The Tortoise And The Hare

Aesop has some great fables but my favorite is The Tortoise and The Hare. I was reminded of it yesterday when I saw this chart in my colleague Nick‘s deck for a talk he is giving this week in Hong Kong:

That is the installed base of iOS phones vs Android phones globally over the last decade.

I have been a long and loud fan of Android’s open (or at least more open) model and an equally long and loud detractor of Apple’s closed model.

I’ve taken a lot of heat and ridicule for it over the years and still do.

But to me, there is no way to win long term with a closed model.

It is a lot like The Tortoise and The Hare.

Closed allows you to build a better user experience and get out of the gate quickly. Open takes longer, the user experience is poor initially and for quite a while, but when open gets going, it is unstoppable.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LE

    Are you talking about business opportunity or actual quality of product? Business opportunity sure. “Sell to the masses eat with the classes” (A builder told us that in business school).Sorry but Android is not a better experience than IOS. Android has a larger market share because it runs on more devices and those devices are cheaper than Apple. I own and use both. Android is not a better experience than Apple’s closed system and most end users would almost certainly go with Apple if the devices weren’t as expensive as they are. It’s like comparing any low cost item to a high quality item and saying that because more Hyundais are sold than (pick any high quality low volume car) it’s better in some way. Sure it’s lower cost. So they sell more of it.Most actual users of phones (or really anything) don’t care about the business model, open closed or ‘vigs’ at the app store. All they care about is having a device that works for them when they want it to and is easy, attractive and well made. They care about what it does for them. Not about whether others are able to participate in the eco system and profit off of it.When you have a problem with your android device who do you call or who helps you if you are a typical end user of the product? The local cell phone store staffed with idiots? If you have a problem with an IOS device (or any Apple device) you can actually make an appointment and have a real person take care of an issue and help you with it. One that is enthusiastic and looks as if they actually enjoy coming to work every day. That costs money and that is one of the reasons the product is closed and more expensive.

    1. JamesHRH

      Last paragraph gave me a headache, just reading it.

    2. William Mougayar

      My version of your quote was given to me by a friend successful restaurateur. “Feed the poor, eat with the rich.”He was more blunt.

    3. Pete Griffiths

      “Sorry but Android is not a better experience than IOS”I have used both extensively. I am presently using a Pixel.The overwhelming majority of my apps run on both and I can’t tell the difference.There are two areas where I experience a real difference in product quality.a) cloud – google is betterb) assistants – google is much much betterThis may just be the way I use the phone so if you have other observations where you feel iphone is better I’d love to hear about them.

      1. LE

        How is that face recognition working for you?On IOS and the new Iphones it recognizes me in all sorts of unusual situations with glasses, with sunglasses, at night, in the dark, when I wake up, with a hat w/o a hat, at an angle etc. Shave no shave.Samsung S8+ doesn’t even come close. No doubt Pixel is better but according to this (which confirms what I have seen) IOS ‘wipes the floor’ with Android:…The entire experienced is more put together. It’s like asking someone ‘well what is it exactly that makes real lobster better than tofu lobster?’ Or ‘why is that steak better’? A good writer would use words to describe but I can’t explain why it’s just so much of a better experience.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I don’t use the face recognition so I can’t answer that.I remain a bit puzzled about why it’s so much better because I just haven’t ever had that feeling.

  2. Farhan Lalji

    Called it! Think the user experience is getting closer (especially with pixel and others) and most applications are being built with both environments in mind, think this is the year the ridicule lowers the volume.

  3. JamesHRH

    This is mind boggling.Open is what helps break a category: MS drove tools like C++, Windows & Office into the user base while leaving the PC category open to all entrants (3P custom SW, HW types). Hell, they encouraged and supported 3P customs SW types because they knew that their tools would become the standard for users. They did so because that is the nature of their key founder (he’s an open + tools guy too) but is also the right play in a land rush (think selling picks, shovels and Levis to 1849 gold rushers). Or better yet, think selling your own personal claim / title / purity testing tools to everyone involved in finding, mining & refining gold.Apple tried a closed system at the same time and got steamrollered. They were trying to sell an easy to use experience to a market that had almost not understanding of what a PC was let alone why the needed an easy to use version of it. But, their founder was an experience type, not an open + tools type.The people that were buying open + tools – the Early adopters – wanted control and choice, which is the hallmark of an open+tools category creating environment. But, when you Cross the Chasm in B2C (that theory / book is only about B2B but it applies), ease of use and lack of time/mental bandwidth investment is what drives mass adoption & high margin spend.Time is money baby.The closed environment you speak of is currently one of the 3 largest companies in the history of humanity. Its brand is associated with excellent design and high quality, possibly even luxury. It is aspirational for people who care little about the technical aspect of the product category ( um, like 95% of buyers ). The product line keeps pace with innovations in the space and the company’s leadership is savvy enough to move to services to lock down low knowledge users (both bricks and mortar and via phone – did this recently, rated as one of the 3 best phone support experiences I have ever had in any product category).If you go Apple, you eventually go phone, pad, laptop, watch & services b/c its one stop shopping. No muss, no fuss – no mental bandwidth. I cannot think of a technical argument that would get an adult, full stack Apple user to switch. The economic argument would have to be close to free because the costs of the switch would massively outweigh any potential benefit.This is ideological not logical.

    1. Girish Mehta

      +1 for ideological, not logical.

    2. Adam Sher

      What’s interesting about this is that Apple seems to violate the product line extension rule of Trout & Reis. iPad is their only product where its name is often synomyous with tablets. Do you think that some tech companies can create products where it is better to have line extensions with similar names? Apple’s success seems to suggest yes. Is integration the key factor? You can’t integrate toothpaste and light bulbs but you can integrate your CRM, calendar, and payment software.In software, my experience is that customers want to reduce the number of vendors they work with because integration challenges always create headaches.I’ve thought a lot about how cars have evolved and how much their rules apply. Take Porsche, their SUVs are their best sellers and did not cannibalize their 911 sales. Why is that?

      1. JamesHRH

        Not an expert on Porsche, but we own one that I love and I am not even a car guy.To be honest, I think a large # of Porsche SUVs are driven by people who did not make the decision to buy the car, just approved of it.The original iMac strategy was to create a digital hub for home users. It was one of the all time brilliant insights. All the products are not extensions but new categories (tablet, watch) inside the hub strategy.They successfully migrated the hub from the iMac, to the iPhone to iCloud (partially complete).Typical of Apple, they were great at the product set and HORRIBLE at services for ever. But that has changed and they will print $ for time immemorial.

        1. LE

          My wife and I rented a large Lincoln Navigator suv when we went to Canada (Banff). She is not a car person at all. I pointed out how the plastic was molded on the air vents. Like you could practically see the injection marks and the thickness. No elegance. [1] Also the fit and finish in general as well as the ride. That Navigator is not a cheap car either. In the price range of a Cayenne in a few ways. But there is no way it is anything in ride or quality of fit and finish to the Porsche. No way. If you don’t notice that (you would) it’s because you are not looking or noticing. It’s a typical thrown together American piece of junk. Sure it has more candy ass features that a Porsche won’t have. They have to sell it on that because otherwise it a big shit clunky car.[1] Same as those laptops that are not Apple made. Poor no effort design and fit/finish. No pride. Waiting for the weekend barbecue and ball game.

          1. JamesHRH

            See them around. I live in the 3 seat SUV capital of the world (1).Ford people wanted a Escalade / Suburban fighter – I drive a Suburban, they have traditionally been 10x the vehicle of an Expedition, which was wildly underpowered for decades.It is the old Created the Category, Dominate the Category story. Which is the Porsche story too.They won’t make any more of a dent on Escalades, they will just sell them to hard core Ford types.I am not a car person and I am definitely not one of those people who dreamed dreams of owning a 911 and busted my ass to afford one, but I was once asked (2):’ How do you like your Porsche?’To which I answered:’ Its fucking Awesome. ‘Did this guy think that the Porsche brand was based on something other than an awesome product experience? Sheesh.…and that’s the 928/944!(1) last fall, i pulled up to the main through street intersection in our part of west Houston. There were 6 vehicles at a 3way stop T intersection. 5 Suburbans and an Escalade.(2) about 4 years ago, by a guy in his 30’s walking out of a Sbux with his significant female other, while stepping into our red Porsche Panamera e-hybrid passenger side door while my wife got into drive (its technically her car), after he asked ‘Do you mind if I ask you a question?’.

          2. LE

            Oh yeah it’s a guy magnet. Not a girl magnet.One thing I learned by owning was that if I was selling (god forbid) insurance or if I was a realtor (god forbid; well maybe high end) I would buy the most outrageous cars because if you keep them shiny they attract attention. Guys will make remarks to you and then you slip them your business card and get a potential client.

          3. JamesHRH

            Our car colour choice – red – has had hilarious long term value.We bought if for Michele the week she joined a new company. Within a month, everyone in every office who met her for the first time said ‘You are the one with the red Porsche, right?’We have never, ever left a corporate event that has valet parking – charity or Christmas dinner, whatever – where the car is not sitting out front, waiting for us.We have walked past more senior people waiting for the valet to come back with their wheels – which are likely newer and cost even more but are black or grey – and just smiled, got in and drove away.

          4. JLM

            .A Navigator is a Dentist’s Office on Wheels.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Adam Sher

          I see your point about the hub. So perhaps the appropriate point of analysis for Apple would be Macbook v Macbook Air v Macbook Pro.What other technologies do you see where the hub strategy is applicable? Business management tools (e.g. G Suite, SalesForce)?

          1. JamesHRH

            Apple basically got cloud the way Apple would get cloud – through a product analogy.The Apple hub is basically a communications / media SaaS.Its comparable to any other core consumer hub… Amazon.

      2. LE

        That’s an easy one. They were not selling enough 911s that that would happen. 911 is not an everyday car (as is called ‘daily driver’). Not many are sold.I own both of those. Often you need it shipped in from an out of state dealer.Separately rules only apply to normal and average. They don’t apply as often to all or special cases in business or in life in general.For example let’s say you are a state university or a community college or just a good college. The same rules don’t apply to you that apply to the top schools. The top schools can do things and not damage their brand that you can’t. But by the same token some things done at a top school could also damage a brand that wouldn’t to a lesser school.This is the problem with rules and books and advice. It is general not specific to situations. Details matter and often change the approach.

      3. Ivan Nikolov

        You make a good point about Porsche, but chose the wrong models. Porsche have the 911(rear-engine) and Cayman(mid-engine), the 911 currently is at the limit of the concept development(long story short – in fact it was Ferdinand Porsche who determined that mid-engine cars have distinct advantages in lap time back in the mid-30s). In racing, the 911 GTLM is actually mid-engined, which they can not produce for the masses.But only until recently Porsche were going out of their ways to stop customers racing their Caymans! They want the 911 to remain at the top, as the brand’s most recognizable model.Same for their intra model development, the 911 GT3 has a super fast DPK gearbox and it’s about 2-3 sec faster than the Cayman GT4, which has a good old fashioned manual gearbox 🙂 Of course the 911 GT3’s price is 2x :)So Porsche are aware of this and make everything possible to limit Cayman to remain below 911 in the public perception.What they’re actually trying to do is take onboard the customers who love their brand, but don’t have the money to buy a 911. Which is very smart and I think IMHO Apple are trying to do the same with their more affordable ranges.

        1. JamesHRH

          Watch Jerry Seinfeld take Jay Leno out in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, in a 1946 Porsche. Leno says, ‘Wow, it drives like a Porsche.’You lost me @ rear engined, nerd ball – I say that with love.Yes on Cayman. Its a dangerous play, they are downgrading the brand perception. I have driven Audi and BMW. If you can make a car drive like a Porsche but cost like an Audi, I start to doubt myself.I am like most Porsche buyers now – completely ignorant of the technical stuff that separates the vehicles. I know what a Porsche should cost and drive like.If Porsche gets me doubting my purchase and keeps that up over time, that is death for Porsche. I think they are OK right now.But, sometimes, less is more.

          1. Ivan Nikolov

            Yeah, Jay Leno can feel the rear swinging and still able to control it… that’s the rear engine 🙂 Amazing feeling :)The Cayman is great IMHO, just not as practical as the BMW & Audi alternatives. I don’t think they actually aim at BMW or Audi, just Porsche fans with smaller pockets… In EU we have Alfa Romeo 4C and Alpine 110(part of Renault-Nissan), these are the competitors to the Cayman, especially the Alpine.

          2. JamesHRH

            Yes, I agree. They are managing it well and Porsche generally seems to have excellent leadership.

        2. Adam Sher

          The Cayman GT4 is one hell of a car. I’ve never experienced anything in a car like the acceleration of a 911 Turbo using launch control.

          1. Ivan Nikolov

            Yeah, btw if you have a chance – try Alfa 4C. 900kg carbon chassis, feels amazing in the corners… like nothing else and somehow, at least here in EU, it keeps its price.

          2. Adam Sher

            It’s a car I’ve been looking at. That and the Lotus Exige

          3. Ivan Nikolov

            The Exige is… you’ll be surprised by this, but more practical 🙂 The Alfa is amazing, because this car simply shouldn’t cost this much. It’s carbon chassis and amazing balance, someone told me it’s faster than 488 GTB around corners… but it doesn’t have ANY luggage space. If you’re short, you can put an umbrella or smth behind your seat 🙂

        3. Adam Sher

          The Boxter/Cayman competed with the Z4 and SLK, which may be cars you’d buy if you wanted a 911 but couldn’t pluck down $90k+ (your point). What BMW and Merc learned is that there is a small market for lower powered two-seat sports cars and they discontinued the models. I wonder what the Boxter/Cayman financial performance is for Porsche.So perhaps the car example is more applicable to BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Each brand now makes a continuum of cars and SUVs. I used to drive M3s and then didn’t know what to do because of BMWs model bloat and the F8Xs sound awful. I “needed” a 4-door sports car with AWD that would kick-ass. BMW and Merc don’t make one. Audi only makes 3 RS models (and the golf R), and the RS3 fit the bill.The car press now writes that the M2 embodies what the M3 (through E9X models) used to be. So what is the M3/4? GT cars, which is what the M5 is?

          1. JamesHRH

            open tech is to closed as car nerd is to status driver.

          2. Adam Sher

            The answer is always Miata

        4. LE

          The extra two small rear seats on a 911 actually come in handy.911 has 6 cylinders, Cayman/Boxster only 4 (2017 and above 718 model)Cayman/Boxster has tinny sound. Fake sound.Most owners are not racing. Mid engine does not matter for those owners.Design on 911 far exceeds Cayman/Boxster. Anyone who can’t see that doesn’t have a sense of design appeal. Look at the rear not the front of it.Could they make the Cayman/Boxster better looking? Sure but why do that.I bought a brand new Boxster S (718) and had it ordered to my liking when it first came out (718). After I drove it away from the dealer I was unhappy enough with the way it sounded (tinny 4cyl turbo charged) that I got Porsche to give me a credit so when I traded it back (within 2 weeks) I could get another 911 again (I have told this story here a few times).I don’t think there is a need or an issue with the 911 not being mid engine for what most people are ‘using’ it for.Below is the car that I gave back to Porsche. Nice car just not for me and no 911. Nice color combo I picked I have to say…. https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

          1. Ivan Nikolov

            Oh, I agree about the design. Especially the Boxster, I don’t wanna be seen in that ;)The performance matters for the publicity, their marketing. Because i.e. in the US especially, Corvette are a competitor and they’re going mid-engine. So if the next C8 Corvette comes at $60k and outperforms the 911… that’s bad.Same if they want the GT3/GT2s to be Ferrari/Lambo/McLaren competitors, they also need the engine further upfront for the aero… It’s a lap time race between manufacturers largely thanks to the Grand Tour/Top Gear etc. lap time battles… and also the racing results are important for the core customers.

          2. LE

            I think you are missing the mark on the market for the car.It’s not solely about performance. Obviously. Corvette is a Chevrolet. You need to go to buy one at a Chevy dealer (low end of the haha GM line). And when you need service you are standing with the riff raff at the Chevy dealer. How is that in any way a luxury experience? [1] And don’t say (you or anyone else) who cares! If you don’t care why are you staying at nice hotels and resorts vs. at Motel 6 or Budget Inn or Holiday Inn? Of course you care. This doesn’t mean that every now and then you won’t stop and eat or stay where you have to.This in no way implies that anyone who buys a new Chevy or services one is riff raff. But honestly it’s a different place of business we all know that.[1] Luxury experience? Had a problem with a transmission on a 911. Porsche paid $15k to air freight in from Germany a replacement. And for loaners I get a brand new car also. Not some shit GM car that someone smoked in. A brand new Porsche when you bring your Porsche in for service. (Like between 500 and 1500 miles typically). And when they didn’t fix the car correctly one time they towed in and called in the mechanic who was at home to make the repair at night while I waited. Yes that did happen.

          3. Ivan Nikolov

            This is true. They have amazing customer loyalty thanks to this. I gave the Corvette example from the image point of view. In general, performance car sales are ruled by influencers. A bit like Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans strategy. That’s why you can buy a 996 for nothing, but 993 or 997 are 2-3-4x the price. The 996 wasn’t well accepted by the media and marque fanatics.So, Porsche need to convince Chris Harris, Hammond and co. that the new 911 is FAST. The Nordschleife records, Le Mans, Spa 24h etc., building the heritage and myth. These efforts sell especially the top models with the huge margins. Like this monster from Paul Ricard two months ago. https://uploads.disquscdn.c… There was a Porsche ad with a boy where the boy went into the showroom, sat in the new 911… then on exiting, turned back and asked the rep for a business card. He gave it to the boy and the boy said: I’ll see you in about 30 years.They play a very, very long game 😉

      4. Vasudev Ram

        >What’s interesting about this is that Apple seems to violate the product line extension rule of Trout & Reis. iPad is their only product where its name is often synomyous with tablets. Do you think that some tech companies can create products where it is better to have line extensions with similar names? Apple’s success seems to suggest yes. Is integration the key factor? You can’t integrate toothpaste and light bulbs but you can integrate your CRM, calendar, and payment software.Good thought-provoking points. IIRC in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore (quoted by @JamesHRH in this thread), he talks about “the whole product” concept, which involves ancillaries, support, related products, etc., the whole of which (being greater than the sum of the parts, heh) can contribute heavily to the overall success and revenue of the company.I think your above point about Apple and iPad might fit into that concept.Edit: seeing your sibling comment exchange with @JamesHRH about the hub, makes me think that the above whole product concept is somewhat like a hub and spokes model.

    3. Salt Shaker

      Product innovation needs to justify the incremental purchase of next gen models. That’s the prob AAPL is now facing, the company is conversion challenged to next gen product, because of a lack of substantive incremental value. The value prop on next gen, higher priced product, sans for hardcore and early adapter groups, seems to be on the wane.

      1. JamesHRH

        They have a decade to figure it out, as they string out the watch product line, add health features and maybe other sensor type devices and lean hard into services.The X camera and screen are 10x the quality of the 7. I was honestly blown away (got the X for Xmas).Who the hell knows what will happen in the next decade?

        1. LE

          XS Max. Have never owned a better device period. It is great. I want to see someone compare the facial recognition on the XS Max to Samsung s8+ (which I also own as well as a backup) and tell me it’s even usable.

          1. JamesHRH

            Same product, same review.

      2. JamesHRH

        Tim Cook announced on Jim Kramer last night that they will launch ‘ new services that they have been working on for several years ‘ this spring and that, ‘ in several decades, when you look at Apple as a company, our greatest contribution to users will be in health. ‘

        1. Ivan Nikolov

          Man, I can’t wait for the health wars to begin! I won’t be surprised if Apple goes on a shopping spree for all the health tracking companies.If they do a proper bio feedback heart rate/stress/sleep monitoring device that is truly reliable, I’d switch to them in a heart beat! Even though I can’t stand the hype around the company and especially Jobs. Whoever makes a big hit in this field will earn a lot of health conscious customers.My bet is on Samsung though, or most likely some of the Chinese makers…

          1. JamesHRH

            Apple leads the league in building things that everybody wants.I bet on them – that ability is deeply entrained in the company.

          2. Ivan Nikolov

            We’ll see 🙂 I hope these devices come ASAP and do a good, reliable job.

    4. PhilipSugar

      I think your point is this. Open/cheap increases TAM (Total Addressable Market).When you are land grabbing getting a big share of TAM is really important.But the long game is also that having a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is important.Just depends what you want to be. I am sure BMW and Porsche do not care to build a really cheap car.I am sure Apple does not care to make a super cheap phone.Neither is bad or good. But as you state and I think Cave Painting will agree IIRC when you need your car to go to a six figure job it is different than if you need a car just to move.When you go to different countries (I was in Mexico) you see this.

      1. LE

        I am sure BMW and Porsche do not care to build a really cheap car.One thing to note is that Porsche dealerships are not setup to support a really cheap car (in other words volume). Not large enough. BMW, at least the ones that I have been at, are. BMW has large volume dealers. When you take your car (my wife has an X5) into the local BMW dealer they have perhaps 10 or more service attendants. Porsche? The ones I have used have 1 maybe 2 max. In a desk right up front. Not behind a counter (like BMW) does. So BMW logistically could support if they wanted a cheap car.Actually this happened first with Mercedes prior to maybe even BMW ‘mass dealer’. Back in 1980’s I bought a ‘baby benz’. 190e. BMW dealer said to me (was comparing) ‘oh Mercedes really cut corners on that one’. What happened? Well Mercedes grew and now they have mega dealers. And the brand isn’t that special anymore. Everyone is driving them around here. The dealers are volume (that I have seen). Obviously BMW did this as well with the low end BMW.Let’s get back to Apple. Apple would totally blow their model with their retail stores by having an low end product. They would have a hard time supporting all of their products with their retail stores. They don’t want to build bigger stores given where they are located. That logistics (of their support) is a big issue. Genius bar took in my laptop and replaced the SSD drive in it. Took a day or so and they replaced the SSD and had to overnight it to the facility. This was over the holidays as well. No excuses no ‘eh it’s a holiday week sorry’. Well oiled machine. Try that with your Acer or Lenovo laptop.

        1. Dan G

          Why wait a day or so. Acer and Lenovo laptops are sold at the 24 hour Walmart in Fernley Nevada, and many other 24 hour locations.

      2. JamesHRH

        Not quite.I am saying one is very bad at the beginning and the market ends up, typically, being the two of them. The 5 who starts and the 7 who finishes – Enneagram #s.I am also saying the Chinese proverb ‘When the student/market is ready, the teacher/founder appears.’I am totally agreeing that most mature markets are a low cost TAM position and a high quality USP position.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >I am also saying the Chinese proverb ‘When the student/market is ready, the teacher/founder appears.’That’s an Indian saying too, I’ve heard – about seekers on the path.

    5. sigmaalgebra

      Time is money — there is much less time working with mud in a well maintained garden.

  4. Elia Freedman

    What is “winning?” How is that defined? Is units winning? Profit?Google won because Microsoft didn’t dominate the market. Apple won because profit.Does Google winning mean Apple lost?

    1. fredwilson

      I think of user adoption as winning

      1. JamesHRH

        Net profits is losing?

        1. Girish Mehta


        2. Elia Freedman

          Beat me to it.

      2. scottythebody

        It’s definitely true that Android crushed Windows out of the market as the alternative platform. That was a clear victory. And Android definitely won the user adoption game. But most Android stuff I have experience with barely works between phones — granted, I’ve never dabbled in the highest end of the Android market, but rather the mid range like Motorola and some Chinese makers.

    2. Adam Sher

      It would be interesting to see a market share chart to see where Android’s massive share exists. I suspect it’s in the $100-$200 segment where Apple has 0 phones.

      1. JamesHRH

        BINGO.US TODAY created & dominated the national newspaper category. The category had almost zero net profits to be made, so they were losing by winning.

      2. Elia Freedman

        I couldn’t see the chart this morning — Fred hadn’t fixed it yet — but the chart is, I suspect, a lie. I’ll post this on the main thread but there is a difference between android (little ‘a’) and Android (big ‘A’). The chart, I suspect, equates the two, but they aren’t the same worldwide. Almost all of China, as I understand it, is android (little ‘a’).

    3. JamesHRH

      Defendable long term net profits is winning.But, many tech innovators play a lot of games to protect another game where they are winning, bigly.Google uses 90% of its none search product portfolio to protect AdWords. That’s winning at search by losing at phones and online docs and online storage and anywhere else where someone might have a potential search query.Hell, Google pays Apple nearly $10B to be the default search tool on iOS. So, Apple is coming in second in search, ahead of BING & DDG !

      1. Elia Freedman

        Which is where Android came from to begin with. It was a blocking maneuver to protect Google from Microsoft winning the mobile space.

  5. Pointsandfigures

    Never had a Droid phone. I should probably experiment with one. I find their sound quality to be poorer. The iMessage feature on Apple locks me in their garden. I also am suspicious of Google having all my data from phone, mail, calendar etc…..Something about Google isn’t right.Would say, I don’t find Tim Cook to be any sort of visionary. He isn’t “innovative” like Jobs was at all. More of a caretaker CEO. Companies that thrive on cults like Apple, Tesla, etc need that leader to spearhead new stuff. Since Jobs has passed, what product has been groundbreakingly innovative that Apple has done? Faster, better screen doesn’t cut it. It might be time for Apple to pivot.

    1. LE

      I also am suspicious of Google having all my data from phone, mail, calendar etc…..Something about Google isn’t right.This is exactly right. On Android if you use the browser it makes you login to a google account to use the baked in browser on the phone. No easy way around that. Sure maybe there is a way but I am not going to spend time hacking around it. Sure I could install and use Firefox. But it’s part of the ‘vig’ they put on you. Even with your google accounts (I have many) the default is ‘track all my browsing’. You have to spend time and have understanding to actually find the menu that shuts that off. So you know if you end up searching for ‘how do people actually kill their wife?’ or ‘best ways to kill a neighbor?’ or ‘places to buy duct tape that don’t have store surveillance’ you’d better hope there is nobody that would ever consider you a suspect. Because your curiosity will end up getting in the hands of law enforcement.FYI Jobs was famous for owning what others had thought of. One of the biggest advantages of being a ‘Jobs’ is that you can push an idea through by your obstinate SOB ways. Point being the assumption is that Jobs came up with the big ideas and then had the minions do the actual work. Very possible that wasn’t the way it happened. You know the saying with the cruise companies back in the day? [1]The reason most companies can’t run with things is more than lack of ideas. It’s lack of balls and the ability to actually push people to get something done. If you are a superstar CEO that rules the roost that is much easier to do. If you are a normal hired CEO the first mistake and you are out. I think that plays a large role.[1] Royal Carribean (Wife): ‘First it was my idea. Then it was our idea. Then it was his idea’.

    2. JamesHRH

      They have a lot of work to do integrating all of the devices they sell into a strong service set.I think the watch is a serious Trojan horse. It will be the mother ship for sensors of all kinds that assist you – mostly health related.That they did not buy Ring and figure out how to integrate (and let it get sold to Amazon) is a bit of a head scratch.

    3. Ivan Nikolov

      Sony Experia is for you then 🙂 And use any private browser. I hate Google for screwing up Mozilla foundation for their Firefox OS, but I guess they saw the threat.Btw, I’ll never understand what was the innovative feature that iPhone ever had… As a kid I had some Linux based touchscreen phone with Wi-Fi, 802.11a 🙂 Of course I managed to screw it to boot Li… 🙂 For sure there were many popular HTC smartphones before iPhone… but when Apple released it, somehow the TV newscasters started talking “on your iPhone” 😉 I guess they were somehow motivated to do it :PAs a racing fan, I think around the same time many F1 race engineers were caring some Sony tablets as well… My gf had some tablet for drawing and then I believe the same company was supplying some parts for the iPad. He was just amazingly good at marketing because of his massive narcissistic disorder, which of course screwed up his private life.

    4. JamesHRH

      Cook just announced on Cramer that they will have new services launch at next launch event, things they have been working on ‘ for years ‘.He later said that Apple’s greatest enrichment to peole’s Lives will be in Healthcare.

  6. Richard

    history rhymes – correlation is not causation – Americans think differently and definitely don’t backtrack.

  7. Jim Peterson

    Look at incentives of the operating system owners:The iPhone and its ecosystem is the highest earning corporation in history, earning 59.5 billion in net profit for the year ending sept 2018.It works for Apple and shareholders, and users , as retention is 90%.However Android has a far larger number of users worldwide.Android and the phones it runs on are ever improving and works for people who can’t or won’t pay $900 (in many cases) for a new phone.It also works as intended for Android owner Google who can supply a massive volume of ads to the most phones, and across the globe. They also pay a King’s ransom to supply ads the iphone owners. Google makes never before seen profits in the advertising space.So maybe both systems win for their owners and constituents and fill important spots it the market for all types of buyers. A beautiful example in each of filling needs in a market.Though replacement time has slowed from every two years to every three years for iPhone (I don’t know about replacement cycle for Android), I think Apple will be fine as they grow services- not sure they have lost out. And watch out when a reason to upgrade (AR? ) inspires their base to upgrade in huge volumes.Fun game to watch! Not expecting to change any minds here- I can’t even change my son in laws mind who thinks the rest of the family is just nuts for their allegiance to the iPhone.

    1. Ivan Nikolov

      Well, then you should ask yourself, is it worthy to contribute to these massive profits with your hard earned cash? 😉 Apple has more cash than freaking Russia!Technologically, you can buy a phone for 150$ that is almost the same as iPhone. Apple are using Samsung screen, ARM CPU/GPU like all smartphones/tablets, the sensors are also the same… iOS is more or less super restricted Linux distribution.I’d rather give that money for something meaningful to society than just to contribute to a pile of cash in Ireland or whatever.

      1. Jim Peterson

        re:Well, then you should ask yourself, is it worthy to contribute to these massive profits with your hard earned cash?Fair question. I tried iPhone from the start. Love it. See no reason to change. There are probably lots like’d rather give that money for something meaningful to society than just to contribute to a pile of cash in Ireland or whatever.I do both.

  8. notes

    As a New Yorker, I am an avid Iphone user and will continue to be, just because the apps that run in Iphones are much better. There is some sort of curating function that makes it work. However…I lived in Brazil for several years and I saw why Android matters. In Brazil, an Iphone is the equivalent of a luxury item. It is VERY, I mean, VERY expensive. Not only that but the likelihood of them getting stolen is also much higher. To give you an idea of the cost of Apple products., I was living in Rio and spilled liquid on my mac book pro.I went to the local Apple Store, and the salesperson told me: “the cost of buying a new one here is the same as you getting a plane ticket to New York, staying at a hotel, buying a computer and coming back”, and it was 100% true. So much so that I decided to return to the USA after realizing how expensive things I took for granted in the USA were, elsewhere.In contrast to the cost of Apple products including the Iphone, you can find cheap (Chinese) phones for sale everywhere in Rio and they ALL use the android system. In Brazil (as in most of the world) you can easily get new phone numbers by purchasing new sim cards anywhere. So the whole thing is based on disposable economics vs luxury items. Cheap phone on Android + Sim card is the key to Androids’ success. It’s not about the system itself, it’s about simple economics.

      1. notes

        YES! And then you consider that local starting salaries for young people middle class-ish are about 2000 reais which is about 1/5 of the cost of a macbook pro, you can see the issue. A “good salary” for a “comfortable” lifestyle (middle to upper middle bracket) is thought to be at least 10000 reais, so you can see how much more expensive it is over there. I costs almost 3 times more on a simple numerical level and then …If you take into consideration the price in relationship to local salaries, you can see that it costs about 5 times more than what it would cost for a similar person in the USA to buy an Iphone. In the USA Iphones are expensive but thought to be accessible to everyone. Elsewhere it’s like having a very expensive car. Not every car owner can afford it.

        1. Mark Gavagan

          Thank you for helping me understand that. Have a good day.

          1. notes

            Thank you for checking out the current prices. The economic prospects of Apple aren’t that hard to figure out, if you consider the cooling off of foreign markets.Brazil is in a deep crisis and the percentage of the population that can afford Apple product is tiny, I’d say about 3-5%.In Brazil I could really understand why China is so powerful now, they make products that cater to Everyone Else. In Brazil Everyone Else is 96% of the population.The Chinese understand the “hey it works I’ll take it” category and they take it seriously. Nothing fancy, nothing edgy, it does the basics, it doesn’t look good but it meets the #1 factor: price. They make products that are affordable.

  9. Andrew Cashion

    Can’t one of these 100 billion dollars funds just put 10B down and compete with Apple?”Low grade” phones can’t they run on some kind of satellite system more cheaply coming up soon?

  10. Evan

    As others point out, it really depends on how you define “winning.” The tortoise and the hare were competing in a zero-sum, clearly defined game.Apple and Google/Android aren’t; no one has ever made the kind of money Apple has made off one product – they unquestionably won at the game they are playing with their closed ecosystem. Google makes tons of money (if more indirectly) off Android; Android also benefits lots of the world that Apple doesn’t serve. Another win.

    1. fredwilson

      I think it is all about the future not the past

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Absolutely. !!!!!!!!!

  11. Olivier

    I don’t understand which is which. Is Apple the Tortoise because it started early and Google/Android the Hare because it started later but is growing faster? In that case Apple should win the race… or I don’t remember the story well 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      I got the image fixed. Check it out

      1. Olivier

        Checked. It looks like the Hare is winning, by far 😉

  12. kidmercury

    i used to be a devotee at the temple of technological openness. i’ve come to see it is like any other duality, in that both sides are needed to make the whole, and both sides have their highs and lows in the universe’s infinite see this everywhere. msft was more open than IBM, then it became the bad guy and google became more open, then it became the bad guy and now some crypto will be the heir. eventually though a winning crypto entity will exert its control over monetary policy of the coin. this is not good or bad, it simply is. (although if one appreciates the beauty of the cycle, then it can be seen as good — or vice versa if one sees the cycle as a prison and longs for freedom from it). it is like debating day vs night, or summer vs winter.

    1. JamesHRH

      Very zen.

    2. fredwilson

      Agree 100%

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Should that be 50%? Duality … heh.

    3. Vasudev Ram

      “Let the duality wash over you, folks” – Our own @Kirsten Lambertsen, some weeks ago on this blog.

    4. Nick Grossman


  13. leigh

    I wrote a blog post in 2008 using the same metaphor about a search engine i don’t even remember now. And for the first time in my life, I’m considering leaving the Apple ecosystem because their products are still expensive as shit but don’t have nearly the same quality as they used to. I also just found out that Apple Care is going to have a $300 deductible. A DEDUCTIBLE. What are they thinking over there? Their closed system may keep me there for longer than I otherwise would be, but once I leave … I’m NEVER coming back. Closed systems eventually die. https://leighhimel.blogspot

      1. JamesHRH

        Please post when this issue climbs up your To Do list and breaks into the Top 10.I will diarize to remind you in Jan 2029.;-)

    1. Pete Griffiths

      I’ve got good news for you.It’s easy to get out of their closed system. Much easier than it was in the past with application lock-in.And the google infrastructure is, in my opinion, just better. Lower latency, better identity management etc etc

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        I love the Google system. Google nailed it early on, before others and it was a no-brainer to go Google. Sounds quaint now, but everything synced correctly on Google, This was at a time when no one else had truly nailed syncing down.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Totally agree.And I had serious problems with identity management in the Apple environment. The problem was that they introduced cloud services piecemeal and ended up with problems managing the identity of early adopters across their offerings. They were never able to sort out my problems.

      2. B12N

        I’m not sure if it’s “easier”? I’m on an iPhone and Mac setup, and so is most of my family (as in, siblings, parents, wife, etc.)… iMessage alone would be a pain in the ass to change (of course there is WhatsApp, Viber, etc., but like, you’d be the oddball out, and the integration alone between your phone, laptop is great as is… like get a SMS with your 2FA key? It lets you auto-fill the field in Safari. Copy paste between phone and laptop. I’m sure there are tools out there that probably lets you do the same if you have an Android phone… but the switching cost is not small (and this is coming from a guy who used to build his own PC’s, run Linux, etc.). Like at this point, unless the features + design outside this walled garden is a lot better, I’m probably going to upgrade to more Apple products, since the sum is greater than the parts.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          there are such tools and they’re pretty easy to migrate toHangouts solves the messaging for example.My situation may have been easier than yours because I had migrated off Apple apps onto Google apps. I think their network has better latency (that is after all an absolutely core competence of Google) and the identity management across offerings is much better.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      Personally, I never bought into the Apple system way back when precisely because it was closed. Disclaimer: I did use an iPod for my contacts for about two years when my Palm Pilot died (this was a long time ago, maybe 2003?) only because it was the best thing on the market at that time to meet the need. I switched to Google and Droid shortly after that. Google just killed it in basic biz tools early on. And their biz tools are still great.

  14. Mac

    It’s important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that the Hare had ADD.

  15. Lawrence Brass

    Mobile developers can’t give themselves the luxury of ignoring any of the two. If you want coverage and unblocked network effects, you have to do both.Working on both is different. Tools are different. It even feels different. Part of what happens at the consumer level also happens at the developer level. Android is more coarse and (a bit) more open, iOS is more detailed and tight.Android’s curse is fragmentation and the lack of timely security patches which makes it less safe than iOS.So in reality it is 5 medium sized hares of different ages running against a big fat turtle with two little, older ones. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  16. Elia Freedman

    I couldn’t see the chart this morning but I don’t think the chart is accurate. I suspect — as I’ve seen this mistake elsewhere — that it is equating little ‘a’ android with big ‘A’ Android. Android (big A) is the operating system controlled by Google. This is the version that has Chrome and Google Apps and Google Play, etc. android (little a) is the operating system stripped of all those things. This is the open source project.From what I understand, almost all of China and India is little ‘a’ android devices. Google gets nothing for those.So is it Android’s market share that is 81%, or is it android’s market share that is 81%. I pretty much guarantee it is the latter.

  17. Benedict Evans

    The iPhone has maybe 15% share of unit sales. But it has 25% or so share of the installed base (longer life/slower replacement). It’s over 50% of the base in the USA/UK/Japan, the highest-value markets for developers (China is more complicated). And most ecommerce companies I talk to say it’s more like 2/3 to 3/4 of (mobile) revenue.So, which race? (And of course this is not counting handset profit share, where Apple is well over 3/4).Personally I’d say the platform war is over and Apple and Google both won, but in different ways, and Google has a bunch of people trying to work out what it means that most of the highest-spending users in the highest-spending countries are on iOS (hence Pixel, amongst other things), while Apple is working whether they’ve really hit saturation of the high-end and how to optimise for that.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      Jury still out.:)

    2. scottythebody

      And is it basically still true (haven’t looked into it in a while) that Apple is really the only company making significant money on phones?I love both platforms, but I can’t really compare whether one of them “won” or “lost”. They are different things.

      1. Girish Mehta


  18. sigmaalgebra

    Open versus closed?There was a TV ad with an actress dressed as a well cared for housewife. She was GORGEOUS, really sweet, very nicely dressed — some ad people are good with issues of style!She is in a large drug store and standing before a shelf with lots of home remedy products. The poor, sweet, gorgeous thing, sadly, needing oceans of sympathy and care taking, says with painful dilemma and confusion:Which is better? A liquid or a powder?Well, sweetheart, honey, liquid or powder isn’t much to go on, and the difference depends on a lot of details in the context of your intended usage.As the discussion here, with LOTS of details, shows, same for open versus closed.More generally, IMHO, for good decisions about technology and business more generally, have to dig deeper than just open versus closed.

  19. William Mougayar

    Sounds like a good setup for blockchain technology. “Open takes longer, the user experience is poor initially and for quite a while, but when open gets going, it is unstoppable.”

  20. Pete Griffiths

    This is indeed interesting.I got into a debate with the highly intelligent Benedict Evans on his blog about this. As I recall, he believed, and for all I know still does, that market share was irrelevant in the cellphone market because the scale of Apple would remain so large, even if losing share, that the numbers and premium pricing would make such losses in market share irrelevant. I disagreed and still do. Market share will matter in phones and the kind of progress Android is making should be scary to Apple.The other point of difference if I remember correctly, was with regard to the use of data. Apple were strongly asserting that your data is your own and they were not going to use it. Their model was to build and sell devices. This is laudable, but the problem with that position is that you end up with an inferior product in the longer term because Google can use the data to increase context relevance by using that data and if you ally to that the fact that Google is above all a data company and their commitments to AI are enormous the usability gap is destined to grow. Google assistant already makes Siri feel like a joke.Having said which, and having nailed my flag to the mast, for the moment at least, it must be admitted that…The jury is still out.And I see Mr Evans is still assiduously following this marketplace.

  21. kenberger

    Bill Gurley wrote a good post on this back in 2011:”The freight train that is Android”:

  22. scottythebody

    It could be “the turn”. Apple ever downward, Android ever upward… We shall see.

  23. Dan G

    Android enables more and more poorer people access to connectivity. It’s disgusting that if it was up to Apple, only rich people would have access.

  24. sfrancis

    Just seems to me we have the tortoise and the hare backwards in this analogy. I completely respect the philosophical debate and both sides of it (and i’ve benefited from both types of ecosystems, and from specifically both of these), but so far it looks like two players are winning. that’s hardly bad news, and the jury is still out on what it means for the future. But if Apple wanted to play the “hare” they would have licensed iOS to all the OEMs to manufacture…

  25. LE

    Its why I would never buy Apple stock, especially now that Jobs is gone. He was the engine that kept Apple at the forefront in terms of bleeding edge closed designsSteve Jobs died in October of 2011. Over 7 years ago.Apple was valued at $351 billion back then and today it’s worth (even after the stock went down recently) over $700 billion. Twice what it was worth while Jobs was alive.A company like Apple is way way more than one figure head. Nobody doubts his contribution and sure Tim is no Jobs but what you are taking detracts from the hundreds of thousands of Apple employees who actually contribute every day to the products that they build.This is not to say that Apple will always be king (and sure cracks are showing). But it’s a bit late to base what happens at Apple on Jobs not being there any longer. They have weathered that storm.Let me ask this question. Do you know how USV will fare once Fred departs? Do any of us even know the contributions of the less visible figures at USV or how they have helped the firm? I don’t think so. Fred made great decisions and is a visionary. However he was (as Jobs was) helped by others in his decision making.

  26. Lawrence Brass

    Cook merit was touching the 1T mark, but he was there because of Jobs. I doubt Apple will go away, the edge is still right there, in every product and the combined experience. Those who don’t experience it just don’t know.He has said “don’t bet against us”. I believe him.

  27. Pete Griffiths

    Open systems race to the bottom.and that’s good news for consumers.the kind of phone billions can now afford in India or Africa is mind blowing.

  28. Frank W. Miller

    Fortunately for Apple’s employees and investors, the products that Jobs put in place have lots of momentum. What innovative new products have come out since his death?

  29. LE

    Ok. Hard for me to rejoinder that one. Look even with Jobs it’s a crime of opportunity. And yes it looks a bit like back in the early 1900’s where people apparently thought that ‘all things have already been invented by us white men nowhere to go’.How about this. What ‘innovative new products’ has Berkshire Hathaway come out with? They just keep doing the same thing they always have done. Has the market taken into account what the companies value will be when Buffet dies? Brk has gone up 3x in market cap since 2011.Apple has a great deal of smart people and high level people working for it. This isn’t Starbucks. This isn’t Macy’s. And unlike Berkshire Hathaway (only 25 at the home office is what I am reading) there are plenty of people who can sit around and cook up ideas. And implement them. More so than really most other companies. That a huge concentration of brains and potential creativity.No doubt they are actually working and fooling around with the next thing right now.But yes to your point no doubt will be hard to move the needle in the past.

  30. B12N

    Airpods (this alone probably helped blow up podcasts/audiobooks market recently)? Apple Watch? I think the wearables business for them is bigger than a sizeable chunk of Fortune 500 companies.

  31. Girish Mehta

    Not clear about the Berkshire comparison to Apple. You can deliver shareholder return doing what Berkshire has done in the past. You can deliver shareholder return doing what Apple has done in the past (I have no point of view on their future, referring to the past on both).But you cannot be one, and deliver returns as the other.Buffet said it himself (which Bezos then has quoted) – “You can hold a a ballet and that can be successful. You can hold a rock concert and that can be successful. Just don’t sell tickets/advertise a rock concert and then hold a ballet” – Warren Buffett (writing from memory, may not be the exact words).

  32. LE

    My point is that the reason someone invests in a company is to make money from buying the stock. Most investors (forgetting social reasons of course). As such Berkshire is highly loved and does boring things with zero innovation. In fact the companies they highlight are mostly dull. That detracts from the real engine of their success which is the insurance residuals and Warren’s halo that helps him get deals done. It’s a good distraction. [1] I am sure the people who work at Berkshire companies (and at the home office) are all ‘gray hair’ mode.You can hold a a ballet and that can be successful. You can hold a rock concert and that can be successfullPlease don’t take this as ‘shooting the messenger’ but I hate those short quips. Really I do. Ballets are nowhere near as ‘successful’ as rock concerts. They are a niche that draws (by comparison) small crowds. They don’t have wide appeal. Nobody watches ballet every single day or even every month. I understand the point but it’s annoying to me (not directed at you to be clear). [2][1] How much does that furniture store earn by the way that they are always talking about?[2] Not only that but maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you get a large crowd to a rock concert and then during half time you show them ballet. Then maybe out of the 50,000 people in the audience you pickup 2% new fans of ballet. Growing over time. (See how easy it is to think creatively?)

  33. Girish Mehta

    I think its a good line that makes a point effectively. It doesn’t say that a ballet is “as successful” as a rock concert. It says that both can be independently succesful for their respective audiences. But people who bought tickets to see a rock concert are not going to be happy if you put up a ballet instead.

  34. Frank W. Miller

    First rumors of the watch were in 2011. It would be hard to make a case that that did not come from Jobs.While Airpods are a very good implementation of wireless headphones, I don’t think you could claim that they are groundbreaking or that they are somehow Cook’s brainchild. Bluetooth headphones have been around for 20 years.There was nothing like the Mac when it came out. There was nothing like the iPhone when it came out. These products began whole new product categories which is why Apple is worth what they are worth. I doubt there are anymore or those kinds of innovations coming from someone like Cook.