Apple vs Andriod, History Repeating Itself

Philosopher George Santayana said that “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” Steve jobs who lived through the Personal Computer Revolution is set to repeat Apple’s fortunes in the Smart Phone Revolution. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Apple took the lead in a novel mobile device segment, the Smart Phone. Prior to 2007, there had been a number of business class phones that at best emulated the desktop user experience in a hand held device but non had the traction to change the cell phone landscape. By 2007, the cell phone technology had dramatically changed that Steve Jobs was able to pack more computing power in an iPhone that ever before and he revolutionized the mobile user experience with touch screens. Apple later took another significant evolutionary step in what we consider a smart phone platform when the iPhone SDK was released to developers and the iTunes app store was made available to consumers. With years ahead it’s nearest cell phone competitor such as Nokia, Motorola, or Microsoft, and key patents under their name, and thousands of apps in their online app store, most pundits would have thought that Apple’s market share would in smart phones would be firmly cemented.

If the iPhone ecosystem were a country, it would probably be a little like China with a strong authoritative central government, some limited free enterprise, and tight censorship. Apple has a tendency to dictate what the customer wants, for example, the common Apple mouse still has one button while a typical windows will have on average 3 buttons and a mouse wheel. Apple has never been an open platform. Apple’s close platform has always been it’s Achille’s heal but also core to how Apple designs it’s products. With the release of the first Macintosh, the first commercially successful personal computer, Apple develop a technical and marketing lead to it’s rival computer makers. With the help of IBM, an open architecture was developed that over time was standardized to the de facto personal computer, this architecture developed over time to the modern desktop which might include a Intel chip, Microsoft Windows OS, and other off the shelf components. A closed platform will always little footing to compete with an open one, especially when hundreds of vendors provided alternatives to fit every possible need and price. Overtime Apple’s market share dwindled to single digits. But even with a very narrow market share, Apple has learned to be profitable, it knows it can charge a premium for beautifully designed products that simply work more often than they are infected with viruses or fatal crashes.

Even being an active participant of the Personal Computer Revolution, and having a front row seat as Apple’s close platform lost market share, Steve Jobs is using the same closed platform playbook with the iPhone and iPad product lines. This time, instead of IBM, Google is leading the charge with an open alternative to Apple’s iPhone. Google’s Android has been picked up by a large number of phone makers. There is a wide variety of Android phones in the market aimed a different consumers as opposed to the two models (iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4) of iPhone currently available from Apple. Google claims that at least 200,000 Android phones are activated a day. It is clear that history will repeat itself, and Android will eat Apple’s lunch, or at least take it’s market dominance. With market share comes developer’s mind share.

Apple has been previously before lit the fuse the set off a technological revolution. It first did it with the Macintosh which sparked the Personal Computer revolution and it has done it again with the iPhone with the smart phone industry. In both situations, Apple held a lead over it’s competitors but gave way because of it’s closed platform. In having a tight and stringent control over the iPhone, Steve Jobs has conceded market share to the Android platform.

2 Responses to “Apple vs Andriod, History Repeating Itself”

  • Clifton Says:

    I’m inclined to agree with you. However in this case I believe it will be a while before Android catches up. Especially if the iPhone is made available on other carriers like Verizon. While Android is making big gains, I honestly believe that the iPhone is still a vastly superior platform due to quality. Of course what I believe and feel is irrelevant. While many may see Apple’s closed model as it’s achilles I feel Android’s open model is it’s weakness. The experience you get with Apple technology is so beautifully consistent and easy to use. Even in the cases where ease of use falls apart one is more forgiving due to the overall quality. I just started playing on Android and I see many flaws due to its open “everything goes” nature. Simple things like getting a location indoors for a Foursquare check-in become an exercise where it more often “just works” on the iPhone. I feel that if Apple can get a majority market share and open up to more carriers then it will be tough for the open platform model to catch on as an avid iPhone user would see Android as a downgrade. However if Android can penetrate a grab the majority of the market quickly enough then it could become the standard as people wouldn’t want to trade in their freedom for a more closed off product. In either case it will be interesting to see what happens.

  • Interesting things – October 26, 2010 « Daniel Botelho Says:

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