4S

Back in May I went on record saying that Apple would announce two iPhone models this year. It didn’t. I also said I’d eat crow in public if I was wrong, so even though I don’t think anyone actually remembers my promise, I owe you this.

... munch ... crunch ... [spit out feather] ... bleeh ... munch ...

Still.

The point was not so much releasing two models, but rather having a cheap model on offer to conquer the vast post-Android market that can’t afford a top-of-the-line iPhone. That job seems to devolve more and more on the older models.

Will it work? I don’t know. The 3GS has been on sale this year, too, but I never really saw any stats about 3GS vs. 4 sales. Would be interesting to have those.

Common wisdom in the mobile world says that a cheaper model must be officially unveiled, too. It could be that Apple is proving common wisdom wrong once more. It could also be that they’re missing a trick here. I’m tending toward the latter explanation right now.

In any case, the stat to watch is the iPhone’s market share among smartphones. It hasn’t really risen since early Q3 2010: it’s been at slightly less than 20% for a year now. If Apple’s old-model strategy takes it substantially above 20%, then it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

Their market share will rise a bit in Q3 due to the 4S’s availability, so that won’t count. It’s the Q4 and Q1 results that we’ll have to judge Apple’s strategy by.

Hard-core Apple fanboys will be happy no matter what. But will the outer fringes of Apple users be content with today’s announcement? Right now the general reaction seems to be “Meh,” and I wonder what that’ll do with sales. We’ll have to wait a few days to see a consensus emerge, I suppose.

Oh, and Apple’s installed platforms and mobile browsing stats, as always, were complete bullshit. Most US companies are casting the complex mobile situation as simplistic nonsense, and Apple is no exception.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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