Buying iPhone 5 sight unseen. Why Apple will win the smartphone wars

Apple is doomed! iPhone is doomed! It’s only a matter of time!

Android has the market share and the business model to marginalize iPhone. Google can give away the software and handset makers around the world can offer smartphones at all price points, across all regions and carriers, and in a wide range of form factors. Apple’s iPhone is simply no match.

And we can’t forget Amazon. While their digital media ecosystem is US-centric – for now – they are able to cut deep into Apple’s iPad profit margins by offering Kindles at cost and earning a profit on digital book sales and Amazon Prime memberships.

So it goes.

Pundits, bloggers, analysts and trolls loudly proclaiming the impending death of all things Apple. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s difficult to blame them. A cursory review of the numbers does suggest that Apple, the iPhone in particular, simply cannot scale to match Android:

In truth, I think Apple has never been in a better position than it is now.

This is not simply because Apple has the largest market cap of any company in the world. Or because iPhone captures at least 60% of the smartphone market’s profits. No, I believe Apple is stronger because it is a company of clear adherence to its values. In a world where anyone can buy anything at anytime, in any place and from practically anybody, values will command a rising premium – a greater share of the profits.

Values equal profits.

Understand, I do not speak of values such as “good”, for example, or in a religious or even patriotic manner. Rather, values are what a company stands for.

This is why, for example, I can recommend the iPhone 5 to readers sight unseen. Apple’s values are that strong and I am that confident in the product.

This isn’t about being a fanboy, nor being easily swayed by marketing or wowed by Apple’s fanciful product launch presentations. I have no interest in showing you or anyone else that I am somehow smarter or richer or better because I choose Apple. I have five, ten and twenty years experience with Apple products. Consistently through the years, Apple builds the best technologies, the most functional hardware, the most usable, intuitive products.

But they are more than that. Apple has spent the past 35 years committed to a set of values that ensures its interests align with its customers’ interests.

I know, for example, that my MacBook and my iPhone and my iPad and my child’s iPod are far more integrated than any range of Android devices, for example – or any range of devices by a single Android maker, such as Samsung.

I can be confident that Apple will not require I go through a carrier or third-party to get updates to any product they offer.

While some may complain that Apple is “closed”, baldly ignoring Google’s many efforts to close off Android – in the name of “compatibility” – I am far more confident in the safety and security of my “closed” Apple product than any Android user can ever be. You will note that viruses and malware are far more prevalent in Android than Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

There’s more. If your HTC Android device breaks, say, or has a problem, what then? Do you seek out their customer support online? Take it back to the point of purchase? Contact Google and ask for an Android rep?

I have never failed to receive at least pleasantly adequate support from an Apple Store or Apple.com. The product is an Apple and I know that no matter where I purchased it, I can seek out support from Apple. That matters not only to me but to millions and millions of buyers! And, yes, it is a value.

While Android users may relish the numerous app markets available to their Android device, I can assure you that not once have I had a purchase from the App Store go awry. Nor – in nearly ten years of use – have I had an issue with an iTunes purchase. Again, this matters to those of us who refuse to easily part with our money.

Speaking of money, what, exactly, is yours supporting? I know that I paid dearly for my iPhone. Likely you paid a good deal less for an Android smartphone that you believe is iPhone’s equal. Fair enough. But that Android device comes with a host of Google Mobile Services (GMS) that, in my view, aggressively and intrusively seek to capture, send back and archive my personal information. After all, the way Google pays for Android is through advertising. That advertising works best only when Google can capture – and sell – what I buy, watch, read, search and where I stand, literally. Thanks, but I would rather make a straightforward transaction, even paying more, like I do with Apple. Values matter.

You know what else matters? Value. Forget that my 3.5 year-old MacBook Pro is still going strong. Look instead at the price I can get if I resell my iPhone 4S, which is now a year old. How much can you get for your year-old top-of-the-line Samsung or Sony?  I guarantee you not as much. Did you buy that Nokia Lumia 900 and expect to get upgraded to Windows Phone OS 8? Too bad, because every iPhone 4/iPhone 4S user gets iOS 6 the moment it’s available.

Values and value. That’s what I get from my iPhone – and from all my Apple products. Can you say the same for your non-Apple product? So the next time you pronounce the impending death of Apple, pause for a moment and hope that you are wrong.

Author: Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology, immortality and food for ReadWrite, Techpinions, Unwired View and other publications. His thoughts on the 'smartphone wars' and how these are rapidly de-constructing markets, industries, business models and relationships around the world can be found on his personal site at www.brianshall.com.

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  • surur

    Wonder if your values include throwing away all your pre-iphone 5 accessories and plans to fire the Genuisses? Values change and Jobs is dead.

  • TGMzero

    Though I’m a fan of Android, some of these points can’t be denied. Especially regarding the service you get for phone at the Apple Store or its resale value.

    Its part of the reason I’m getting the iPhone 5 and taking a small break from Android

  • Barry Davis

    But when is the Iphone going to stop being so boring? My RAZR is just fun to use. Every Iphone that I’ve used left me bored with the experience.

  • therealciviczc

    I agree with the article as far as apple not going anywhere any time soon. I don’t agree that many journalists are saying that though. The iPhone is probably the most champion consumer product of all time in terms of journalistic attention. That said, I disagree about integration. Of course if you use apple’s ecosystem, it would be well integrated. I don’t. My music, photos, videos, appointments, mail, contacts, movies, magazines, books, tv shows, etc, are on all of my android devices at all times, shared flawlessly via google’s free cloud services. If I take a picture on my phone, its in my tablet’s gallery before i can pick it up and check. Beyond that though, i can also access all of that information on any connected computer anywhere in the world, without downloading any additional software. If you were to recommend me an iphone5, I’d be very disappointed when those pictures didn’t show up in my gallery like they do on any android device i pick up right now. As for security, I’m not sure how one gauges security, but I have zero hesitations on google’s security. Apple has been victim to security issues, and so has android. The majority of android’s problems have been people downloading apps from places other than the market. I don’t ever give security a second thought. I see that entire topic much differently. Apple’s closed ecosystem, to me, is someone telling me what i can do with something i own. I wouldn’t buy a ford that I could only drive to burger king, especially if I knew the reason I couldn’t drive it to MacDonald’s was because Ford’s CEO was mad at MacDonald’s. The reality is that Apple is far too temper tantrum prone and has far too much control over the product (remember when people who used the siri app on the 4 had it taken away so that apple could monetize it on the 4s?). When I buy something, I want to own it… not rent it. As for fragmentation, you talk about the iphone 4, 4s, and 5 getting iOS, but they’re all getting different ‘versions’ of it. That’s still fragmentation, in fact, its almost worse in a way. At least with android, you know what you have. If you have 2.3, you know where you stand in relation to 4.1. What apple does is almost as if every version of windows got renamed to windows 7 when windows 7 came out. iOS6 on an iphone 4 is not the same as iOS6 on an iphone 5. That’s confusing and borderlines on somewhat misleading. At the end of the day, it comes down to what the user wants. I’d never hesitate to recommend a Samsung Android phone sight unseen. I personally hate iOS every time I use it. It feels like a series of constant work arounds to get around the fact that apple wants me trapped in their ecosystem. Want to video chat with someone on a non-iphone? Download some app that provides a crippled version of google talk. Everything is proprietary and that sort of sucks in a day and age communication. Why is apple making it more difficult to do something just so they can monetize their way of doing it? Lastly, as for intuitive… I’ll admit I haven’t used iOS6, but if it isn’t drastically different than iOS5, then I’d say Android 4.1 is more intuitive. I’d have agreed that iOS is more intuitive of android versions 2.3 and below. If Apple and their users would just understand that we don’t all want Steve Job’s dream, I’d never utter a word about apple again. An iphone offers me nothing. I’m not an apps guy. I find android to be much more useful without relying on apps than iOS, and I like having a toy I can play with. I appreciate that that isn’t for everyone, but unfortunately apple doesn’t share my appreciation of choice.

  • cxf

    The staggering growth of Apple iphone is only matched by Microsoft’s epic loss of opportunity in the device market. The comparisons will need to change in November when Nokia, Samsung, and HTC release the first batch of Win8 phones.

  • qualitypro

    Why don’t you marry Apple, Brian?

  • William

    LOL Your attempt to dismiss the fact you’re not a fanboy utterly failed.

    This article reeks of fanboyisms.

    This pair of contradictory claims just sums up your fanboy mentality.

    “This isn’t about being a fanboy, nor being easily swayed by marketing or
    wowed by Apple’s fanciful product launch presentations….Consistently through the years,
    Apple builds the best technologies, the most functional hardware, the
    most usable, intuitive products.”

    You’re so brainwashed that you think you’re not brainwashed.

  • agenius

    actually it is about being a fanboy, whether or not you want it to be

  • Qtrowx

    Really? A clear adherence to its values is the main reason to iPhone survival? When was the last time you heart something like that? Do you remember what happened next? Yep, the same that awaits iPhone in the near future.

  • Bravadu

    You make some good points, but haters are simply going to overlook them.

  • Bravadu

    If he can resell his iphone 4S, then he can also resell his pre-iphone 5 accessories.

    If not, then, you can get an adapter. $30 from Apple but cheaper from Amazon or if you just want to wait a few weeks/months.

  • Bravadu

    That makes you sheep in the eyes of haters. However, I think they’re just blinded by their hate. Welcome to things just working.

  • Bravadu

    razr or razr max? Because razr has like a 4 hour battery life and after a few months of fanfare, the max got released, shafting everyone who got the previous razr.

    But anyway, I’ll bite, what’s so fun about the razr compared to the iphone? More/better apps?

  • vasras

    Disagree on the outcome, although I agree many of the strengths.

    Why Apple will fail (just like *every* other company before them):

    – too big, too unwieldy, too bureaucratic (happens to all, read Greinger)
    – getting very dismissive of users, innovating less (Nokia did this)
    – ruling markets due to superior stronghold on procurement, logistics and massive cash pile that they can use to buy out stuff from everybody else (Nokia was there too)
    – starting to squeeze supply chain too much (Nokia did the same mistake)
    – spending money on idiotic projects (look at their new HQ investment, in all of corp history, 90% of these cases turn out to be a bad decision down the road)
    – staggered competitor cycle, esp. Android alone, is just too fast for them. they can’t compete fast enough
    – the most lucrative top-end market is only *so* big. Then there’s the rest of us, with 80% of market share
    – very little essential technology patents. They stand to lose big in the LTE+ essentials fight, which is coming (their cash coffers will help for a while)
    – innovating less, suing more – this has never been a good sign of corporate culture or innovation developing into the right direction (historically). I doubt Apple is different
    – They are the stock market darling, but nothing can grow exponentially forever. After they start to get a little bit of S-logistic curve growth, they will be butchered by the markets and the media will be on them like vultures
    - Steve’s gone…

    All in all, it’ just a matter of time. Next year, two years, it doesn’t matter.

    They will fall just like every single company before them.

  • Jason

    LOL @ “to things just work”.

    One of history’s greatest hoodwinks.

  • enyibinakata

    I wonder what dictionary Mr Hall uses as he clearly has no clue what the word “values” means.

    Apple has Values ? A company that rips off its customers, cajoles them for holding their iPhone 4 wrong rather than fix what was a clear design fault – a fault that was fixed in subsequent iteration (iPhone 4S). They even had the cheek to suggest the use of a rubber band as a temporary fix.
    Values ? For a company that rakes an eye watering by, for example, charging well over a hundred ,dollars for a device with an extra 16GB when the same could be obtained (as a Micro SD card) for approx ten dollars.
    Values ? A company that eschews a well established standards like micro USB and DLNA so as to ensure its customers are ever more entrenched in its gilded fortress. To add salt to injury, customers are required to purchase an adaptor for an absolutely exorbitant amount.
    Values ? I wont even go into the horrendous working conditions at its Chineese manufacturers factory – Fox Conn indeed.
    My advice to Brian S. Hall, drop whatever you’re smoking and seek help !.

  • Bravadu

    Most things in life are relative, and compared to Android, that hoodwink is certainly true

  • http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002VH8ECQ Brian S Hall

    Thanks for the comment. I find Android to be a lesser copy of iOS. I prefer iPhone and even Windows Phone and Blackberry to Android. I think there are some core differences in use of smartphones vs traditional PCs. Whereas Windows demanded a high learning curve, there was much that could be done with that. With smartphones, so much activity is highly specific and very short that there is an even greater premium on intuitive design, in my view. I think this favors Apple. It’s been part of their mission for 30 years.

  • http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002VH8ECQ Brian S Hall

    Resale value should not be underestimated. The gap between reselling Apple products and others is huge.

  • http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002VH8ECQ Brian S Hall

    It’s legal in several States, maybe I should.

  • http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002VH8ECQ Brian S Hall

    probably not the only one

  • Bravadu

    Meaning.. compared to android, ios just works

  • Stoli89

    Do you think Apple’s failed MAPS initiative with IOS6 is going to hurt iPhone 5 sales internationally?

  • Stoli89

    According to Mitt Romney, since Apple is a person, why not? Hell, if Romney had his way, you could marry Apple and Foxconn!

  • Stoli89

    The iPhone always makes much more dynamic sound..when you accidentally drop it.

  • qualitypro

    The new iPhone has a smaller dock connector, it should be perfect for you!

  • http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002VH8ECQ Brian S Hall

    total burn!

  • qualitypro

    sorry Brian, couldn’t help it!