Apple has mind share; the iPhone 4's the most reliable smartphone around (but don't drop it); and while Android's multitude of devices are grabbing market share, Apple continues to maintain stellar growth.
Another critical advantage: the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch mean Apple is offering developers the most vibrant and potentially profitable environment to build software for.
I've been reading today's runes to arrive at these conclusions:
Up, up and away iPhone
"iPhone market share could double within a year," according to the new 'Going Mobile' study from the researchers at the IHL Group.
This new survey suggests the smartphone market will double across the next 12 months, with 56 percent of current smartphone users thinking about buying an iPhone for their next device.
"The iPhone is quickly replacing the Blackberry in the mindshare of consumers and the executive office for many retailers," said IHL Group President Greg Buzek.
Apple for Christmas
A pair of surveys suggest that Apple's set for bumper Holiday sales this quarter.
In the UK, website, VoucherCodes.co.uk says its most recent survey shows 37 percent of 3,000 UK consumers want an iPad under the tree, making it the most popular consumer electronics device. In second place? The iPhone 4, which grabbed 27 percent of the vote.
The situation's similar in the US, where spending on consumer electronics is expected to reach new highs.
This is according to the Consumer Electronics Association who published their data on anticipated Holiday season sales this morning.
Laptops are top of the tree for under the tree this year, while the iPad is in at number two.
Interestingly, the CEA also reveals that while 'happiness' is something most adults most desire, the iPad is the third most wanted thing -- consumers seem to want it more than clothes, good health and family together.
In a report released today, Gartner predicts 54.8 million tablets will be sold in 2011. Apple currently holds 95 percent marketshare in this sector. There's even a psychic octopus who agrees. (There's a statistic to trust).
IT pros are hot to iTrot
Computerworld this week told us about a BoxTone survey of over 1,200 IT pros which confirms strong interest in deploying iPads and other iOS devices across their organizations.
The survey found that 73 percent of 1,165 IT prose fully expect they'll be deploying iOS devices within the next year, or at the very least, testing such deployments. And that's in addition to a claimed 28 percent who intend iOS deployment "immediately." Even more telling, 68 percent of the sample group were from large companies with over 1,500 workers, Boxtone said.
As I continue to say, iPad is hot for the enterprise. This is an inflection point. Apple is on the way to unseating BlackBerry in the enterprise, and I don't really see Android making an impression in this sector at this time. Android's is a low-cost, partnership-based consumer play.
Apple's "stellar performance"
After years in the wilderness, the analysts at Gartner seem to be embracing Apple these days. Noting the smartphone market has grown by 96 percent in the last 12 months, the analysts observe:
"Apple delivered a stellar performance in the third quarter of 2010, selling 13.5 million units. It could have sold more but for its ongoing supply constraints and is now in fourth place worldwide."
Apple now holds 3.2 percent of the mobile market, these figures claim.
This makes Apple the fourth-largest mobile phone maker,way in front of Motorola and Sony Ericsson and eclipsing Research In Motion. And all with one (perhaps two) models of phone.
"This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales," said Gartner. "Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America to put it second behind Android while Android volumes also grew rapidly making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide."
The analysts also note the importance of the iPad and the iPod touch to Apple's hold on the smartphone market. These ancillary products boost Apple's ecosystem significantly, as they make iOS development that much more interesting to developers.
With smartphones set for accelerated evolution, innovation is essential and developers -- who create the solutions we want to use on our phones -- are essential to the success of any platform.
On this, Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner said in a statement:
"To a developer, the iPod Touch and iPhone (and to a lesser extent the iPad) are effectively the same device and a single market opportunity. While Android is increasingly available on media tablets and media players like the Galaxy Player, it lags far behind iOS's multi-device presence. Apple claims it is activating around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average that's a compelling market for any developer. And developers' applications in turn attract users."
Reliable, if fragile
Despite all the odds, Apple's iPhone 4 is the most reliable breed of any smartphone out there, says recent research from SquareTrade.
SquareTrade analyzed the failure rates of 50,000+ smartphones covered by its own Care Plans. Apple's iPhone 4 suffered the least malfunctions, with just 2.1 percent of owners experiencing one.
That's better than the iPhone 3GS and Motorola with 2.3%. HTC came next with a one-year rate of malfunction rate of 3.7% and Blackberry got 6.3%.
SquareTrade last year claimed the iPhone had a failure rate of 5.6 percent -- Apple has upped its game.
However, when it comes to accidental damage, the iPhone's hard to beat for the wrong reason: SquareTrade's figures project it will suffer the highest accidental damage rate after 12 months: 13.8 percent, citing drop damage to the glass front and back of the device as culprit.
Android's dirty secret
Finally, Android owners are 400 percent more likely to secretly covet and iPhone than an iPhone user will covet an Android device, says MyPhoneDeals.co.uk.
Almost a third of Android owners admitted to longing after an iPhone, whereas just seven per cent of iPhone users said they'd prefer an Android.
Speculatively, that's interesting, because with Android now the second-biggest smartphone OS with 20 million units and 25.5 percent share (Gartner claims), if 30 percent of these users were to ditch their device and grab an Apple the the market split would be very different.
With the capacity to exploit its economies of scale when it comes to manufacturing and component costs, Apple clearly has an unused option to trim its prices to attract some of the Android folks across. I think that's unlikely to happen -- the next big move for the US market, at least, will be carrier diversification.
It is also interesting to note that the iPhone 4 has been an accident-plagued release for Apple. First there was Gizmodo's leaked report into the device's features; second came 'antenna-gate', 'glass gate' followed, the company still can't manufacture white models in quantity. And yet, despite all these negatives, the iPhone significantly grew market share.