These days, it seems at least one person at every dinner table will have an Apple iPhone.
And these days, it seems you can't get away with saying anything bad about the mobile device...you'd probably have a pack of indignant Apple fanboys trying to drown you out with their newly-installed vuvuzela app.
It reached a point where industry analyst John Strand recently felt compelled to release a note headlined: "No, I do not hate the iPhone but neither do I respect any media or person that believes the world is only populated by Polish people."
The CEO of Strand Consulting noted that amid the hype and fuss over the Apple device and its legions of devoted supporters, the truth of the matter is that the iPhone still accounts for just over 1 percent of the global mobile market. "There are more people with Polish passports in the world than iPhone users!" he declared, adding: "I am sure you will agree that if all the Poles in the world had received the same media attention as the iPhone, a lot of people would either call it poor or one-sided journalism."
In a 110-page report which his consulting firm released in the third quarter of 2009, Strand noted that sales of mobile services for the iPhone contributed some 3 percent of the overall global paid mobile services market. In addition, operators that had exclusive deals to sell the device didn't improve their market share, revenue or earnings via the iPhone. In fact, a number had issued profit warnings because revenue generated from the mobile phone did not match the amount they had invested to market and sell it.
Strand added that Apple had imposed several limitations on its partners. "Operators were not allowed to comment the iPhone, Apple or their partnership without Apple's approval, and furthermore, Apple reserved the right to approve the journalists that operators communicated with."
He further questioned the amount of coverage Apple and the iPhone were receiving, particularly for a device that accounted for only 1 percent of worldwide sales. He added: "Apple's standard 'no comment' response has resulted in many journalists simply giving up trying to have any dialogue with Apple and also made them avoid writing critical articles."
He is partly right. Almost every journalist in Asia knows it's near impossible to get any kind of response from the Apple folks, but that hasn't stopped all media from writing critical articles. For the same reason that the Cupertino company, like any other firm, has the prerogative to decline comment, so do journalists for clearly alerting their readers that Apple was the one which refused to provide comments when contacted.
And while Strand is right to say that a 1 percent market share seems disproportionate to the attention Apple enjoys today, it isn't simply the iPhone which helped lift the company sky-high on the hype barometer. Rather, it's been a combination of crafty marketing on the company's part to project its image as a creator of chic designer products, as well as its success in driving a bustling app ecosystem.
Sure, these efforts have been marred by undesirable business practices, specifically, its exclusive agreements with--and restrictions on--partnering operators and coding limitations imposed on app developers. But it still takes two hands to clap. Operators willingly offer themselves to the company and developers still want to make the Top 100 list on the App Store.
And lest we forget, the hype over Apple has been sizzling since its early days of the iPods and iMacs.
But, I stand firmly by Strand on a couple of points: Apple itself does not represent the entire IT vendor community, many of which have also produced great innovation and deserve equal recognition. More importantly, no one should be made to feel persecuted simply because they don't agree with a piece of technology a company produces.
Apple has no doubt done great stuff with its products--it didn't dethrone Microsoft to become the largest U.S. tech company in market capitalization by fluke--but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be open to criticism, whether or not it chooses to respond to them.
So, if you hate the iPhone, come on out and say it...and speak up so you can be heard over the vuvuzelas.