Mind Share vs. Market Share

Steven Hodson, regarding the iPhone/Google Voice affair:

It is amazing that Apple continues to do business in this heavy handed way and still get away with it. If Microsoft ever did anything like this the howls of outrage would be resonating through the tech world an the Department of Justice would be seeing its phones ringing off the hook.

This is no-longer about a computer manufacturer with a minor market share. We are talking about the iPhone here which is now one of the biggest powerhouses in the mobile computing space. It is at the point that if Apple sneezes everyone runs to grab the Kleenex.

To be clear (and judging from my email yesterday, I haven’t been clear), I think this decision stinks. But it’s bad because it erodes trust in the iPhone platform, not because it’s illegal. The iPhone’s actual market share of the total phone market remains relatively small. Antitrust regulators don’t measure mind share. Microsoft must play by different rules with Windows because Windows is a genuine monopoly. The iPhone isn’t even close to that. And in the meantime, acting like protectionist bastards is not illegal.

(I do think it’s the case, though, that if the iPhone eventually garners a monopoly-sized market share, that the current App Store model will be unsustainable. But I think the current App Store model will prove itself unsustainable in the market long before the iPhone reaches monopoly-size market share. It’s already bursting at the seams.)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009