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How Apple beat Android the Tim Cook way

Published Feb 3rd, 2015 3:25PM EST
iPhone 6 vs. Android Handsets

Rather than tumultuously and publicly raging against Android device makers and committing major resources to a thermonuclear war against Google and its Android partners (which is how Steve Jobs did it while at the helm of Apple), Tim Cook decided to take a different, sneakier approach to defeating Android. A new Forbes article says that Cook basically “defused” Jobs’s thermonuclear threat, “then he took down Android.” And he did it quietly even though the CEO was never afraid to call out competitors in public — just see his stance on Android malware or privacy matters.

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Naturally, Android fans will disagree with this particular assessment, claiming that their mobile OS of choice is still better than iOS, and that Android is the widely used across the globe, significantly outselling iPhones. Last year alone, around 1 billion Android devices were sold globally, compared to under 200 million iOS devices.

But Apple managed something other companies can only dream of. With just two new phones launched late in the third quarter of 2014, Apple managed to shatter its previous iPhone sales records and crush estimates for the fourth quarter of 2014, establishing record for revenue and profit in the process.

As Forbes explains it, that happened thanks to Apple’s laborious and methodical ways of doing things that didn’t necessarily involve crushing rivals in courts. Under Cook, Apple terminated patent fights with HTC and Motorola. The company even stopped some of its legal actions against Samsung, though it still beat its main rival in U.S. courts twice, with some legal matters still to be resolved in the region.

Instead, “just as America negated the Cold War through patience, propaganda, and technical prowess, Tim Cook has neutered Android’s economic threat to Apple through guile, suppression, and finesse,” the publication puts it.

The company continued to improve the iPhone over the years — even though Android fans always made fun of the fact that iPhones were not always on par with competing Android devices — releasing the bigger iPhones on its own terms.

Apple forced competitors to start work on 64-bit processors a lot earlier than anyone anticipated, and built up resources well in advance. This not only gave Apple preferential supply and pricing, but also preventing rivals from being able to buy the materials and components they need. Just recently, reports claimed that even if it wanted to, Samsung could not make enough metal smartphones because of Apple.

Other achievements include strategic bets on synthetic sapphire and hedging DRAM “as efficiently as Southwest hedges aviation fuel.” Forbes says that Apple is also first in line for touch panels — it has convinced Foxconn to build an entire display factory just for its products — and even booked up all available shipping from China when the iPhone 6 was released.

Finally, even before the iPhone 6 was launched, Apple was the undisputed king of the mobile business when it come to profits, with only Samsung being profitable among its Android rivals. And yet Apple managed to further improve that status, by increasing the average selling price of the iPhone with the iPhone 6, rather than driving smartphone margins down like Android device makers.

Forbes’ take on Apple’s success at fighting Android under Cook is available at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.