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Mobile development strategy – platform decision update

Last April I suggested that evolving mobile platform market changes meant organizations needed to re-visit their mobile development strategy and said

“What has changed? To over simplify: Apple’s dominance continues to increase and is unassailable in tablets; RIM is not a contender; Microsoft is looking like an up-and-comer; and most surprising to many, Android is looking iffy and is a flop in tablets with the exception of the very Amazon-ized version in the Kindle Fire.”

Not surprisingly, things have changed again. Two major changes are that Samsung is now a major player, and Google has finally made progress in tablets with the Nexus 7 and the much improved Android “Jelly Bean” release. Amazon’s second Fire is also more robust. There are now real choices in tablets – personally I have an iPad, a Fire HD, and a Nexus 7, and I use all three of them, and for many purposes I just grab the closest. But businesses making a significant investment in a platform for development need to carefully evaluate its stability and staying power.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the debate among analysts over what the iOS and Android market share numbers mean – specifically, whether the larger and accelerating Android market share numbers threaten Apple’s dominance. At first glance it is natural to think that dominant market share signifies a safer bet, and indeed many analysts make this point. But it’s not so simple. Last year there was evidence that even though Android devices had a market share advantage, Apple devices accounted for much more total online activity – were used more – and it is probably safe to say that use is a requirement of product success.

More importantly, if you look at profit share, Apple continues to dominate. So the opposing view is that Apple may be the safer bet since for most values of company/product health, profit trumps revenue.

In “The Mobile Train Has Left The Windows 8 Platform Behind“, John Kirk, who doesn’t mince words, has no patience for the view that Android’s market share means it will squash Apple:

“According to Canaccord Genuity, Apple took in 69% of the handset (all mobile phones, not just smartphones) profits in 2012. Samsung took in 34%, HTC accounted for 1%…

No one not named Apple or Samsung is making any meaningful profits from the handset sector…

Many industry observers have the handset market all wrong. They opine that Andoid is destroying iOS. What is actually happening is:

  1. With 69% of the profits, iOS is doing just fine. More than fine, actually.
  2. Android destroyed every phone manufacturer not named Apple (BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm, etc.).
  3. Samsung destroyed every Android phone manufacturer not named Samsung (HTC, Motorola, Sony Erricson, etc.).

Pundits like to predict the imminent demise of iOS, but those profit numbers say just the opposite. And even as Android’s market share has increased, iOS’s profit share has increased too. Market share is no guarantor of profits. This should be self-evident. But apparently, it’s not.”

Kirk follows up with more entertaining disdain for the “church of market share” at “Does the Rise of Android’s Market Share Mean the End of Apple’s Profits?“.

In terms of tablet market share,

“According to Canalys, Apple – despite being supply constrained – sold 22.9 million tablets for 49% share, Samsung shipped 7.6 million tablets, Amazon shipped 4.6 million tablets for 18% share, and Google’s Nexus 7 and 10, combined, shipped 2.6 million tablets.”

In conclusion,

“Only Samsung and Apple are competing in phones. Only Amazon, Google, Samsung and Apple are effectively competing in tablets. The mobile “train” has left the station and companies like HP, Lenovo, Dell and Microsoft are standing on the Windows 8 platform, watching it pull away.”

For more on Microsoft see Kirk’s full post.

Mobile platforms are still evolving and the coming proliferation of new device types guarantee that there will be continuous and substantial change made to those that survive. No one responsible for a mobile development strategy should wait almost a year to evaluate their current plan. Fortunately there is no shortage of useful platform data. It just needs to be interpreted critically.

Rumor: Amazon to Release Tablet

Amazon plans to release a tablet computer by October, people familiar with the matter said according to the Wall Street Journal. While Amazon has long offered digital content on its website, it’s hardware focus has been content-limited Kindle eReaders. As Amazon attempts to enter streaming video and other “richer” media markets, it sounds logical that they start selling their own hardware which can support and tie-in with these services (as they had done with the Kindle). The details of the Amazon tablet still remain vague before it’s official announcement, but it is expected to run on the Android OS and is not expected to have features such as a camera. http://www.amazon.com/

Free Mac Application for Reading Kindle Books Now Available

Amazon.com, Inc. announced “Kindle for Mac,” a free application that lets readers around the world read Kindle books on their Mac computers. The U.S. Kindle Store currently offers over 450,000 books, including New Releases and 102 of the New York Times Bestsellers. Kindle books can now be read on the Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC and Mac, and soon the iPad. Kindle for Mac features Amazon’s Whispersync technology which saves and synchronizes bookmarks and last page read across devices. With Kindle for Mac, readers can take advantage of the following features: Purchase, download, and read the many Kindle format books available; Access their library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers for free; Choose from 10 different font sizes and adjust words per line; Add and automatically synchronize bookmarks and last page read; View notes and highlights marked on Kindle, Kindle DX, and Kindle for iPhone; & Read books in full color including children’s books, cookbooks, travel books and textbooks. Several features will be added to the Kindle for Mac app in the near future, including full text search and the ability to create and edit notes and highlights. Kindle for Mac is available to customers around the world as a free download. http://www.amazon.com/kindleformac

Amazon Announces New Royalty Incentive for Authors

Amazon.com has announced details of a new program that will enable authors and publishers who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) to earn a larger share of revenue from each Kindle book they sell. For each Kindle book sold, authors and publishers who choose the new 70 percent royalty option will receive 70 percent of list price, net of delivery costs. This new option will be in addition to and will not replace the existing DTP standard royalty option. This new 70 percent royalty option will become available on June 30, 2010. Delivery costs will be based on file size and pricing will be $0.15/MB. At today’s median DTP file size of 368KB, delivery costs would be less than $0.06 per unit sold. For example, on an $8.99 book an author would make $3.15 with the standard option, and $6.25 with the new 70 percent option. DTP authors and publishers will be able to select the royalty option that best meets their needs. Books from authors and publishers who choose the 70 percent royalty option will have access to all the same features and be subject to all the same requirements as books receiving the standard royalty rate. In addition, to qualify for the 70 percent royalty option, books must satisfy the following set of requirements: The author or publisher-supplied list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99; This list price must be at least 20 percent below the lowest physical list price for the physical book; The title is made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights; The title will be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech; This list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store. Under this royalty option, books must be offered at or below price parity with competition, including physical book prices. Amazon will provide tools to automate that process, and the 70 percent royalty will be calculated off the sales price. The 70 percent royalty option is for in-copyright works and is unavailable for works published before 1923 (public domain books). At launch, the 70 percent royalty option will only be available for books sold in the United States. http://dtp.amazon.com/

Mark Logic Launches Cloud Services

Mark Logic Corporation announced MarkLogic Cloud Services, a new line of services that will make Mark Logic software available on Amazon Web Services. The first such offering in this line is MarkLogic Server for EC2, which enables customers to use MarkLogic on a pay-by-the-hour basis on Amazon EC2, the popular elastic computing cloud platform. MarkLogic Server for EC2 consists of an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) with MarkLogic Server pre-installed. For faster and easier deployment, users can subscribe to the MarkLogic Server AMI directly from Amazon Web Services. This service also allows users to pay for only the resources they need. MarkLogic Server is also now certified on two cloud infrastructures. The first is Amazon EC2, where customers can deploy MarkLogic Server on an infrastructure offered by Amazon Web Services. The second is the VMware virtualization platform, which enables customers to implement clouds on self-managed hardware. http://www.marklogic.com/

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