Platform wars, is Apples way the only way?
With the enormous growth of the smartphone, and the never ending war between platform makers to be the dominant force, are we looking at a future dominated by the curated, closed platforms, and will Android have to become more regulated to really compete?
Ok, ok, so I realise that android has grown at an exponential rate, and that more established platforms such as blackberry and SYMBIAN have suffered because of it, but is sheer handset activation numbers really enough?
If our smartphones live and die by the apps they run, then won’t there come a day when android apps need to be curated? In the recent weeks upwards of 50 apps have been removed from the Android marketplace because they contain malware, is this the start of something, exploiting the openness of Android to harvest user data? Again for all you naysayers out there, I realise that 50 or so apps represents a small percentage of the total apps available, but even 50 malicious apps is 50 too many.
I was very surprised recently with the publication of figures that showed the OVI store ahead of Android Market in terms of revenue. I don’t think those figures can be emphasised enough, the fact that an app store that supports a declining OS is out performing one the supports the fastest growing, must be sounding alarm bells all round google h.q.!
During the recent ipad2 event apple announced that the revenue paid to developers has just hit the 2 billion mark, 19 times that of the revenue paid to google developers, and this figure was achieved with all the furore around Apples’s percentages being too high!
I think that whether you love them or hate them, Apple’s strategy represents the most solid thinking and most robust way of winning the platform wars, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Microsoft have adopted a similar strategy by defining minimum hardware specs, and a consistent one time update policy where all updates hit at the same time, (ok so this hasn’t got off the the best start), as well as a curated app store, where they can control what goes on their devices.
By loosely defining the minimum hardware specs required for tablets to run honeycomb, have google taken the first steps towards a more controlled future, and therefore begin to reduce the fragmentation that has dogged android since the beginning.
For my money only the platforms that can update quickly and roll those updates to all it’s users in a more uniform way will succeed, Apple definitely have it right, Microsoft are following that model, HP Palm control their hardware and software and so do RIM. Will Android follow or risk being left behind, only time will tell………….