Carrier branding and services AND Apple's demand for volume commitments. But like those other two, China Mobile was forced to cave as the iPhone proved to be a guaranteed winner for it's rivals, pulling away China Mobil's best customers.

Abdul Muis


If you constantly visit or have business in both china & india, you'll know the different.

China middle class is growing, and they have money to spend, and they want great experience and willing to buy it.

India is different. Their want/willing to spend, but they dont value "bubble" or "gimmick" or "fashion", the way apple promote their segment.

Abdul Muis


When apple say "retina display"
India mobile phone review magazine will say. It just HD screen (or full hd for bigger size phone). Not as good as samsung/sony/xiaomi/etc

Jim Glue

Hi Abdul,

I think you are right about the difference between the size of the middle class in China vs India. That's why Apple put all the work into the China market first. And from what I read, the Chinese are more into status than the Indians...I wouldn't know, but it's reported commonly enough.

Where we part ways is in ascribing all of the iPhone's success to fashion or prestige. People have been trying to predict the fall of the iPhone forever based on the fickleness of fashion. Samsung spent 10's of millions on an advertising campaign aimed at painting the iPhone as old and "for your clueless parents"....mocking those folks standing in line to get the latest iPhone. Sure, Apple plays up fashion and prestige and MANY MANY other things to get people to buy iPhones.

But you can't explain the enduring popularity of the iPhone on anything as ephemeral as fashion. Thing is - you are MOSTLY right. MOST people do not buy iPhones. MOST people also do not buy the "iPhone equivalent" Android phones. Most people do not have the kinds of money needed, or even if the do - feel like spending that much money for a phone.

We also part ways in our estimation of how many people there are who do have the money to buy iPhones or expensive Android.

Jim Glue

About that Retina display. That's a great feature to discuss the difference between Apple and "the rest". Apple doesn't always have new features first...actually doesn't have them first most of the time. Apple does consistently, though, raise the bar for everyone and the retina screen was just one of those time. Apple did it first. Then Apple made it a marquee feature in it's advertising.

Apple didn't just put more pixel density in for no reason. "What do we need so that you can't see the dots". Thus the "retina" display is "enough to not see the dots". Once Apple makes something a marketing difference, the Android horde goes into overdrive to EXCEED whatever Apple says is important. Look at us. We got us MORE pixels per inch. 'Cause more is better, dontcha know.

Only it's not necessarily better and often comes with trade offs. So for extra resolution you can't see, you get poorer performance and shorter battery life all else held equal. The next time you see a big increase of pixel density from Apple will be when Apple decides the iPhone on your face is a good idea (for VR viewing). Nobody has great pixel density for THAT use case yet. Apple won't put more pixels per inch just to say "we have more" -- just as Apple never joined the megapixel race for cameras. Apple chooses to optimize on the photo quality....and as Samsung and others came around to see that pov, they too DROPPED BACK in the megapixels of their cameras.

Apple isn't always right or best, of course. Samsung certainly proved that large screen smartphones were desirable while Apple stubbornly stayed with their "ease of one hand use is the most important thing" policy.

I'm loving what the competition between Apple and the Android horde are producing. Those who like "specs for the lowest price" are the least likely to prefer iPhones. Those who like the overall experience, ease of use, complete and seamless ecosystem, and support (Apple stores, online and over the phone) are much more likely to choose an iPhone. If they can afford it.

Abdul Muis

@Jim Glue

"Where we part ways is in ascribing all of the iPhone's success to fashion or prestige. People have been trying to predict the fall of the iPhone forever based on the fickleness of fashion."

From your response, I believe you never been to china, or have relation with China in any way. When Apple enter China through carrier, people were curious, they want to know why the Western say Apple is the best. They want to also have the Apple experience promise --- "it just works". But after trying iPhone for a while, they decide, that it's only fashion, bubble. Apple era in China is already over. You might not believe it, because you see that in USA, Apple still rule. But not in China.

Furthermore..... The WeeChat incident...
WeChat have a "tipping" system. So, if you read some article on the net, and you want to tip the author or commenter because you think they good, you can tip them from 10 (US) cents. The problem is, Apple want 30% cut if those WeChat user use Apple. This is really hurting Apple image in news. And those 1 million+ people that make article, keep making a negative article about Apple. This is huge. You could only understand if you have China relation.

Well, it's only a couple more months, before your word can be weight against my words on Apple in China. But, I don't think Apple could sell as much as it used to be. The sale of the iPhone X will be more than previous model, but won't beat the Apple Golden era in China. The real question here is, how long can the increase of iPhone X in China will be. Will it be only 1 quarter, or perhaps 2 quarters, or as you wanted (lonnnngggg)..

China is NOT USA
India is NOT China/USA
It's different.....

Abdul Muis


"Apple didn't just put more pixel density in for no reason. "What do we need so that you can't see the dots". Thus the "retina" display is "enough to not see the dots". Once Apple makes something a marketing difference, the Android horde goes into overdrive to EXCEED whatever Apple says is important. Look at us. We got us MORE pixels per inch. 'Cause more is better, dontcha know."

Do you really believe this hogwash??? Do you really want me to believe this hogwash? Apple just happened to be loosing the edge, and they were making up an excuse...

I really hate 720p screen, even on 4.7" phone. FullHD on 4.7"-5.2", and more than FHD on 5.5" phone. Or perhaps I have a better eyes than most iPhone user did. Because I can see the dot on retina display.

About battery life vs. screen resolution...
Perhaps Apple should switch to AMOLED, because AMOLED screen use less electricity, and pay Qualcomm the $5.90 patent for making the phone use less electricity before blaming the screen resolution eat battery.
Apple Could End Qualcomm Row With $8 Billion Payment
Apple could digest a payment, and an ongoing rate of $5.90 per phone as could be acceptable to both parties.

Jim Glue

You are letting your obvious dislike for Apple cloud your reasoning. And yes, it is true that higher resolutions screens take more cpu power and thus more battery to drive them. It's not Apple's spin, it's just the way things work. BTW, having lots of ram ALSO uses more energy. Apple strive to achieve a balance. They have unprecedented and unmatched abilities to tune and optimize. Apple designs their own CPUs, writes the OS, writes the app development tools like Metal and so on. That's how you have iPhones with better performance than Android using fewer cores running at less speed and having less RAM.

The advantage the Android horde has is variety and choice. They can add LTE to their products before Apple will. NOT because Apple can't buy the same LTE chips as everyone else does, but because Apple isn't willing to put out a phone with terrible battery life -- which all the early Android LTE phones had. So they beat Apple to the punch, and Android customers can decide if they can deal with the bad battery life for the much faster internet speeds. Apple customers have to wait until Apple decides it's time to offer that feature.

All the cards are not in Apple's favor...never have been.

As for China - we'll soon see. If the next iPhones continue the sales slump in China, then we'll know. But if the Chinese are as fashion/prestige conscious as you and others's doubtful that anybody is going to beat Apple in the prestige market. Going three years with the same look and feel, under this theory, is the likely driving factor for the sales drop we've seen.


"Apple never joined the megapixel race for cameras."

Because it could not. Camera was never a core competence of Apple, and still isn't.

"Apple chooses to optimize on the photo quality...."

While good, iPhone imaging capabilities have never been the best, and still are not. Again, cameras are not a core competence of Apple (just as wireless communications and maps aren't), and therefore it provides good, but not as good imaging features as others. It is that simple.

Notice that the much-touted dual camera setup of the iPhone came first with LG G5 -- on sale in April 2016, well before the iPhone 7. As for the marked improvement in cameras in the iPhone 7, they were largely the outcome of hiring in external competence -- most notably former Nokia smartphone camera developers. Still leaving glaring shortcomings (no OIS on one of the two optical lens, for instance).

"and as Samsung and others came around to see that pov, they too DROPPED BACK in the megapixels of their cameras."

The fact is: there never was a real megapixel for the megapixels' sake race in the past 4-5 years.

What really took place were attempts to solve three major issues:
1) high-resolution, low-noise photos;
2) low-light photography;
3) real zooming.

Most manufacturers attacked (3) with special lenses configurations (ASUS), slapping camera objectives on a phone (Samsung), or dual lenses setup (LG), addressing (1) with more pixels, while leaving (2) to continuous improvements of optics and sensors.

Nokia attacked (1) and (3) with monster sensors with many large pixels -- resulting in the 808 and 1020. They required expensive optics, thick bodies, bespoke processors, and special digital image processing algorithms -- things that Nokia knew how to develop, was ready to invest in, and which were acceptable for photography fans.

Nobody followed that trail -- other models topped at 20mpx, when they tried (Samsung Galaxy S* never went beyond 16mpx). Only Sony, with in-house camera competence, went beyond 20mpx and attempted something vaguely similar to Nokia (with 23mpx cameras) -- but only produced incomplete, unsatisfactory solutions.

Nowadays, ultra-slim bodies make this high-megapixel count proposition unpalatable -- even technically infeasible.


"They can add LTE to their products before Apple will. NOT because Apple can't buy the same LTE chips as everyone else does, but because Apple isn't willing to put out a phone with terrible battery life"

Sorry, but this kind of argument needs to be debunked once and for all.

Integrating LTE is more than buying a chip. It impacts the protocol stack, the operating system, the power management, antenna and hence chassis design.

And if Apple comes after all others, it is because RF is simply not one of its core competences.

Remember that Apple was also late with 3G in the iPhone. And that its Bluetooth implementation is still patchy compared to the competition. And there was the badly designed iPhone 4 antenna (exaggeratedly called antennagate).

What have all those things in common? RF. Wireless communications. It is simply not a core competence of Apple, hence Apple is late, and sometimes mucks up. It is _not_ because Apple wants to make it perfect.

Want a final evidence? Look at who has core patents in LTE (here: Apple has a low number of essential patents -- and they were all acquired from Nortel.

You correctly point out that iPhones have more balanced, more consistent high computing performance than competing products of the same range.

You make the typical error of focusing on the processor -- but so much more in computer design is required to achieve high computing performance: the bus; the memory hierarchy; cache management; the balance between GPU and CPU.

Is this a core competence of Apple? You bet. Apple has been designed computers for decades -- its engineers know how adjust RAM speeds to CPU and make sure that data and instruction paths are not obstructed when needed.

User interface? Another core competence of Apple.

System integration? Another one -- all software and hardware elements work seamlessly together in the iPhone.

A place where Apple lacks a core competence? Maps.

There was a systematic study of mobile mapping software (several versions of Apple maps were studied, but also Google maps, Here, Bing, TomTom, OpenstreetMap...) The criteria were objective: strict cartographic criteria. E.g: labels must not overlap; they must be used consistently; their typography must be consistent; when panning the label of an entity must remain visible as long as the entity is visible; etc. Totally objective criteria -- instead of the usual "how complete is the map", "how can we customize POI", or the like.

The result: Apple maps were the worst. Repeatedly. Version after version. On the other hand, one of the best mapping system was the iOS version of maps developed by Google prior to the switch to Apple-inside mapping system.

Is Apple carefully polishing its mapping software and therefore taking some more time in coming with features and improvements? Nope, Apple is just not as competent as mapping as the others -- and therefore produces usable, but inferior mapping software. Because it is not its core competence. It is that simple. And with wireless, it faces the same issue.

I could go on telling about the lack of competence of competitors like Sony, HTC or Nokia in specific areas, but this post is already too long. The essential message is this: no firm is competent at everything. If, in a specific domain, a manufacturer comes repeatedly late, or with less features that are common in the competition, it is not because it wants to polish its implementation like a craftsman of yore, but simply because it does not have the competence to do it.

James Glu

Oh, I know....Apple is incompetent at everything...except perhaps marketing. Apple keeps adding more and more to the things Apple can do. Even Apple maps is good now. The latest is AR. Apple was said to be behind and then Apple leaps to the fore front.

I stand by my LTE analysis.

Apple sources its cameras from Sony like most everyone else. And yes, Apple did refrain from the mp race because more is not better (at some point) especially with these tiny sensors. And yes, the Android cameras have become top notch in their own right,..but only AFTER stepping back from the mp race themselves. But Apple doesn't JUST buy off the shelf camera modules. Like in everything else they work with their vendors to tailor specific solutions to Apple's specifications, and the Apple writes the software.

And yes, it's not just about the CPU...but everything else that Apple can integrate more closely than anybody else.

Dual camera systems are not the same. LG went with wide and paired it with super wide. Apple added a telephoto lens to the wide and then used AI to interpret depth information resulting in a DSLR like portrait mode. It works amazingly well. I bought the 7+ just for that feature alone. Well that, and the color calibrated screen with the wide color gamut. But as far as I'm concerned...the iPhone part was plenty good enough already...I paid to upgrade my camera.

I'm happy that Android cameras in the premium category have also become excellent.

These debates amount enthusiasts like us have zero impact on sales. You have your reasons for your preferences, I have mine. I look forward to the next set of results


"Oh, I know....Apple is incompetent at everything...except perhaps marketing."

Straw man argument. I never wrote that Apple was incompetent. On the contrary!

I _explicitly_ explained that there are _core competences_ and the rest, and in some areas, Apple comes _systematically_ late because, while not ignorant, these are not its _core competences_.

Apple came late with 3G, late with LTE, late with Bluetooth features, has no wireless charging. Not because it wants to do best, but because wireless is just not its core competence. Proof: look at who has essential patents in the field. Apple has none of its own. Is Apple incompetent in the area? No, but it is not its core competence, hence it repeatedly comes late, or not at all, and sometimes goofs up.

Apple was late with mpx, late with OIS, late with high zoom support. Because it was polishing a super-product? Nope, because camera was a core competence of other manufacturers, not of Apple.

And by the way: when you say that "because more is not better (at some point) especially with these tiny sensors", you are only repeating the argument that I put forth explicitly, explaining that the mpx-oriented approaches died out because the ultra-slim trend (which Apple always privileged) condemned large sensors anyway.

"Apple maps is good now."

They are not bad, but based on cartographic usability criteria, they still are the worst of the pack. It is an incontrovertible fact.

And that is the lesson: cameras, wireless and maps on the iPhone are not unusable or terrible, they are good even -- and I _explicitly_ acknowledged it. But not as good, and come later than the competition.

"Apple keeps adding more and more to the things Apple can do."

That is the point: there are things Apple can do, and others it cannot. And amongst those it can do, there are areas that are its core competences (have been for decades), and others where it just trails others, who have had those core competences for a long time.

Contrarily to what you seem to think, Apple does not excel at everything -- no organization, no matter how successful and awash in resources can.

I _explicitly_ recognized the superiority of Apple in its core competences -- among them computing system design, system integration, user interface (there are others, like OS, thermal design, distributed systems -- think cloud -- and, oh yes, marketing too).

Notice that Apple, for instance came _earlier_ with 64b platforms, _earlier_ with capacitive displays with a user interface tightly optimized for them, _earlier_ with high-resolution displays, _earlier_ with fingerprint features...

And top-notch, complete implementations at that! And that it keeps those features up-to-date from one release to another (which it keeps in synch with a regular rhythm of OS releases and device updates -- another core competence: software product management).

That is the difference: coming systematically earlier with a complete set of competitive features that work really well => core competence; coming systematically later with incomplete competitive feature sets that work => competence, but definitely not high, core competence. Not coming at all with a feature, or only buggy, unusable ones => incompetent.

Forget the dithyrambs; forget the hagiography of Jobs, Cook, Ives. No rational analysis of the power, potential and risks of Apple is possible if one keeps on with that blind admiration for everything wearing the bitten fruit logo.

Similar remarks apply to Google by the way. I am getting tired of those paeans to the open, adaptable, comprehensive, etc, Android that most often than not eschew the most glaring weaknesses.

Jim Glue

Hi EC,

You are definitely less blinded by Apple hatred than most I read on this forum. But we still disagree on some of the specifics. I think photography is a core competency of Apple and why the iPhone is highly regarded by everyone without a partisan view of Android. Vic Gundotra made waves recently by making that very same point.

Apple doesn't have wireless expertise? Apple has been one of the companies advancing Bluetooth and has completely jumped the competition yet again with their Airpods. Yes, the result are Airpods that are extremely easy to use (I love them), but you don't get there with the existing Bluetooth standard alone (again, the standard Apple helps advance and completely supports). Apple had to design it's own W1 chip to go above and beyond to get that superior, easy, user experience.

Apple doesn't do everything "best in class" for sure. But who does MORE best in class than Apple? Nobody. Not even close. Apple is always adding to their core competency. Designing their chips wasn't one until Apple decided it made strategic sense to make it so. So they bought PA Semi, and then gave them incredible resources and have been out in front from their first chip and ever since.

As for LTE - again - Apple COULD have bought the same chips from Qualcomm that everyone else bought. Apple could have been first in line and could have bought up the first year's run. Apple does that kind of stuff when they want to. Apple just wasn't willing to make the battery life, thickness trade off for the first gen. Go read those old reviews, the first LTE handsets had horrible battery life.

It's great to have choices. The iPhone is but one of many choices. And for all of that...the choices Apple makes set the direction of the market far more often than their tiny market share would justify.

What you describe as Apple being late -- I'd say is Apple putting more work into putting out something great rather than something first. Take VR/AR. Apple knows what's coming and they are working on their own offering.

Google, meanwhile, puts out Google glass...a half baked mess of a product. Made it appear they were miles ahead of Apple (and Microsoft), but they really aren't. They were just more willing to pass off a prototype as a product.

By the time Apple puts out a glasses product (and they will), they will have great technology, great content already in place, a great ecosystem of tools and developers to create that content.

Have you seen the ARKit demo's? The first thing I thought was "now I finally want those glasses". But Apple isn't going to put out a crappy user experience to be first. By attacking AR from the handset perspective, they will deliver a great experience, foster the development of great content, get customers on board...and THEN, when the technology is ready, you'll see the best glasses on the market come out.

Won't matter if Google, Microsoft or Facebook put out products first.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi everybody

Interesting discussion on the Retina display argument. So lets inject some realism and facts into the discussion. First, Apple didn't invent this (super-sharp display idea) that was once again - Nokia and the E90 Communicator which introduced the world's sharpest display of any smartphone (far more than then-current iPhone) in I think it was year 2007 if I remember correctly, could be 2008 (sorry, fuzzy with dates, am on summer vacation mode). But that E90 Communicator obviously was never sold in America, so only Americans had never seen a super-sharp display on a massive screen (E90 also had 4 inch screen vs then-current iPhone 3.5 inch).

But remember launch of Retina display? It was Apple's ill-fated attempt to defeat Samsung's success with larger screens of the first Galaxy Note series phablets.

So all were begging Apple to give larger screens for iPhones. Apple did what Apple does, spits in the eyes of its customer demand, and 'Steve Jobs knows better' and did Retina Display instead. And after several years of playing THAT game, they finally relented and give phablet-sized screens after Sammy had utterly dominated that market segment and Retina Display could not fight in that battle.

So with that history lesson first, and the facts - lets see WHY Apple did Retina Display. They didn't want to 'destroy' the 'purity' of the elegant SMALL (and slim) device. They felt that Samsung Notes were 'ugly' and 'too big'. Even as the screen size clearly trumped any other tech features. Apple wanted to fight for 'slim and small' and 'elegant' instead. So rather than give larger screen, we will keep screen size same, but give such incredible pixel density that the human eye cannot detect the difference (and typical Apple, also invented a cool name for it, Retina Display). Obviously then when exact same resolution Retina display came on a later iPad - the pixels were that much larger that technically a human COULD detect them - but by then the myth had been formed that these were magical pixels...

Now, comparing CONTEMPORARY 4 inch screens, and setting aside first iPhone Retina display vs ANY rivals - the iPhone was VISIBLY more sharp. That did kind of work. The iFans got a 'better' screen than previous iPhones - while it was not 'larger'. And then comparing to first phablet-screens of Galaxy Notes and its early clones - it was even more vividly clear, that the iPhone screen was super-sharp.

Well, fast forward a few years, the rivals added pixel density to match or nearly-match the iPhone (or even exceed) and the Retina Display 'competitive advantage' was lost, but all along, Samsung racked up massive phablet sales and Apple abandoned a significant slice of the 'low hanging fruit' that they could have taken if they had had a more rational CEO not obsessed with his own god-like understanding of what tech nerds will pay for. Steve Jobs was a genius but he was also not infallible, obviously. Here was one call he made that was seriously wrong...

The primary reason for Retina Display was a DEFENSIVE move, to try to do a screen better than current screens, but without forcing the iPhone design to become larger (ugly, cumbersome). It is the SAME philosophy such as the on-screen keyboard rather than a slider/folder true QWERTY physical keyboard (which would be far bulkier and ruin the slender thin apperance of the iPhone; it worked in that case) or the idea to do the image manipulation in software with a crummy camera rather than capture high-resolution high-quality images with a better camera (that would be bulkier). Apple always attempts to do the slim-slender way first (like refusing to give long-lasting but larger batteries).

To be clear - it worked for Apple 'enough' that loyal iFans kept buying newer iPhones, with their sharper but smaller screens - until even Apple had to admit, this is a dumb strategy, and they had to introduce the phablet form factor too. So this strategy was a pretty clever attempt by Apple to avoid large-screen phablet form factors - and to be fair - considering the QWERTY keyboard AND considering high-megapixel-obsessed camera tech - the Apple way COULD have worked too. It didn't. Now any rival can copy high-density pixel screens but the race had long since shifted to larger screens and there Apple lost a huge slice of market where the owner is (mostly happily) on Android and Apple has the FAR more difficult task of attempting the buyer to switch platforms, than sell to virgin users who never were wedded to any platform to begin with (the early stage of many phablet first-time buyers especially in Asia where they often were/are the option vs tablet PCs)

I'd give this as a 'good attempt' by Apple but their recognition of it not working - that took too long. They should have done the phablets sooner. BUT imagine if the tactic had worked and phablets had turned out a fad-only. Then Apple would have avoided an expensive form factor development. I don't fault Apple for attempting this tactic, only that they should have seen it FAR faster, that it was not working. They became blinded to the phablet opportunity perhaps believing their own bullshit propaganda (very VERY dangerous in management to not know what part of your story is bullshit...)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

On the loyalty/market share argument

Good points. I want to just re-iterate. Apple had once a chance to be a major player - if they had pursued mass market opportunities earlier. And that would have GREATLY added to other Apple product sales (and their profits). Then if it was a 2-way race, as it turned out to be - if Apple now had 20% or 25% market share but Android had the rest, it would still lead to the eventual decline of iOS to something near 10% level where I still think in the long run Apple will end (can be 11% or 12% but close to 10%).

BUT at THE TIME - there were several 'strong' OS choices being fielded just to mention Windows by world's largest software company Microsoft; Tizen by world's largest tech company Samsung dangerously aligned with world's largest chip-maker Intel; and Palm OS which was picked up by HP the world's largest PC maker back then. And a whole host of minnows too, from Firefox to Ubuntu to Sailfish. In the video gaming console wars, for several generations the Nintendo, Playstation and Xbox race had 3 viable platforms, where each had between 20% and 40% market share and usually the leader could not get to 50% of the market (in annual sales).

If the smartphone market had evolved like gaming consoles (and if any SANE CEO had been running Microsoft, Windows would today have between 15% and 25% global market share in smartphones, it was idiot Ballmer who threw that away) and say Windows had 20% market share and the little guys combined (lets throw Tizen there too) had 10% and Apple was at 25%, it would leave Google with 45% on Android and we'd have a market race VERY similar to the videogaming market.

It was sheer stupidity in management (I would add Samsung's mess with Tizen to that) which is why there isn't a viable 'third' option. And then if Apple can't get to 20%, they are utterly doomed to be a niche OS. They cannot somehow supplant Android at 85% market share with their 15% installed base today. Impossible. BUT if a third platform had emerged - AND if Apple had rather played a strategy of taking all affluent customers, they could be in the 25% range today rather easily - only launching a 'nano' iPhone model with lower price points than they did, and also doing the phablet when it was obvious to all analysts. Then Apple would sell today about twice what they actually do. And while the profit-per-phone would be less - their TOTAL profit would be at least 25% and possibly 50% more than they do today - with their handset unit - and the profits of their OTHER units would be at least 30% more.. and Apple would be ridiculously MORE obscenely profitable than they are today.

I've said many many times that in time, Apple will be seen to have won a battle to lose the war, they focused too much on short-termism and abandoned the far GREATER profits they could have taken in the long run.

BUT with the benefit of hind-sight. Apple could never have taken 40% or 50% of the market with an exclusive OS strategy. So 25% maybe, but not much more. And if the OS wars were going to be fractured as most expected (like in videogaming consoles) then 25% could be a significant mid-player and VERY sustainable. But as the rivals abdicated to Google (and to be fair, Google played its market VERY smartly) then it was a two-horse race and there 85/15 is hopeless for Apple. They cannot grow from this anymore, they can only shrink over time. It will be slow, but they are in decline and will settle to about 10% as I said, give or take a few points perhaps above that.

Now, on loyalty - as long as Apple feeds iFans with iStuff and lovely bedtime stories of iNonsense - they'll keep their fans who will keep paying iTaxes on their iGadgets forever. I refer to the $2 BILLION payment Apple did to Nokia on stealing Nokia patents for years. That is absolute proof that the LEADER was Nokia, the follower and criminal stealing from the leader - was Apple. Did Nokia play this the smart way? No, they hired idiot Elop who was brainwashed by iBullshit who actually JOINED in the lies, claiming Apple was years ahead haha.

If you are 3 years ahead of Apple and have 2x the market share of Apple (in smartphones) and you are consistently profitable - you are WINNING. You do not destroy that STRATEGY. Nokia would have remained EASILY the largest and consistently profitable smartphone maker (while Apple would be 'more profitable' yes, Nokia would still 'be profitable') until today - as Samsung would have climbed ahead of Apple to take second place and today we'd be monitoring the race for 3rd place - Huawei vs Apple, not race for 2nd place Huawei vs Apple...

But that is yet another 'what if' story. Apple is good at distorting reality. My job on this blog is to keep the tech story straight. I report the facts. Once again, I am vindicated....

Oh, to summarize - Apple made a big strategy blunder BUT it partially worked out, as OTHERS made similar blunders too and thus even if Apple had tried, they could not have generated a sustainable 2nd-place mass market strategy - because others (also) failed. This is remarkable because Microsoft had MANAGED to succeed to become a Top 3 OS rival in the gaming market you would have thought they would certainly be able to replicate that with phones too. If Bill Gates had been running Microsoft, they would be a Top 3 OS provider today, most definitely...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Abdul Muis

@Jim Glu / Jim Glue .... Have you settle which one you're gonna use?

"Hi EC,

You are definitely less blinded by Apple hatred than most I read on this forum"

Are you trying to kill me with joke? You were the most bias person in this forum. You were blinded by iShine.

Let me tell you the TRUTH about screen!!! A couple years back, I use Galaxy Note 4. It have 1440x2560. If we compared to the 5.5" iPhone which has the same body size, but lower screen resolution, you could find that my Galaxy Note 4 can watch video 2.5x longer than iPhone... FYI, the Note 4 battery is NOTE 2.5 bigger than iPhone. Apple has been lying to you and iFans about more pixel = more battery hungry. The truth is, Apple software/hardware is NOT AS GOOD as samsung. So, Apple can't use better screen.

The same is true for the small iPhone. The 4.7" iPhone, that have the same size as 5.2" Samsung Galaxy S series. The ONLY HD resolution of iPhone can't keep the phone as much as the Galaxy S series (S5 with FullHD, or S6 with 1440x2560). If what you said is true, that more pixel equal worst battery, than, Galaxy S series battery will be worse than Apple.

When you compare when watching high-res movie... HD scren iphone (4.7") vs. FullHD Samsung S series, you can see that MORE PIXEL = better image... You should really watch a 1440x2560 Galaxy S6 vs. the HD-only small 4.7" iPhone. Perhaps you think iPhone is better because you never try expensive android phone, and just comparing US$50 android Phone with top of the line iPhone.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati