24.Nov.2009 Android is the Ultimate iPhone Killer
Really this all looks like common sense to me. Apple is great, the iPhone is wonderful (even the ipod touch is a superb product). The Apple OS for their phones and ipods is flawless, intuitive and crisp. It’s no wonder they’ve grabbed so much of the “app phone” market (to borrow a phrase from David Pogue); they invented it!
That being said, Google’s positioned Android to bring it down. How? Because they understand the fact that distribution is a key factor to success. It’s interesting that Apple would so easily fall into a similar trap that it did so many years ago. In my opinion, the Android vs Apple battle really is similar to the MicroSoft vs. Apple battle that’s so nicely portrayed in Pirates of Silicon Valley. Back in the late 70s and 80s Apple tee’d off with a great product (an OS on a proprietary hardware set) that people loved. It was user friendly and ground breaking. MS followed with a knock off that became available to all computer manufacturers. Distribution was in MS’s favor and they grew more quickly and grabbed a huge portion of the market that Apple (some might argue) created, that is, the personal computer.
Fast forward to the 00s and Apple pulled the same move, great product, easy to use, etc. And it’s 100% proprietary. They create a new market (app phones) and quickly become the leader. A few years later an up and comer is released (that’s kind of a knock off) and is made available (for a fee) to all phone manufacturers. Looks like familiar territory. Check out this recent TechCrunch article that shows the progress Android has already made (based on Admob research).
I’m betting that Android will challenge Apple’s hegemony within the next 12 months. The reason is distribution. Android is now available on every major US carrier (Verizon, Tmobile, Spring and ATT) and has a legion of developers contributing to it’s advancement. Additionally, the hardware available to manufacturers is getting much better. Phones are getting more powerful and better equipped to exploit the software. This is not to mention the fact that there’s simply variety in hardware (which speaks to our current desire to individualize ever facet of our existence). iPhone’s don’t vary much, but for Android the hardware and software provide loads of ways to customize to the individual.
In terms of functionality, I agree that the iPhone currently has a huge lead in available applications. But Android is an unexplored market for many developers, it also provides a more democratic marketplace to list apps and has the potential market size equal to that of the iphone marketplace (if it can be realized).
I would be happy with an iPhone, if it were for the service of ATT. I was a happy Verizon user, but was turned off by their previous lack of nice phones. I am a happy Android user, and I bet there will be many, many more like me shortly. Can Apple out pace the competition? Sure, but I think they’ll be severely hampered by ATT.