In terms of new product categories, it has been a rather dull year. When it comes to product updates, it's been a very good year. The MacBooks have had a substantial increase in battery life. Today's MacBook Air can last as long as yesterday's iPad. Speaking of iPads, the iPad Air has taken the tablet category to the pinnacle of what it should be. But what about the iPhone: the flagship of Apple's fleet?
The iPhone is the #1 seller on all of the big 4, US carriers. For any one phone to achieve that is an accomplishment. To achieve that for three months running, during the busiest time of the year, phenomenal! This chart does not take other outlets into consideration, such as Walmart, Best Buy, or, more importantly, the Apple Store. If those channels were considered, I have no doubt that the iPhone would be even more dominant.
iPhone dominance is even more surprising at Verizon than AT&T. Verizon owns the Droid brand. They are not a disinterested party in the smartphone wars. They have taken sides, and have a sizable stake in Android. It is a wonder that they manage to sell any iPhones on that carrier. For the iPhone to outsell all others has got to be a sore spot for them. That is a case of the iPhone selling in spite of the carrier, not because of it.
iPhone operating system
iOS 7 was released almost three months ago. It was the biggest change to iOS since the release of the original iPhone. The tech press howled with rage and agony at the changes. There were cries from some quarters that the new animations gave people motion sickness. Many older devices were left behind. By all reports, this update was set to be a disaster.
Today, iOS 7 is running on over 70% of all iOS devices. That is unprecedented in the world of consumer electronics. That is very likely the full extent of current devices on which it can run. To bring that number even higher, Apple will simply have to sell more devices that come with iOS 7. When iOS 6 is taken into account, adoption is above 90%. That means that developers have the luxury of targeting the latest iOS updates, and utilizing the latest advance in the OS. To hit the fat middle of Android users, developers have to target a version of the OS that is two years old.
A good example of this is the newly released, Angry Birds Go. Almost all users of iDevices can play it right now. It was also released on Windows Phone, but only a fraction of a percent of Windows Phone users can run it on their device. OS and device fragmentation makes a big difference.
iPhones in business
More and more these days, the iPhone is flying business class. There was a time when business class was dominated by Blackberrys. Now, those Blackberrys fly coach, if they can afford to fly at all. While a few celebrities and politicians hang on to their keyboards of old, enterprise is moving on, and leaving Blackberry behind, in the storage closet, next to the microfiche. In business class, Blackberrys and Windows laptops are being replaced with iPhones and iPads.
This amazing feat has been accomplished with devices that were not even designed for business use. Apple does not target business users in their ads, nor do they include a lot of business oriented features. You will almost never see an image of a person using an iOS device while wearing a suit. Despite all that, iPhone and iPads are the devices most sought after by the suit-wearing class. It turns out, they also want well-built, easy to use, fun and productive products that can also play Angry Birds Go on their downtime. Who knew? Certainly not Blackberry.
iPhone user engagement
Finally, let's talk user engagement. Despite its worldwide marketshare being far lower than Android, the iPhone has the highest level of user engagement, which pays dividends for developers. The latest stats I've seen show Google coming close to paying out to developers what Apple pays. However, that remains an embarrassing stat for Google. Android marketshare is about ten times that of the iPhone. Yet, collectively, developers still make a little more from iOS. Look at it this way: It takes more than ten Android users to be worth one iPhone user. That is only taking the app ecosystem into account.
This means that iPhone users aren't just excited about the product when they take it out of the box. They continue to be excited about the product, and use it for all it is worth throughout its long lifecycle. This shows up in every usage stat. It doesn't matter if we are talking web usage, app usage, mobile purchasing, music listening, or game playing. Like the Yellow Pages of old, the iPhone is the one that gets used.
No matter how we look at it, the iPhone is having a banner year. All of this is without mentioning that the iPhone took 9 out of 10 of the bestselling slots in Japan, accounting for 76% of all new smartphone purchases in that country. It also goes without mentioning the fact that the iPhone was just released on China Mobile: the biggest carrier in the world. Already, it has taken over a major portion of the retail sales space in some carrier stores in China. This banner year isn't over yet. I have a feeling next year will make this you look like a weak, first lap.