First, let’s be clear — mobile isn’t a zero sum game as the market is expanding rapidly around the world. That is, for Apple to win Google et al don’t have to lose absolutely. However, we can pick relative winners and losers, and so far it’s pretty clear who’s on top.
Apple sold a lot of smartphones over the weekend. In fact, the company announced it sold more than 4 million iPhone 4Ses alone and that 25 million people have downloaded and are using iOS 5.
“iPhone 4S is off to a great start with more than four million sold in its first weekend—the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days,” said Philip Schiller, senior vice president, Worldwide Product Marketing, Apple. “iPhone 4S is a hit with customers around the world…”
Yes, double the record setting iPhone 4 and likely at least four times more than the best number posted by any Android, Blackberry or whatever. Further, the iPhone 4S sold 4 million units in just three days or half the number the Microsoft Kinnect, the fastest selling consumer electronic in history, did over the course of two months.
Yeah, the sound you just heard was a sonic boom and it emanated from Cupertino.
Follow the money
Whereas Google’s mobile revenues skyrocketed from $1 billion to $2.5 billion year over year, that’s really small change. How small?
The interesting twist is this calculation assumes Apple only sold the lower cost 16GB iPhone 4S. Moreover, it’s certain the mothership also sold many — perhaps millions — of its previous generation iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.
Additionally, that $2.6 billion doesn’t include app or peripheral revenue, the lion’s share of which goes to third-party developers and hardware makers.
And, the carriers? Market leaders Verizon and AT&T are both reporting record sales, while also ran Sprint claims its best sales ever — finally they have a hit after failing time and again with webOS and Android powered devices.
Apple’s happy and its partners are happy, too.
Winning or leading?
Again, Google et al don’t have to lose for Apple to win. Nevertheless, at this specific moment in time, there’s no question which company and platform are on top — that’s absolutely clear.
Where things get dicey, however, is over the long time. The sustainability of a platform depends on how much money the various partners can put into development and ecosystems, which comes straight out of revenue.
In Google’s case, they’re spending to develop an operating system so people will continue to use their search which drives ad clicks. Right now, this roundabout mobile business model is at best a loss leader.
Eventually, as the market saturates, mobile’s growth potential shrink’s toward zero and the game gets reduced to who can put up the biggest numbers.
Which leaves me asking the question again — why is Google in this business?. Seriously, Ice Cream Sandwich needs to be more than a home run…
What’s your take?