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TheStreet Open House

Apple Should Not Play 'Catch Up' with Android

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I can be as critical of Apple (AAPL) as the next hack, but there's one thing I will never understand.

A recent PCMag article listed several things Apple needs to do to "catch up" with Android, which, just to be clear, is the operating system Google (GOOG) licenses to any Tom, Dick or Kwon willing to take it.

The author went through several of the things every other article with the same thesis goes through. Larger, higher-resolution displays. A cheaper iPhone. More personalization (whatever that means). Before regurgitating the same old talking points, the author noted that he would ...

stay away from things Apple will almost certainly never do -- such as opening its App Store to all developers at all times, or allowing customers to root their devices, or replace all of the built-in apps. While these things are highly desirable to phone enthusiasts ...

Imprecise terminology aside -- exactly who are these "phone enthusiasts?" -- the entire line of thinking that starts with Apple needs to catch up with Android reflects a gross misunderstanding of what has made and will keep Apple great.

First, in no way should Apple being playing "catch up" with anybody. Not for marketshare (because, for the 1,000th time, Apple is not a marketshare story) and not along lines of innovation. The things the author listed as ways for Apple to gain this perceived lost ground against Android do not represent innovative moves. They're quick fixes. Interestingly, many of the most popular, such as a larger screen or cheaper phone, are the same tactics competitors have used to try to keep up with Apple.

So why would Apple start producing devices that would amount to iPhone knockoffs? Just as the copycats have. They've taken the foundation of what Apple made a mass consumer phenomenon and implemented cosmetic tweaks.

This is what's on my mind heading into September 10th's iPhone event in Northern California.

I'm a bit worried that all we're going to get are color choices on a tweaked out and/or less expensive iPhone. While that's not the end of the world as we know it -- Apple took a similar approach with iPod -- it would be cause for concern. And it's a legitimate reason to believe that Apple might be allowing mindless critics to dictate the look, feel and flow of its product pipeline just like it's letting fund managers determine its capital allocation strategies.

If Tim Cook starts obsessing over marketshare, Apple really does have problems. Because he should know as well as the rest of us that the raw numbers of how much more marketshare Android has than iOS can fool some of the people some of the time, but can't fool all of the people all of the time. Just Google the ComScore data and compare platform marketshare vs. smartphone subscriber percentages. You get the entire story placed right in front of you every quarter in two charts.

Here, I do it for you, in Apple article from back in April. It says it all.

That Android marketshare spreads thin. If Apple opened iOS up to Samsung and every other smartphone maker on Earth, it could have 80% marketshare in everything. Tomorrow. But, of course, it won't.

It will be painful watching Tim Cook introduce little more than new shades of iPhone next Tuesday. Here's hoping he has something more up his sleeve next week or sometime in the not-so-distant future.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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