The iPhone is going to gain a lot of U.S. marketshare by being on Verizon, and it’s going to come significantly at Android’s expense. (BlackBerry will lose some of their Verizon customers to iPhone, too, but I bet Android will lose proportionally much more.)
Marco is a very good software developer but business predictions don't seem to be his strong suit. He is constantly looking backwards, noting old surveys, out of date sales figures and wholly made-up rationales for phone sales trends. And so, despite his prediction, the iPhone's move to Verizon has not increased its market share and Android phones are proving more popular at many Verizon locations with a big wave of additional 4G-capable Android phones on the way. And in Europe, some chains like Tesco and Carphone Warehouse that stock the iPhone and Android phones are now selling more Android phones.
Marco's treasured anecdotes are also sounding dated as big-time game developers like Spacetime Studios and Rovio announce bigger Android revenues, Google works to improve the payment options in its market and Amazon invents a whole new app store plus a cloud-based music service. Even Lifehacker got on the Android band wagon a bit the other day. That's not to say Android is crushing iOS by any means, but it's not the app laggard that it used to be and it's coming on fast.
Marco was hardly alone in thinking the Verizon iPhone would be a big blow to Android's growth. John Gruber was saying much the same. Watts Martin. Many others. Why so wrong? Why can't Apple fans see what's going on?
A popular chart cooked up by Horace Dediu a few months ago showed that the iPhone outpolled Android phones on AT&T by a 15 to one ratio in November last year. Apple fans including Dediu completely misunderstood the situation, thinking the chart was a harbinger of what would happen when the iPhone hit Verizon.
But what the chart really showed was that AT&T, engorged on its five-year iPhone exclusive, had failed to develop, market or even stock any worthy competing handsets. All of Apple's massive advertising campaigns, all of the iPhones sold by Apple's hundreds of stores, all of Apple's cleverness and design smarts all fed the AT&T network exclusively and AT&T sat back and reaped the rewards. The iPhone on AT&T was a like a rare bird that evolved on an island with weak competitors.
Now the bird has flown to the mainland and competition is fierce. Not only does Verizon have a strong and growing line-up of Android phones, but AT&T is rapidly moving in that direction, as well. The carriers realize it would be foolish from their point of view to allow Apple to gain too much leverage. The lack of Verizon iPhone boosted Android but the lack of AT&T Android phones boosted the iPhone, too. Now things are getting more in balance.
None of this is to say that Apple is doomed or that the iPhone isn't great. I expect when the iPhone 5 finally arrives it will be a huge hit, especially if it narrows the gap with Android in a few key areas like 4G compatibility. But Apple isn't running Android out of town, far from it.
As a final aside, Marco Arment is back today with the much same argument and takes offense at being described, indirectly, as an Apple fanboy. But how else to describe someone who is an exclusive user of the iPhone, has no real life experience with an Android phone and yet constantly writes sweeping predictions based on the idea that nobody really wants or likes Android phones? It's like complaining about how bad the food is in China after eating at a Chinese restaurant in the East Village. Time to get out a little more.