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Apple: Trailblazing a New Future

I've used both the iOS and the Android OS, and I have to say I disagree that {complink 379|Apple Inc.} is repeating its mistakes, and here is why:

The software market, current and past, for the Mac and PC is very different compared to the app market for smartphones. There were very few options for software for the original Mac, and Apple made it difficult to port over games, one of the reasons the PC became so popular. The smartphone market however, is a centralized market where anyone can write and upload software to a hub.

Unlike with the computing market, there are no limits to the types of tools that can be found on the Apple App Store. Currently there are more than 350,000 different apps available, and all of them have undergone quality assurance (QA) testing, something open-source app stores are lacking. It's hard to argue developers aren't willing or able to develop for the iOS when the numbers are this high.

Speaking of the QA for the app marketplace: The Android app market is suffering because of its open-source nature; anyone can develop on it, leading to a wide variety of bad software available for download.

The open-source nature of the Android is also the source of its lag issues. Apple has gotten around lag because it controls the entire manufacturing process and has even bought out some of its suppliers. As Apple controls the system from the ground up, there is no bloating in the software. Android is the exact opposite; its OS becomes bloated in order to run on a variety of different hardware configurations. {complink 2294|Google} acknowledges its open-source problem and has made Honeycomb, a.k.a Android 3.0, closed-source.

Now it's true Apple has lost some market share due to its closed nature, but I would suggest that it's lost more market share due to AT&T’s inability to create a stable infrastructure, the main complaint of iPhone customers. Many deliberately waited for Verizon to take up some of the load.

Additionally, the target market for smartphones is vastly different than the target market for the early computers. Old, young, tech savvy or not, there is a huge market for those who just want a plug-and-play system with no lag, and don't care if they can develop for it or not.

When the iPad first came out, I had a few problems with it. For example, it doesn't support Flash, something Android does support. Apple has addressed this issue by successfully arguing for the implementation of HTML5, a popular, and some would argue better, alternative. As more sites port over to HTML5, and it becomes a standard, Flash will become a relic.

In terms of market share, the OS that will dominate the market is the OS that is licensed to the majority of products; so, like Windows, Android will take on a greater market share over time. But this doesn't mean Apple will slip down to less than 10 percent of the market — it just means there is still room for competition. And if you don't think it can compete 10 years into the future, remember the iPod came out 10 years ago, and it's still in the No. 1 position for PMP/MP3 market share for the US.

I am making the assumption that Apple will not rest on its laurels. If Apple fails to continue to lead the market, then it's possible that 10 years in the future the firm will fall by the wayside, but it's shown no indication it's ready to give up the game.

24 comments on “Apple: Trailblazing a New Future

  1. AnalyzeThis
    May 20, 2011

    Speaking of the QA for the app marketplace: The Android app market is suffering because of its open-source nature; anyone can develop on it, leading to a wide variety of bad software available for download.

    I disagree with you on this: yes, “anyone” can develop Android apps. But “anyone” can write an application for Windows too. Actually, it's even easier to develop for Windows because you can just use VB or something. Does this mean that Windows is bad? Because there are too many questionable pieces of software available for download for it? Go to download.com or something, there are millions of crappy pieces of software.

    I get that it's good that Apple QA's their apps, but they QA to screen out malware and things like that: they don't necessarily reject apps because their quality is questionable. Aren't their numerous iPhone apps that just play fart sounds?

    To complain about the open-source nature of the marketplace is a little silly given that's essentially how the personal computing market has largely functioned for the past couple of decades.

    And like any other open marketplace, the cream tends to rise to the top. I think Android's App Market does a pretty good job of presenting users with quality apps. And if you don't like that, you can use Amazon's App Store.

    Nobody ever complains that books are dumb because any moron can get a book printed up…

  2. FLYINGSCOT
    May 20, 2011

    Apple is controlled in most things it does.  I visited its assembly plants in Asia and was impressed even in these remote sites how controlled the environment is compared to other manufacturers.  Google Android is more embrionic at this stage but as it develops it will learn where to control and where not to.  I believe the original article stimulated a very interesting response and both views have merit.  Apple performance as a company is simply fantastic as it continues to roll out world beating desirable products.  I wonder how this might change when CEOs change?

  3. Michell Prunty
    May 20, 2011

    @DennisQ

    Yes, anyone can develop apps for Windows, but the difference between Android and Windows is that Android has one hub to download apps from.  For Windows, users would go to the store and get whatever was on the shelf, as time progressed, CNET created download.com where you could trust that there were no viruses or whatnot.  These online places developed over time, yet there is still no single hub where everyone goes to download software. 

    The open-source nature of the Android market is a problem only because thats the only place to get software.  I can't trust the software I download from Android, but I can trust it from Apple.  Thats affecting how people view the ease of use of these two different products.

    There are numerous downloads that play fart sounds.  I'm not talking about questionable taste, but bad software – ie, maleware, causes crashes, poorly written, bloated, etc etc. 

    Another problem with open source dev for android is that the fart apps on Apple only have 1 hardware set, but android suffers from the same problems that early windows programs do,  Having to deal with multiple screen sizes makes developing more difficult, and with less QA the apps are even more lacking.

    And offering to send me to the Amazon market place goes to show that these open source markets just aren't perfect yet.  Is Apple?  No, but its better.  I'm not even sure that most people know there are a handful of much smaller market places out there. 

    And people complain all the time that books are dumb because anyone can print them out.  Amazon's print on demand has caused quite a stir in the publishing world.  Most people go through publishers, where they do QA testing.  It just depends on who you're listening to.

    We may not agree on this point, but thanks for the feedback!  Hopefully it the future it will be a moot discussion.

  4. mfbertozzi
    May 21, 2011

    I have appreciated your editorial Michell and your point of view in comparing Apple and mob apps market (and PC, speaking about what happened in the past). Just to keep alive the discussion, I was thinking we are still analyzing events and market as in the past, but scenario it could be quite different now. For example, according to experts it has been recognized cloud is the future, then endusers model won't be to download something or use tool inside a given platform, but require an app on demand and just for the time to satisfy a need. Personally speaking, it seems a dream. Am I wrong?

  5. itguyphil
    May 21, 2011

    So, if you don't already own one, would you go iPhone or Android?

  6. DataCrunch
    May 21, 2011

    Android is definitel y gaining some serious ground.  Here is a graph that highlights mobile OS market share by “recent” acquirers of devices:

  7. itguyphil
    May 21, 2011

    I think those numbers don't truly show the preference of consumers. There are so many more Android devices out on the market now than any other mobils OS. So that 50% might be a little misleading if you look at it from a macro level.

  8. DataCrunch
    May 21, 2011

    Hi pocharle, the graph is not about total market share for mobile OS, only a trend on recent purchases.  The total market share would be a totally different graph, but this chart does highlight how popular Android is becoming.  

  9. Himanshugupta
    May 22, 2011

    As we are reading this article from the Apple vs rest point of view then we should also analyze this graph from this POV. Considering that rest of the companies (apart from let's say Nokia, RIM) do not have their customize software platform, the market share of iOS is impressive. Having said that, i do not know whether Apple should try to collaborate and make its iOS avaialble for others to experiment and power their smartphones. But by doing so they can for sure gain more momentum in making their OS more popular and grab more market shares.

  10. Ms. Daisy
    May 22, 2011

    Dave:

    Is this a case of glass half full versus glass half empty?

    Thanks for the impressive stats that you shared. I am of the opinion that Apple's strategy of managing a modfied “closed system” is not a point of weakness and its tactics of buying up its suppliers to assure the quality of iOS is infact going to eventually help Apple eat into the Android market shares with time.

  11. t.alex
    May 22, 2011

    iPhone perhaps. I have tried some Android devices. They hang quite often.

  12. DataCrunch
    May 22, 2011

    The glass is half empty or more than half empty for RIM, which has been losing significant market share to both iOS and Android.

  13. mario8a
    May 22, 2011

    Hi Dave

    Can you share the total market share? I'm really surprise to read the glass is half empty for RIM, evenmore that Iphone has bee loosing market share against Android.

     

    Regards.

  14. Hardcore
    May 22, 2011

    I would have to disagree with a number of conclusions that were made by the author, specifically related to the 'bloat' issue.

    Linux/Android , is specifically compiled for a particular device model, the  OS developer first has to build a configuration file that clearly highlights the hardware and chip functionality of the system, then if a particular driver for that chip is not available, a driver has to be written, this is then compiled and built into a 'system' image that is loaded onto the device, as a result the OS is usually quite lean in its requirements

    This is the same way that Apple develops software for its own hardware, it is not the windows model where , hardware can be 'swapped' in and out of the platform, leading to a need for endless drivers.

    As regards 'Android' being closed, it was closed long before version 3.0 was made available, specifically certain parts of all Android OS is out of bounds and the source is NOT available and never has been available.

    The underlying  Linux kernel code IS available,  but since Android runs within Linux, google is well within its rights to make Android closed source, the same way the writers of 'Angry birds' are entitled to keep their source code closed.

    You see this particular model frequently when an open-source project reaches a particular size  and becomes profitable, it is spun off and a separate money making company is built up around it.

    Google has other 'issues' related to having their source code open, specifically 'Oracle', since if Android 3.0 is closed it is going to be harder for Oracle to comb through the code looking for potential 'conflicts', they have enough of that already, then there would be the issues related to security companies and other programmers going through the source code being able to see exactly what google is 'upto' as regards tracking and invasion of privacy.

    As regards to the market of Apple products, they will continue to loose market share, purely becasue when you enter the market at the absolute top, there really is only one place to go and that is down, but it is related to market fragmentation rather than poor quality products.

     

  15. Michell Prunty
    May 23, 2011

    @hardcore

     

     

    I’m not sure we’re actually in disagreement about anything, though I see now rereading my article where you would find fault with it:  

    “Android is the exact opposite; its OS becomes bloated in order to run on a variety of different hardware configurations.”  

    Android is compiled by each manufacturer for their phone – I agree with you and misspoke.  I meant to refer to the apps.  The differing screen sizes, graphics, keyboard, touchscreen, processors all are a cause for bloat / lag and the reason why there is no lag for apps on the iPhone.

    There is room for discussion on this topic though:

    Android has lag issues – iOS does not.  
    Android has to support a variety of hardware configurations – iOS does not.  
    Lag/Bloat is either in the apps interacting with the OS, the OS itself, or the hardware.  The iOS has had a longer time to grow and cut out flaws, the Android is relatively new.  Is there lag in the Android OS?  I don’t know.

    Is there lag in the app software?  Yes.  
    There are several different APIs for the Android – each attributed to different hardware sets.  To develop, you have to make your software support some set of standards, which the user’s phone may or may not run.  This is the problem of the open source market place.  

    And I agree, the market share of Apple’s OS is going to go down.  But I wouldn’t call that a failure or a repeat of past mistakes – its just the nature of the market.  But in terms of hardware – Apple is the #1 supplier of smart phones and that’s not going to go away anytime soon.

     

     

  16. Michell Prunty
    May 23, 2011

    @mario8a

    Apple is now the #1 smart phone supplier, having recently overtaken Nokia, so the iPhone is still gaining in market share.  However for the OS – Android is gaining in overall market share because they have multiple suppliers:  Samsung, Sony, Motorola, HTC, etc.

    @mfbertozzi

    I don’t think you’re wrong.  Cloud computing is basically going back to the distributed computing method that we’ve abandoned in the past.  Only this time with wifi.  Cloud is great for corporations, collaboration, offsite storage, but consumers are going to want to store their files on their own system and have control over what software they run.  No one wants to worry about whether Flickr may one day lose all their photos because they didn’t have an onsite storage system as well.  

    @pocharle

    I have an Android HTC EVO, and probably would go Android again, just because my SO does Android development, but if that wasn’t a concern I would go with the iPhone.  I also have an iPad, which I love mostly because of the lack of lag.

  17. mario8a
    May 23, 2011

    Hi Michell

    Dave presented some grhapics about the market share, but he said it was not the glogal or the total marjet share… I was just corious to see thar ghrapic.

    I agree with you about iphone overtaken Mokia.

    😀

    thanks ….

     

  18. Michell Prunty
    May 23, 2011

    Cross posted on Morry's blog: Apple Repeating Mistakes. 

    I'm interested to see if you all have an opinion: 

     

    I’d like to compare this to another market: The PC / console market.  

    A few years ago developers left the PC gaming market en masse for the console market.  Why?  Because it is easier to develop for one set of hardware – i.e., the Xbox, PS, or Nintendo.  These are closed sourced systems yet if you go to your local gaming shop, you’ll find a smaller and smaller market place for PC games every year.  Its harder to develop for the PC market because every configuration is different, leading to bloat – a cause for long development times and higher costs.  

    “The iOS is by far the most profitable platform”  –  Like the console market, the iOS is a single hardware system, which is identical to the PS, Xbox, Nintendo systems.  The Android is like the PC system.  

    For the gaming market at least, it seems developers prefer a closed system.  Does that translate to the smart phone market?  

    A possible turning point for Android?  A single, hugely popular piece of software that only runs on the Android.  Like World of Warcraft did for the PC – 12million players strong and now one of the only reasons PC gaming still survives.  

    “Eventually, cell phone manufacturers will coalesce around a standard” – that’s the main problem, until there is a standard then Android will be second tier compared to Apple.  And what is the likelihood that multiple hardware providers will be willing to standardize?  

    One of the main differences between now and then, is the proliferation of the internet – want to find out how to develop for Apple?  It’s a Google click away.  🙂

  19. Parser
    May 23, 2011

    @Morry,

    There are good sides to each: standard system and non-standard. A closed well controlled environment like the from Apple offers very little to none of the viruses and other mishaps. As long as Apple will be innovative and comprehensive in its solutions they might be not the first but they will be the elite. 

    On the market there is still room for a few more competitors. All that might be different from gaming market. Maybe population is maturing and they don't play games that much any more. 

    Having a Mac computer one can find out that all developer software is included with the operating system (It may not be installed, but it is available.) Writing programs on Mac for any Apple platform is one click away and the computer does not have to be connected to the internet. 

     

  20. seel225
    May 24, 2011

    Apple is the poineer in smart phone market, it made huge impact on the mobile market until Android came in to market.Each OS has its fair share of victories.The iPhone's huge app count doesn't help it in certain situations. After all, Apple only just bestowed multitasking to its development community, something programmers have been working with on Android for a couple of years. Also, iPhones don't run widgets — an extension of an app that appears on an Android phone's home screen. When it comes to music and social networking, widgets mean a huge advantage.

    But Android suffers in other ways. Because the OS is freely available to anyone who builds hardware, carriers sell Android phones with a variety of screen sizes and processor speeds. This makes game designers in particular kinda twitchy, especially since they know that a new iPhone will only come out once a year, setting a new top-bar standard when it does.

  21. stochastic excursion
    May 24, 2011

    Up to a year ago on the Droid, apps couldn't be launched or used while a phone connection was in place.  I haven't seen whther they've taken steps to enhance the multitasking there.

  22. itguyphil
    May 27, 2011
  23. DataCrunch
    May 28, 2011

    Hi pocharle, Thanks for the link.  Looks like Microsoft wins either way.  I did enjoy reading about Windows Phone Mango and all the features Microsoft is adding.  They are in it to win it and are not just sitting on the sidelines and with the Nokia deal, I see them gaining more momentum worldwide in the years to come.

  24. itguyphil
    May 28, 2011

    I hope they do. I've invested alot of resources in the 'Windows' platform that I just about need them to stay on top (relatively speaking) for a while.

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