COMMENT: Why Apple is embracing 'fragmentation'
Hey Apple fans: remember the word 'fragmentation'?
That was the term that you all constantly spouted when dismissing Android smartphones' appeal.
Different Android handsets, you argued, meant different levels of ability to handle features and apps. This, you said, constituted something of a mess.
Fast forward two years: how things have changed.
In a few weeks, Apple will launch its iPhone 5 with, as yet, undefined new features. This will bring the number of iPhone models that Apple sells to four.
Yes, four - Apple is [still selling the iPhone 3GS](http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone/iphone3gs), as are some operators.
And guess what? All four have different specifications and different ability levels.
For example, the iPhone's heavily-touted voice-recognition system, Siri, isn't supplied for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPad 2. (True, with a bit of messing about, you can port Siri over to several of these devices, but Apple doesn't want you to.)
This, probably, is the thin edge of a thickening, fattening wedge. With Nokia and BlackBerry now all but gone from smartphone shoppers' lists, the new, post-Jobs Apple is starting to look like a company that sees commercial and marketing merit in leaving its old, slightly weaker, products on sale to hoover up entry-level and mid-market revenue it fears it might otherwise miss out on.
Thanks to fragmentation, Android now represents almost seven out of 10 new smartphones sold in the world. Apple's share is less than two out of 10.
And Asia is becoming the principal smartphone market, ahead of the US or Europe. You can almost hear the accountants screaming into Tim Cook's ear. "For God's sake, Tim, if we leave the iPhone 3 on the market, we can beat Samsung in its own back yard!"
But with each step closer toward entry-level iProducts, Apple becomes more and more like all the companies it said it was different to. It's starting to look like a firm that wants to please all the people.
Maybe fragmentation isn't such a dirty word for Apple fanboys after all.
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