Apple panics about losing ground to Android

There are signs that all is not well at the Cupertino based outfit after a couple of days ago figures showed that Android was knocking the socks off the iPhone.

Apple depends on an image that it is taking control of the market with slow certainty, but the news, from analysts NPD that Android was doing much better, sent it into a tail spin.

It was a sign of how desperate things were that Apple’s press office turned off the answer machine, which automatically says no comment to everything, and actually went on the attack and called in a few favours with the tame Apple press.

It claimed that the way NPD had carried out its survey was wrong as it only had 120,000 people polled. It also relied on people to phone in. This was news to us. Apple fanboys frequently quote NPD figures when Apple has been doing well and its methodology has never been questioned before. We would have thought that Apple fanboys would be dead keen to participate in any phone poll as they tend to act as unpaid spokesmen for the product in any given situation.

Then Apple’s argument started to get sillier. It claimed that Android had distorted the market with its drastically reduced pricing, and aggressive buy-one-get-one-free offers from wireless providers.

“Imagine how the stats might compare if AT&T started offering the iPhone 3GS for $50 with a buy-one-get-one-free incentive,” the press office said. So, in other words, “yes Android is knocking the socks off us, but it is cheating”. This is a contradiction to the earlier statement that the figures were all lies.

The fact that Android is undercutting the iPhone, using any method at all, to gain market share seems to be fair enough if it is true. Apple has always cheerfully charged a huge mark up for its products and it seems unfair to claim a foul because someone is cheaper.

The other plan of attack is to say that Apple is lower in the statistics because it is just about to release a new model. This means that Apple fanboys are not buying because they are waiting for the new 4G.

However, this argument also does not hold water. Apple fanboys will not buy a new Android phone while they are waiting for a new bit of Jobs’ Mob gear. It would disconnect them from the Apple collective. By arguing that, Apple says that its market is huge but fixed. Lots of people buy the gear when it comes out and then do nothing. This is certainly not the image it wants to portray of global domination.

Apple’s arrogance is as the heart of its Android slide. While it does have a strong iPhone base, it cannot control the world. Android offers similar features and is not controlled to within nine inches of its life. It makes it possible for hardware makers to do a lot with it. Android is also a worldwide runaway best seller. Apple sells mostly to rich Americans and while it has done quite well in some European countries it has yet to penetrate the bigger markets of China and India where Android is a much better bet.

Then there is the fact that the iPhone is targeted at consumers rather than businesses. This has made it impossible to take on the Blackberry. All up, the iPhone has done well, but it is not a cure for cancer. It has limits and many of those are imposed on it by its closed model.