Five years ago I attended my college reunion at Stanford and I was surprised by how many of my peers were using Palm Treo phones. At the time, the Palm Treo dominated the smartphone market in the US, but very few people really had smart phones. Of course this was a fairly tech-savvy crowd, and it was no surprise that they were jumping on the newest productivity tools.
Fast forward five years, to the next reunion. I didn’t see any phones in evidence that weren’t BlackBerries or iPhones. Again, this crowd showed a specific phone preference though: for the iPhone. At dinner one night I noticed that 4 of the 5 of us had iPhones. One of our party had a BlackBerry. His was issued by a big firm’s IT department. The rest of us work at or own small businesses – we could choose, and we chose iPhones.
You might think that these four iPhone owners were Apple fanatics. But when I pointed out the iPhone to BlackBerry ratio, two of the iPhone owners expressed disbelief that anyone using an iPhone would be convinced to buy a Mac. Clearly some of Microsoft’s positioning around pricing is hitting home as they felt that Macs were “$400 or more” more expensive than equivalent PCs (the gap is closer if you pick the same chipsets, memory speeds, graphics chips, etc. – and I think most people would argue the balance of the difference gets you the Mac OSX and the alumnimum unibody… fair trade).
So if pretty die-hard Windows/PC users are going iPhone, I think it is safe to say that the iPhone has a lot of runway. I asked if any of them were looking at Android phones – no takers. I think there is a hidden element of lock-in – which is not the *availability* of applications, but the money and time invested in owning existing applications on your iPhone. When you “buy the app” you’re really only buying the app for one platform…
It wasn’t just me. Check out the chart from Business Insider, adapted from Changewave survey results:
Or, the coverage from Fortune here. Clearly a lot of momentum working in iPhone’s favor at the moment. I’ll be interested to see what kind of smart phones we’re using at the next reunion. Or will we still be calling them phones?