Analysts are sometimes funny people. Many can look at a great deal of really detailed data to spot minute trends in a market, but most couldn't see the forest for the trees if they were staring at a million unfallen leaves. Take for example the posits of one Jean-Louis Gassee at Allegis Capital who believes that Apple must licence its iOS platform to other manufacturers if it is to survive the coming onslaught of devices powered by Google's Android. He says that unless Apple does this, the 4-year-young mobile device platform will be the Mac 2.0, drowned out by the hordes of cheaper, alternate platform devices.
Funny ... I don't remember Steve Jobs ever saying that market share was more important than delivering quality products to consumers.
Apple doesn't need to licence their software to other manufacturers to maintain sales. Apple doesn't need to ask others for help when it comes to winning over new buyers, either. Considering how many people have given up Windows for OS X over the last three years, one would argue that Steve & Co. have very little to worry about. Yes, there are a phenomenal number of Android-based devices on the market, and a plethora more due to be released in the next few months with more bells and whistles than any of Apple's existing products, but does this mean the company needs to worry?
Not by a long shot.
There are literally thousands of notebook and desktop systems on the market that are sold with Windows, yet less than a dozen sold with OS X. Which of these two operating systems is seeing the greatest amount of growth?
There are literally hundreds of tablets on the market running everything from Windows CE, some flavor of Linux, Android, and home-brew OSes, yet half a dozen running iOS. Which of these operating systems is seeing the greatest amount of growth?
Android will certainly blow past iOS in terms of number of units sold, and there will undoubtedly be a few lust-worthy devices with every feature and option a person could ask for in a mobile computing device. But will Apple have anything to fear by this explosion? Not unless Steve stops the slow iteration of his products.
Almost every Android user I've met, spoken to, or read is also a Windows user. There are a few Mac users out there, yes, but by and large Android is for people who prefer the complexity of Windows, Linux, or another operating system that requires the user to really understand what's going on under the hood. iOS is for people who want their electronics to just work and disappear from consciousness while they're in use. Comparing the two types of people is, quite literally, like comparing apples to sweet desserts.
As Android continues to grow, iOS will also continue to attract new users. Yes, some will jump from one platform to the other but, by and large, both will enjoy growth for quite a while to come. Market share isn't everything. Apple knows this, and they know how to make their products work for the market segment they're after. For the next two to three years, both platforms will see huge wins ... as will the consumers.