Listening to Dan Benjamin and John Gruber the other day (Talk Show Episode 2) really got me to start thinking about all the market share bull between the iPhone and Android phones. It is mostly a meaningless market for consumers – mind share matters more – but investors pay attention to these metrics and that affects stock prices. All the analysts seem poised to give Google a win this coming holiday season, expecting Android sales to eat into iPhone sales and finally tame the ‘beast’ that is the iPhone and Apple.
I however think it would be dead simple for Apple to completely and utterly kill Android sales come this holiday season. This is a simple two pronged attack that they need to wage.
The iPad needs to come in swinging – it is already wildly popular at a price point of $499 – so imagine how people would react if in September Apple announced a new lower price. Say $100 off each model, they did this with the original iPhone (though that was because of a subsidy from AT&T) and I think they may do it again here. Often Apple will price high in case it doesn’t sell well, and by all accounts the iPad is a smash hit.
Lowering the price by any amount would make it that much easier to swallow for all those parents looking for gifts for their students and gadgets for dad (and mom). It would also squash any price point that Android and Microsoft would be able to come out with – $399 for and iPad, I would buy another at that price.
This is the dirtiest tactic and I would love it if Apple did it. Come september they need to hold a special press event – that this event they announce that the iPhone is coming to all major U.S. carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile) and roll out will begin immediately. The key here is that the phone does not have to be immediately available, just available on one carrier – say T-Mobile as that would not require any new hardware (I think).
Do you really think many kids will be asking for an Android phone for Christmas if they know that patience will net them an iPhone? I think this would be the first time we see patience in teenagers.
This approach does not come without risk – Apple would have to be able to ship phones for all the carriers no later than January to keep from being creamed in the press and minds of consumers.
Even the announcement that the iPhone would be coming to T-Mobile (a carrier not many people care if it is on) would hurt Android sales. Such an announcement would serve to fuel the fires of bloggers, and journalists that just maybe an iPhone on Verizon is imminent. That alone should be powerful enough to humble the sales of Android.
The Google Block
This of course could all be blocked up by Google if they decide to play dirty. They could try to tell carriers that if they sell the iPhone then they can’t have Android phones (not likely). They could force vendors to cut prices, roll out massive new updates, or innovate.
Of course for every play that Google can do, Apple can do as well.