One Metric to Rule Them All

From John Gruber today:

It’s easy to pick and choose the numbers you want to back up the theory you prefer. So if you’re rooting for Android to dominate the industry, it is tempting to focus on unit sale market share, and to attribute Windows’s historical dominance to its massive unit sale market share. But you can flip that around, and argue that because I am rooting for the iPhone, I cherry pick the data to fit the story I want to see unfold — and so I say profit share is what matters, not unit sales, only because that’s the figure that puts Apple’s position in the best light.

But I like the odds that I’ll be proven right. Money is how you keep score, because it’s the one thing whose value everyone agrees upon. That’s what money is. The Wintel platform dominated every metric — market share and profit share. That’s where almost all the hardware profits were, and it’s where almost all the software profits were. Market share without profit is a Pyrrhic victory.

Gruber's point is: market share is NOT the only metric for determining mobile OS success. It annoys the shit of me when people point to Android's hold of the lion's share of the market as proof they're "winning" or doing "better" than iOS. Which is funny because, if you look at Apple's profits, they're clearly taking the lion's share. And seeing as how Apple has $76B in the bank, I'd say Gruber's got the right idea. But measuring sticks notwithstanding, I think it's important to remember a person's choice of OS1 really boils down to personal preference. And the idea that Google doesn't have to "lose" for Apple to "win".

Winning is relative.




1. Given the iOS SDK and the App Store numbers, iOS is clearly the choice of developers as well.