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Deep thoughts: Why Android's market share doesn't matter

According to Nielsen numbers released today, Android phones now represent over half of the US smartphone market. That's certainly worth noting. Then again, at least as far as Apple goes, Android's market share doesn't matter as much as pundits today seem to be emphasizing.

To understand Android is to acknowledge convenience. I know many, many people with Android phones -- and they are, practically to a one, completely content with their purchase, with their service and so forth. These are not people looking for a magical and revolutionary device. They wanted web access, email and a camera on their phone -- at an affordable price -- and they got it.

To talk about market share is to ask the wrong question because market share, in some sense, isn't the end-all and be-all of the mobile space. The better question is this: is iOS growing? And the answer, as you already know, is "yes."

Developer engagement also matters, and there's no simple formula there: factor in the raw number of devices, sure (not forgetting iPod touch and iPad), but also consider the willingness of owners to open their wallets and the relative strengths of the app ecosystems.

Apple is already winning hearts, wallets and developers with its lickably delicious product line. My dad is in love with his iPad, and my friends' kids wouldn't ever give up their iPods. So long as iOS continues to grow, does it really matter quite so much what the rest of the market is doing -- especially if it isn't innovative and pushing boundaries?

There will always be budget alternatives that perfectly satisfy their users, just as there will be cheap rip-offs of quality goods. Neither group diminishes the market for quality, and both act as gateway drugs to bring users to the real deal.

Should Apple worry about decreased market share in the phone arena? Not while the company has gone from zero to nearly a third of the smartphone market in only four years, and not while the iPhone continues to grow (a $12 billion/quarter business is a problem a lot of Android phone makers would gladly trade for). This last quarter alone, sales of iPhones in the US were up 155 percent year-over-year -- in China, sales were up 5 times over last year's figures. As for those happy Android users out there? More power to them. Not everyone needs to go Apple to get the phone they need.

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