back to article How Apple won the West (and lost the world)

The spread of high-end smart phones throughout the rich, developed world is largely made possible by expensive data plans. Such plans enable carriers to subsidise expensive iPhones and Android devices, to the point that even a big swath of teenagers in the Western world can realistically plan to buy iPhones and iPads. Small …

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@TheOtherHobbbes

I understand the difference between the two, but when the spectrum was allocated in great swathes instead of smaller segments (to encourage microcells) and when a lot of the allocated spectrum goes unused, then I can safely say it was regulation, not physics, that is to blame.

Put another way: within the limitations of physics, the regulation wasn't very efficient. See also: Lightsquared.

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"Er, I think you'll find that Symbian is a smartphone operating system with a lot of features that iOS lacks even today."

I think you'll find that Symbian is a family of operating systems that includes S60 (smartphone OS), S^3 (less common smartphone OS) and the incredibly popular S40 (feature phone OS). Cheap and cheerful Nokia? It'll be running Symbian series 40 OS unless it's really old. And there are millions upon millions of those in circulation.

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Boffin

i think you'll find

...that S60 is a software stack running on top Symbian, of which S^3 is the latest iteration and S40 is Nokia's mid teir os and has nothing to do with Symbian.

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Meh

Losing all the way to the bank.

Who cares?

So what if Apple is not shooting to be the most used OS? They don't need to be or want to be, the margin is terrible.

They are inanely profitable off their market sector. Why would they want to join the race to the bottom for phones with microscopic margins? To keep their percentage they have to keep improving what they do for the top market, all Android has to do is see how cheap they can get so they can give them out free with phone subscriptions.

Lets hope it stays that way, we all know what its like when only one company has the market.. Stagnation and mediocrity. We don't need a replay of the 90's in cell phones.

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Bronze badge

Short term gain, long term loss

Being the most used of anything is good news. You lead and others follow. Look at Microsoft.

Apple were also insanely profitable with their Macs some 20 years ago, but they chose high profit margins to market share (which was theirs fir the taking at the time, if they had had cheaper macs).

It all went pear-shaped in the 1990s and suddenly they found that being a bit-player in the market wasn't very nice. If the Saviour™ [1] hadn't come along, Apple would be taking its place along side Acorn, Spectrum, Sun and other dead computer manufacturers.

[1] Dying is no big deal, just get reborn.

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Pint

Short sightedness...

"Apple were also insanely profitable with their Macs some 20 years ago, but they chose high profit margins to market share"

Actually it was a different Apple, one full of bean counters and sugar water salesmen, basically bit players who didn't understand the market.

For all your sarcasm about Jobs, you have forgotten his best creation: the new Apple, the largest tech company in the world, ain't going to roll over this time. It's not that Jobs came back, it is what his management team have done over the last 15 years, but ignore that and just rely on usual British sarcasm, that'll fix it.

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Facepalm

Obvious article of the month award?

Wow. Didn't really know you needed stats to prove this theory. It really makes sense on basic logic sense without numbers.

Expensive smartphone to developed countries = relatively cheap compared to income

Expensive smartphone to developing countries = relatively expensive but not unreachable

Expensive smartphone to under-developed countries = out of this world expensive and unobtainable

Technology from 5 - 10 years ago is moderately cheap and developing countries will work on a time-lapse on comparison to developed countries. You only have to look at the western world vs Japan. Again, that's another 5 year gap technology wise.

Essentially, people feel they need to buy smartphones in the western world because they're in the in thing (aka fashion). Some people follow it, some don't. They ones that scream (you don't need a smartphone) obviously don't. But I don't blame you because you just need a functioning phone/text messaging machine which doesn't need recharging every 6 hours.

I still wish we lived in the world of 3210/3310s though.

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What else?

I am stuck to an edge connection now and I am browsing with arguably one of best mobile (real) browsers named opera mobile, turbo (data compression) enabled. I get almost apple phone like browsing experience using a $200 huawei handset. If that idiot didn't declare platform dead and caused massive leave from platform, I would have upgraded to Nokia E7.

It isn't like I am poor, I am just against spending way too much for a smart phone or a computer.

I keep seeing old Symbian guys everywhere in Android land and just like old days, they have no problem spending money for quality software.

Speaking of J2Me, only tens of software houses, most visible Opera is aware of the potential and they make something which deserves a UN award for enabling web for masses.

The product which supposedly enable open web for all doesn't work with 256mb RAM android handsets and rejects less featured handsets. Glad I didn't donate to you Mozilla.

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Anonymous Coward

Just goes to prove

...there aren't a lot of baristas in the 3rd world

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Anonymous Coward

@llgaz "It isn't like I am poor"

Just tight then?

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Go

Denegrating people for not wanting to over-spend!

It is what made the western economies what they are today!

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You will send me food after reading this

Every second I use the Android handset, I see what J2ME could be if it wasn't under hands of Sun and lately. I don't talk about the ASM/C coded .so stuff, it is just UI code/framework and arguably better development environment which enables all these developers. Obviously a stable company like Google helps too.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is... If all companies involved in J2ME (except developers) weren't stupid, I wouldn't buy Android, I would buy a decent J2ME having handset. I remember how great was my Sony Ericsson K700i experience.

All I do on phone is push mail, web browsing (mobile sites) and sports tracking/gps navigation. Believe or not, all are possible with J2ME. Non technological issues preventing it. Ask MS what would they do if they had billion devices wondering around with some sort of mini .NET.

Anyway I am kind of a strange guy who sees seriously missed opportunity with Desktop Java too...

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Anonymous Coward

There you have it!

Much as I appreciate you made a joke, the serious side is that that kind of attitude is what is getting us a bloody nose from the tiger economies.

We see spending as a way of life here in the West and if you don't keep up with the Jones', even when you can't afford to, you're seen as some kind of loser or tight-arse. Sorry but if we want to get out of the rut we all helped create, not just the greedy bankers, we all need to be a bit more like a ducks-arse I'm afraid!

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Anonymous Coward

Geeks and people just upgrading (as cheaply as possible) their candy bar Nokia to 'something that looks like an iPhone' buy Android - everyone else wants / buys an iPhone.

Most non-geek people do not refer to 'tablets' they call them iPads - it's pretty much become a verb.

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Stop

Not in my experience - most non-geeks who've asked my advice have asked about "tablets". Some have even explicitly said "not an iPad".

I also know of a lot of people who got shot of their iPhones because they considered them "shit".

If iOS works for you, great, but dont assume that everyone will trade down for shinies, even amongst the tech illiterate.

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They are upgrading to Android for a reason

Right now, it isn't mature as Symbian but you can do almost all Symbian things (and more) on Android.

All theme guys, advanced software guys (e.g. Melon mobile) are slowly moving to Android for this reason since nobody wants to "hack" a phone just to get different icons. I was amazed when I noticed even "Dialer" of Android can be replaced without any hacks or some $10.000 tier 1 certificate.

Of course, the OS isn't mature as Symbian yet so nobody should blindly buy their Symbian apps thinking it is exactly the same functionality. Happens to lot of people.

One of the most active areas of Symbian development were themes. While Android doesn't have the maturity of Nokia UI (no vectors yet I think), what would a Nokia/Symbian user even have software to change theme twice a day based on day/night use? Windows phone? He/She will change what? Tile font? Blue colour? Not like they are allowed.

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Anonymous Coward

change theme twice a day

"what would a Nokia/Symbian user even have software to change theme twice a day based on day/night use?"

I can't quite parse that into English, but my ancient Symbian-based Nokia E71 (bought 2nd hand a year ago after I tried and disliked Android 2.1) is allegedly able to change theme twice a day based on business/pleasure use.

Is that the kind of thing you were saying was Android-only?

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Anonymous Coward

@Ben Tasker

I moved over from an iPhone to Android, not because Apple was particularly bad but as a geek I wanted better value for money. I want to do more things like out of the box WiFi hotspot for my laptop and Android tablet. I want to be able to play with a little bit of Android development, not necessarily release anything publicly. With Apple you do what you're told. With Android you can do what you're told if you don't want to but no one will call you a trouble maker if you want to play with the gadget you spent your hard earned wonga on.

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Anonymous Coward

odd

I could be claissified as a "geek" (love command line UNIX (not some ghastly Linus GUI and broken Bash), used to programme X.25, X.400, even some VMS and Primos stuff, think Perl is easy. I have a few acquaintances and friends of similar bent and grown-up children who seem to be keen on tablets and smartphones. I am surrounded by colleagues of all ages who work in IT, not just posture about it. I travel between UK and the continental country in which I live and work.

Now, why that preamble? Because I think your "sample" must be odd, small and highly selective, if not fictional. My youngest daughter bought some "cheap" tablet (price grounds) whose make I forget - it's all right, but very limited. Every single other owner of a tablet whom I know (I have not got one, no use for one) and all those I see on the commute to work every day (commuter transport is a very good sample point as it is full of people trying to use their time productively or for entertainment) have got an iPad. iPhones are not as universal; but apart from a few who just want to be anti, the rest are about 50-50 iPhone:"other", with those "other" of my personal acquaintance buying "other" on price "but it looks like an iPhone", never on functionality grounds. and very many sticking with their Nokia or similar.

So what anyway? Are you as rabid over your make of shirts, fridge, cup? Do you buy "ugly" and marry "ugly" to avoid "shinies"? I known no one, no, not one, who says "anything but an i*". I know a couple who got shot of their Androids, none who got shot of iPhones (except for a newer one), not that that has anything to do with anything.

Buy what suits your wallet, your taste and your needs. Nothing is perfect, except idiocy. Or even, heresy, do not buy at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Did you use the iPhone?

"out of the box WiFi hotspot": Just got my first iphone, turned on "Settings::Personal Hot Spot" and, goodness, it just worked. Oddly, everything did as expected, without any need for the manual. Even odder, I have not charged the thing for two days and have still got 40% battery, despite reasonable, mixed use.

By the way, talking to someone managing development in a firm specialising in Android and Symbian app development (but not for IOS), I learnt that Android APIs are awkward as they are unstable and inconsistent from release to release, requiring a lot of trial and error by programmers.

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Silver badge

Oddly enough, most saying "not an i*" are doing so because they used (however briefly, I don't know) one and didn't like it. I don't doubt at least a few probably also said it on the basis of seeing them everywhere and wanting something different.

Who said anything about avoiding "shinies", I simply said that not everyone buys _just_ because it is shiny.

Sample definitely isn't fictional, though in a Global or even national sense it is fairly small. That said, it is very varied as personnel here tend to change very regularly and have a variety of backgrounds. So whilst not exactly up to the exacting standards of a scientific study, it's not a bad sample to work with - can only use what I've experienced after all.

I'm also far from Rabid, I'd use an iPad/iPhone if they suited taste/wallet/needs but as they don't I don't. Perhaps one day they will, but I'm not going to hold my breath for that.

In all fairness, we can all sit at our keyboards and say "but I've seen......", the point I was trying to make is that the OP was making an assumption that just doesn't stick. Some just don't want Apple gear (for whatever reason), some don't want Google gear, and most don't want Windows Phone (Sorry - hard to resist!).

As I said before, if you're happy with an iPhone good for you. I know plenty who haven't been just as I know people that are. In terms of outright user satisfaction the one person I know who's 100% happy with his gear is an Apple User, though he does tend to wait until some of the kinks are worked out.

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Someone else might have mentioned this but I don't feel like reading these long apple vs android vs other comments. I think you mean noun not verb. I have never heard anyone say they are going to iPad. Also, if you did mean noun, there is no "pretty much," iPad is a noun, it's a proper name for a specific kind of tablet computer.

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Anonymous Coward

"I can, and it's negative. I'm very happy indeed to be free of the endless pipe of distracting third-rate shit that is the Internet when I knock off or go on holiday. You could not give me a smartphone for exactly this reason; they're a ball and chain around the leg of your life."

Yeah and who needs fire, or the wheel or any of that new fangled stuff - bah humbug.

Maybe it's the user not the tool - used correctly a smartphone can save you a lot of time and be genuinely useful - to most people.

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Android is not just smartphones...

... it has already grown to "hybrid" tablets like the Transformer Prime. Where you have a proper screen and keyboard and everything to replace your Windows PC (and the complex UI it comes with). Windows has become so small in terms of bundled functionality (no office suite, no image editor, no audio editor and a terrible video editor that can't save to MP4) that once Android gets decent office, imaginb and multimedia apps it's game over for old Windows. On related news, Adobe released Photoshop Express for Android and videolan is working on an Android version of VLC.

Ballmer is hoping that Android will get stuck on smartphones and all Hubrids will be Windows 8 tablets, however Android has already captured 20% of tablet sales from statistical noise it was some years ago.

Apple is smarter and bundleslots of functionality into OS X, to protect canibalization from hybrids.

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Silver badge

"so small in terms of bundled functionality "

I think that may have something to do with all the anti-trust lawsuits that somehow Apple and Google aren't getting.

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@ Green Banana

"And The Rich People In Dirt Poor Countries

..will buy iPhones as feverishly as the buy BMWs and Mercedess."

assuming you mean Mercedes then if you ever bought one of those over priced pieces of crap then you'd know you were talking utter BOLLOCKS

go ahead & buy a western badged, over priced piece of crap made in cheap labour countries (to the major detriment of workers there) but please don't fool yourself about the quality eh?

wish I had a £1 (or €1.20) for every iPhone user I had heard screaming at their phone for being unable to pick up a call / hold onto a call

TBH if my Nokia 6210 had BT (for hands free car use) it would never have left my side, I have a basic BB now and does all I need - BT connection / battery life / address push / basic calendar functions, just a shame it doesn't go all week without charging

"it's only a phone love"

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seriously, did you just use the "feature phone" market

seriously, did you just use the "feature phone" market as a comparison to Smartphones?

Apple has no interest in the "feature phone" market, and is making 90% of the Manufacture profits for a reason... they can barely build the things fast enough as it is, and you want them to compete with feature phones?

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Unhappy

Good article, generally poor comments

That article was a breath of fresh air. Many of the comments were the usual anti/anti-fanboi crap.

The points raised in the article were thought provoking. Those by many of the commentards were boring.

To those who think smartphones are toys for the rich: You are mostly right.

To those who think smartphones can ONLY be toys for the rich: You are wrong.

Why? Let's all agree here that computers can be useful. In the developing world you are going to want a device that requires as little power as possible, as few materials to make and is robust.

Looks more like a smartphone than a desktop PC to me. Certainly a battery seems a good idea for those who don't have a wall socket (or a wall, even) to call their own.

Screw the smartphone/computer definition: Talk in terms of who the person is, what do they require, and what device will accomplish this.

Take the way that in many countries, mobile phone use has 'leapfrogged' that of landlines, and use it as a starting point of your thought.

Go and read some Arthur C Clarke. His dream of geostationary satellites allowing the distribution of useful (ie, health, medical, politcal) news to widely spread populations without an existing infrastructure, for example. It might have veered towards what he feared- "the peddling of soap" - but at least he was thinking.

Here we were, faced with an article that should have made see a bigger picture, and we were mostly repeating the same old shit.

To those who responded in the spirit of the article, I'm sorry your wheaty comments were lost in the chaff

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FAIL

This is good?

Do we really think it's a good that people making $2 a day are getting sucked into a phone that cost two months salary never mind a data plan. Add to this the availability of a place to change the phone and quality signal and exactly what are these people supposed to do? They're not going to buy anything on-line.

Look, I've been to some pretty poor areas of a lot of countries even Brazil has mass poverty that I never imagined until I saw it. The goal TO ME shouldn't be to congratulate ourselves for providing cheap phones but rather life these people out of poverty and don't even start that "technology divide" BS...go to the hills outside Rio or Sao Paulo and tell me how surfing the web in the darkness of their huts and going to move the needle. We've passed that BS rationalization for technology haven't we?

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Facepalm

Usual load of rubbish and wishful thinking

While Apple and their 3rd party app developers cream of all the profits there will always be people sniping in the background, willing their pet crapola open source hobby horse to magically win some bigger than yours contest with iPhone/iPad/iWhatever and hopefully make them some money in the process.

Missing the point, the very fact that it is the people with little money to spare who are the ones buying either Android or something else equally half-baked means that there's no chance of making a killing on the back of e.g. Android marketshare. The spare money floating around just isn't there, it's with the premium brand, in this case Apple's iWhatever.

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Anonymous Coward

Andoid vs iOS

The problem is with the great unwashed who really don't want to know how the device works they just want to use it. These people are the ones who really believe that clicking on a web page that is saying their computer is infected please click here to clean is going to help them, for these people security needs to be taken out of there hands.

Look at all the botnets and millions of infected windows computers around the world, this is because Microsoft produced operating systems that were easy to use first and security was way down the list so unless you know what you are doing and are able to harden your own security you were bound to get infected.

I think Tablets are brilliant for these kinds of users who just want to browse the web and check their email, but they need to be made secure, which at the moment Android is failing.

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FAIL

Guess what, I'm still using a monochrome nokia 1110.

The standby time is measured in weeks, it texts, it makes phone calls and I've never yet once found myself out and about and realising that I was missing something an iPhone would have given me.

I'm just chuffed at the end of a long night that I can still call a cab while all the iphones around me have died from being fondled all night.

The most important feature for me on a phone is still the ability to make a call.

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Still love my Nokia 5500 sport (symbian s60 v3)

+1 for your comment about the 1110.

Even though I have an Android phone, I take my 5500 with me when I go to the beach. It's Symbian/S60 inside its fairly rugged form and with GPRS I can check my train times online for the journey home.

I love it that it is basic but Facebook, email also work well on it. I'm not precious about the odd grain of sand scratching the casing. It's had its casing and keys replaced a few times, cheaply, thanks to spares on ebay. The only original parts are the logic board and screen and camera.

Such a shame Symbian seems to have been declared dead by Nokia's leadership - for people like me who might enjoy the freedom of simplicity from time to time - and for the developing countries where a healthy market still exists for cheap and power frugal handsets.

If Nokia don't want all those symbian phones and indeed pre-Symbian such as the classic 1110, 3210s then why don't Casio buy them? Given that Casio make cashier machines and that mobile is the first form of internet for many developing countries - and a means to transmit money, I can see that Casio would bring some new ideas to the table.

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Casio makes phones

they do make some amazing phones with seriously unique specs (water resistant!) but for some odd reason, they don't release them outside Japan.

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Anonymous Coward

"emerging economies may be much wiser with their limited incomes than the developed world has been with its bloated wallets"

I understood that the Far East was doing this in all walks of life, not just gadgets. Their economies are booming and they want the best for their kids and their old age so they are scrimping and saving like crazy to make sure they do not end up like their parents did back in the 60s.

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Facepalm

Point .. missed

Apple don't care about world domination. They care about protecting their investment and selling their kit to people that can afford them.

Google don't care about what devices Android is available on, or how poor the experience is, as long as they are able to extend their advertising reach through them.

The Android handset manfacturers don't care about Android other than its given then a low cost way to add smart phone features to cheap phones.

Android phones were always going to outsell iOS phones.

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