Is the tech press needed anymore? (how Apple iPhone apps take off now)

Datapoint one: John Gruber is noting that Android doesn’t have very many of the industry’s best apps.

Datapoint two. Starbucks CIO says that he’s forced to use HTML 5 to support Apple iOS users, because they represent the majority of folks using mobile devices in their stores.

Datapoint three. SlideRocket is forced into HTML5 land (they used to be all Flash) because of pressure from iOS users.

Datapoint four. Instagram got 100,000 users in less than a week (now rumors are that they’ve gotten more than a million users in first month — UPDATE: Instagram says they’ve only signed up 300,000 in first month).

Datapoint five. Mobile app developer HighFive Labs (they’ve built 15 apps, including Mario Batali Cooks) tells me they are staying iPhone only for a while.

Datapoint six. Just yesterday Sam Feuer, CEO of MindSmack, told me his app, FastMall, was just put to the top of Apple’s iTunes store and is getting overwhelming demand. When I interviewed him a few weeks ago he told me he already had 250,000 downloads just because he was included in the featured list on the store.

I’m featuring FastMall’s video on this post (watch the video of its CEO in its New York headquarters), because he is at the top of the iTunes Shopping recommendations and because his app will help you get around shopping malls. I’ve used it a few times already to find out where to park nearest stores I need to visit and also to know how to find the store I need inside a mall.

Add into this lots of other anecdotes from companies like Zagat (they say iPhones are outselling all other platforms), Sephora (its webmaster told me that 80% of all mobile app users who come into their stores are using iOS devices), eBay (its mobile chief told me most of the mobile commerce done is on iOS devices), OpenTable (its mobile chief told me most of the restaurant reservations it’s seeing done on mobile devices are being made on iOS devices), AngryBirds (charges for app on iPhone, but giving it away on Android), and PayPal (investing heavily in apps to “bump” money from person-to-person). I could keep going, but there’s somethings going on here which are worth talking about.

1. There’s a common belief that Apple users are buying apps, while Android and other platform users aren’t.

2. There’s a common belief that Apple users are trying more apps per device.

3. There’s a common belief that Apple users are “better” for monetizing, because they are spending more money per device at retail.

4. There’s a common belief that Apple’s platform is best to develop on. Yes, some, like Swype, are on Android, not on Apple. I interviewed them here and their new keyboard is remarkable. What you didn’t see in the interview is that they told me off camera that they really wanted to be on Apple devices and they showed me it working on both iPhones and iPads, but are kept from shipping by Apple.

5. There’s a common belief amongst app developers that Apple’s iPad is going to be untouched in next six months.

6. There’s an understanding that Android is selling more units, but those users are less likely to buy apps, less likely to try apps, and that they have fewer methods of virally pushing apps. iOS, on the other hand has several systems to help you discover apps. My favorite is Chomp, interview here, but the others are quite good too, like Appsfire, and Appolicious. Android has GetJar, but that’s not an Android-only store.

7. App developers tell me they like being featured in Steve Jobs’ keynotes, on Apple in-store advertising and demo stations, and on commercials. That’s a stick that other platforms can’t offer developers.

So, what’s up with the headline I picked for this blog?

I’m noticing that lots of app developers are seeing HUGE adoptions without being pushed ANYWHERE but on Apple’s iTunes app store. That’s how MyTown got so big. It’s also how Instagram got so popular so fast. FastMall’s CEO told me that’s where almost all of its users came from.

Do app developers need the press anymore?

They tell me yes, but not for the reason you might think.

What’s the reason? Well, they suspect that Apple’s team is watching the press for which apps get discussed and hyped up. Apps that get hyped up in the press get added to the feature list more often than apps that don’t, although, like with MyTown, that’s not always true. Press reports might be just one datapoint amongst several that they use to decide between apps to feature. FastMall, for instance, was featured on the front page of the New York Times’ technology section, but I think that happened only after Apple featured it. So, is the press leading, or following, Apple?

More interestingly, though, is the common belief amongst app developers that they’ll only get featured on iTunes if they remain supporting Apple’s platform only. Can the press counteract that? Sometimes, like when Angry Birds became so popular that even Android users heard about it. Instagram is using a different method to get “escape velocity:” each photo tweeted links back to Instagram and, also, users like me are pushing it everywhere. I’ve heard from a lot of Android users that Instagram sucks because it’s iPhone-only. Those vocal users, though, will be first to download it when it comes out on Android and will be first to say “yeah, Instagram finally got a clue and ported to Android.”

The other thing I’m noticing, by using services like Chomp, is that the tech press doesn’t really matter in my own app choices anymore. What does? My friends who try out apps and push them into my view. That’s the new tech press and influencers and app developers need to be aware of how to influence these networks.

So, what do you think? Do you look at the tech press for help picking out apps? Or do you just look at the featured list on iTunes, or maybe use an app-discovery service like Chomp, Appolicious, Appsfire, or GetJar?

Comments

  1. I think you might be wrong about MyTown’s success; it was very heavily pushed in the Ngmoco games (We Rule, We Farm, etc) with users getting in-game money in Ngmoco’s games in return for downloading and installing MyTown. Like many folks, I downloaded it for the reward then forgot about it.

      1. Another way to get datas about apps adoption (but not really rewarding financially wise) is apptrackr. I know it’s bad but the popular section gives you a pretty good idea of which apps are good ones.

        Kinda pirate crowd sourcing but still a channel of information.

  2. Fortunately the tech press is still important for offering the thoughtful criticism and perspective that app stores, advertisements and user reviews likely never will.

    1. While I agree, do you think my criticism of Path will stop its adoption if it gets featured by Apple? I don’t. Apple has a lot more distribution than either of us do.

  3. Its so true I admit that simply checking the iTunes music store is much more convient than searching on other platforms. From the looks of it, the press is following whatever Apple does. As biased as that sounds there is an air of truth to it.

  4. With our app, iSocialize, we have been in the top 10 social networking (US) for almost a year, top 100 overall in some days or regularly top 200-300. We tried a lot of different things to launch the app.
    - tech press (and I include here review sites, free or paid) and standard press reached personally or via press releases using various delivery channels
    - advertising on app websites
    - advertising on Facebook
    - participation to “Best app” contests
    - networking at App Show events (SF App Show is the best in SF)
    - “free app a day” initiatives (you put your app free for a day and some sites use their channels to drive downloads)
    - social media (both Twitter and Facebook – we have other 5,000 fans there)
    - “guerrilla marketing” (business cards, T-shirts, etc.)
    - tons of virality *designed* within the app.

    What worked best?
    - Winning “Best App” contest (e.g. 148apps.com contest) and the following (tech) press coverage
    - Specific tech press but not other (some review sites are useless in terms of driving traffic)
    - Absolutely the virality we have in our app and social media (Facebook more than Twitter).
    (Pure tech press is not so easy to reach btw, for social networking “fun” apps)

    What’s next?
    We invested in professionally re-designing the UI (will be available in the next 4.0 update, coming soon). Why? Our app is functionally great, users love it and use it all the times, but the UI is not at the standards Apple is demanding when they decide to feature an app. So bottom line we are trying the Apple store route to make the “last” jump.
    Chances are still limited, but without a professional UI… there is no way you can even hope to get featured :).
    Are we thinking again about press? Sure, but the idea we have there is to convince bloggers and press to release the news at the same time, otherwise the impact might not be as strong as it could be by combining the forces. Are bloggers waiting for other bloggers to post the same news at the same time? For example you stated many times you won’t, as you shouldn’t. So, will see how that will play out. And lining up multiple bloggers/press at the same time, might be way more difficult that hoping that Apple notices you :).

    There is also a big difference between paid and free apps. The chances a single individual (like you) make a big impact on a paid app are much higher than a free one. You only need few hundreds download/day to be in the top 10 of many paid categories. You can move those numbers just with your own Twitter followers. For free apps? Volumes are much higher and that could be more challenging. Could you stop people from downloading an app if Apple feature it? No. But you can still push “your favorites” with no doubt (again, especially paid vs. free).

    I also believe that the key role that tech press can have, is to provide criticism around an app, as any product or technology. As a matter of fact, I downloaded Flipboard, but I didn’t bother downloading Path. And it’s all your fault :).

    BTW, if you wanna do an experiment, we can ping you when 4.0 is available in the store, and test the power of tech press :))).

    1. I’d love to test it out! I won’t bring the massive numbers of users the app store brings but I’m sure I’ll get a few more people to try out your app. Thanks for your response, good one!

  5. Couple of things:

    1. Angry Birds debuted on the Nokia N900 running Maemo5 before it was available on the iPhone. No one remembers that cause no one cares about Maemo, but I thought I’d point it out anyhow.

    2. There is a pretty good social place to check out Android apps – AppBrain. It connects to the regular Android Market, but lets you browse apps by all manner of metadata – I’d highly recommend checking it out. My list is here: http://www.appbrain.com/user/rcadden/

  6. Datapoint: Apps are the CD-ROMS of today, temporary band-aids on the way to a full web future as phones become more powerful, and networks get faster

    1. Everybody keeps saying this but… why? why do we think of the web as perfection and apps as a temporary solution? why cannot be the app the evolution of the web for a mobile environment?. Once you start adding features to native web apps -think mobile edition of gmail, for example- they become indistinguishable from apps. I don’t think that trend is going to stop anytime soon. Granted, in the future the appstore model might change but, by then, i don’t think the web is going to look any different on your phone than an app looks now.

      1. Because a closed-platform app-based future is a sad one. It means we’re going to be locked into a single platform/vendor again for the next generation.

        1. The iPhone is only as closed as you want it to be. If you’d rather not use native apps from the AppStore and feel locked-in, you’re free to use webapps… Apple even has a huge list of them here … http://www.apple.com/webapps/

          However, by leveraging web technologies when developing native apps, users are not really locked into the platform. For instance, I use the PayPal, eBay, FaceBook, NetFlix, IMDB, YouTube, Google Maps, and many more native applications, but I do not feel locked into iOS.

          People also seem to forget that Apple originally attempted to go down the web apps road. Developers screamed and whined until the native SDK was unveiled.

    2. As Apps get more and more sophisticated, and move to more and more powerful/sophisticated platforms (smartphones to iPad/tablets to desktop machines (the coming Mac OS X “App store”) they are moving farther and farther away from what the “full web” can possibly achieve in the foreseeable future.

      Apps are also far easier for developers to monetize than the web,

      Betting on the browser based web to vanquish apps is a losing proposition.

  7. Major press hits usually don’t even measure a bump in app downloads since the store on the device (not the web) drives most. Press is stil important to creating overall awareness, and it may be influential in helping Apple figure out what to feature as well as helping to drive the biz dev (for app cross-promotion, sponsorships, etc.) that also help with downloads. There are a few examples of wildly successful iOS apps never featured by Apple, but even then, it’s through brilliant iTunes marketing, taking advantage of the known features of the stores, that drives enough store traffic to make it work. Duplicating iTunes success is crucial to making a successful app ecosystem on other platforms: a single place all users go for discovery, download and payment on a given platform.

  8. Android apps get into commercials, too, but the commercials aren’t from one single manufacturer. FourSquare appeared in Droid commercials from Verizon. Other apps appear in HTC ads, etc.

    But Apple spends more money on ads than probably any other single smartphone manufacturer that carries Android.

    1. I’ve never seen an official Apple ad here in the Netherlands, yet the phones, tablets and apps are selling like hotcakes. This shows that if your product is good, ads can be completely unnecessary.

        1. Press yes, ads no. The press gives Apple a lot of attention, and of course the retailers have their ads, but there’s no official Apple advertising like you have in the US.

    2. “But Apple spends more money on ads than probably any other single smartphone manufacturer that carries Android.”

      On the one hand, Tinus’ reply is yet more evidence about the Death of Advertising.

      On the other, your observation may well explain why a device with 3% global market share keeps getting coverage in the ad-based press that’s all out of proportion to its impact in the real world.

        1. When a typical person from somewhere in the world goes to buy a cell phone, 97% buy something other than an iPhone.

          No, that’s neither a typo, nor hyperbole.

          That’s a lack of “impact in the real world.” The key words there were “real world,” not “impact.” In the real world, the overwhelming majority of people simply don’t care much about the iPhone.

          1. I see that as a somewhat myopic and restricted way of looking at what impact means. To me, the fact that a single phone has changed the way all phones (and other mobile devices) following it are designed means it has had a significant impact. You’re free to view it through the overall market-share lens, but most people would agree that it has had incredible impact on the way people interact with their mobile devices and download software for them, completely changed expectations and forced new designs and ecosystems.

            edit: removed double negative

        1. “There’s no death of advertising.”

          Then I suppose Bob Garfield hasn’t been writing about the death of advertising for five years under the rubric “the chaos scenario” in Advertising Age. I suppose Eric Clemons never wrote “Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet,” on TechCrunch. I suppose aggregate advertising budgets didn’t peak in 2008, and have actually recovered.

          However, on my Earth (head out from sun, go 93 million miles, hang a left, can’t miss it), all those things have happened.

          And that’s even before we get to the lack of empirical evidence advertising leads to increased sales, which is why it’s increasingly difficult to justify ad buys anymore to shareholders. If they did, the top companies listed by Fortune (or the FT, for the European perspective), should more or less match the top advertisers. Instead, the relationship between top companies and top advertisers is random.

          “Check the products in your bathroom. How many of them are from major brands?”

          Ah, the Warren Buffett approach.

          Very few, actually. The soap and shampoos come from a farmer’s market in town. The toilet paper is generic Costco. The prescription meds are generic; the non-scrip meds are generic from a local grocery store.

          About the one place where there are brands are in the mechanicals: Electric razor, electric toothbrush, nosehair trimmer. That’s probably because it’s really tough to do that kind of capital-intensive fabrication on a small scale.

          On the other hand, did advertising influence those purchases? It seems unlikely. We’ve “cut the cord,” so TV ads are out. They’re not the kinds of things I’ve noticed text ads from Google on. The print publications we get don’t advertise those kinds of things. I don’t listen to commercial radio.

          So, not a bad gambit… And I fully realize I may not be typical, which is what your bet was. However, the question is, Is the way I avoid advertisements a path that more and more are pursuing, or is it shrinking? Everything from the very phrase “cutting the cord” to DVR usage patterns suggests the former.

          Check the products in your bathroom. How many of them are from major brands?

      1. Apple pulls in 43% of all handset (smart, feature and dumb phones) profits worldwide and dominates the tech press and popular culture with it’s services and products. How is that not impact?

        1. “Apple pulls in 43% of all handset (smart, feature and dumb phones) profits worldwide…”

          Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.

          Labor costs in China are only going to go up. Shipping costs on Apple’s long logistical tail are only going to go up. This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary — pretty much a smash-and-grab aberration.

          “…and dominates the tech press and popular culture with it’s services and products.”

          Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products. That’s what prompted my comment in the first place.

          The problem is, the tiny sliver of people who like Apple’s products really, really, really like them, and no amount of telling them 19 out of 20 people don’t give a damn dissuades them from thinking Apple is Tremendously Important to All of Humanity.

          Meanwhile, Apple’s internal culture is so exclusive they limit eligibility to join their executive team to only 39% of the US population — white males. I look forward to the next edition of Things White People Like adding Apple products to the list.

          1. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          2. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          3. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          4. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          5. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          6. I waded in to counter Hal’s points but quickly realized through his other comments that it would be futile. Mr O’Brien is happier throwing out smart alec comments like :

            “on my Earth (head out from sun, go 93 million miles, hang a left, can’t miss it), all those things have happened”

            and countering real profit share data with comments like :
            “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”

            Rather pointless continuing a discussion in such a manner.

          7. “Mr O’Brien is happier throwing out smart alec comments like…”

            If a smart alec says 2+2=4, are they wrong? If a completely sober-faced individual says 2+2=5, are they right?

            When people bury their heads in the sand and ignore empirical reality because there’s a particular piece of group-think they want to subscribe to, the smart alec-ness of a commenter isn’t really the problem.

            For example, when I point out that Apple’s margins are in part supported by the low labor costs of their outsourcers, that a documented fact. That 10 workers at Foxconn’s plant have committed suicide this year is a documented fact.

            It may be unpleasant for you to face that. But like the line in Pulp Fiction goes, “If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions.” No amount of sober delivery will bring those 10 Foxconn workers back to life.

          8. Quit being so dramatic, you aren’t Samuel L and this isn’t a movie.

            EVERYONE’s margins are supported by cheap labor. If you don’t use cheap labor you’re out of business. This is also a fact, so why do you expect this to be earth shattering news? What’s amazing though, is that even with the cheap labor, not everyone can achieve margins like Apple does. This fact, of course, you will absolutely ignore because it doesn’t fit your vision of the world.

            It is clear that you dislike Apple and the attention it gets, too bad for you. I’m not subscribing to group think or have my head in the sand. I’m very comfortable with the depth and breadth of my knowledge of the consumer electronics industry and can draw my own conclusions. My conclusion in this particular case is that you have no intention of having any real conversation but are only waiting so you can deliver lines like :

            “It may be unpleasant for you to face that. But like the line in Pulp Fiction goes, “If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions.” No amount of sober delivery will bring those 10 Foxconn workers back to life.”

            “on my Earth (head out from sun, go 93 million miles, hang a left, can’t miss it), all those things have happened”

            “Meanwhile, Apple’s internal culture is so exclusive they limit eligibility to join their executive team to only 39% of the US population — white males. I look forward to the next edition of Things White People Like adding Apple products to the list.”

            So bitter, so bitter. I think at this point, I’ll concede and let you rule this board with your rubbish, only because you seem to enjoy this and I really couldn’t give a shit.

          9. “That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China.”

            Ah. So if Liu Bao were to jump off the Empire State Building, would you jump off the Empire State Building?

            “Everybody does it,” is not a moral defense.

            “Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”

            This is a very strange argument. You seem to be saying that Apple creates mainstream devices, even as it picks and chooses which high-profit niche markets it enters. Well, which one? It’s a logical impossibility to be both. You may as well argue Ferrari makes mainstream mass-market cars.

            Your next paragraph has many factual errors, too many to address quickly. You say, for example, “100 million iPhones and 40 million iPads next year,” as if that’s both credible, and impressive. It’s neither. Gartner’s mobile phone figures for 3Q10, released on 2010/11/10 (“current” enough for you?) show the iPhone sold 13.5 million units. That annualizes out to 54 million. The only way a projection (unsourced, I notice) to 100 million works out arithmetically is to assume sales will double in rate. How?

            But let’s give you that extremely unlikely 100 million. Sounds impressive… until you find out 417 million handsets sold in 3Q10 alone, which annualizes out to 1.6 billion. Or, to make the numbers more comparable — Apple, 100 million; total market 1668 million.

            Now, bring up Dashboard — click on the calculator — divide 100 by 1668 — and notice that means a market share of 5.9%

            And that’s if sales double in rate.

            “…if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks…”

            In that case, smartphones are computers, too — which they if you’re going to count scaled up smartphones (without the phone) like iPads. At which point the market share is a lot smaller than 24%.

            The whole “What if the iPad were a PC?” idea comes from a post of the same title at Fortune, quoting Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore. Unfortunately, Mr Whitmore has never released his figures to the public, so there’s no way to check how accurate they are.

            *^*^*

            David Pogue, in his article “The Lessons of 10 Years of Talking Tech,” in the New York Times (2010/11/24) says, “Some people’s gadgets determine their self-esteem.”

            That you appear, whether knowingly or not, to repeat unsourced assertion with no critical thinking or fact checking is strong evidence this is true for you. I’m not saying it’s good or bad — there are plenty of more destructive ways of asserting self-esteem.

            But you shouldn’t think it’s not patently obvious, and that you won’t get caught when you tell whoppers. (40 million iPads in a year? When it’s selling 4 million a quarter? Really?)

          10. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          11. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          12. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          13. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          14. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          15. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          16. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

          17. Hal O’Brien @ “Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.”That’s a ridiculous comment. Where do you think everyone else builds there products or components? China. Do you really think Apple’s plant in China is unique? You might want to be more concerned by the toxic waste that PC manufactures dump here in the US. Apple’s products are the greenest around, by far. Well, unless you listen to GreenPeace, who exploits Apple’s popularity to get attention. This is also why you hear about Apple’s factories and not anybody else’s, it makes for good press.Hal O’Brien @ “This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary”No, here you have it all wrong. Apple only targets the most profitable portions of the market, where the margins are. Smartphones for example all have higher margins vs. feature or dumb phones. Apple doesn’t go bottom feeding for marketshare.”Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products.”You’re not keeping up with the most current numbers and your ignoring the obvious. Everyone has an iPod, Apple has owned the MP3 player market for almost a decade now. Apple’s US marketshare in computers is 10% and if you include the iPad as a computer, which it is if you’re going to count netbooks, Apple now commands 25% of the US computer market.The most obvious example of why Apple dominates the tech press its products. Every time Apple comes out with a new product PC and consumer electronics manufactures are tripping and falling over each other to copy it. The perfect examples are the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Android is a perfect example, the first Android prototypes were based on the BlackBerry until the iPhone came along. Tablets were an utter failure until the iPad which every is shameless copying. And the how many hundreds of iPod, iPhone and iPad killers have already meet their death?Microsoft copies the AppleStore down to the color of the tables, Android and every phone manufacture copies the AppStore. How much proof do you need that Apple’s leads consumer electronics technology?Who is the press going to follow, when the entire industry is following Apple?

        2. “Apple pulls in 43% of all handset (smart, feature and dumb phones) profits worldwide…”

          Which it does by outsourcing manufacturing to a company whose working conditions are so bad, workers have been known to commit suicide rather than continue.

          Labor costs in China are only going to go up. Shipping costs on Apple’s long logistical tail are only going to go up. This strongly implies Apple’s margins are temporary — pretty much a smash-and-grab aberration.

          “…and dominates the tech press and popular culture with it’s services and products.”

          Apple certainly dominates the tech press. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for this, given 97% of cell phone buyers and 95% of computer buyers don’t use its products. That’s what prompted my comment in the first place.

          The problem is, the tiny sliver of people who like Apple’s products really, really, really like them, and no amount of telling them 19 out of 20 people don’t give a damn dissuades them from thinking Apple is Tremendously Important to All of Humanity.

          Meanwhile, Apple’s internal culture is so exclusive they limit eligibility to join their executive team to only 39% of the US population — white males. I look forward to the next edition of Things White People Like adding Apple products to the list.

    3. The problem with Android manufactures is that too many of them don’t advertise their Android phones as Android phones.

      Some manufactures don’t use the Android store so an app that is advertised widely may or may not be in their store.

      And as we all know as with Angry Birds, not all of these apps work on all of the phones making the advertising somewhat counter-productive, when the use experiences Android fragmentation; results in frustration with Android, the app makers and the manufacture.

      In the end this does not make for a good user experience. Plus, I know my iOS app will work on the iPhone, Touch and an iPad, giving it greater value than the crap-shoot on the fragmented Android side of the equation with multiple devices that may or may not be supported down the road. Thus reducing the value of my investment. I’d rather pay for something that works on three devices, than one or none.

      I’m not trying to start a flame war but consumers will experience the difference and we can see that difference clearly in the user satisfaction ratings, which Apple always seems to top regardless of the category; iPod, Touch, iPhone, iPad and Mac, as well as iLife and professional software such as Final Cut Pro.

      Quality, integration and easy of use are associated with Apple. I suspect this is why Apple has grown astronomically during the recession; people see Apple products as an investment rather than an expense.

    4. True, but no single manufacture sell anywhere near the volume of the iPhone. No even in the same ballpark. If you combine what Google, the carriers and manufactures spend then it’s probably comparably… I’ve only seen that Google app commercial a 1000 times on TV.

      If it weren’t for advertising no one would know Android exists. The iPhone at this point doesn’t need any advertisement at all, unless you live in a cave on the dark-side of the moon.

  9. Erh, what means:
    1. A lot of developers
    2. Common belief
    3. There is understanding…
    Do you have any facts to offer or just speculation?

    1. I have lots of facts after interviewing dozens of startups, but most of the startups don’t want to go on the record. They can’t risk pissing off Apple or Google.

        1. It says that you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, just like any other business. Once the honeymoon is over, you move on to the next platform to hawk your wares.

  10. Maybe you and I think of a different thing when we think of the “techpress”. I think of the broadcasters of “tech news”. I think of the “press” as “journalists” (such as, perhaps, yourself). Yesterday, I saw that Jobs and Murdoch have reached an agreement to start an app at 99 cents per week for publishing output of the “press”. It is my firm opinion that, so long as I can get online, with a browser (i.e., Safari, Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera, Camino, and their ilk) and access e.g. Techmeme or Google News or Huffington Post and link to the FREE online stories to which they may cite, I will NOT pay the danged 99 cents per week for the little app that Jobs and Murdoch want to foist upon me.I see it as, for no other reason than, Jobs (especially) and Murdoch present too much of a threat to censoring and other types of content curation.

    1. I’m not one to throw money away either, but you make a critical assumption in the sentence below :”Techmeme or Google News or Huffington Post and link to the FREE online stories to which they may cite”In my experience, free is usually crap (save for the BBC and a few others). TC and HuffPo are much too restricted in their focus and shouldn’t even count as wholesome news sources, more like shady informants hanging on your street corner. Quality reporting and analysis costs money (like The Economist, or The NYT or if you prefer a more American conservative view, The WSJ) and people who appreciate that quality happily pay for it. I don’t think Murdoch is going to miss your $12 a year (or $52 or whatever it ends up being).

  11. Great article Robert ( especially for app developers like me). Thanks iSocialize as well for the report.

    Anyway, medias are still very important for us because Apple selects only a few apps and chomp and others recommendation networks are not used by everyone -yet- (by the way it could be nice that Apple add a similar network in the app store). This is especially important for indie dev (like me) As an example of the importance of the media , here are some figures/graphs that show the effect of a mention of my app in the New-York Times (it was just a mention not an article about the my app) sales went from 50 a day to 600 a day ! http://bit.ly/cIqd91

  12. Robert:

    This falls into the category of ‘dog bites man’.

    Fact 1: The iPhone is no longer a geek toy. It’s a mainstream device.
    Fact 2: The vast majority of people who use iPhones don’t pay any attention to tech news sites.
    Fact 3: Most people get their app recommendations from App Store promotion, or from their friends who have a useful/fun app. And don’t discount Apple’s TV ads, which often showcases cool apps.
    Fact 4: Fact 3 became the case very soon after the iPhone 3G was released – probably within 6 months of its release.

    I agree that Apple’s staff – who are almost certainly geeks and who probably do spend too much time reading the usual suspects – are likely clued in to some apps by tech sites. But keep in mind, they also see EVERY APP THAT’S SUBMITTED. I suspect that, by now, they’ve got a pretty good sense of what will take off and what won’t.

    The tech press may have some effect on those who, before they decide to buy/download an app, do a Google search for reviews. But again, I suspect that most people don’t do this. They just see the cool app on their friends’ phones and say, “Oh man, I gotta have that.”

  13. But I think you discount the ‘waterfall’ effect a bit too much. Geeky sites like Engadget and TechCrunch can mobilize a certain chunk of users (often tech influencers) and that gets an app quickly up the shallow slope of the viral hockey stick. The critical part of virality is to get through this smooth slope as quickly as possible — and tech press can certainly help there.

  14. As a developer I would prefer a platform where I’m not dependent on Apple’s for promotions. It’s either a wildcard or dependent on backroom influence.

    Show me a successful iPhone app and I’ll show you an app where Apple’s promotions played a major role. Every single one.

    1. “As a developer I would prefer a platform where I’m not dependent on Apple’s for promotions. It’s either a wildcard or dependent on backroom influence.”

      Fair enough want. How do you satisfy this want? Are there several examples of apps + platforms where your desire is manifested?

  15. Gruber’s recent rant against Android apps was merely a profession of faith.

    I’m curious where are the “killer” iPhone apps? Will Apple cede control and allow them to take root and grow? It’s certainly a concern.

    1. Instapaper and Red Laser are examples of iPhone killer apps.
      Flipboard, Soundnote, Instapaper, The Economist are iPad killer apps.

      Killer app == something that by itself would make you buy the hardware the app runs on. Those listed are killer apps to me, obviously everyone has their own list — everyone but you, apparently.

      I’m not sure what sort of control Apple needs to cede to Flipboard or Instapaper for them to take off and grow — care to explain?

      1. Let me add Angry Birds to list of killer apps. My wife prys my iPad from my hands at every opportunity to play it. In fact, I just asked her to turn down the volume so I could enjoy my music as I’m reading this post. :)

  16. I think this is a fairly accurate assessment. I don’t recall the last time I downloaded something because it was featured in the press. I can think of several instances where apps arrived on my iPhone as a result of word-of-mouth. Also, I think you have to credit Apple for making the App Store fairly easy to navigate and friendly for even non-geek users. I can think of some power user feature they could add, but overall, the discovery method is quick and painless unlike some competing stores (Android Marketplace… I’m looking at you.)

  17. I think this is a fairly accurate assessment. I don’t recall the last time I downloaded something because it was featured in the press. I can think of several instances where apps arrived on my iPhone as a result of word-of-mouth. Also, I think you have to credit Apple for making the App Store fairly easy to navigate and friendly for even non-geek users. I can think of some power user feature they could add, but overall, the discovery method is quick and painless unlike some competing stores (Android Marketplace… I’m looking at you.)

  18. I think this is a fairly accurate assessment. I don’t recall the last time I downloaded something because it was featured in the press. I can think of several instances where apps arrived on my iPhone as a result of word-of-mouth. Also, I think you have to credit Apple for making the App Store fairly easy to navigate and friendly for even non-geek users. I can think of some power user feature they could add, but overall, the discovery method is quick and painless unlike some competing stores (Android Marketplace… I’m looking at you.)

  19. Also, when the CTO of eBay says that iPhone apps monetize for him better than any other mobile phone system, then I listen. Why don’t you? So does the mobile guy at OpenTable. So does the lady who runs Sephora’s mobile and web efforts. It’s pretty clear at this point that if you want to monetize, you do your iPhone app first, everything else second.

    1. To grocery shop at Safeway, SMART Communications reload, catch up on Hurriyet Daily News, there’s no iPhone app for those, but they can be done on a decent phone web browser- what more as phones become more powerful, and networks get faster. There will still be apps, just as Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing CD-ROMs are still sold, but mobile web use will be more dominant

  20. So your answer is some flavor of “only Adobe and Microsoft are capable of producing killer apps (but Apple won’t let them)” and “only what I consider to be a killer app counts”?

    There are several Adobe and Microsoft apps on iOS and no evidence that Apple is blocking any from them (Flash is browser plugin, not an app, and Apple doesn’t accept browser plugins from anyone).

    Let me try again — for some people — not me, I don’t play games, Plants vs. Zombies is a killer app — certainly it sells by the truckload. How does Apple need to “cede control” to let it thrive? (I know: you don’t think it’s a killer app, so you won’t answer).

  21. The iTunes App Store is the killer app.

    I think it’s great that you as a developer are more concerned about your freedom from Apple’s control than you are about financial reward. Hooray for you.

  22. Apparently, you don’t read Gruber regularly. I would guess that you only read his posts that are getting linked elsewhere.

  23. I think Gruber has critized Apple a lot this year. He also points out the things other companies are doing better then Apple.

    I am not an Apple fanatic but I read his blog with pleasure. Like him I appreciate quality, even if it means the vendor is trying to lock me in.

  24. Hmm.. the “Android users don’t buy apps” line is something that’s said a lot, usually in stories about how there aren’t great Android apps. But… what are we supposed to do? Buy crappy apps in the hopes that more good apps will be ported to Android? That’s silly. It’s equally valid to say “Android users don’t buy apps because high quality apps aren’t being created for Android (or ported from iOS).” I’m sorry, but if an app developer can’t figure out how to be successful in a market that’s selling as much as Android is…

    I think what needs to happen is that we need two things for Android apps to take off:

    1) High quality apps in fairly large numbers (not 5, but 50 or 500).
    2) A Market that doesn’t suck. The Google Market is terrible – if you have a great app it might not be discovered.

    On both platforms, I’d like to know what happens to great apps that don’t make it onto the Suggested list. That’s always going to be a small percentage of the app universe – what about apps that rock, but aren’t there? Are the selling 100 copies? 1000? 25,000?

  25. Totally anecdotal, but my mother has an android phone (and she is about the least tech savvy person I know). Recently was checking out her phone to discover she had no apps downloaded. She literally uses it as a phone. I wonder what percentage of Android users have NO apps verse iOS users?

  26. @scobe

    “Do app developers need the press anymore?”

    When there’s 300,000 apps to ‘compete against’ for attention, you bet they do. A mention by Jon Gruber or being mentioned on the Engadget Podcast can mean hundreds of thousands of new customers.

  27. That is so true. I’m one of them. No ATT in my neighborhood…Verizon is the only game in town. I love my Droid Incredible, but I’m chomping at the bit for an iPhone. Oh, I’m also a geek and follow tech press regularly, but I believe that iPhone is now mainstream and that the App Store is the key driver for new apps. App sales will explode once iPhone is on Verizon.

  28. Good points were made here; both in the article and in the comments.

    This weird contrariety between Apple’s market share — which most analysts bank on way too much — and mind share —which very, very few analysts get — that works not only to Apple’s advantage but also the developers on this platform.
    Let me say this the other way round: The iPhone (as a synonym for the entire iOS platform) has the mindshare of both the developers and the consumers, while Android/Meamo/Symbian manage to capture the minds of developers and geeks only.

    Androids purportedly biggest advantage “being open”, comes down to mostly being open for debate — by the carriers and OEM manufacturers — which results in a huge market share as we can see, but will ultimately make Android phones become tomorrow’s feature phones.

    Form my perspective iOS has the edge because it is closed and constrained in many ways, but it is also it is simple, reliable and well advertised.
    Like most of the things Apple does, the iOS experience is a golden cage, but it’s comfy, greatly decorated and when it starts to rain, I’d rather stand here, with Apple holding an umbrella over my head, than out in the open.

  29. I think there is a more basic explanation for what’s currently happening… And it has everything to do with good gardening practices. I’ve started a multipart exploration on the concept here at precursor.org.

    http://www.precursor.org/2010/11/mobile-gardener-part-1-competition-as.html

    I’m not sure that any other consideration really models what happening quite as well. MyTown is an example one might refer to as “cross-pollination”‘ as regards Ngmoco’s endemic marketing methods. Right now, Android Market was difficult soil and tons of weeds… and its really strangling solid growth, despite the amount of opportunities to harvest.

    Were I Google, I would pause buying new plots of land, continue supporting app builders, but really look into issues of blight throughout their ecosystem. If they keep pretending everything else healthy because it is ideologically pure ( and “open” vs “effective” ) they’re not serving anyone’s interest except their own.

      1. You’re probably right. I think its rewarding, but I need to tighten the delivery so its not an overindulgent meditation.

        The short version is…

        iOS is a walled garden that provides an optimal climate for cross-pollination, abundant sunlight, excellent soil quality and the security needed for healthy growth. Conversely, Android OS is an open field with little to protect anyone from pervasive weeds, unpredictable climate changes, and outbreaks of blight that not only prove to be unwanted but endemic to its very nature.

        You can love an open field, celebrate the contributions of its benevolent benefactor, appreciate the fact that they are available almost everywhere, but there’s no denying the efficacy of a professionally run property who’s rules may be more restrictive, but who’s demonstrable consistency shows a commercial maturity that can’t be ignored.

        Hopefully that sounds clear and rings true. More than a simple analogy, I think its the true nature of what we’re seeing as it plays out in the marketplace. A pervasive and sprawling Android footprint, and an intentional and efficient iOS evolution that sets the standards the industry will continue to watch and react to.

  30. The tech press is not needed for mobile because the tech press are IT/PC focused, and mobile is CE, Consumer Electronics. The tech press will tell you that iPhone is just one of many smartphones, and iPad is just one of many tablets, and the Mac is just one of many creative workstations, all in a broad, unnavigable-without-them sea of purchasing choices. However, the truth is that iPhone is the only CE phone, iPad the only CE tablet, and Mac the only CE workstation. And they all run the only CE apps. Everything on iOS is a CE app, plus some of the stuff on the Mac, like iTunes and iPhoto and iMovie, but soon everything in Mac App Store. Apple is the only provider of CE computing. They have no competition yet. There’s no need to know anything from the IT/PC press … all you need to know is how to get to an Apple Store, and what you’re missing out on if you don’t, and your friends who have already been there can tell you that.

  31. Odd that Android users are seen as less likely to try apps. Wasn’t one of attractions of the Android Marketplace that you could get a refund, no questions asked, within 24 hours..?

    1. Do normal everyday users even care? I don’t. Apps usually cost less than what a Starbucks latte costs. I just use reviews to try to find the good ones and expect to see some waste. Would having refunds let me try out more? I’m not so sure.

      I’ve found this myself. I don’t like trying apps on the Android devices as much. Part of it is my Samsung came with 51 different icons already, so there’s less pressure to “fill it up.” Another part of it is I just haven’t heard about a lot of the brand names (quick, what is the Android equivilent for Instagram?)

      1. Well, no. It seems most users dont care. I was just saying that was touted as one of the benefits at the launch of the Android Marketplace. I guess that if the content isn’t there, it doesn’t matter if you can try it for free.
        I haven’t managed to try an Android phone but nothin I’ve read is making me think I should. Interesting that your phones comes with so many icons on it already. What are they all – can you guv us a list?

  32. Talk to the guys who built the Batali cooking app. They sold $15,000 at $5 a piece in first week. Not too shabby. Zagat claims that 40% of its online revenues comes from selling its iPhone/iPad apps. Kleiner Perkins, investors, are watching closely and they’ve been funding companies because of this. How many VCs have “Android funds?”

  33. While I agree with a lot of what you’re saying here, one thing I have to point out is that you can no longer just focus on paid apps vs free ones. There are so many other sources of revenue these days for developers. In Farmville, for example, 90% of revenue is from in-app purchases! Virtual goods, in-app purchases, in-app ads and other monetization methods were heavily discussed at the Open Mobile Summit in SF this month. I summarized a few of the panels, if you want to know what top industry execs had to say on the subject:

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2010/11/open-mobile-summit-4-ways-to-monetize-apps.php
    http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2010/11/open-mobile-summit-the-challenges-of-building-sustainable-app-businesses.php
    http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2010/11/open-mobile-summit-talking-markets-apps-monetization.php

  34. Perhaps the issue is what you perceive as critical. Gruber criticizes but he doesn’t flame or rant—much. His criticisms make good arguments, logical arguments. He’s willing to admit when he’s wrong, states when something is just his opinion, etc.

    He makes money, not from Apple, but from the tons of people who enjoy his writing, his links, and his reasoned style. He monetized the site, not by selling tons of ads, but by asking Daring Fireball readers, if you like this site would you pay for me to do it fulltime? And the response was an overwhelming, yes.

    Being critical of something—Google, Android, or even Apple—isn’t necessary being against that thing. Gruber both criticizes and acknowledges/praises Google and Android. It’s not a slapfest and that’s what makes the site valuable to his readers. Maybe he rants a tad about Adobe, but that makes sense, because Mac users have been ranting about Adobe for over 10 years.

    Also, you may want to revisit the archives. Gruber has spent a lot of time criticizing Apple for its handling of iOS developers, submission of apps to the App Store, highlighting apps rejected for dubious reasons, and more this year.

  35. The market is a just a really wild jungle where anything goes. Even the most nakedly capitalist businessmen need a playground with some rules in order to make money.

  36. A single platform/vendor situation has not served us too badly in the past (especially as it has not really been the case).

    The fact is that Apple seem to have struck the right balance with its numbers of apps vs quality vs distribution vs monitisation and so on.

    It just may be that they have it right and everyone else has it wrong, after all, let the figures do the talking.

    Saying that, we need the others (Android, Win Mo7 et al) to step up and make it a convincing reason for devs to change.

    Hardware does not cut it, if it did the iPhone would be dead in the water as top end Android phones have in many cases better spec and undercut them on price.

    The funny thing is that MS have the best chance at this as they have a unified plan that gives Devs something to aim at. At least WM7 devs know what the minimim spec is, and I would guess they will know about OS updates in better time as well.

  37. Angry Birds is an interesting example. Rovio only went ad-supported on Android. Even Symbian is a Paid-for app with no advertising.

    So, Rovio obviously think there’s money to be made from sales on Nokias and iOS but not on Android phones.

    1. rubbish. do you realize how many printers, designers, and musicians use apple computers? they produce with it. in fact the band Gorillaz just produced their latest album on an ipad, just because.

      software admins & developers also produce on macs/apple — im an enterprise .NET developer, i use macs and virtual machines. am i not a professional?

  38. We released the Christmas app Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. It has bee reviewed by a few tech sites, but we hope it will get more press and prompt Apple to feature it. Because of the recognition of the classic song, we hope it will get downloaded by it’s fans, but there’s no guarantees. We just have to wait and see if Apple realizes they could get a ton of downloads on the app. It’s now available for iPad as well as iPhone and we’re working on releasing Lite versions of each.

  39. yes, please tell us your idea of killer app? many have already been listed for you. what are the android killer apps? (awesome apps we cant get elsewhere)

  40. Angry Birds doesnt run very well on android — its not supported on many, many handsets and where it is it’s ad-supported only. users are complaining that the ads are blocking the content.

    clearly not the killer app on android as it is iOS.

  41. actually youre wrong. gruber is an apple fan to be sure, but not without merit. he praises them when they do good, and shames them when they do bad.