Thursday, December 09, 2010

Android vs iPhone ..... Who Will Win?

In the battle of iPhone vs Android, it is hard to tell who will win in the end. 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 the 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.

Domination has many different means but here's the Woz take on the matter (according to cnet.com):

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks that the iPhone is tops in overall quality but also that when all's said and done, Google's Android platform will reign supreme in the mobile market.

"The Apple phone has very few weaknesses," Wozniak told Netherlands newspaper De Telegraaf in an interview (translation) posted recently. "When it comes to quality, the iPhone is leading."

Wozniak also said, however, that "Android phones have more features" and deliver more buying options for those who don't want to be limited to a single device. In addition, Wozniak told the publication that like Windows in the desktop OS space, Google's mobile platform will become the "dominant" option in its own market.

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