The Great Game for philosophical hegemony in this post-historical epoch continues to unfurl. Yes, that's right — smartphone market share figures for Apple and Android have been updated. It appears that in the last quarter the natural order was restored, with iPhone dominating US sales again, according to one survey, and dominating worldwide shipments, according to another.
<i>Techcrunch</i> reported research from NPD Group which suggested the combined market share of three Apple iPhones — the 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S — was 43 per cent last quarter. This puts it comfortably ahead of Samsung. Indeed, Apple's three phones held the top three spots. However, Android devices at 48 per cent have more market share than IOS devices, and Android is capturing a greater share of the newbie market, trouncing Apple’s 57 per cent to 34 per cent.
Meanwhile, IDC found that Apple is also cranking out the units faster than its competitors and last quarter it lead in worldwide shipments (as opposed to sales). According to a <i>CNN</i> story about the IDC research, “Apple climbed back into the market leadership position with the launch of its iPhone 4S worldwide, and in the process it reached a new shipment volume record for itself and for the entire industry for a single quarter. Samsung marked a series of milestones for the quarter: breaking the 30 million units mark for the first time, posting the largest year-over-year increase among the top vendors, and finishing 2011 as the overall smartphone market leader.”
On the other side of the curve, CNN noted that Nokia took the biggest hit to shipments, although Research In Motion managed to stave off a fourth quarter of consecutive declines.
Not funny, just creepy
Apple and Android always produces plenty of copy, along with delicious manna for the Google spiders, but sometimes it just gets weird.
A Taiwanese company, Action Electronics, has upset the fanboys by running a TV commercial featuring a Steve Jobs look alike complete with angel wings and a halo, promoting an Android tablet called the Action Pad.
According to the report by thestar.com , “Clad in the Apple Inc. founder’s signature turtleneck and blue jeans, the Taiwanese comedian gushes: 'Introducing the new generation of the pad. It’s amazing!' And with a huge grin: 'Thank God I can finally play with other tablets.'” Perhaps the only things genuinely funny about this ad — in a sad and truly pathetic way — is the company's defence. Reuter's quotes a company spokeswoman saying, “Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good.”
Is Facebook telling porkies?
Quite apart from the $100 billion valuation, there are plenty of big numbers being thrown around in discussions about Facebook’s IPO. And some of the biggest relate to its active users — an eye watering 800+ million a month. Except, not really.
<i>The New York Times’</i> Andrew Ross Sorkin actually read the prospectus, unlike most of the spruikers, bloggers, commentators and others (like Grok for instance). What Sorkin discovered is that Facebook is perhaps not telling porkies, but is still seriously bullshitting about its numbers of “active users”.
Here’s the key paragraph in the Dealbook column: “According to the company, a user is considered active if he or she “took an action to share content or activity with his or her Facebook friends or connections via a third-party Web site that is integrated with Facebook. Come again? In other words, every time you press the “Like” button on NFL.com, for example, you’re an ‘active user’ of Facebook ... even though you’ve never actually spent any time on facebook.com.”
As the author notes, Facebook seems to be using “active” as a euphemism for “engaged”. Very cheeky.
Grok spent enough time on Mahogany Row over the years to appreciate that Facebook's execs and PR robots will have been very deliberate in their language all this time, and very aware of how what they were saying about active users would be interpreted... or more precisely misinterpreted. So, to the extent that Facebook allowed those misinterpretations to stand right up until the moment the law demanded clarity — then yes, maybe it was telling porkies. For our American readers, 'telling porkies' is a quaint Australian euphemism for lying.
Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments.