Apple: The iOS that Stole Christmas

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This makes Apple the fourth-largest mobile phone maker,way in front of Motorola and Sony Ericsson and eclipsing Research In Motion. And all with one (perhaps two) models of phone.

"This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales," said Gartner . "Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America to put it second behind Android while Android volumes also grew rapidly making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide."

The analysts also note the importance of the iPad and the iPod touch to Apple's hold on the smartphone market. These ancillary products boost Apple's ecosystem significantly, as they make iOS development that much more interesting to developers.

With smartphones set for accelerated evolution, innovation is essential and developers -- who create the solutions we want to use on our phones -- are essential to the success of any platform.

On this, Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner said in a statement:

"To a developer, the iPod Touch and iPhone (and to a lesser extent the iPad) are effectively the same device and a single market opportunity. While Android is increasingly available on media tablets and media players like the Galaxy Player, it lags far behind iOS's multi-device presence. Apple claims it is activating around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average - that's a compelling market for any developer. And developers' applications in turn attract users."

Reliable, if fragile

Despite all the odds, Apple's iPhone 4 is the most reliable breed of any smartphone out there, says recent research from SquareTrade.

SquareTrade analyzed the failure rates of 50,000+ smartphones covered by its own Care Plans. Apple's iPhone 4 suffered the least malfunctions, with just 2.1 percent of owners experiencing one.

That's better than the iPhone 3GS and Motorola with 2.3%. HTC came next with a one-year rate of malfunction rate of 3.7% and Blackberry got 6.3%.

SquareTrade last year claimed the iPhone had a failure rate of 5.6 percent -- Apple has upped its game.

However, when it comes to accidental damage, the iPhone's hard to beat for the wrong reason: SquareTrade's figures project it will suffer the highest accidental damage rate after 12 months: 13.8 percent, citing drop damage to the glass front and back of the device as culprit.

Android's dirty secret
Finally, Android owners are 400 percent more likely to secretly covet and iPhone than an iPhone user will covet an Android device, says

Almost a third of Android owners admitted to longing after an iPhone, whereas just seven per cent of iPhone users said they'd prefer an Android.

Speculatively, that's interesting, because with Android now the second-biggest smartphone OS with 20 million units and 25.5 percent share (Gartner claims), if 30 percent of these users were to ditch their device and grab an Apple the the market split would be very different.

With the capacity to exploit its economies of scale when it comes to manufacturing and component costs, Apple clearly has an unused option to trim its prices to attract some of the Android folks across. I think that's unlikely to happen -- the next big move for the US market, at least, will be carrier diversification.

It is also interesting to note that the iPhone 4 has been an accident-plagued release for Apple. First there was Gizmodo's leaked report into the device's features; second came 'antenna-gate', 'glass gate' followed, the company still can't manufacture white models in quantity. And yet, despite all these negatives, the iPhone significantly grew market share.

This story, "Apple: The iOS that Stole Christmas" was originally published by Computerworld.

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