You Are Not the Average Smartphone Consumer

EDIT: This will be my last entry on the wholeiPhone vs Android debate for at least a year. This is one of thosetopics that is just entirely unproductive: All of the onlinecomments, blog entries, and defensive “don’t move mycheese” posts do absolutely nothing to change industrydirection, trends, etc. I don’t wish to contribute to that noiseany further, and had argued only in the sense of balance: For too long the conversation has been completely dominated by shills and short-sighted developers only interested in their own convenience (there is a certain allure to the global dominance of one single make and model of device, even if long-term that brings a lot of pain. It is notable that Tim is praising a device that almost certainly wouldn’t exist in its current form were it not for Android, but it’s remarkable what competition does for the sense of urgency).

Stuck In The Post Queue For a Year?

If Marco Arment wrote this post in January of 2010 I could write itoff as a case of self-inflicted, temporary delusion. To see itwritten now, however, is perplexing.

Arment and others are screaming, with increasing desperation, trying tochange the direction of tides that they have absolutely noinfluence over, and that derives from forces that they clearlydon’t understand.

You Are Not the Average Consumer

A mistake that many Apple “fanboys” make (the sort that aregoing to argue with FredWilson about marketshare numbers, which I suspect is a tinysubset of the overall Apple consumer population) is to assume thatthe general smartphone marketplace has two types of consumers,broadly defined as-

  • Those who buy an iPhone
  • Those who wish they could buy an iPhone, but for some reason(carrier, availability, financial restriction, etc) can’t, so theysettle on the closest alternative

A variation of this theme is that the second category is full ofpeople so full of anti-Apple vitriol that they buy an alternativesimply to spite Apple.

You, and the people you hang out with, are not the averageconsumer. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you canunderstand why the market moves in the way that it moves.

As one of many anecdotes, my brother and his partner recentlydecided to get smartphones to stay more connected. I don’tproselytize to the Android side, in many cases actually encouragingthose who asked to instead get an iPhone, so I had no influence ontheir decision process.

They went to the telco store where they had many options — theiPhone has long been available on all major carriers in Canada —leaving with a Samsung Galaxy S for her and an HTC Desire Z forhim.

They had the means and the opportunity to have any devicepossible, and they left with a couple of Android devices.

The normal consumer that makes up most activations doesn’t readEngadget or Gizmodo. They don’t argue with Fred Wilson. They don’ttake sides.

They simply want a smartphone that can let them efficiently useemail and the web, maybe hit up Facebook and Twitter, take and viewpictures and perhaps videos, and perhaps enjoy some casual gaming.That is the actual criteria (not “Apple or not Apple”), and its onewhere for clearly many consumers the decision tree leads to anAndroid device. For someone who wants a larger screen, or a smallerscreen, or a keyboard, or various other options, it becomes theonly choice, even if incidental.

Understand this and trends and marketshare shifts will come intofocus.