Illusions of Victory

The verdict is in. Almost 60 percent of EBN readers believe Android from {complink 2294|Google} will dominate the market for operating systems used in smartphones and tablet devices, followed by {complink 379|Apple Inc.} with a respectable 23 percent. The Windows operating system from {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.} received the endorsement of only 6 percent of the respondents to the poll. (See: OS Battle Heats Up.)

It's not too late to vote for your favorite smartphone and tablet computer OS but remember the issue is not whether you prefer the Apple offering or the multi-company application from Google. The real question is that of perception; who do you believe will gain a larger share of the market. This distinction is important because perceptions do matter and drive buying decisions.

I found the result of this particular survey highly interesting because an earlier poll gave Apple a huge edge when we asked readers to name the company they believed was likely to dominate the hardware market for smartphones and tablet devices. Apple won overwhelmingly. Almost 54 percent of respondents gave the Cupertino, Calif. consumer electronics maker a clear edge over its competitors. The margin was huge; second-placed {complink 4751|Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.} got approximately 13 percent of the votes, {complink 3847|Nokia Corp.} received 10 percent and {complink 12925|Motorola Mobility Inc.} about 9 percent. (See: Smartphone & Tablet Device War.)

Please help me understand how this makes sense. We are not discussing some Pyrrhic victory here so how come Apple is seen winning the hardware battle yet losing the software war? The hardware is useless without the operating system and, as anyone who knows anything about Apple does, this company has famously refused to share its iOS with anyone. It once did with the Macintosh OS but CEO Steve Jobs cancelled that program and even fought a legal battle to ensure no other hardware vendor could incorporate Apple OS in their equipment.

Before I continue, a warning: Please don't charge EBN readers with being confused. I am convinced they are not so let's instead try to unravel the mystery. I'll take a stab at it and wait for your response and additional explanations. I think the entire thing rests on time and space. Apple is currently the company with the Golden touch. I mean, what's there not to like in the iPhone, the iPod and even the iPad, which initially generated a lot of derisive jokes centered on the name when it first launched. Does anybody remember this video?

EBN readers who picked the Android over the iOS did simply because they focused on volume and their conclusion was that while Apple will win the short-term war it will over time lose the game of numbers against the OEM band of brothers who are rushing competing tablet devices to production as demonstrated during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. While only Apple can use its iOS many more companies have latched on to Google's coattails and by factor of sheer number will prevail over the current market leader. That's the reasoning.

As far as the hardware poll is concerned, I believe EBN readers were also right. Apple will likely hold the single largest share of the smartphone and tablet computer market with other rivals keeping smaller pieces of the sector. Over time, I expect the number of players to dwindle, leaving a handful of dominant players that may be unable to completely force anyone else out.

Already, Motorola Mobility is feeling the big pinch from Apple. CEO Sanjay Jha said sales of Motorola Mobility's Droid has dropped since Apple announced {complink 5928|Verizon Wireless} will join {complink 502|AT&T Inc.} as the sole vendors of iPhones in the US. As far as hardware is concerned, you don't need a poll to tell you Apple is the company to beat.

If you are wondering how I voted, I picked Apple for dominance in the hardware market and Android for the OS. For some people, that may make me seem as confused as the other EBN readers who voted similarly but remember this, we won the election. To tag us as confused, the market must first prove us wrong.

26 comments on “Illusions of Victory

  1. Parser
    February 2, 2011

    Why do we have to feel right or wrong? This is just our opinion. My thinking is the same as yours about iOS and Android. Android maybe winning by numbers from different manufactures, but iOS by Apple is simply ahead and more integrated system ever. I am puzzled why Linux did not win popularity contest? It is free, which is a good price, as well as truly professional operating system. After all Mac OS X is the Unix OS and is not much different from Linux. 

  2. saranyatil
    February 3, 2011

    Results of the poll doesnt mean we are confused / wrong, just a notion which is prevailing. Now with Google giving a tough competition to Apple has been coming up with new apps for their android OS and once google collaborated with Samsung galaxy tab immediately Apple's market share value of ipad fell from 95% to 77 %. with all these still Apple is retaining #1 in all its products. we can put it across this way may be in the future Android may take over iOS with time if they are rigorously following their strategies. This situation is still a big question mark because Apple has created a strong base.

  3. mfbertozzi
    February 3, 2011

    Well, I support feedbacks from Parser and Saranyatil: opinions are opinions. Beside those there is experience achieved in working on the sector.
    (@Bolaji) That said, I can report currently Android provides a unique full complete platform to develop apps and on top a REAL simulator inside the dev kit. It is the one of the key point of the platform and it is  something other plats (such as Symbian) still don't provide or are providing with limitations. It is honest to report also navigation via proxy using Android is not definitely resolved and it requires strong experties to setup the feature on the phone (or on the simulator). It could be sound not really good taking in consideration across the globe wifi zones are in huge deployment and really often it happens the need to setup that feature as temporary user inside them.

  4. Mydesign
    February 3, 2011

        Bolaji, you had conducted the survey in two parts, one for “How will dominate the hardware market for smart phones and tablet devices” and the second is “Which operating system will lead in smart phone and tablet?” Since you conducted the survey in two parts, readers rated these two products individually.    Majority liked the Apple products and hence they wished and rated Apple as the market leader in hardware section. Similar thinking happened in OS survey also. Now it’s the open source era of software and Android is the new comer in this sector. Moreover it’s a child from Google, so techies are expecting something great from it and wishing for too. Now a day’s everybody is talking about the latest developments and trends in Android.

        So, I don’t think readers are confused between this two surveys, the only thing is that they consider this two surveys in standalone perspective. May be in future on the base of this survey either Apple can take over Android or vice versa.

  5. Hardcore
    February 3, 2011


    There are a number of issues that will define this 'fight', particularly the amount of lock-down on the devices.

    Apple has recently made some sounds about being Un-happy that not all items are going via the Apple store, specifically related to books and things that Sony are working on.

    As a result they have started to 'implement measures' and changes to the licence agreements.

    Google has also started to  jump on the band wagon , and now both Apple and google are demanding  30% of  the percentage from items  via their 'stores', seriously this is just pure and simple greed, even by normal business standard margins.

    The difference is that Google/Android is not as 'locked down' and control freaky as Apple's platform, and for this reason, no matter how it lags the Apple operating system, it should still see the larger market share (Especially in China), but having said that, Android is a complete pain to use,  the number of menus you have to navigate through just to turn on Bluetooth or wireless , is really not acceptable, not the mention the Shear stupidity with click boxes and window closing icons (Hay google is it possible you make your mind up how a dialog box closes, and limit it to one system?)

    Personally I like Apple kit because it saves my time, but I will never allow anyone (including Apple) to dictate how and what i can load onto my personal computing device,

    Whilst I find Jobs an amazing guy,  he comes over as an egotistical control freak, who seems to suffer from some sort of delusion that he is better than the rest of the people he sells product to. Until that 'issue' is sorted out, I will never own an Iphone/Ipad, nor will I tolerate him extending his claws into my desktop system, especially with recent examples of how 'his' company handles privacy of Apples customers.

    As a result I see Android starting to mature in areas that it is currently extremely weak in, but I also understand 'google' does nothing for 'free' and that somewhere in the future these companies are going to attempt the biggest human rights abuse of all time.



  6. mfbertozzi
    February 3, 2011

    Interesting analysis Hardcore.
    Gents, while apps developed on OS for mobiles are ramping (huge part is based on Java), it seems malware is moving from desk to handset. At the end Internet, acting as transport, is same medium. Do you think  set of features' protection from mobile malware could determine in advance which mobile OS will be preferred by consumers?

  7. Hardcore
    February 3, 2011

    Malware will spread wherever there is an opportunity to either:

    1. Monitorise the results.

    2. Cause mischief.

    Overall, I would have to say the susceptibility to malware is not really a mitigating factor  for the choice of the platform, If that were true then  windows would no longer be the number one desk top operating system.

    Malware usually follows the potential for exploitation, that is to say if you have nearly  one billion users of a desktop system, then obviously that system is more likely to be exploited, than say some OS with 15-30 million seats.

    The advantage with 'exploiting' Android  is that there are at least three distinct levels of entry point, also  careful design of said  'malware' it would run on any number of embedded systems that rely on linux+Android.

    One other issue is that the 'Android/Linux' mix; is for the most part non-propritory, making it significantly easier to target.

    Given a 'day' or so and with suitable exposure, I could get a system built that would give  complete control of a device anywhere in the world, at the same-time giving complete access to all underlying data-structures and user information(location etc), furthermore the chance of the user being able to discover an 'issue' with the system would be highly unlikely.

    Add to that a little bit of social engineering and 'pollution' at source(factory) would be highly probable.

    At which point  any sort of protection/antivirus solution would be rendered moot, since the antivirus/ detection software would already be under the complete control of a compromised operating system.

    Furthermore It 'may' be possible to take a 'pad/phone' system to a state where it can NEVER be reinstated/cleaned unless it is physically disassembled and externally re-programmed.

    (something that even modern malware on desktop system cannot easily accomplish)

    In effect once your embedded system was 'pawned', it would be 'pawned' for the life of the product, obviously this excludes any low level service engineering fixes.





  8. mfbertozzi
    February 3, 2011

    It is true; while malware didn't stop Windows leadership maybe we need to take in consideration also Windows as one of the most successfull MobileOS in the near future (?).

  9. eemom
    February 3, 2011

    I agree with previous posts.  The opinion that Apple will dominate the hardware market stems from their current market share for their smartphones and tablets.  Let's also not forget that the younger generation utilizes the iTouch simply for playing games, free texting, music, etc.  I don't see that market share getting challenged anytime soon since every pre-teen and teem I know either owns an iTouch or wants to own one. 

    As far as the iPhone, Apple lost some ground to the Android since they insisted on only making the device available through AT&T.  Now that Verizon will start to carry the iPhone, Apple should regain some of what it lost but in the meantime, the Droids have gained some momentum.  I personally own a Motorola Droid and I love it.  When my “2 year” contract is up, I will most likely stick with the Droid.

    The iPad, however, is a different story since its competitors are just coming to market.  As more companies attempt to take compete in the Smartphone and Tablet market, we will see the Android software naturally gain over the iOS.  The “designed in” hardware though, will still have an edge.


  10. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 3, 2011

    My guess is readers tested out the offerings and changed their minds. And good for them! It drives me crazy when the media criticizes politicians for flip-floppping–I prefer to see it as the ability to weigh the evidence and evolve. Who among us hasn't changed their mind and their loyalties in this fast-paced industry?

  11. kmullins
    February 4, 2011

    Dominance is Apple's to lose.  And lose, they will.  I used the Apple IIC which was open architecture.  Apple got greedy with the Macintosh and lost their dominance to an Intel based product.  I ended up going to that 8088 based machine just because it was less restrictive to develop hardware and software for it.    

    Do you think that Apple will or has changed?  I do not think so.  They will return to their greedy Macintosh ways and the company will implode like it did back then.    

    Closed architecture will also be the undoing of Blackberry.  I owned one until about a month ago.  Why ride a dead horse?    

    Microsoft has the bad reputation of bloated, buggy software.  I remember sitting in meetings there when a blue-badger said “Screw them” (paraphrased) when discussing compatibility with other folks.  Also, one cannot test quality into software.  Microsoft still has not learned that.     

    This leaves Android as the one who will eventually win the battle.  IF they do not go the way of the other three big players…    

  12. itguyphil
    February 4, 2011

    'Changing your mind' is only the case when there aren't cameras and mics in your face. When your opinion counts, people hold you to it until the end of time. If you change or 'grow' asa  person in thought, you are either wrong or a flip-flopper. It's sad.

  13. Hardcore
    February 5, 2011

    In any modern environment things move far too fast, for exactly the same viewpoint to be valid forever,  if you do not  adapt and 'change' it is like saying you never make mistakes and were born with the complete knowledge of everything forever, and despite the completely chaotic nature of probability your initial viewpoint will always be valid.

    Obviously such a view point is complete nonsense.There is nothing wrong with a change of mind as long as it is based on 'valid' reasons. (note I did not use the word ethical in this discussion)

    Some of the fastest and most spectacular business failures have been due to  a flat out refusal to  reappraise the situation and make required changes to  fundamental business thinking. (Sun Microsystems comes to mind) 





  14. elctrnx_lyf
    February 5, 2011

    Apple is always successful at selling their product with complete independence from any other vendor. They have a tightly integrated products with great aesthetics and gives a unbelievable user experience. Their choice of iphone size was one turning points in the mobile phone segment. But apple is always comes with a premium price.

    I started wondering what happens if apple tries to makes phones or tablets with Android. Any comments!!!

  15. t.alex
    February 6, 2011

    Who knows in the near future Apple will make phones and tablets running Android OS? That may be one of the way for Apple to gain more and more market shares.

  16. Hardcore
    February 7, 2011


    “I started wondering what happens if apple tries to makes phones or tablets with Android. Any comments!!!”

    Apple would 'die' very very quickly, apple excels at :

    1.Integration of operating systems to hardware.

    2.Absolutely maximizing the profit margin that can be squeezed from a consumer product, that utilizes 'off the shelf' parts.

    Android is a 'lame duck' phone operating system, that has been squeezed into non-compatible tablet-hardware on the back of a free operating system.

    Explain where there is an opportunity to maximize profit and leadership with such a setup.

    Keeping in mind that BY LAW, you MUST disclose any and all changes made to the public domain components of the operating system, thereby killing any sort of engineering/ software lead over any competitors you may have, whilst at the same time giving them the opportunity to cut their R&D expenditure to the bone.

    Note that I said that Android was a 'lame duck', that does not mean it will not be popular, after all there are many many people who will gladly harbor an injured animal, with a view to boosting their perceived love for wounded animals, it is after all what makes us human. 😉



  17. t.alex
    February 7, 2011

    It is not necessary to disclose everything when it comes to Android, especially Google has put in a java virtual machine for applications. People freely develop apps without being required to disclose any source code. 

  18. Mydesign
    February 7, 2011

         It can be happen, since merging and acquisition is very much common in any industry, anything can be happen at any time. If apple is happens to come up IPad with android as OS, in my opinion there are mainly two advantages.

    • Since Android is an open source, cost factor can be considerably reduced and hence IPad with low cost.
    • World class product with advance features.
  19. Anna Young
    February 7, 2011

    That would be the day. Apple is as likely to embrace Android as Nokia is to embrace Apple iOS or Motorola Mobility getting hitched with Nokia's Symbian. These guys distinguish themselves based on the totality of their offerings and the iOS is integral to Apple's marketing strategy.

  20. bolaji ojo
    February 7, 2011

    t.alex, Toms, I don't see Apple embracing Android. It goes against Apple's Modus Operandi . This is a company that thrives on separating itself from the pack. Much as it has done with the Macintosh operating system it maintains a distance from other operating systems in tablets and iPod because that's a marketing mantra for the company.

    Also, the installed base and developer community would not be able to so easily move from one platform to the other and I don't readily see the advantage to Apple anyway. If Apple is looking for extra growth opportunities (who isn't, though the company has other avenues than this?) it could license iOS to rival device manufacturers. This is a more likely scenario than for Apple to ditch its own operating system for Android.

  21. Hardcore
    February 7, 2011

    The discussion was about 'Android' tablets taking over market share not about individual applications running under  the operating system. 

    Specifically we were asked “would Apple use Android”

    They(operating system/applications) are two completely different matters, however be aware that if an application uses public domain code in any part of its construction, it too must be released, This includes any application built containing sections of the examples supplied as part of the development kit

    As long as it does not do this, then it may remain closed and live in the Android Environment, at which point you have to give up 30% of your income when using the 'market'

    What we are currently seeing is significant theft of the public domain codebase, by various parties.





  22. Hardcore
    February 7, 2011

     Hi Toms,

    I'm afraid describing  Android as  a:

    “World class product with advance features”

    Is not correct, it may appear that way from a limited perspective of some components, but that is not the reality. On the insides Android is a hacked mess, which is causing the industry some significant issues.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Android , but there are far too many 'Egos' involved in the base development, and unfortunately they are not working together very well.

    Then there is the Issue with the API(Application Programming Interface ) continually Changing, basically the API is how all the system components work together, and how applications communicate with the underlying system. For long term stability and cross- version revision , the API must remain stable.

    This is currently not happening and is causing some big players significant problems, by big players I am referring to the companies that produce  Silicon and write the 'closed' drivers.

    There are some key decisions and commitments that need to be made by Google and then they have to standby those decisions long term. Unfortunatly that is not currently happening.


  23. Hawk
    February 7, 2011

    Hardcore, The question is still valid as Bolaji pointed out. Why would Apple consider using Android and give up its own OS? I don't see the benefits to Apple. Also, you talked about operating systems and applications being separate items. Yes, they are separate but you omit the fact applications run on operating systems. Apple apps are built to run on iOs and not on Android OS. This discussion on whether Apple will embrace Android is a diversion from the hardware/software issue. It is very unlikely to happen.

  24. Mydesign
    February 8, 2011

        Hard core, No need to be afraid (as a user), but surely as a developer. I tried to explain from user point of view. As a user, we are much concerned only about its features, user friendly, what’s going to offer in a distinguished way etc. As a developer you might be aware about the internal mess/facts, GUI problems, issues, complications etc. 

         Now it’s the open source era and Android is the new comer in this sector. Moreover it’s a child from Google, so techies and even common peoples are expecting something great from it and wishing for too. Now a day’s everybody is talking about the latest developments and trends in Android, Even many of the community sites, articles, blogs etc spreading news in similar line only (high expectations…).

  25. t.alex
    February 8, 2011

    Bolaji, probably Apple will not adopt Android any time soon. However, is there any chance Apple will make such moves similar what Google did for Android: they might open-source iOS? That's one way to attract more curious developers.

  26. Hardcore
    February 8, 2011

    Perhaps it is my fault for not communicating clearly.

    I personally think Bolaji's post is valid and well researched.

    Apple would not consider Android,  something I discussed in my first post along with reasons. (specifically cash flow)

    On the issue of tablets:

    As a user you need to be very very afraid. Issues in the internal construction and interface for the Operating system(OS) are highly serious matters.

    They generate leverage points for malicious systems and software which for a portable device is an issue, since not only does it give access to your own personal information, but also a leverage point into any environment where you may carry your portable device.

    Say for example your Android system is compromised and then you carry the device into your computing center, thereby bypassing all physical security your company has spent  significant resources in putting in place. That then becomes a potential issue your system administrator finds difficult or impossible to control.

    If you 'hang' about a number of the tablet forums, you will notice people are starting to customize the devices, in many cases by downloading  external 'roms' to replace the firmware currently in the tablets.  However you may well notice that many of these 'roms' do not release the source code, this really is a serious threat to computing systems, but unfortunately there are far to many 'joy joy feelings and a prevailing let's stick it to Apple mentality' with this new era of toys, people seem to be forgetting that they are dealing with embedded systems backed by significant storage,networking capability and processing power and to top it off, these new systems do not currently have a viable anti-malware facility.

    Just one last point…… do not think or ever consider Google is your Friend, it is a business like any other, the 'Don't do Evil' is a gigantic misnomer.










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