Google is about to overtake Apple, and Apple couldn't be happier

If Apple can make more money coming second, why would it want to come first?

No one could ever call me an Apple fan (their walled garden approach is something I could never get on board with) but the reports that Android is about to catch up and overtake iOS as the most popular app platform can be nothing but good news for Apple - and in particular their world-class marketing department.

Google’s Android has sold around 300m more devices worldwide than Apple, with Android seeing half a billion more downloads a month on its Play store than through Apple's App store. Not that this means much, though, as Apple continues to rake in more cash with their 30 per cent cut of apps sold than Google (who now take 27 per cent - up from 19 per cent in November 2012).

So if Apple can still make more money when being number two, why would they want to be number one?

The reason Apple historically sold so many products and had people queuing around the block was that it was the alternative to the mainstream. There is a magic associated with the Apple brand that being number one is eroding away. If Google takes this crown and becomes the everyday product that everyone and their mum uses, Apple could hold on to that special something that made people spend twice as much on them rather than settle for one of their many competitors.

As a company, Apple spent so long trying to break out from under Microsoft’s shadow that now it has, and it stands as the undisputed king of the technology industry, it doesn’t know what to do with itself. It doesn’t know how to market its products, or who to aim them at, so it veers wildly between trying to come across as the cool alternative for young creative types and trying to convince corporate clients that it’s a steady mainstay – as reliable as IBM, or the company previously known as RIM.

The Mac vs PC days of boring corporate suits being mocked by the cool, young music-maker seem a far cry from today as the US Department of Defence approves iPhones for military use and executives demand iPhones from their companies to replace their once beloved BlackBerrys.

We’ve seen Apple’s market value fall consistently every month since its peak, from just over $700 per share in September last year, something that is likely to continue if Apple remains on the road to becoming the Everyman’s Microsoft 2.0 in a tightly controlled aluminium case.

Apple needs a corporate behemoth to be second to, to outdo and feel superior to; it’s built into the company’s history and its soul. Like the rebel who becomes king and realises sitting on the throne isn’t much fun, Apple needs to be out, fighting its cause. Apple should be glad that Google has stepped up to fill that role in the mobile arena.

Photograph: Getty Images

Billy Bambrough writes for Retail Banker International at VRL financial news.
 

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.