Paranoia Pays

Steve Jobs needs to call Andy Grove ASAP.

Groves, one of Intel’s founders, was very clear on the concept of paranoia in the tech biz.  Perhaps being Hungarian and thus too well acquainted with Soviet oppression, Andy learned paranoia at a young age.  But he refined his paranoiac inclinations being in the technology business, a war zone where corporate death comes quickly and painfully.  Like a battlefield where every soldier is out for himself, nobody and no company are safe from competition.

Not even Apple.

Wildly popular and cult-like, the iPhone and iPad made indelible marks in the consumer electronics space.  Though pads and smartphones existed before Jobs took on the job, Apple refined the product category and advanced the expectations of the market.  Combined brilliance in product design and marketing led to worldwide buzz, techno lust and a stock price that makes members of the House of Saud blink ($330 but leveling off, though still almost half of their neighbor Google’s share price).  Yes, iEverything seemed like a juggernaut ready to run rough over the entire gizmo landscape.

Which is why Steve needs to call Andy.

android-partnersSeveral news reports show that competition is catching up to Apple.  Nielsen notes that Android smartphones are now outselling iPhones (though the pending Verizon deal will likely add some gas to Job’s jalopy).  At CES, an estimated 100 new pad devices will be unveiled — nearly all of them are running Android, with HP’s webOS being treated worse than a redheaded stepchild with bad breath.  The two brightest points of light in Apple’s device line-up are under assault by a ‘free’ mobile operating system, appearing on literally hundreds of new phones and slates.  Worse yet, Google is allegedly ready to give application and content developers a larger share of sales price and critical buyer demographic information, putting Apple’s (and even Amazon.com’s) content distribution network under exacerbating pressure.

Steve, you don’t really need to be paranoid … they are out to get you.

Strategy is a key aspect of marketing.  One strategic element that remains pure throughout is that market share ultimately means more than style or margins.  Microsoft made only small change on each copy of MS-DOS and later Windows, but they assured it was the de facto desktop operating system and reaped many rewards, from OS revenues to being the top office application provider.  Apple is not using this strategy and Google is.  This explains why Android, in a very short time, overtook Apple in mobile phones and by the time next year will have done the same in slates/pads.

It pays to be paranoid, and to be born that way.


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