Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LTE Matters And Android Sales Could Be In Trouble If iPhone Gets LTE


When Verizon reported its earnings last week, I was surprised by just how well the iPhone held.  And today's earnings release from AT&T has me thinking that the gains made by Android over the last couple of years before AT&T lost iPhone exclusivity isn't holding well.

I won't be editorializing here but just to present the fact.  A little more than a year ago, Verizon Wireless began carrying the iPhone, albeit CDMA version while the HTC Thunderbolt began making waves as one of the first LTE device.  Later in the year with the introduction of the iPhone 4S, Sprint joined AT&T and Verizon in carrying the iPhone.

We don't know Sprint's results yet but we know those of the two biggest US carriers.  With AT&T's 5.5 million smartphones sold, the two biggest carriers sold a total of 11.8 million smartphones.  Apple accounted for 7.5 million of those devices, or 63.55%.  While Sprint has not reported their earnings, there is no reason to believe that the iPhone will account for at last half of its smartphone sales.

There are many ways to read into these numbers.  Both fans of Apple and Google's platform can go all "Democrat and Republican" on this and spin this their own way.  However, as a mobile fan, it is trouble to see Google's Android, armed with Android 4 and LTE, has yet to make a significant pushback against a 3G device.

But as a whole, we can conclude a couple of things.  First, LTE matters and the 4G branding that AT&T and T-Mobile are so fond of pushing doesn't.  This is why LTE devices can hold their own against the iPhone at Verizon while the lack of LTE at AT&T has the iPhone walking all over the competition.  Second, the average mobile warrior is very savy.  We didn't buy into 4G marketing crap and this means if Sprint and T-Mobile doesn't pull their LTE acts together, they're in a lot of trouble.

And if you want to go further, the mobile war is far from over.  Competition is intense and market share in terms of units sold and profit coming out over the next month or so will show that. It means that Microsoft and Nokia, despite the lukewarm reception of the Lumia line, may yet have an opening if they can push Windows 8 out on time with hardware that is on par with competition.

That means Apple and Google will need to continue to bring their A-game with iOS 6 and Android 5.

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