[Note: the following post was originally posted on wechat last week Nov 20. I started a new wechat public account as an experiment, and will look to write posts in Chinese periodically. These posts will be posted here as well as backup.]


  • 纽约时报:”Google Stadia Wants You to Replace Your Video Game Console.  Don’t.”
  • Eurogamer: “Stadia tech review: the best game streaming yet, but far from ready”
  • VentureBeat: “Google Stadia review — It works, but it doesn’t matter”







The difficult Google play in China

Early last month there were some news circulating about Google plotting a return to China. The past few days there were also increased speculation after Chinese netizens discovered some changes to what are being hosted domestically by Google.

So far most of the above are just speculation. But it’s worth doing a quick thought exercise.

First, the market context:

  • In Google’s 5 year absence from China, the smartphone revolution has really taken over the market and there’s arguably half a billion users of Android devoid of any Google services
  • There’s been a big entrepreneurship boom (which may be going into hard times currently), with several cycles of intense competition in a number of sectors – staring with the 1,000 groupon clone wars of 2010, to the more recent taxi-app wars and the broader O2O wars. And of course let’s not forget the home-grown Android vendors such as Xiaomi and the battles in the Android space. From the ashes of these intense battlegrounds have risen a number of companies with $10B+ valuations1
  • The traditional big 3 – “BAT” have extended their empires in numerous directions and continue to compete in multiple fronts. For example, Alibaba has made big bets in film entertainment and Tencent is eager to follow suit
  • Apple has seen major success in China – it has generated over $45B revenue in Q1-Q3 of its FY2015, which is about double of Google’s entire worldwide revenue in 2009, right before it exited China

In short, the 5-year opportunity cost for Google in China has turned out to be huge, which is not surprising then if they are indeed seeking an return.

As an aside – I always thought Google’s decision in early 2010 was an incredibly difficult decision, and one which I have always disagreed with (to the detriment of my friendships with some American friends). Not to be overly sentimental, but one of my biggest points of disagreement was that this decision went against Google’s own company mission – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – with such a mission, how could Google shy away from serving Chinese users? Wasn’t exiting China a cop-out to avoid the really tough choices of operating in that environment?

But to come back on-topic – if exiting China was tough, coming back will be tougher:

  • What is Google’s value proposition to Chinese consumers? Most of its services have been fully replaced by local competitors, who are arguably more nimble and responsive to local user needs
  • What does Google focus on? The rumored Google Play makes some sense, since they should prioritize re-establishing a position in mobile, while desktop search is slowly but surely becoming irrelevant
  • Can Google find any local allies? Out of BAT, Alibaba probably has the least conflicts of interest with Google (Tencent / Baidu both own big Android app stores); in the Android vendor space, it has already partnered with Huawei for a Nexus device, so perhaps Huawei can return the favor somewhat in China
  • How much autonomy / empowerment will the local team have? Can they attract the type of talent they want, given their flip-flopping in China?
  • Fundamentally, how much product experience is Google willing to sacrifice/compromise to meet the government’s requirements?

Given how nasty the 2010 exit was from a relationship stand-point, I suspect Google’s return will be tiny baby steps at first.

  1. Xiaomi, Didi-Kuadi, and the new Meituan-Dianping merger are a few leading examples

Facebook Home: good for Android, bad for Google

Facebook unveiled the next major part of their mobile strategy today with the Facebook Home announcement. Let’s talk about it from a few different angles.


The event itself was quite compact, a no-fluff, well-rehearsed show (perhaps they took note of Samsung’s controversial Galaxy s4 event in New York some weeks earlier). There seemed to be some ramblings from the tech press about seating arrangements (lack of space/tables). The appearance of the CEOs of HTC and AT&T are obviously for show, but it did demonstrate that Facebook’s all grown up now and can demand the attention of industry heavy-weights when they want support.

Implications to Android eco-system

To the Android eco-system as a whole, this is overall a great new product. Facebook Home is the type of customization that may well be unique to Android (both Apple and Microsoft likely want too much control of their OS to allow this type of customization), and helps improve Android’s position at the high end of the marketplace versus Apple.

Many commentators have noted that this is not a fork; some have claimed this is the first step to a fork down the line. I think those are valid points. The consideration from Facebook’s point of view should be, what kind of an experience are we aiming to offer to Android users, and do we need to go as far as forking to offer that experience? Right now, Facebook Home is primarily about raising mobile engagement with Facebook, and taking over mobile messaging. To that end, a fork is not necessary as long as Google allows this type of deep customization.

Should Facebook Home take off in the market place, it is not inconceivable to see Facebook advance lower into the software stack, and go into a full fork when it needs to. A scenario could be – Facebook Home takes significant market share within Android; Facebook then plans to roll out its own Android app marketplace, with built-in Facebook tie in (all apps come integrated with Facebook data); by wanting to roll out its own Android marketplace, Facebook would likely have to declare a fork as it is running right against Google Play.

Facebook Home also shows a new path for all parties interested in bending Android to their benefit. This halfway measure (to a full fork, which is costly to maintain) makes a lot of sense to many established Internet services. For example, why wouldn’t Tencent do something similar (outside of the fact that the Android landscape in China is a mess and it would be difficult to create a middleware offering)?

Implications to OTT messaging apps

Just yesterday, I had written about OTT messaging apps and their potential threat to Facebook. Facebook Home is a large counter-offensive in this regard. Facebook is putting its messaging service front and center. It wants Facebook chat to be the ubiquitous messaging service for Android users.

What’s curiously missing then, as I think about it, is the lack of details around how Facebook Home will tackle the issue of address book management. Will Facebook Home merge your address book with your Facebook friends data? When you create a new contact, would it automatically try to find the person on Facebook and add him/her as a friend? I don’t think Facebook talked about this topic at all today. It would be a jarring, disjointed experience if your interactions with your facebook friends were this beautifully designed flow, while your interactions with real-life people (the folks who call you and message you) is still the stock Android experience. Perhaps this is something next on the to-do list for the product.

In this one regard, OTT apps such as whatsapp still offer a better flow. It doesn’t have the legacy baggage of trying to match a phone number with a Facebook identity – your phone number is your unique identifier, so when you add someone to your phonebook, the person will show up in these OTT apps instantly. For example, WeChat gives you a hint whenever one of your contacts has signed up for the service.

As to whether OTT apps are seriously threatened by Facebook Home – I think the answer is yes and no. Yes, in that there will be a segment of users whose needs will be fully served by Home and therefore lost. No, in that Facebook Home is unique to Android (a small portion of Android too), and one of the biggest value propositions of these OTT apps is that they are ubiquitous and fully cross-platform. A great example to think of is Apple’s iMessage – I love the service since it comes right out of the box and requires no setup, but I still need to use whatsapp / weChat etc. because not all my friends use iPhones.

Implications to Google

Everyone is now eagerly awaiting Google’s response. Many have joked today that Google will unveil “Google+ Home” at Google I/O. In all seriousness, now is a great time for Google to reflect on what is the future direction of Android, with Samsung commanding 40% of all Android shipments on the one hand and Facebook launching a direct take-over of Android’s user experience on the other.

Google could choose to close off Android in the sense that if you want Google’s services (Google Play, Gmail, Maps, Youtube) on your phone, you cannot use such a deep customization as Facebook Home; but that would also take Samsung’s TouchWiz as collateral damage, and I’m not sure Google’s ready for that confrontation yet. Of course, it could make special deals with Samsung so that TouchWiz is exempt, but that could make relationships with hardware vendors even more complicated (side deals everywhere).

Google could choose to make pinpointed counter offensives, such as cloning Facebook’s Chat Heads so that there’s less value in installing Home. But such services would quickly run into the same problems Google has on the web – it doesn’t own the social network. A fancy Android-only chat feature is of little use if you need to add your social network into it first. It could be a cool OTT app, but it won’t have access to the rich sharing and interactions that are happening on Facebook.

Google could choose to stay the course and just focus on making Android and Google’s services on Android better. It could also focus on whatever plans it has for Motorola, should it go the direction of offering strong Google hardware. As long as users demand Gmail / Maps / Youtube, to a certain extent Google doesn’t need to respond. However, they will surely be constantly bothered by how Facebook has taken over all the real estate on their OS, which Facebook surely can use to promote other services in future.

Google Keep’s reception woes a lesson in community management

Google launched a new product called Keep today, and the tech commentary has been quite negative. What’s interesting about this narrative is how little of it is about the actual product itself. Om Malik’s post is very representative in this regard, with a pun jab in the title. And the responses on Twitter aren’t much better.

The general sentiment is – why should I use Google Keep, when you’ve just shown with Google Reader that you can shut down a product at whim? This may be a valid sentiment to have, and it is also only natural for tech bloggers to seek drama (in the interest of generate page views) – so this should have been something that Google product managers have anticipated in advance. Especially given that the blowback from the Google Reader development has been quite strong (a lot of discussion, petitions, competing products jumping on the wave to draw users etc.) and is still very much ongoing, the Google Keep announcement should have been delayed or tweaked to acknowledge the sentiment over Reader.

Overall, the Google Reader situation and the Google Keep launch timing shows a general passiveness on Google’s end to engage with its user-community in online dialogues. It is very interesting given the overwhelming strategic emphasis on Google+, why aren’t Google’s product teams using Google+ and/or other social media to engage their end-user communities? Is there a forum where Googlers regularly interact with end-users? How often has various Google teams done Reddit AMAs (or something similar – it seems a few Google teams have done AMAs on Reddit the past couple of years)?

These questions may be somewhat unfairly overweighing the importance of these community engagement channels, since Google primarily provides a utility-like service (search, email), and alas, most consumers don’t find it interesting talking with their gas, electric or internet provider. However, Google also maintains the image of a bleeding-edge innovation company (Google Glass, self-driving cars etc.), and in that regard it is crucial that Google effectively engage and manage its community, especially the early adopters and vocal advocates.

In the past Google has been seen as the company that does no evil and could do no wrong. It had a golden brand and it could dependably rely on a host of external advocates to defend itself and push its world-view. That has obviously changed, and Google needs to start showing sensibilities towards its end users. Addressing the ongoing complaint towards Google Reader would be a good place to start – it doesn’t need to change its decision, but it should at least provide more context over how the decision was made and perhaps make some compromises / compensation to appease the community.

“Google controls too much of China’s smartphone sector”

Reuters published an article that summarizes a recent white paper from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. In the white paper, the ministry expressed concern that Android has too much market share in China, and that Google has discriminated against local companies in the ecosystem, as well as restraining their development in certain cases.

The white paper is early signs of a regulatory threat, but that’s not what I’m interested in discussing – Google has long had a tumultuous relationship with the Chinese authorities, and this development would also further reinforce the stereotypical view (in the west) that the Chinese government favors local companies and discriminates against western tech companies.

I have not used Android much in China, but I’m having some ongoing experience as I have a temporary Android phone while I’m currently in China. This device is a sample of one, of course, but it paints a very different picture than the notion that Android has too much control over China. The phone is a Samsung phone (model number GT-S5820) deeply customized for China Mobile. It runs a heavily modified version of Android 2.3.6. There are no Google services installed on the device; instead, it comes pre-loaded with 5 different browsers, courtesy of all the local Internet giants (a browser from Sina, a browser from Tencent, Opera, etc.). The map application is from Autonavi, the major local player (which Google also sources data from, if I’m not mistaken). What I was surprised at was the lack of any pre-loaded apps from Baidu – perhaps they didn’t get a deal with China Mobile?

I wonder how many Android phones in China are like this one – yes, it is running Android, but for all intents and purposes, Google has no say / no gain from this device. It merely provides a free OS on which all these other players provide their own value add. Samsung is the gate keeper for OS upgrades – it seems I’m locked on 2.3.6, unless I hack the phone and gain root access. There are one-click apps that help do that, but probably the majority of users will not go through the hassle of rooting their phone and loading the latest and greatest from Google, especially when the phone is deeply customized for them already – all the services are very local.

When Google made its high-profile exit from China a few years ago, it also burnt all bridges for profiting from Android in what is probably Android’s largest market. If the Chinese government piles on regulatory action on top of this, the irony would be too rich. Regulatory fireworks aside, I expect local companies to continue to thrive off of forking Android – what will be really interesting is if any of those local players can gain enough domestic traction to start pushing their version(s) of Android in international markets.

Engadget reviews Pixel (or, how not to design for real-world users)


Sums up what I think of the device nicely with these two sentences:

For an MSRP that is on par with some of the best laptops in the world, the Pixel doesn’t provide anywhere near as much potential when it comes to functionality. It embraces a world where everyone is always connected and everything is done on the web — a world that few people currently live in.

Essentially, a product that was designed for Googlers, not for real-world users. This is not the first time Google has committed this mistake. It’s good that Googlers are passionate about what they work on; it’s bad that they equate themselves as good samples of real-world demand. And to be frank this is a very common mistake to make, and this is why at my work-place one of the most common phrases I hear is “I know I’m not real player[don’t represent a real user], but this is how I think about this feature…” so that at least the internal feedback is explicitly qualified.

Regarding Amazon’s Kindle Fire…

There’s only a few things I would say.

First, Google, not Apple, should be very, very concerned about this development. Amazon has basically taken Google’s engineering resources / output and said “thank you for your free work, we’ll take it from here.” How many times did Amazon mention Android in the device description? Does the device look at all like an Android device? Does it offer any Google services by default? Will Google have to pay to be the default search on a tablet that was designed using Google software (think about the irony in that)?

Second, this leaves most other tablet vendors still scratching their heads about what to do, and this is the best example of asymmetrical competition. I would elaborate, but John Gruber had this excellent paragraph from his post that sums is nicely already:

Attack from a position of strength. Build on your previous successes. That’s what Apple does. That’s what Amazon is doing here. The other guys — the Samsungs, HTCs, Motorolas, RIMs — can’t match Apple’s hardware design, don’t even try to match Apple in terms of original and differentiated software, and struggle to match Apple’s prices because they don’t have the economy of scale advantages Apple does. Those guys can’t match Amazon either, because they have no content to sell. Amazon can give away the razor because they’re already in the business of selling blades. The other guys don’t even have blades to sell.

Can Chromebook be more than a “noble experiment”?

David Pogue’s review of the new Google Chromebook hardware by Samsung calls it a “noble experiment”. The question is, can Google’s Chrome OS ever be more than that?

For one thing, if hardware vendors and distribution partners find consumer interest lacking, Google will have to sweeten the incentives for them to keep churning out hardware and pushing it through retail. Pogue’s review does a very good job summarizing the current issues with the offering, which will likely tank sales; the bigger question is whether Google’s philosophy and vision with Chrome can materialize in the broader ecosystem – that is, a browser as the OS paradigm of computing. This seems quaintly a very desktop centric view of the world; with all kinds of mobile devices gaining broad adoption, why should we continue to expect the browser at front and center of how consumers access the Internet?

There is no destined outcome in terms of the “native” versus. “browser” “war”; this is dependent on how the players in each camp fight for ecosystem support and consumer adoption. And that’s where Google’s own hedge against Chrome – Android – is the second major factor against Chromebook’s potential. The managers running Android and Chrome will probably characterize their respective businesses as in a “friendly competition”; however, when they are competing in anything from internal engineering resources, corporate budgets, to external hardware partners and developer support, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that outsiders will see a lot of conflicted messages, and therefore question the strategy.

Count me a skeptic.

The flaws to Google’s Android strategy

Kyle Baxter has written an excellent post dissecting Google’s Android strategy. On the whole I agree with most of his analyses, but I would like to point out what I see to be flaws in the strategy. I don’t claim ownership to all of the following; a lot of it was covered in the “Strategy for IT Firm” MBA course I took last semester at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley.

It’s true that Google has a strategy of commoditizing adjacent markets to turn them into ad-based businesses, which falls into its sweet spot. Many of Google’s most successful products besides its core search are of this nature: email, maps etc. GIving away Android for free is certainly commoditizing the mobile handset market: of the 300k daily activation number which Google touts, people speculate a large portion are what analysts traditionally call “unbranded” or “other” phones. In general this conforms to Google’s strategy; however, the flaw here is that in my view Android is disrupting other branded manufacturers like Nokia / Samsung / Motorola far more than it is challenging Apple and iOS devices. In other words, it may appear that Android is mainly a counter to the iPhone, but in reality it is killing Apple’s main branded competitors.

Allow me to expand on this point, because it probably appears counter-intuitive. Before Android powered smartphones hit the market, Apple was certainly in a league of its own with the iPhone. While it was rapidly capturing share of device profits (the famous 5% unit volume – 40% profit share charts), the incumbent device brands – Nokia et al. – still had the comfortable mid to low end market volumes, which would give them time to develop competing OSes. Now along comes Android, which, while it gave them a quick boost in terms of time to market of credible iOS challenger devices, also opened the floodgates to a whole range of unbranded competitors. These new comers – Huawei, ZTE etc. – play the same volume game as Nokia / Samsung et al. And we know so far Samsung / Motorola have not drastically reversed their financial performance thanks to Android – so what’s the next possible scenario? Would it be possible they continue to slip in unit volume, and be weakened further at the onslaught of the Android clones?

At the same time, I think Apple is sufficiently differentiated from the unbranded players  in terms of value propositions (very different consumer segments), so the Android clones do not pose a significant threat to Apple.

The flaw here is that Google did not limit who could use Android – a complete lack of platform control. If Google’s strategy does indeed include undermining Apple, it should have limited Android to a handful of brands, so they could compete effectively with Apple. Furthermore, I would also argue that Apple’s primary issue currently is not Android, but its own supply chain and distribution restrictions (e.g. AT&T exclusivity). The big fanfare of Android activation numbers have done little to stop iPhone stockouts all over the world – in China where the iPhone 4 is obscenely priced, supply is still tight. Admittedly I don’t have conclusive data on iPhone supply constraints – but if we take this assumption as true (and there are certainly indicators and proxies in favor of this), it would show that Android has done very little to halt Apple, and is causing far more headaches to Samsung etc.

The second fundamental flaw is that going back to the original strategy, carriers still stand in the way of Google’s profit realization, if and when the mobile devices are completely commoditized (the death of Apple and RIM). Mobile network operators have far greater influence over consumers than wireline operators – in most cases, people choose a mobile operator first before choosing a handset (Apple being the prime exception / disruption), whereas you choices over which wireline operator and which computer brand to buy are completely separate decisions. Because mobile operators “own” the consumers, market power dynamics dictate that Google cannot expect to extract substantial profits. I know this sounds abstract, but until Google can demonstrate to operators that “I can make your customers leave you for another operator”, operators could and should squeeze mobile advertising profits out of Google. Again, Google’s lack of control expedites this – Verizon can sign up Bing as the default search on its phones etc, but there also are many other ways to play this profit squeezing game.

Of course, Google could hope for a “Wintel”-like end-game, where they dominate the OS space and split the spoils with the operators; but operators can foreclose that outcome by actively playing one OS off another. I’m sure strategists at the operators are already plotting this out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Nokia, which has long been an outsider to the US market, is called in by the operators to facilitate a bigger and better OS war.

Why predictions of the iPhone’s death (at the hands of Android) are greatly exaggerated

The comparison of the growth rates of the iPhone and Android phones is continually a topic of hot debate, in no small part propelled by the highly vocal and emotional fans of both camps. It almost seems conventional wisdom that iPhone vs. Android will be Mac vs. Windows, Part II.

Personally, I believe that on so many layers, this topic is really a non-topic. It provides entertainment value, no doubt, in the form of daily tech soap opera (bloggers jumping on every new data point released and typically extrapolating it beyond meaningfulness to arrive at flame-bait headlines). But from an industry analysis point of view, or a company analysis point of view (scrutinizing Apple / Google), the market share comparisons are really just one data point – it’s meaningful, but certainly not to the degree that the blogosphere claims it to be. Apple’s future is not in jeopardy if iPhone loses pole position to Android.

Over at Wired, Fred Vogelstein takes a crack at this topic. His main point is that if you sum up all the iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), they are still outselling Android, by as much as 42%. While this may be encouraging to the Apple camp, there is no reason we can expect this to hold, especially when other Android powered devices (e.g. Android tablets) eventually hit the market.

I don’t have any doubt that Android devices will outsell iOS devices. If it hasn’t happened already, it will happen soon. There is no reason to believe an OS from a premium manufacturer (Apple) with an extremely limited range of SKUs can outsell, on a pure volume basis, an OS that is free to use and which is backed by some of the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world. On a dollar value basis, it might be a different story, but still not that likely. On a dollars of profit generated basis though, highly possible (Apple generates more profit than rest of mobile industry combined, with only 3% unit volume share).

That said, the main reason people are obsessed with these market share numbers seem to be the underlying assumption that iPhone and its eco-system will lose its draw to developers, and by extension to consumers, if it is relegated to a minority market share. I think there are at least a couple of counter-arguments to make here.

First of all, being the minority market share platform does not translate into a lack of quality apps, to the extent that it will hamper mass-premium consumers’ (Apple’s core segment) interest in the platform. For example, if you flip the argument over the number of apps in the Android vs. iPhone app stores on its head, you may well say that even though Android has a smaller number of apps, the eco-system is already sizable enough, so that for any functionality there will be “an app for that”. Another example would be none other than Macs – what’s the market share that Mac OS holds in all personal computers? Single digits? Do mainstream Mac users complain about the lack of quality apps (note the emphasis on mainstream – specific categories like hardcore gaming is lacking on the Mac, but even that is seeing improvement)? Holding these two examples, I would argue that with the developer community Apple has already amassed, it would be hard to foresee a drastic dying out of quality apps, even if Android floods the market.

Secondly, if you take a step back and look at the broader trend in computing, it is definitely headed in the direction of platform-agnostic. Some tech purists would even decry the whole notion of apps – everything should be realized on the browser, over the web. If you look at the desktop space, there is indeed the trend of “fat” clients (local apps) losing out to “thin” clients. Indeed, Google is perhaps one of the biggest proponents of this – its whole challenge to Microsoft is based on the browser. If we believe that the same trend will apply to mobile devices, then the apps craze we are experiencing really is just a transition phase – at some point, most of the apps you want would be delivered to you on the browser, as opposed to an app you download (again, Google’s Gmail mobile version on the browser is arguably better than Apple’s Mail app). And let’s give credit where credit is due – when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs’ initial vision was to have web apps (browser-based apps) instead of local apps. The app SDK and the app store only came out a year later, due to popular demand. (So you could say that Jobs had already envisioned an end-game where the browser was the point of delivery for apps, not the app store – his vision was perhaps just ahead of its time.)

If you sum these two arguments together, the bigger point is that iPhone will not lose its richness of apps in the face of Android capturing majority market share – it’s big enough already of a market so that there will be quality apps developed, and apps will be platform-agnostic anyway down the road. As long as Apple continue to bring innovation to its devices, it should not be overly worried about losing market share leadership – its whole strategy is founded on premium products, which implies that it won’t be market leader from a revenue / volume perspective. That’s why I wrote the headline of this post.

PS: Also, for people who continually say this will be a rerun of Apple vs. Windows in the 80s, please pause for a moment and reflect on the Mac’s continual resurgence over the last decade. This is again very indicative of the broader trend. In other words, one could almost claim that the “network effects” so famously championed by Wintel is close to becoming irrelevant, because the Internet has leveled the playing field for the small market share OSes.

PS2: And even if we are to talk of the platform wars of the 80s, we should get the facts straight. The following is my reply on a Quora question (similar topic really) awhile back:

First of all, it’s not really windows vs. mac, but PC vs. Mac. I would say by the time windows 3.0 came out, the platform war between PCs and Macs (at least the first war, not including Mac’s resurgence in recent years) was already over.

If you look at this article on Ars Technica, http://arstechnica.com/old/conte…
as early as 1986 PCs already had over 50% market share of computers, and it over-took the mac platform’s shares a few years before that. So in that sense, there never was a windows:mac war, at least not until very recently.

I think one key distinction between the platform wars of the 80s and android:iPhone is that in the 80s it was primarily driven by b2b, not b2c. IBM was late to the personal computers space, but they were the driving force behind making personal computers legitimate for business – they could go to a sales pitch with a business client with a perhaps inferior product but still sell it, and they could generate serious developer interest in developing for the PC. The killer apps of the 80s were spreadsheets and word-processors, sold to businesses. Apple could have better versions of such products on macs, but they couldn’t sell to businesses as quickly as IBM and clones like Compaq could, which is dictated by company structure and channel strategy – they are positioned as a consumer products company, and the only verticals where they made serious progress were education and publishing (where their products were clearly far far superior). That’s where the network effect kicked in and made Macs a niche.

Flash forward 25 years, and smartphone adoption is primarily driven by consumers, not businesses (blackberries being the exception). This is in Apple’s core area of expertise. It will still be challenging to fend off a group of competitors’ collective efforts (Samsung, HTC etc.), but as long as Apple retain a significant portion of the market, it will be in good shape. Apple doesn’t need to be market leader to be hugely profitable and have a sizable eco-system of 3rd party apps etc. – just look at macs today, as a general consumer you have majority of the apps you need to be happy with it (games being one major exception, which is also therefore a good business opportunity).

So back to your original question, I’d say Android:iPhone will play out very differently compared to Windows:Mac. Android might still end up with a more market share, but iPhone will have enough share and a big enough eco-system so that Apple won’t have to go through the kind of existential challenge it had back in the mid 90s.