Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Apple’s iPhone vs Smartphone Software Makers

iphone vs smartphone software
Daniel Eran Dilger
In the smartphone business, Apple is like a Microsoft combined with a Motorola and a RIM; it makes money on software, hardware, and services. It also makes money at retail and with accessories, and software and media sales, and earns money back from its service partners. Other hardware makers can’t compete with Apple in all these areas because they’re all fixed into position as pawns of the mobile providers.

Apple’s iPhone Vs. Other Mobile Hardware Makers: 5 Revenue Engines

But what about pure software makers? Will Microsoft or Google or the open source community deliver a good enough equivalent version of the iPhones’ software features to enable generic hardware makers to catch up in the same way that Microsoft ported Apple’s unpatented Mac technology to the PC in the late 80s? Here’s a look at the threats posed by rival smartphone software makers, and how well the iPhone will be able to compete against them.

Auf Deutsch: Das Apple iPhone im Vergleich zu anderen Betriebssystemen
Übersetzung: digital express


Windows Mobile vs the iPhone.
Microsoft has been desperately working to duplicate its Windows PC monopoly among PDA and phone makers, but after ten years of investing in WinCE development, it’s found nothing but extreme failure, with regular annual losses counting into the billions. Its Windows Mobile business has been passed up by RIM and Apple, both of which only entered the phone business recently. Why couldn’t Microsoft make its PC model work in the handheld devices market?

For starters, Microsoft can only make money on software licensing, which extracts a fee from its partners’ manufacturing profits. Apple earns the entire manufacturing profit with the iPhone. Last year, Apple made a third of Microsoft’s revenue and a quarter of its profits despite only having a roughly 5% share of the PC market. Clearly, there’s big money in hardware.

Microsoft isn’t getting any of that as a software licensing outfit. It also earns nothing from Apple’s other smartphone profit centers: retail profits, service revenue shares, accessory sales, and software and media sales. While Apple is successfully expanding its business into software, Microsoft has been unable to make money in the consumer electronics hardware business.

10 FAS: 7 - Apple’s Hardware and Dvorak’s Microsoft Branded PC

10 FAS: 7 – Apple’s Hardware and Dvorak’s Microsoft Branded PC

Monopolizing the Market.
The only way Microsoft can compete as a software-only company is by monopolizing the market. In the PC world, Microsoft successfully thwarted the development of rival PC operating systems, enabling it to corner the market and provide the only software product that PC makers could license in order to offer machines that could run existing applications.

Microsoft used its relationship with IBM to spread its MS-DOS platform in the 80s, then pulled the rug out from under its OS/2 partnership with IBM while blocking the development and sale of alternative DOS distributions in order to establish Windows in the 90s. Once that happened, the DOS PC platform was weaned onto the Windows PC platform, and PC makers were left with only one operating system to license and no rival options that could run the Windows software that Microsoft had established. The PC makers also signed exclusive licensing contracts with Microsoft that prevented any new rivals from finding a market.

This model worked well for Microsoft through the 90s. However, particularly since 2001, Microsoft has had trouble keeping up with Apple’s Mac OS X development, particularly in the consumer space. Apple’s tight hardware and software integration has enabled the company to deliver a differentiated product that can move faster, eschew Microsoft’s legacy limitations and security flaws, and deliver new hardware features in ways Microsoft can’t, because Microsoft can’t force hardware makers to follow its plans. These factors are not only eroding Microsoft’s monopoly position in PCs, but have also worked to prevent its monopolization of new markets.

SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1980s

SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1980s
SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1990s
1990-1995: The Rise of Windows NT & Fall of OS/2
Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly

The Failure of Windows Media.
Microsoft’s parallel efforts to monopolize the software side of portable music and video devices received a lot of media attention, but didn’t spark with consumers. Microsoft’s Media2Go, followed by PlaysForSure, also managed to assemble lots of hardware partners, but Microsoft was both slow to deliver the technology it promised and ran into complications related to getting its software to work well across different hardware models created by independent manufacturers and independent media stores licensing Microsoft’s Windows Media DRM.

Apple’s slick integration with the iPod and iTunes quickly tore apart any hopes for a PC-style monopolization of the mobile media market with PlaysForSure. Microsoft’s more recent attempt to duplicate the iPod with its own music player also failed miserably, and further unraveled its struggling PlaysForSure partnerships. Any effort by Microsoft to create a standalone iPhone competitor could only similarly kill the remains of its Windows Smartphone partnerships.

Why Microsoft Can’t Compete With iTunes
Market Share vs Installed Base: iPod vs Zune, Mac vs PC
Market Share Myth 2007: iPod vs Zune and Mac vs PC
Why Microsoft’s Zune is Still Failing

The Failure of Windows Mobile.
Like smartphone hardware makers, Microsoft is locked into a profitless position in software that looks more like a charity than a business. It has little room to move as it watches the iPhone tear up the market it has tended for a decade in just a few months. The company has responded by advertising future plans to match some iPhone software features several years from now in a new Windows Mobile release, but those changes won’t make any difference because Microsoft isn’t just failing in software; it also lacks any sustainable ongoing business plan for building a desirable platform, a supporting ecosystem, and a retail engine that can compete against the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Microsoft recently gave its failing WinCE and Windows Smartphone software team the final insult by purchasing Danger, a smartphone development group that built the custom SideKick phone for T-Mobile. That product is nearly as long in the tooth as WinCE/Windows Mobile in terms of offering a modern smartphone platform. Perhaps it could have impressed John Dvorak a year ago, back when he was observing that buyers were all looking for big clunky phone devices with chicklet keyboards, but it’s no match for the iPhone.

If there is any excitement left in Danger, the appointment of Roz Ho to lead the acquired Danger team–the same black hole of enthusiasm who led years of yawn-worthy development of Office for Mac at Microsoft–defuses any hope for the future. No amount of focus groups or committee meetings are going to turn Danger into an iPhone. Further, merging Danger into WinCE makes as much sense as Microsoft buying Yahoo’s properties and converting them to run on NT.

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile
OS X vs. WinCE: How iPhone Differs from Windows Mobile
John Dvorak Conceeds 2007 was a “Crappy Year” for Windows Enthusiasts

General Problems for a Smartphone Software Platform.

Even if Microsoft could somehow manage to pull a magic rabbit out of its hat and offer a spectacular mobile software platform in successful contrast to the failures of Media2Go, PlaysForSure, Zune, Windows Mobile, and so on, it would still face the problem of having to recoup those development efforts. Which of the struggling phone hardware makers is going to be excited by the prospect of paying Microsoft any significant licensing fees to obtain this magical software in any quantity?

  • Would Nokia or Sony Ericsson, which run their own Symbian OS?
  • RIM, which also has its own OS and competes directly against Microsoft in the enterprise email market?
  • LiMo members Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung and Vodafone, which have established a preference for using Linux for free (as in beer, not as in speech)?
  • Palm, which is quickly headed toward irrelevance and also leaning toward Linux with Access?

Microsoft has WinCE licensing relationships with a variety of manufacturers, but none of them have signed up exclusively to only sell Windows Mobile devices in the pattern of PC makers. There is simply no equivalent to the PC market among smartphone manufacturers, begging Microsoft for a software stack to enable them to compete against Apple’s technology. There is also no reason for hardware manufacturers to give up their own software independence as users of Symbian, Linux, or an internal custom platform in order to become dependent upon Microsoft.

Any who are tempted to do so would have to consider the fall of Palm over the last few years, which attempted to add Windows Mobile offerings to its product lineup. That not only killed off its own Palm OS platform, but also reduced its ability to compete; Microsoft couldn’t provide software that matched all of the capabilities of Palm’s own software, and left Palm to build its hardware around Windows Mobile instead of allowing Palm to differentiate itself. Offering Windows Mobile on its Palm hardware has also done nothing to reverse Palm’s sales slide. There is simply no upside to partnering with Microsoft in Windows Mobile.

That offers a bleak outlook for the future of Windows Mobile. Without a majority market share, the factors that colluded to hand Microsoft a monopoly position in PCs will not materialize in the phone market. Outside the US, the phone market is largely based upon Symbian, and in the US, Microsoft’s weak lead has been smashed by RIM and the rapid expansion of the iPhone.

Apple has not only exceeded quarterly sales of new Windows Mobile phones in Microsoft’s strongest market, but has also overwhelmed the installed base Microsoft’s platform on the web by claiming 71% of all mobile web traffic, despite a half decade lead by Microsoft in selling Windows Smartphones. CEO Steve Ballmer was apparently completely unaware of the iPhone’s potential last year, when he scoffed that Apple wouldn’t take more than two or three percent of the market.

Canalys, Symbian: Apple iPhone Already Leads Windows Mobile in US Market Share, Q3 2007

Canalys, Symbian: Apple iPhone Already Leads Windows Mobile in US Market Share, Q3 2007

No Country For Old Windows.
Windows Mobile is clearly not duplicating the lucky timing and sly advance of the Windows PC. There is no overwhelming standardization upon Windows Mobile software, no piracy market equivalent to entrench Windows Mobile as the standard OS for generic phones, and no real benefit to using Windows Mobile, either for users or manufacturers. The only group with any interest in Windows Mobile are the Windows Enthusiast pundits who have built their careers upon recommending Microsoft’s products. Even among them, many are loathe to say anything to positive about Windows Mobile.

When I suggested that Mike Elgan supported Windows Mobile as an anti-iPhone shill, he asked me specifically to note that he has never advocated or recommended the WinCE/Windows Mobile platform. Those that do froth over the benefits of Windows Mobile, in particular analysts with the pro-Microsoft Gartner Group, have made less than honest and upfront comparisons of its Enterprise advantages over the iPhone.

Secret iPhone Details Lost in a Sea of Hype and Hate

Mike Elgan’s Moronic Tirade on the iPhone
Secret iPhone Details Lost in a Sea of Hype and Hate

They’ve been forced to fudge in describing future features of Windows Mobile that weren’t even available at the time they made their Enterprise superiority claims. The majority of the installed base of Windows Mobile users still have no access to those supposed security features, including remote wiping of Flash RAM, which are supposed to keep IT staff bound to and satisfied by Microsoft’s platform. Why develop for a proprietary mobile platform on the rocks when the open web makes targeting the iPhone no more difficult than reaching the rest of the full, open, and standards-based Internet?

Apple’s new Cocoa Touch Xcode development tools for the iPhone are far in advance of anything in Windows Mobile. As one developer looking at Microsoft’s Windows Embedded CE 6.0 platform builder and Visual Studio 2005 observed:

“CE is both really clunky and so deeply invested in the Win32 API’s that despite all the checkboxes to turn pieces on and off, it really only seems suited for building something that’s going to run Win32 or .NET apps. The ‘Hello World’ subproject I added literally gave me flashbacks of reading old editions of the Petzold Programming Windows books. It would be as if Apple released their iPhone SDK and the sample programs looked like sample Pascal code from Inside the Macintosh, Vol. 1, instead of using Cocoa.”

This contrasts sharply with the accolades gushed by developers looking at the iPhone’s new SDK.

Apple’s iPhone takes on the Enterprise

Apple’s iPhone takes on the Enterprise
Apple Developer Connection – iPhone Dev Center – iPhone Developer Program

Paranoid About Android.
Google has been identified as the next in line to destroy the advance of the iPhone. Some have suggested Google’s Android project would create a rival gPhone that would accomplish what Microsoft did to the PC in the smartphone arena. The difference is that Google isn’t a software company; it’s a services company.

Google hopes to sell software someday, but its revenues come from positioning advertising to monetize its search technology. Google sells page views, not code. Android is not a proprietary platform that will enrich Google with licensing revenue in the same manner as licensing Windows for the PC made Microsoft rich. Android is an open source partnership designed to prevent the need for smartphone developers to license Windows Mobile.

Google aims to have Android usurp the position of Windows Mobile and exist as a standardized platform for manufacturers to use at a low cost. Google isn’t doing this to earn a fraction of manufacturer’s profits in software licensing as Microsoft is, but rather to establish an open platform Google can use to push its services. It plans to provide services to manufacturers that will result in Google gaining a mobile audience of end users, and then resell these page views to advertisers.

The Great Google gPhone Myth

The Great Google gPhone Myth

Google and the iPhone.
Google doesn’t have to take on the iPhone because it isn’t a threat to its Android platform or services business. In fact, the iPhone is doing exactly what Google wants: it’s presenting users with easy access to its mapping and search technologies and allowing Google to present relevant ads to web browsers. Android is designed to expand the iPhone experience to phones from other makers at Microsoft’s expense.

Will this expansion eventually be a problem for Apple? That’s unlikely, as long as Apple maintains progressive development of its own platform. Android has yet to get off the ground, but when it does, it will battle with Windows Mobile for the attention of third party phone makers. Google’s advantage is cost: it can offer Android for nothing and allow manufacturers to customize the open software platform to suit their needs. That’s a devastating blow to the business model of Windows Mobile.

However, the cheapness of Android will also prevent it from being a direct competitor to the iPhone. Apple’s WiFi mobile platform benefits from the direct profitability of Apple’s hardware sales. As the company invests in building its slick user interface, polishing integration with iTunes, and adds new partnerships with retailers in the pattern of Starbucks, the iPhone will become increasingly difficult to duplicate. Again, nobody copied the iPod successfully in eight years, so the chances that Apple’s more complex WiFi mobile platform of the iPhone and iPod Touch will be cloned are even more remote.

Even if Google’s Android became the lingua franca of smartphones, it would still pose little threat to the iPhone in the same way that Linux and BSD pose little threat to Mac OS X; they serve different users with different needs. The iPhone also poses no threat to Android or Google, because it already does what Google hopes to accomplish with Android. Unlike Microsoft, Apple isn’t working to displace Google in search or in online advertising.

In contrast, the Mac platform was a direct threat to Microsoft in establishing a monopoly position in Windows, resulting in Microsoft working hard to make the Mac irrelevant by withholding development of Mac Office from 1994 to 1998, dropping Mac applications including Project, and pushing third parties to develop exclusively for Windows.

Why Does Microsoft Really Want Yahoo?
Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly
Office Wars 4 – Microsoft’s Assault on Lotus and IBM

Linux and Open Source: OpenMoko.
Another project fancifully touted as an iPhone-killer in the press was OpenMoko, an project started by phone manufacturer FIC in order to develop a hobbyist-friendly, open smartphone development platform.

Like Android, OpenMoko was really an alternative to Windows Mobile, designed essentially to run on phones built around Microsoft’s WinCE reference hardware plans. Interest in OpenMoko has waned following the release of the iPhone, because the iPhone offers advantages both in hardware and in economies of scale.

The tinker-centric attraction of OpenMoko partially overlapped with its Linux-oriented, GNU-style software ideology, but many who were drawn to the concept of an extensible, non-Microsoft smartphone were not necessarily GNU advocates. Even among those who were, the reality of slow volunteer community development and the hardware constraints posed by having to work in the shadow of FIC’s commercial efforts have left the project with half empty sails of enthusiasm.

Apple iPhone vs the FIC Neo1973 OpenMoko Linux Smartphone

Apple iPhone vs the FIC Neo1973 OpenMoko Linux Smartphone

Commercial Linux Platforms.
Other open source projects have fared similarly. Motorola’s use of Linux, which constitutes the majority of open source based phones, isn’t really even open. Those phones are mostly sold in China, lack any real GNU-style software freedom for developers or users, and largely use Linux because it is freely available, not because of any interest in promoting open development.

Other Linux phone distros, including Access‘ (formerly PalmSource) plans for a Palm OS replacement, haven’t really caught on in smartphone use. Trolltech’s Qtopia GreenPhone has gone nowhere since its announcement in 2001. Nokia recently purchased the company and plans to use its technology to shore up its plans for future mobile devices. Other open source consortiums, including LIPS and LiMo, appear to be working in parallel with or have been overshadowed by Google’s Android.

Open source works well at offering alternatives to proprietary, commercial products and technologies, but as yet there are few examples of hardware makers using Linux to take over new markets, particularly where tight hardware and software integration is important. Linux has even had a hard time competing against Windows on the desktop PC, which is one of the most ideal uses for Linux. In embedded applications, the use of Linux is often wrapped in so many layers of proprietary hardware that it begins to offer no real advantage over a custom designed system like the iPhone.

Mac OS X vs Linux: Third Party Software and Security

Mac OS X vs Linux on the iPhone and Mobile Devices
Mac OS X vs Linux: Third Party Software and Security

Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Earn.
OpenMoko, for example, can only be run on an FIC phone, while Motorola’s Linux can only run on that company’s phones. Many parts of a smartphone can’t run open software by law, including the baseband processor. This is restricted to prevent tinkers from creating easy to hack together mobile signal disrupters. While open software is a pleasant sounding idea, hackable software on an embedded device that needs to “just work” is not the best application of GNU ideals for most users. Even Linus Torvalds expresses a distinct lack of interest in pushing his Linux kernel into mobile phone applications.

The result: the iPhone will find an audience among hackers who want to develop interesting mobile applications on top of a foundation that just works. Users familiar with Linux will find the iPhone’s OS X Unix internals approachable and easy to learn. Those factors promise to outweigh the number of people worried about developing software for a platform owned by a commercial company, particularly since Apple is building a business model into iPhone software that will enable developers to sell their work.

Interest in communal living tends to rapidly wane when a business model arrives to offer something more than subsistence living. With the iPhone, Apple is embracing both open source and freeware as well as commercial application development. Apple is creating a market for even the smallest of developers that is patterned directly upon its support for indie labels in iTunes. Apple will promote their software in iTunes and the iPhone App Store for a 30% commission. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the retail markup on most software is 50%, and developers typically pay to market, package, and distribute their work from their half.

Apple’s Secret iPhone Application Business Model
Mobile Disruption: Apple’s iPhone and Third Party Software
iPhone Gremlins: Crashing, Security, and Network Collapse!
An iPhone SDK? Predictions for WWDC 2007!

Six Reasons Why Apple May Never Open the iPhone
How Closed Is the iPhone?
How Open will the iPhone Get?

The Sun Also Sets.
Last spring, Sun captured some attention by taking the OpenMoko prototype and photoshopping an iPhone-like interface on top to demonstrate that it could release something with the cachet of Apple’s headline grabbing smartphone.

Information Week pundid Alexander Wolfe decided that Sun’s so-called jPhone could rival Apple’s iPhone and somehow “beat it to the punch.” In reality, nobody has expressed any interest in paying Sun to license its JavaFX platform over the last year. The OpenMoko vehicle Sun hoped would act as its Trojan Horse into the city of “Troy to deliver a smartphone platform” ended up beaten to death itself.

Perhaps if industry titans Sun, Microsoft, Google, Motorola, and Palm are all desperately scrambling in their efforts to deliver a workable, desirable smartphone and maintain a software platform, Apple’s blockbuster sales and enthusiastic worldwide demand are a bigger deal than the mainstream tech media wants us to think.

Sun Tries to Jump on iPhone Bandwagon with jPhone

Sun Tries to Jump on iPhone Bandwagon with jPhone

What About Symbian?
The last remaining cross-platform software effort that rivals the iPhone is Symbian. Outside the US, the majority of all phones run Symbian, including the majority of smartphones. Symbian is run as a partnership between Nokia, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, and various other hardware makers. However, even Symbian’s leading users are aware of its shortcomings as a platform as they move into the future.

Nokia is expanding its use of Linux, which is a clear message about the usability of Symbian in more complex devices. If Symbian were a great development environment, Nokia wouldn’t have needed to buy Trolltech, and could have used Symbian to power its line of Linux-based Internet Tablets such as the N800. As Nokia moves away from Symbian, the partnership is set to fall apart.

Sony Ericsson has also announced plans to build a Windows Mobile device in the Xperia X1. While that sounds good for Windows Mobile, it says more about the future of Symbian. Once it arrives, it will be able to speak for the future of Windows Mobile, which desperately needs some good news after its trampling in the US and its long history of slow growth in overseas markets.

Origins: Why the iPhone is ARM, and isn't Symbian

Origins: Why the iPhone is ARM, and isn’t Symbian
Readers Write About Symbian, OS X and the iPhone

And Then Those Five Engines.
None of the existing efforts to develop a general purpose smartphone software platform offer any really fierce challenge to the iPhone as a platform. Additionally, the iPhone is tied to Apple’s iPod juggernaut, which at 150 million units sold and counting knows no equal among handheld mobile devices. As the iPod Touch and iPhone create a WiFi mobile platform with the commercial backing of a top manufacturer with $18 billion in the bank, efforts to topple Apple’s momentum will become increasingly difficult.

That cash pile is only going to get larger as Apple profitably manufactures iPhones and iPods, markets them it its own retail stores along with software and accessory sales, and promotes them as ideal clients of iTunes media. That’s not to say there’s nothing Apple can improve upon, but there’s more for the company to take from competitors than there is for it to lose.

Apple’s iPhone Vs. Other Mobile Hardware Makers: 5 Revenue Engines

It will not be too difficult for Apple to provide the same kind of Enterprise messaging services of RIM’s BlackBerry, or to provide the custom development tools that caused IT shops to show interest in Palm and Windows Mobile devices. However, those markets are relatively small niches compared to Apple’s consumer iPod business and its extensive plans to fill out its offerings to education customers who already are an Apple stronghold. As the company promotes its media offerings in iTunes U, the development opportunities of the iPhone to act as a wireless mobile platform will create value that can be applied elsewhere, including Enterprise customers.

Rather than worrying about the iPhone, pundits really need to start sweating the fate of Microsoft, Symbian, RIM, and the hardware makers who rely upon their software to compete against Apple’s push into mobile devices.
[Note: this article was written before Apple announced broad initiatives to deliver Enterprise custom software development tools; remote management, deployment and termination; corporate mail and network support. When these arrive in their final form this summer, it will put even more pressure upon Windows Mobile and RIM's BlackBerry.]

Apple’s iPhone takes on the Enterprise

More on the iPhone 2.0 SDK

iPhone 2.0 SDK: The No Multitasking Myth
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone?
iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Readers Write on Certificate Signing

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54 comments

1 gus2000 { 03.07.08 at 2:44 am }

It looks like the pundits did themselves in. They touted a long list of imaginary features that no smartphone in the world could claim, and denounced the iPhone as a failure for its lack of these features. Lo and behold, Apple has provided! Now whatever will they complain about? “Customers Terrified By Sheer Number of iPhone Features.” Or something to that effect, I imagine.

2 addicted44 { 03.07.08 at 3:55 am }

Nice. To be honest, I was taken aback today with how well Apple delivered. Only issue is that you cant run apps on your iphone until June, but they have beaten all my expectations with what they allow, and what they have created as far as enterprise support is concerned.

I really do fear for other companies, especially after iphone 2.0 is here (the one with the SDK).

3 imat { 03.07.08 at 4:14 am }

Ok, here are my two cents. Something Daniel forgot to mention, and that has been highlighted quite well during the SDK presentation, is a totally new approach to mobile phone alltogether.

Up to now cell phone manufacturers always considered a SINGLE OS per phone model. Only minor updates, mostly bug fixes, where delievered. More often than not these where also incassesible to the average user, only customer care centers could have installed such updates.
A new OS always was synonim of a new phone. There was simply no way a new version of Windows Mobile or Symbian or proprietary OS could have been installed on a phone. You had to buy a new one.

Apple changed that approach completely. By building a state of the art device (which costs more than the competitors) they are able to deliever a new OS on the same platform hence increasing the life span of the device as well as reducing the cost of ownership in the long run.

Apple considers the iPhone (and the iPod Touch, although with paid upgrades) much more like a computer compared to what competitors did and are still doing.
This is the result of focusing on one product, trying to deliver the best possibile solutions for it as well as a forward looking statergy.

The result is a phone that lasts longer, that needs to be replaced much less often and a better overall customers satisfaction.

This, besides all the mentioned reasons, is why the Apple iPhone platform is going to be successful, if they stick to it.

4 jody { 03.07.08 at 4:15 am }

I doubt very much if Nokia will abandon Symbian very soon. But if you will notice QT and Trolltech fit very nicely with their plan to support as many runtimes on top of Symbian as possible. So you can choose whatever runtime you like to run your apps.

Symbian native
OpenC + QT
Python
Java
Flash Lite
Silverlight

In this case the underlying OS is becoming irrelevant.

5 Rich { 03.07.08 at 7:21 am }

“A new OS always was synonim of a new phone. There was simply no way a new version of Windows Mobile or Symbian or proprietary OS could have been installed on a phone. You had to buy a new one.”

That’s simply not true. The Nokia N95 has seen update after update after update over the course of its life. It’s seen the addition of demand paging, N-Gage store and Flash Lite 3 plus major upgrades for the web-browser. All these changes were pushed out through Nokia’s desktop software.

Even Windows Mobile users get the occasional OS upgrade. Off the top of my head, wasn’t a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade offered to Moto Q owners?

“Outside the US, the majority of all phones run Symbian, including the majority of smartphones.”

Not quite. Symbian runs on about 7% of all phones and 65-70% of all smartphones. It dominates the smartphone market but it’s got a long way to compete with the manufacturers’ proprietary operating systems.

“Nokia is expanding its use of Linux”

But not into smartphones. I’d assume the move is to stop vendor lock-in. Having another OS up their sleeves is a good bargaining chip.

6 John Muir { 03.07.08 at 7:29 am }

I sense a great disturbance in the force. As though an ancient wrong has been righted. As though Doerr was right when he said: “Today we’re witnessing history, the launching of the SDK, the creation of the third great platform—the iPhone and iPod Touch. Think about it. In your pocket, you have something that’s broadband and connected all the time. It’s personal. It knows who you are and where you are. That’s a big deal. A really big deal. It’s bigger than the personal computer.”

Others do too:
http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/900-iphone-sdk-apples-touch-platform-and-the-next-two-decades

I know it might be the residual RDF still in the air, or my natural sense of poetic justice … or indeed the fact that the SDK has just this minute finished installing on my desktop! But seriously, I think this might just be it. The big one. The platform to kill Windows and make the PC irrelevant in the years to come.

Fascinating to be an observer right now. Even more intriguing if I can deliver on some app I ideas I have for Cocoa Touch! RDM will be right on the ball throughout, I am certain.

7 Doxxic { 03.07.08 at 8:37 am }

Nice article, although I wonder why there’s so little attention being paid to Apple’s most important competitor: Research In Motion.
That Palm and Microsoft can’t compete on the smartphone market, already seemed fairly obvious.

8 lmasanti { 03.07.08 at 8:53 am }

“I doubt very much if Nokia will abandon Symbian very soon. But if you will notice QT and Trolltech fit very nicely with their plan to support as many runtimes on top of Symbian as possible. ”

I think that David’s (Apple) stone (iPhone) has hit Goliat’s (Nokia) forehead (cellphone’s business)… and Goliat got a helm (Qtopia).
I think that Nokia learned fast from Apple’s iPhone “integrated approach” to success.

9 John Muir { 03.07.08 at 9:21 am }

Mmm, this here “Aspen” simulator is tasty!

10 dicklacara { 03.07.08 at 9:46 am }

@John Muir: The Doerr quote is profound. I have had the luxury of witnessing several massive upheavals at close hand. I worked for IBM in Silicon Valley in the 1970s and:

1) Saw the emergence of microcomputers: Commodore, NorthStar, etc.

2) Bought my 1st computer, an Apple ][, in July 1978.

3) Opened the 5th Computer Store in the Bay Area in Dec. 1978– selling, primarily, Apple computers

4) Our Sunnyvale store was less than a mile from Apple HQ, and frequented by all levels of Apple employees (we were next door to a pretty good Chinese restaurant and a Velvet Turtle).

5) Saw the emerging Mac– Apple filmed a promotional in our store in November 1983 & I got to play with MacDraw for 15 minutes…. whoa!

Fast-Forward to 2007.

6) Stood in line at the local ATT store to buy iPhones– the iPhone is an amazing experience. A Game Changer!

7) The iPhone addiction grows, Jailbreak (and brick) my iPhone– can’t live without it, buy another.

8) Join growing throng of users wanting open iPhone: “Mr Jobs, tear down this wall”

9) See all the handwringing on the forums about how Apple will or won’t satisfy our iPhone needs…

Then, Today! Apple does it Right– damned near perfect, IMO.

The iPhone is opened in elegant/Apple style… giving us more than we could hope for, with startling simplicity.

This is a game changer to a game changer!

11 whmlco { 03.07.08 at 10:06 am }

I think it’s worth pointing out that the real innovation here is the “App Store”. By providing developers with an audience willing and able–and required–to actually pay for their software, Apple is going to encourage an avalanche of applications for the iPhone platform.

See: http://www.iSights.org/2008/03/apples-magical.html

12 dicklacara { 03.07.08 at 10:48 am }

@whmlco: I agree that the “App Store” is a big part of today’s announcements… …looking for metaphor, here…

But, also significant are:

–the additions for the enterprise
–high-level development platform
–the “available to anyone” development

The article you referenced is quite good– especially:

“In fact, this solves so many problems that one wonders if can be used… elsewhere.”

The iTunes Store is evolving to sort of a “Shopping Mall” containing various speciality boutiques: The Music Store; The TV Store; The Movie Store; The PodCast store; and the New App Store.

What if, the same concept used to sell and distribute iPhone/Touch apps were used for PC apps (OS X, Windows, Linux)… Ohhhh!

What if struggling independent writers/composers/performers (you complete the list) were able to, easily, monetize their creations/content through other speciality boutiques within the iTunes Mall?

…Ha! Not just the Internet– but the Mall is in your pocket, too!!!

13 dicklacara { 03.07.08 at 11:00 am }

…In fact, while trying to get into the Apple iPhone developer site to download the SDK…

One wonders if it wouldn’t have been faster/easier/simpler, for all involved, to just post the SDK to the iTunes Store?

14 unscriptable { 03.07.08 at 11:15 am }

Hey Daniel. As usual, a brilliant article! (I’ve been a lurker here for a few months now.)

I would very much like to hear your thoughts about Nokia’s plans to put Silverlight into their forthcoming smart phones.

Could this be MS’ way to monetize the smart phone market despite failing to dominate the OS level?

I do tend to think that it will be a rocky road for Nokia/Silverlight for some time — at least in terms of having apps designed to run simultaneously on Nokia and Windows (mobile or desktop). The version of Silverlight that Nokia will use (the ongoing linux port) does not share much source code with the version that runs on Windows. History tells us that this typically foretells of substantial delays and bugs due to incompatibilities.

Of course, form factor differences would make some apps unfeasible to run on both desktops and mobiles, but I would bet that MS is pushing Silverlight as a way for phone companies to take advantage of cross-mobile-platform development.

15 sebastianlewis { 03.07.08 at 11:31 am }

This probably isn’t as obvious but it will happen as a direct result of the iPhone’s SDK: Mac sales are going to surge probably starting a little now, but I’m guessing more so once OS X 2.0 is out, as a direct result of the iPhone giving Apple another revenue stream from the iPhone that also shares all the other almost all the other revenue streams in common.

Sebastian

16 David Dennis { 03.07.08 at 11:48 am }

I find it interesting that you rarely mention RIM in your articles, even though RIM is the company most likely to lose out from the recent announcements.

I suspect it’s because you don’t hate RIM in the same way I believe we both hate Microsoft, but that’s no excuse to not analyze them.

Windows Mobile doesn’t seem to have that bad a market share. It’s only slightly lower than iPhone’s. So if you look at the graph, it doesn’t look that bad for Ballmer.

You failed to point out that this market share is split between something like 100 different devices and so the market share of each individual device is a tiny sliver. This is what makes Windows Mobile not terribly cost-effective, especially if you consider that Windows Mobile’s platform is split between three or so (don’t remember the exact number) of variants, all of which need slightly different software to work. That makes it all but impossible to develop anything significant for Windows Mobile unless you have significant resources.

Finally, I’m on my third download attempt for the SDK. (I’m not including the five million times I clicked refresh and got an error message.) Each time it stops a few megabytes from finishing and the system says it can’t open the disk image. Anyone else having this problem?

D
D

17 John Muir { 03.07.08 at 11:52 am }

@dicklacara

You’re not alone thinking that way about iTunes as the suddenly expanded revolutionary distribution channel. It’s the perfect counterpart to the open web, *finally* a clean, elegant and intuitive way to make money on our wares with essentially zero barriers to entry. Goodness me, I’m stoked on this one! :D

One of John Gruber’s “The Talk Show” podcasts talked about this back at Macworld, where he discussed the iTunes Software Store prospect with the guys behind Panic. They mentioned just how vast the piracy of their own apps has turned out to be when they shared the results of a serial number check they did recently. The great majority of Candybar users were registered with the same serial! Various degrees of coercion only persuaded a few of them to pony up the cash to keep the app.

As a newbie to software development – largely because of the huge promise I can’t fail to see in Apple’s expanded Cocoa platforms of which I’m avid user – the complexities of running a store, hosting files, handling transactions and dealing with registration are all things I’d gladly leave to someone else. Traditionally that meant all sorts of run-around. Now that means 30% to Apple, for the LOTm and the best advertising money can’t hope to buy.

Let’s just say I grabbed that SDK the moment the site got back up off the floor!

Nice backstory by the way. I wasn’t quite even born when you got your first Apple computer. And even I’m a bit of a veteran these days with all the new converts to the platform. (Yay Jaguar!)

This is going to be sweet.

18 dicklacara { 03.07.08 at 12:06 pm }

@ sebastianlewis

You broke the code!

Every potential iPhone Touch Developer will need:

1) The SDK
2) An iPhone, a Touch or both
3) A Mac
4) An iTunes Store Account

Apple could even encourage developers by offering a package of hardware at a discount, say 20% to signed developers (ala Apple Select Developers). Apple would still make a good profit on these packages.

Then, some number of these new (to Apple developers) will be so impressed with the OS X Development Platform/Tools, that they will branch out into developing apps for the Mac, too.

The same thing applies to the IT teams that develop apps for the enterprise…. but in spades!

To think of it in another way: Where can IT go to get integrated solutions to all its needs– for the mobile user; the traveling (portable) user; the desktop user; and to some extent the back-room servers?

Mmmm… I only know of one company that offers solutions in all of those categories!

19 lmasanti { 03.07.08 at 12:16 pm }

quote:
“The iTunes Store is evolving to sort of a “Shopping Mall” containing various speciality boutiques: The Music Store; The TV Store; The Movie Store; The PodCast store; and the New App Store.”

I think the AppStore would be more of a iTunes WiFi store in the sense that “it is in your hand”.
And that –as a sales pitch– will be invalluable!

20 dicklacara { 03.07.08 at 12:32 pm }

All this talk of the iPhone SDK… 1st: never; then: use web apps; then: in Feb; then: in June…

I am reminded of an old “IBM Salesman” joke from the days when it took months or years to deliver/install a Mainframe computer– all the while the IBM salesman had to keep the, increasingly distraught, customer happy.

Here goes the 2008 version:

Have you heard the one about the girl that was married 3 times, but, was still a virgin?

The 1st time she married her high-school sweetheart, but he choked on a piece of wedding cake and died at the reception.

The 2nd time she married an octogenarian who died of a stroke while undressing for their wedding night.

The 3rd time she married Phil Schiller….

…every night, he would stand at the foot of the bed and tell her how good it was “going to be” when “she finally got it”

21 danieleran { 03.07.08 at 1:13 pm }

I didn’t include RIM in this article because it doesn’t license its software, making it more of a hardware competitor than a challenge to Apple’s software platform.

The BlackBerry is also largely tied to BES, although many users who have fallen in love with its push email have bought one outright. Many of the BB users I know have also bought iPhones, and carry both. This seems bizarre to me, but the BB doesn’t offer any of the iPhone’s features: usable web, a/v iPod playback, etc.

RIM is like the Commodore of PCs: it has a couple advantages that won’t enable it to survive once they are copied well enough. Microsoft has struggled to catch up with ActiveSync (which aims to erase the need for a BES add-on server–or Good server), but it has a really weak showing. No wonder it jumped at the opportunity to get AS on the iPhone.

There’s a story brewing on that, too.

22 purejadekid { 03.07.08 at 1:28 pm }

“…but as yet there are few examples of hardware makers using Linux to take over new markets, particularly where tight hardware and software integration is important.”

What about the Asus eee PC?
It seems to be selling quite well on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/pc/565108/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_pc_1_2_last

Speaking of Amazon, I hope they make an App that lets you buy and add music to the iPhone directly from the iPhone, you know, as healthy competition to iTMS.

Interesting article, as always.

23 lehenbauer { 03.07.08 at 1:36 pm }

I looked at developing an app for the Palm in the late 90s and then again in the early 2000s and it was just too gross to even consider — it’s too twisted… You can’t even malloc memory; it’s hopeless.

The iPhone is amazing and the devkit is amazing. It’s UNIX on your handheld. And it’s a lot of the Mac, too. (My god, it even has OpenGL) This is the first mainstream handheld device that’s got an excellent programming environment and is easy to develop for. That’s revolutionary.

Oh yeah, there were a lot of rumors a couple days before the release that it was beta and rough. It’s not. It’s way not.

24 dicklacara { 03.07.08 at 1:52 pm }

Quote purejadekid

Speaking of Amazon, I hope they make an App that lets you buy and add music to the iPhone directly from the iPhone, you know, as healthy competition to iTMS.

/Quote

Ya’ know, every once-in-a-while, a fleeting thought crosses my mind…

What if Apple opened the iTunes Store to selling “physical” products, in addition to downloadable “digital” products?

… they could sell computers, tools, books, CDs…

Hmmm… they could even hold auctions…..

Nah!

25 nat { 03.07.08 at 3:51 pm }

John Muir said:
“I know it might be the residual RDF still in the air, or my natural sense of poetic justice … or indeed the fact that the SDK has just this minute finished installing on my desktop! But seriously, I think this might just be it. The big one. The platform to kill Windows and make the PC irrelevant in the years to come.”

I feel the same thing. As I watched the SDK keynote, I simply couldn’t believe it all. A number of slides had checkboxes for features I’ve been hoping for and every time, ALL OF THEM WERE CHECKED! I think Macworld’s “There’s something in the air” message actually started it off, but the SDK shifted it from 2nd gear to 6th!

Something everyone seems to have missed is that development with the SDK requires…wait…A MAC! That means all serious iPhone/iPod touch devs will be purchasing Macs between now and June. Big game developers, like EA, will no doubt release Spore, one of the biggest, most anticipated games of the year, on the App Store, with other titles to surely follow. EA is massive and has already shown Mac support. Now they’ll be buying Macs and who knows, maybe they’ll make some Mac exclusives too, thanks to Vista being, well, Vista. I believe EA is the distributor of Valve’s titles (Half-life, Team Fortress, Counter Strike, Portal, and more), so perhaps we’ll finally get those games as well. So much for Zune’s XNA. I like how iPhone/iPod touch is a cross between a PSP (nice widescreen and good graphics), a DS (touch controls), and a Wii (motion sensors), all in one.

There really is something in the air this year for everyone.

- Macs are swiftly gaining ground

- iPhones/iPods are even more popular (and the SDK will make them must haves and sustainable, not to mention bringing more devs to Mac)

- Wii and PS3 are beating out Microsoft’s 360

- TV is dying out (thanks to ads, the writer’s strike, cable costs, etc.) and is being replaced by independent content producers (through the internet/YouTube and iTunes/AppleTV)

- DRM in music is almost gone (I wouldn’t doubt movie DRM will follow in the coming months)

- Blu-ray won over HD-DVD (though I won’t be investing in yet another disc format)

- Municipal WiFi is becoming more popular and fiber is around the bend

- Energy efficient cars and electronics in general are being promoted and because of the cost at the pump, cost of electricity, the recession, pollution, etc, people are investing in hybrids, weather proofing their homes, buying solar panels, inadvertently making the environment more clean for future generations

- Obama’s winning against the politicians and skeptics of the past with a message for real change not simply via Washington, but by motivating the populous, making them, us, excited and more importantly, fundamental to the process.

- I’m graduating from high school in two months! :D

26 stefn { 03.07.08 at 4:08 pm }

Here’s a proposition related to the future of Apple and smartphones/pods:

The bigger and better the corporation, the shorter the mission statement focusing on the service it provides. For instance, Amazon’s mission: Sell stuff. Ebay’s: Resell stuff. Google’s: Advertise stuff. What’s Apple’s mission? I think Apple needs to focus on a two word mission as well: Purchase stuff. How? Based on its iTunes/iPod/Phone successes, it can pair the iPod with an iChoices app to do all the tasks related to handling our money: order, purchase, track, reconcile, budget, plan.

Certainly the banks rank right up there with the music companies in their disservice and generally dissing of their customers.

http://gallery.mac.com/stevenagel01#100085/ApplePie-001&bgcolor=black

27 John Muir { 03.07.08 at 5:39 pm }

@nat

Good timing! When I got out of high school it was 1997: Kyoto was going down the tubes, so was Apple, I was running Windows 95, and software was something you went to pick up shrink wrapped at the store … unless your friend had it and you had a spare box of floppies.

Ah … we’ve come a long way. 2018 anyone? Man are these interesting times.

28 mikeg { 03.07.08 at 6:20 pm }

I have been using a Blackberry since about 2001. There have been some improvements in service over the years, but basically, it is the push email, and the phone that makes the Blackberry attractive to users. The browser on the device is just about unusable, which is probably why some people Daniel cited like to carry both an iPhone and a BB.

With the improvements in enterprise integration, I see the advantages favoring the iPhone over the Blackberry in the long run, particularly if RIM continues to suffer periodic and unexplained widespread outages in service to users who depend on the device.

Apple can win big here if they can demonstrate a dependable device that provides robust connectivity to corporate email, full-feature web browsing, and dependable voice and ancillary data services for business users. Apple is certainly moving in this direction.

29 Michael Li { 03.07.08 at 11:21 pm }

what a long article… inspiring equally long comments… and as usual very informed :) great job, daniel.

30 Tod { 03.08.08 at 2:46 am }

@ dicklacara: And would have been Computer Plus? And your partner being Mark Wozniak? Ah, the memories of hanging out there in the late 70s-early 80s.

And time marches on: C+ is no longer there, the Velvet Turtle is long gone, and (my personal favorite) Farrell’s Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlor is only a memory.

Nice to read your comments as well!

31 dicklacara { 03.08.08 at 4:45 am }

@Tod
Bingo! Yeah, Computer Plus– we had 3 corporate goals:
1) Make a good profit; 2) Provide the best possible customer experience; 3) Have fun! We did pretty well on all counts.

Lucy (general manager, and my beloved wife) and I sold our interest in 1989 (after 11 years) and moved to Arizona. Mark stayed with the new owners for several years, then went to work for Sony (I think) in LA. The company who bought us changed their name to Computer Plus to benefit from our reputation. They stopped doing retail and concentrated on selling/servicing Educational accounts for Apple.

Those were some very hectic (and very fun) days… we felt that we were part of a revolution.

I remember several Tods from those days…

32 khurt { 03.08.08 at 9:29 am }

What a well written and very well thought out article! Bravo.

33 11thIndian { 03.08.08 at 9:56 am }

People all over the web are arguing over what the SDK means. Some people are in denial. Others are sweating over the details.

For me it seems very simple. Come June, the iPhone can be whatever it is you want it to be. It can be a blackberry replacement for business. A social networking device. A gaming platform. A media hub… Because it is literally the mac mini-mini, you can download whatever software you want, and leave the rest. Completely customizable. Totally portable.

The ONLY holdback to Apple’s success is that they MUST start rolling out to global markets faster. Apple will be making a big mistake if people aren’t available to buy an iPhone in a lot more countries (CANADA!) come the end of June.

34 Ephilei { 03.08.08 at 4:39 pm }

Something else that Daniel, and everyone else, is mostly missing is user experience and end user ability to get apps on a phone. In my experience, this will be the FIRST time an average (ie, dumb) end user can get an app onto a smart phone. I work in IT services a couple dozen people with their Palms; out of that many, 2 are smart enough to install apps without me. That’s not a technical barrier; it’s an interface barrier and Apple is solving it via the App Store. I think 95% would figure out how to add an iPhone app!

Secondly, Apple has run over another barrier no one’s noticed. Everyone on this site and every tech journalist surely runs as their computer’s admin, at least on their primary machine where their phone is synced, but that’s rare in the enterprise market. On OS X, both for Macs and iPhone, running a new app doesn’t require admin rights. Only installing apps requires higher rights which will probably include 0 iPhone apps.

And when huge shifts happen in a big market (100 million smartphones?) it’s always because a shift happens that a dumb end user can appreciate.

35 Robert.Public { 03.08.08 at 8:04 pm }

I just can’t wait until other iphone models come out. IMHO I think the established ipod/nano/shuffle differentiations won’t really work in the case of the phone line owing to the fact that the best parts of the iphone are its usable internet and touch display. The developers will, for now, only conceive of applications for the current display.

Would anyone care to venture a concept model or two?

I ask this to those who picked up the SDK and see hardware limitations for some of their ideas. For me I would like to see other non mainstream models that make sacrifices (see MacBook Air) like increased battery size to get real GPS, or larger screen for reading books (that would sell through ITMS or iTunes U of course!). iPhone Reader with a stylus and Inkwell? iPhone Navigator – possibly ruggedized?

36 Lazy Sunday links « Island in the Net { 03.09.08 at 4:01 am }

[...] Apple’s iPhone vs Smartphone Software Makers Daniel Eran Dilger – In the smartphone business, Apple is like a Microsoft combined with a Motorola and a RIM. [...]

37 jody { 03.09.08 at 4:37 am }

Seems to me that the fact you can’t run background tasks on the iPhone kills quite many of the best apps.

Just about all the VoIP apps, IM clients and other useful apps actually need to be running in the background to receive data/calls.

Every other mobile OS can handle this, why can’t the iPhone? Does the iPhone have any replacement like always running services to solve this?

And Apples “one size fits all” approach is another problem. Nokia alone releases 30-40 different phone models every year (and from that about a quarter are full smartphones). And for each of them there are literally dozens of different firmwares for different languages and network operators. Does Apple have the resources to handle that? I’ll believe that when I can see an iPhone running with software in Malay.

38 dicklacara { 03.09.08 at 6:30 am }

@Robert.Public

There is a pretty good Book Reader (and several books) available for a jailbroken iPhone.

I don’t think that screen size is necessarily an issue– consider how newspapers, magazines and many web sites (this one, for example) display their content in narrow columns rather than across the full width of the page. This makes it easier for the you, the reader, to focus your eyes and transition from line to line.

…And you can read in bed, with the lights off ;)

39 kaZ { 03.09.08 at 9:05 am }

“the iPhone [...], which at 150 million units sold and counting knows no equal among handheld mobile devices.”

This is not true. Take the Nokia 1100 for example, it was sold at more than 200 millions units.

[Yes you're right: Nokia sells a lot of ultra-basic phones. However, you cited the above out of context. I wasn't talking bout the iPhone selling 150 million units because it hasn't. I was taking about the iPod. Nokia's simple 1100 is not really comparable to the iPod, DS, PSP or other devices I was comparing. - Dan]

40 11thIndian { 03.09.08 at 11:00 am }

I’m not sure that there’s much room for alternate versions of the iPhone (other than disk space).

The value proposition in the iPhone is the interface and screen size. An iPhone Nano would be giving up on screen real-estate and make the browsing/IMing/working more agrivating. Make one much bigger, and it becomes more cumbersome to hold in your hand and use as a phone.

The iPhone is way too costly for your average teenager, so it doesn’t need to be available in dozens of colors and styles. So I don’t think the emphasis needs to be on playing around with the iPhones form factor, when the customization that people will be looking for is what people can put on the iPhone itself.

41 John Muir { 03.09.08 at 1:13 pm }

@11thIndian
Correct. I can see it slimming in time, and of course picking up 3G (which should help in Europe and make it viable in Japan in the first place) but as for a slew of models … it may take longer for a second type of iPhone than it did for the iPod mini to appear.

@dicklacara
You’re right. The iPhone’s devillishly smart zoom makes the web fit its screen instead of vice versa. It’s not the physical bulk of the Kindle which makes it an interesting rival for reading print: but the Kindle’s data service and persistent screen. I anticipate iPhone battery life improvements on pace with or faster than the iPod expanded its equivalent range.

@jody
Apple don’t need to be Nokia to be a success. You probably will see an iPhone in Malay in not too many years (depends on Malaysia’s tech consumer demographics and telcos), and you’ll absolutely see one in Singapore within a couple of years. It won’t need firmware variants or other hacks for Apple to bring it about either. There’s these two things called OS X and Unicode…

42 nat { 03.09.08 at 9:27 pm }

jody,

The iPhone most definitely runs tasks in the background. What do you mean?

While surfing Safari, you can receive messages in chat while listening to music. Is that what you mean by background tasks? No current smartphone, including iPhone, can actually have more than one application screen open at once; there would be no point in manipulating tiny little windows of different apps with your finger or stylus.

Also, Apple doesn’t exactly have a “one size fits all” mentality. Sure, an iPhone is an iPhone, but they offer it with different amounts of built-in storage at different price points. They do the same with Macs and iPods and just about everything else they sell. Fortunately, they aren’t like Nokia, putting out 20-30 SKUs for everything, many running different, incompatible software, most of it rather third-rate. How is a simplified selection of good, compatible, competitive products a negative?

43 dicklacara { 03.09.08 at 10:56 pm }

@Jody

There has been a discussion on MacRumors about background tasks…

1) In order to support push email the iPhone will need at 1 task running, periodically, even when the iPhone is not being used– tell the push server your cell or IP addr & ask for any messages,

2) Same thing applies to other “push” services.

3) The consensus was that Apple would provide a single communication daemon that apps (mail, calendar, chat, etc) could ask to be notified when their events occur.

4) Apple, likely, will constrict this, initially & then open to other apps as needed.

44 gus2000 { 03.10.08 at 12:24 am }

Nat said “How is a simplified selection of good, compatible, competitive products a negative?”

It’s not. Most often, when a product is released with dozens of trim levels, it’s done only to obscure the true price. This makes it harder for the consumer to price-shop between retailers, direct sales, and online sales, as well as hiding the cost of the peripherals/accessories.

Apple does not have this problem. Their prices are the same whether you’re looking at their online store, retail store, or retail partner. They don’t need to baffle their customers with a labyrinth of options just to trick them into making an impulsive purchase.

45 hrissan { 03.10.08 at 1:26 pm }

Apple is definetely not going to allow background 3d party tasks (at least for a while!). The documentation is adamant about this – when 3d part application loses focus because the user presses “Home” or call comes in, the 3d party application quits immediately. There are other restrictions as well. I’m a bit sad about this because our company sells calls recording software for Windows Mobile and Nokia and now it seems iPhone is useless for this tasks.

We are disappointed, because we were going to work hard to make this scenario possible: you install Voice Recorder, enable “calls autorecording” in settings and voila! All your calls are automatically recorded and later synced to iTunes (with meta-info :)) as soon as you plug iPhone into your computer in the way pictures made by iPhone camera sync to iPhoto. This is not even remotely possible with this release of SDK.

So SDK IS very restrictive right now. I cheered when I heard Apple guy on March 6 event said “We are giving developers the same set of tools we use ourselves”. OK, that was just a plain lie/misinformation. :(

I guess the more powerfull SDK features are available to selected developers right now. How you guess AOL is going to implement its service client? Both Apple and AOL know that if it is going to be disconnected when you press home button, it will be useless, so I know they have solution. They’ll give AOL (and possibly other “important” developers) SDK with broader features to build code and more priviledged certificates to sign code so iPhone can actually know this application should have access to more features. :)

May be gradually these features will be available to “ordinary” iPhone developers as well, in a year or two.

46 John Muir { 03.10.08 at 2:24 pm }

@hrissan

Bearing in mind we had no tools whatsoever until right now – excluding web apps which have their place – this is pretty damn good. Looking at the documentation it’s clear just how much work went into this SDK. Apple very likely had this cooking back when Leopard was delayed! Like Scott Forstall said when he mentioned Core Animation: they developed that with the iPhone in mind first, and Leopard second.

There will be extra stuff to which most of us are not party yet. Namely the sort of background processes that AIM must use along with Apple’s own apps.

I don’t think that means he was bending the truth when he said they’re releasing the same tools Apple use in-house though. Xcode, Interface Builder and all are there. And *almost* all the plumbing behind them too … at least so much as makes a pretty damn appetising beta SDK.

Perhaps we will have the secret formula opened up as public API’s sometime in the future. Perhaps the whole iPhone OS is undergoing rapid development within Apple anyway. I would not be surprised.

So long as they don’t let Java get on the iPhone we can all breath a sigh of relief! Especially as users.

47 harrywolf { 03.11.08 at 4:59 am }

Almost feel sorry for RIM – their hold on the market they have is tenuous, to say the least, Maybe they can come up with something new, but unless they add new compelling features, they look more and more like a one-trick pony.

Its not just Apple who will try to take their market.

As for the iPhone being rolled out everywhere, I don’t see Apple needing to be in a hurry.
Like the iPod, there is simply NO viable competition on the horizon, or even over the horizon.

Still, it would be good if Apple would talk to Rogers in Canada soon…..I am spending $80 per month for a data plan alone, plus my 1000 minutes plan – very expensive!

Its worth it though – the iPhone is a great business tool, IMHO.

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