Android vs. Verizon iPhone storyline misses the big picture

The incessant handicapping over the coming Android vs. Apple iOS battle has caused temporary insanity in a few folks. Android vs. Apple isn't zero sum. Both will continue to shine at the expense of other smartphone platforms.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The incessant handicapping over the coming Android vs. Apple iOS battle has caused temporary insanity in a few folks.

First up, Dan Lyons concludes that the Verizon iPhone is too late to thwart Android. Lyons likens the iPhone to the Model T. Lyons' lens---he switched from iPhone to Android---is a little off, says John Gruber. I'm with Gruber on the insanity of Lyons' argument.

But let's zoom out just a smidge. The iPhone landing at Verizon does indeed give Android devices some better competition. ComScore reckons that Verizon will market the iPhone heavily and gain smartphone market share. Indeed, there will be a shelf space war for sure at Verizon Wireless stores as Apple and Android duke it out. However, AT&T's new love affair with Android will offset some of that slippage---assuming the iPhone does take away sales of the Droid.

I'm increasingly convinced that Verizon's internal figures will change---it will sell enough iPhones to minimize its dependence on Android---but the big picture won't. In the end, folks will continue to get Android devices. More folks will buy iOS devices. Let's face it for every Apple fan, there's an Android person that wants to stick it to Steve Jobs. The Android vs. Apple camps resemble Republicans vs. Democrats. In the end, both Android and iOS will continue to cause havoc on the smartphone platform market. Android will have the most share. Apple will have decent market share and the most profit by a wide margin.

The rest of the competition is largely screwed.

That latter point should be the focus. There's no zero sum game with Android and Apple. Those two combined are going to cause more than a few headaches for other platforms. To wit:

  • How exactly is Research in Motion going to get shelf space? RIM looked good to AT&T when it was diversifying ahead of losing the iPhone. At CES, AT&T hopped in bed with Android. RIM is now sleeping on the couch (just like it was at Verzion). Without a great device, RIM will continue to lose share to the Android-Apple tag team, argues Jason Perlow.
  • What happens with Windows Phone 7? I like Windows Phone 7 a lot, but can't bring myself a device powered by that OS. I just don't have a big desire to be all that different. My smartphone bake-off is between Android and the iPhone. If I'm not alone with my Windows Phone 7 assessment where does that leave Microsoft? My hunch is that Windows Phone 7 will become the leader of the feature phone pack, but it'll still run into Android.
  • Hewlett-Packard's webOS will be neat, but niche. Wake me up when Nokia decides the U.S. is slightly important. Every other smartphone platform out there will have to divert attention away from Android and the iPhone.

Sure, the Android vs. iPhone zero sum storyline is dramatic, but the reality is the two combined are going to kick a lot of smartphone booty.


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