Monday, July 19, 2010

Will Android Kill The iPhone?

It seems to me that Google is well on it’s way to doing to the iPhone what Microsoft did to Apple/Mac. I see a lot of similarities. Many analysts also predict Android based phones will dominate the handset market in the years ahead.

In the battle of iPhone vs Android, it is hard to tell, but since Apple will never license its software (at least for as long as Jobs is alive) I am pretty sure they will both have a share.

The PC market explosion was driven by the cost benefits of standardizing hardware, which took PCs from specialized workstations to household items. But the mobile hardware market is already more or less standardized and prices aren't that high. I bet Apple could launch an "emerging markets iPhone" in terms of pricing, they just don't want to for the risk of cannibalization right now.

So Android's value proposition comes from the ability to vary the hardware configuration and user interfaces while maintaining a common platform. That could be attractive, but only if and when vendors other than Apple can find at least a niche where their portfolio of devices are better. Right now I am not seeing it, but I think its mostly due to poor execution, oversized organizations (the old mobile vendors) and inexperience with user interface differentiation (the PC vendors).

Maybe the most interesting aspect to your question is: what will become of the _other_ operating systems? Windows Mobile, Java, Symbian, LiMo, Bada, Maemo, Blackberry, Palm WebOS come to mind. Can there really be a third and fourth platform when there is also the mobile web (HTML5 etc) to contend with? I think the line goes at max 3, and that puts them all at risk.

The major difference between Android and iPhone, is the fact that Android offers a completely open development environment. Anyone can produce an Android device; and anyone can develop and distribute Android apps (without the need of having a MAC or a single distribution channel).

In my opinion, THAT's the major benefit of the Android platform.

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