To make sure we can all play along, the Explore/What’s Hot section is the giant button in the left sidebar titled “Explore”:

  • This analyst firm says iOS sucks Android’s balls
  • Here’s how to root your latest Galaxy Nexus Extra HD Petro Mega Dung Conquistador XP with the latest…

I mean, he’s not lying. And it’s pretty ridiculous. It’s like the Chinese talking about how great China is on state-run television.

Bianca Bosker of The Huffington Post dives deep into the history of Siri:

“The way that Steve described it, speech recognition — and how to use it to create a speech interface for something like the iPhone — was an area of interest to him and Scott Forstall [then head of Apple’s mobile software] for some time,” recalls Kittlaus. “The story that I’m told is that he thought we’d cracked that paradigm with our simple, conversational interface.”

Verizon thought so, too. In the fall of 2009, several months before Apple approached Siri, Verizon had signed a deal with the startup to make Siri a default app on all Android phones set to launch in the new year. When Apple swooped in to buy Siri, it insisted on making the assistant exclusive to Apple devices, and nixed the Verizon deal. In the process, it narrowly avoided seeing Siri become a selling point for smartphones powered by its biggest rival, Google. (Somewhere in the vaults of the wireless giant, there are unreleased commercials touting Siri as an Android add-on.)

Never knew that.

Steve Kovach for Business Insider:

That means (if we’re being conservative) at least 80% of all smartphones sold through AT&T, the second largest carrier in the U.S., were iPhones. The rest were Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, or whatever else is out there.

Now let’s look at Verizon’s earnings last earnings report for the same quarter. Verizon, the largest carrier in the U.S., sold 6.2 million iPhones out of a total of 9.8 million smartphones. That means the iPhone made up 63% of Verizon’s smartphone sales.

This is not some survey of a few thousand people. This is not data extrapolated from ad impressions across a vague number of devices. This is sales data. It does not lie. On the two largest carriers in the U.S., the iPhone dominated last quarter.

You can argue about whether that’s important or not. But clearly, when Apple launches a new iPhone in the U.S., it sells a lot of new iPhones — even more than the plethora of Android options combined. (A trend which has continued for a few years now.) Which suggests one of two things:

1) People buy an insane amount of iPhones in the U.S. because of the subsidy model. Verizon and AT&T (and now Sprint, and it looks like T-Mobile soon as well) allow you to get one for $299, $199, $99, or free. Those price points matter a lot, and they would matter in other countries as well.

2) The U.S. market is just different. For some reason, consumers in the U.S. want iPhones even when those in other countries do not as much.

If the first point is indeed the case, it’s a hell of argument for a lower priced phone without subsidy. It’s suggests that it’s not that people don’t want iPhones, it’s that they want new iPhones at good prices.

The data is also a pretty good argument as to why Apple may want to speed up the release cycle of new iPhones. (Though such a move would undoubtedly dampen the yearly “bulge” in sales.)

Chris Dixon:

The mobile device industry is still in its infancy. Samsung’s fate depends largely on how the industry evolves. If the computer-in-your-pocket (smartphone/tablet) business ends up being like the computer-on-your-desk (personal computer) business, Samsung is on track to be the modern Dell. Dell had a good run as the low-cost provider in a highly commoditized business, but the vast majority of the industry profits went to Microsoft.

Good follow up to my thoughts on Samsung’s rise a few weeks back.

Tim Culpan for Bloomberg on HTC’s most recent quarter:

Fourth-quarter operating income for the period was NT$600 million ($21 million), compared with the NT$1.11 billion average of 20 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net income was NT$1 billion, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today. That’s the lowest since 2004 and less than the NT$10.9 billion it posted a year earlier.

Not good, But Bloomberg dances around the truly stunning number, Sky News does not:

The Taiwanese firm, whose phones include the Butterfly, said net profit in the fourth quarter of 2012 had missed forecasts and plunged 91% year on year.

Ninety-one percent.

The Android ecosystem isn’t alive and well, the Samsung one is. Expect to hear a lot more out of this story in 2013.

David Streitfeld of The New York Times spoke with James McQuivey, a Forrester analyst:

“The surprise here is not that Apple hasn’t changed yet. It’s that Google hasn’t done it first,” Mr. McQuivey says now. “Apple has no reason to contemplate changing its model until it is forced to. Google is the only player that could make a pricing change like this that Apple would be intimidated by, and even that is a bit of a stretch because Apple’s position — at least with its customers — is so strong.”

I’m actually surprised by this too. For all the talk of Google trying to woo developers to go Android-first (or at least alongside iOS), a straightforward way would be to drastically cut, or eliminate, the 30 percent cut they take from app sales. This money must be fairly trivial for Google overall. And they are, after all, already giving away Android with the hope that people will simply search more and they’ll make money off the resulting ad impressions.

Another thought: what if Google offered to waive the 30 percent cut if developers agreed to including in-app advertising powered by Google? Some developers (and users) would hate this, but it could be an either/or option that would be up to the developer.

Henry Blodget isn’t sure. I’m not either. But I do know that my father is in that camp.

Over the holiday weekend, my dad revealed that he recently got an Android phone. Not because he wanted one, mind you, but because his old flip-phone broke and the Verizon rep heavily pushed an Android device on him. He agreed as it was free.

So what does he use it for? To make calls. And to take a few pictures, which he sends via text or email. That’s it.

In fact, it annoys his greatly that the phone has all the other “crap” on it. This lead to his rather humorous short review.

He noted that if he had to get a smartphone, he probably should have gotten an iPhone but he knew a new one was coming out soon (he got the new phone right before the iPhone 5 launch) — and again, the Android phone was free. (Yes, the iPhone 3GS would also have been free, but again, the line was about to be updated).