Category Archives: Apple

Mobile surges for online purchases, but Android is slipping. Why?

Horace Dediu has some interesting data today on the growth of mobile as a percentage of Black Friday online purchases. This year, mobile accounted for nearly one-quarter of all purchases. Use that datapoint this week when anyone tells you that a mobile-first approach to digital communications and commerce is still “too soon.”

Black Friday Mobile Sales: Asymco

Data from Asymco.

Digging deeper, though, another interesting behavior emerges as well: While Android’s installed base has grown immensely over the past three years, the percentage of online purchases made on Android phones vs. iPhones has actually slipped noticeably.

Horace asks the right question: Why is this?

I believe this could be a simple matter of who is buying Android phones and for what reasons.

At first, Android purchasers were a lot like iPhone purchasers in that they were seeking out the device itself. They wanted the specific computer-like behavior and many of them wanted the greater customizability that they saw in Android over iPhone.

Now, I believe, many more Android buyers are simply getting an Android as their new phone as their carrier contract renews, replacing their old feature phones as the prices for Android devices get better and the ubiquity of touch-screen devices suggests to even the most casual observer that feature phones are now old tech. It’s entirely possible that these are much more casual users who rarely if ever fully use the capabilities of their devices (and, because of this, have the most-limited data plan) because they want a phone first, and a pocket-computer as a distant second. 

Most iPhone buyers, though, still are seeking the device first, even as more of them come into the fold later, after waiting for the next cycle of their two-year contracts. Think of it this way: These new iPhone buyers could have gotten a perfectly good Android phone for a much lower cost but chose the higher-priced iPhone for specific reasons. Discounting whatever percentage of those “reasons” are status only, I would imagine that most iPhone buyers are seeking ‘pocket-computer” features and not the core phone functionality (and who could blame them — when was the last iPhone ad that showed phone use?).

Simplified: New iPhone users are still actively seeking out the device and its computer-like features while new Android users include a growing percentage of their installed base that are choosing, essentially, a more advanced feature phone.

At least that’s my hypothesis. Perhaps it could be tested if there is any information available about the size of data packages (and usage) by platform.


Steve Jobs, two letters, one word

Photo: Ben Stanfield, cc flickr

Steve Jobs wasn’t a magician. He didn’t have supernatural powers. He was bound by the same rules of physics, chemistry and biology as all of us. And yet, somehow, he managed in his too-short life to turn extraordinary leaps forward in technology and usability into a nearly commonplace occurrence.

How, then, did he do that? The received wisdom after his death is that he was special, different, cut from a better grade of cloth. And, certainly, he was all of those things. But I wonder if his secret weapon wasn’t something remarkably commonplace. Mundane, even.

Yes, he was smarter than most of us. Yes, he was more driven. Yes, he had an innate sense of what would work and an unparalleled ability to motivate people to make those ideas come to life. And, yes, he was the greatest CEO-showman that we’ve ever known.

But, more than all of that, he knew and used the power of one simple word.


Without “no,” in your arsenal, it’s easy to get distracted. Without “no,” vision can be destroyed. Without “no,” any project, large or small, will be derailed. But with it, focus is maintained, momentum grows and, ultimately, product ships that is as wonderful in production as it first seemed on the whiteboard or sketchpad.

Here’s Steve Jobs, speaking to the Worldwide Developers Conference in 1997, talking about how he reined in Apple’s developers who were pursuing multiple projects in many different directions, with the power of “no”:

You think focusing is about saying “yes.”


“Focusing is about saying no. And when you say no you piss off people. (But) the result of that focus is going to be some great products where the total is greater than the sum of its parts.”

To me, the most inspiring thing about “no,” whoever uses it well and properly, is that it’s a word that’s available to each of us, if only we’d speak it. Each “no” stands alert, guarding the rare and precious yes that’s at the core of our visions. Alone and in concert, these small negatives clear the way for us to focus on the positive outcome we’re all aiming for.

Think about questions like these every time you’re asked to expand the scope of a project, or to take on a new one:

  • Does it fit the vision?
  • Will it get us closer to our goal?
  • Without it, will we be unable to ship?
  • Is it worth killing something else to do this?

If the answer you think is “no,” then you already have your answer. Say it. Aloud. “No.” You may be surprised at how close it’ll get you to the yeses that are most important.

Do that, and we’re honoring the memory of Steve in the best possible way.