Ones and Zeroes: Apple wins one and loses one; augmented reality sets in | Crain's San Francisco

Ones and Zeroes: Apple wins one and loses one; augmented reality sets in

Sales of the iPhone 7 helped push Apple into the top spot in the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter. | Photo by Brian Mitchell Flickr

Welcome to “Ones and Zeroes,” the feature where we separate Silicon Valley’s winners and losers by the numbers. In honor of the binary code that undergirds the technology business, positive developments earn a “One,” while negative news gets a “Zero.”

Zero: Apple wins a Pyrrhic victory in the smart phone market

Apple can boast it’s number one in smartphones again, even though the numbers aren’t so great for the company’s iPhone business.

The company in the fourth quarter of 2016 surpassed rival Samsung to take the top spot in worldwide smartphone sales, according to a press release from International Data Corp. iPhone shipments amounted to 78.3 million units, compared to a total of 77.5 million for Samsung.

Apple’s rise to the top was largely propelled by the successful introduction of its new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models. Meanwhile, Samsung’s sales were impacted by reports of combusting batteries in its Galaxy Note 7, clearing the path for Apple to take the lead.

However, Apple suffered a decline in iPhone sales for the entire year of 2016. This marked the first-ever annual decline in the decade-long history of the product, according to the press release from IDC. iPhone shipments totaled 215.4 million in 2016, down from 231.5 million in 2015.

One: Augmented reality gets stronger

There’s a battle raging between two different visions of reality. On one side is virtual reality (VR), which presents a computer-simulated substitute for the real world. On the opposing side is augmented reality (AR), where the physical world is enhanced with computer-generated elements.

Right now, VR rules the market for head-worn devices that allow users to have virtual experiences, However, AR in 2019 will rise to account for 53 percent of the total market for the two technologies, according to a forecast from ABI Research.

Zero: Most smartphone users spend absolutely zero on apps

More than 50 percent of smartphone users don’t devote any money to smartphone apps, according to a survey conducted by Gartner Inc. This includes both paid-for downloads and in-app transactions.

The good news is that overall end-user spending on in-app transactions continues to rise.

February 3, 2017 - 7:32pm