This week the Palm Pre hit one of those highly touted milestones. The new smartphone for Sprint has reached its first one million app downloads. This has been widely reported online, and comes about three weeks after the launch of the device.
Some other numbers to highlight: Palm sold about 50,000 Pres on the first day, and about 100,000 downloads to those very new users, therefore with an average of two apps per device, and 5,500 downloads per app. So what does all this mean? Absolutely nothing; that is unless you’re in the business of mobile analytics, like Medialets, a firm that specializes in tracking such data.
This is part of the problem with the “new economy” of the “new media.” Once again everything is a numbers game. Firms tout these numbers; other firms and manufacturers look at these numbers and base future projections on these. But again, what does all this mean?
First, there is a lot of confusion. The Palm Pre didn’t reach the one million market quite as fast as the iPhone, but the analytics also suggest that Palm had a bit of an advantage, as Palm lined up 26 times the number of apps that the iPhone originally had. Well, that comes as no surprise either, given that app developers now see the potential that wasn’t there when the iPhone first launched.
Second, this is again about carriers, and something that Medialets doesn’t make so clear. The iPhone was, and for now still is, an exclusive device on AT&T, the number two carrier. The Palm Pre is on Sprint Nextel, which trails in third place. Throughout most of this year Sprint has actually been losing customers, so the number are actually a silver lining in very cloudy weather.
Yes, these numbers are important to the industry. But our entire business society gets so caught up in the numbers that we’ve failed at times to see the trees through the forest. Numbers are important, but merely looking at the number of apps downloaded doesn’t really do much except for make for nice headlines for blog posts.
Numbers Game Part II: iSuppli Breaks Down iPhone 3G S Costs
How important is the iPhone to AT&T? So much so that the carrier could be paying Apple as much as $600 for each handset! Talk about a loss leader!
This week iSuppli broke down the costs of the new 16GB iPhone 3GS and found that it costs just under three percent more to make than last year’s lowest-priced iPhone 3G. This new handset, which offers twice the space of the last year’s model, has a bill-of-materials (BOM) that comes in at $178.96, which includes $172.46 in parts and another $6.50 in manufacturing costs. The iPhone 3G from 2008 by contrast costs around $174.33. So while the overall cost has gone up, it is still far below the $226 BOM from the original first-generation iPhone from 2007.
Analysts have speculated that AT&T and other carriers throughout the world could pay Apple as much as $600 for the iPhone. That’s a lot of profit margin for Apple Inc., but apparently worth it for the carriers. One million of the 3G S units were sold in the first three days, and that’s a lot of calling plans for Ma Bell.