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Andreessen explains how Steve Jobs, Tim Cook are different

The venture capitalist says that market share didn't matter at all to Steve Jobs, but it certainly does to Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and the late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs.
James Martin/CNET

Famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen believes there is one major difference between Tim Cook and Steve Jobs: a desire for market share.

Speaking last night at an event in New York City, Andreessen said that Jobs' "single playbook" was to "invent a new product category, start with 100 percent market share, and then every day that goes by, lose market share until some terminal outcome."

Andreessen pointed to the Macintosh computer, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad as examples of that strategy. He noted -- correctly so -- that while Apple might own a large portion of a respective market soon after launch, other companies tend to join the fray and chip away at its market share. In some cases, like the iPod, the company can still remain the biggest vendor. In others, like the PC market, its market share dwindled to an inconsequential figure.

Still, Andreessen argues that Steve Jobs didn't care about that. Instead, he focused on a "pricing umbrella" that kept Apple's margins propped up even as market share started to fall.

Since taking over the CEO role at Apple last year, Cook has seemingly followed a different strategy, Andreessen said, according to business news site Quartz, which hosted the event. The VC pointed to the new iPad Mini, which reportedly comes with smaller margins than its larger counterpart, as proof that Cook is willing to reduce margins in exchange for market share.

So, why is Cook changing Apple's strategy? According to Andreessen, it has everything to do with software.

"In the long run in these markets, if you're not the majority market share, you don't have the majority of the apps," he said, adding that the fewer applications available for OS X proved troublesome for that platform in its battles with Windows over the years.

If that's the case, the smartphone market could get tricky for Apple. During the third quarter, research firm IDC noted, the Android OS was found on 75 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide. Last year, Android owned 57.5 percent of that market.