Apple's Cook launches frontal assault on Android: Does the argument hold?

Apple CEO Tim Cook mocked Android on many fronts. The real game for Apple is denting Android's momentum in China.

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Image: Apple live stream

Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the company's most direct assault on Android pointing out things like better security, percentage of the installed base on the latest mobile operating system and ease of use.

Cook in previous keynotes has taken aim at Android, a smartphone OS leader by a good margin, but the WWDC keynote on Monday stuck out for its direct approach. Apple has more carriers in the fold for the iPhone---notably China Mobile---and wants a larger chunk of that growth market, which features a lot of Android.

CNET live blog from WWDC

"Nearly half of our customers in China in the past 6 months switched from Android to iPhone," gloated Cook.

The big question is whether Cook's argument will sell. Here's his argument.

  • 89 percent of Apple customers have the current iOS version. Nine percent of Android have the latest. The nuance here is Apple can offer its latest mobile operating system because it controls the ecosystem with a handful of products. Android is more like Windows with partners and a variety of hardware. Both approaches appear to be working well.

  • Fragmentation is a poor experience. Referring to Android Cook said that "over a third of customers are running a version of Android from four years ago. That's like ancient history." Cook has a point. Yet Android dominates in market share. What's the tipping point on cost vs. fragmentation for smartphone buyers?

  • 97 percent customer satisfaction with iOS 7.

My bottom line: Apple really only needs a larger screen phone to put a dent in Android's share advantage. Apple has been behind with larger screens. Once it nails down the screens to court Android-heavy phablet fans, Apple's case improves a good bit. It's also worth noting that in the enterprise Apple's iOS dominates so Cook's argument---which has been noted repeatedly by CIOs regarding fragmentation and security---holds a lot of weight in business. 

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Image: Apple live stream