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Android hype vehicle set to crash in 2010

Daniel Eran Dilger

In late 2009 the tech media couldn’t stop buzzing about the next Android phone, whether it’s Google’s own branding of the next HTC model (Nexus One), or Motorola’s desperate attempt to stay relevant with its own Droid-Killer, called the Shadow. Some even think Sony Ericsson’s death throes with the Xperia X10 will be significant. They’re wrong, here’s why.

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The key problem for the future of Android is that it does not offer anything new. The art of business imitates life: the fittest survive through a process of trying new ideas. New ideas that result in increased suitability for existence win out and become the foundation for the next generation of experiments, whether genetic or commercial. However, survival of the fittest doesn’t necessarily mean survival of the most ideal from any one subjective viewpoint.

Weeds grow everywhere because they are fit for surviving without cultivation assistance. But to a farmer, those weeds aren’t fit for survival because they don’t offer any potential for resale. Similarly, an animal embryo destined by circumstances to live in a dark cave habitat does not benefit from the activation of its latent DNA switches to express genes related to creating color vision. Having irrelevant capabilities for your environment are not an example of fitness for survival that will be rewarded, unless they allow you to now venture out into a new environment.

Android offers nothing to make devices significantly cheaper or more sophisticated or more attractive than the iPhone. It does offer some “ideologically open” bragging rights (which proved to be worthless for Linux on the desktop over the past decade), and it offers the hardware partners of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile a cheaper (or even “cheaper than free”) alternative to their currently dead-end path without actually improving much (if any) upon the level of technology Microsoft was delivering.

If this sounds like an unnecessarily harsh critique of Android, first consider that everything positive you’ve read about Android has largely come from sources that would either stand to benefit from its success, or from the tech pundits who have been wrong every time they open their mouths because they are only capable of saying the things that flatter the interests of the earlier group.

Gartner’s presumptuous coronation of Android as the Windows of smartphones

This all happened before

Recall that when the iPhone came out in 2007 there was a similarly heady bit of froth on the lips of the collective tech media then too, except rather than being Google-branded me-too-ism of Windows Mobile, it was Microsoft’s own attempt to slap its name on an otherwise non-impressive bit of hardware aimed at Apple’s previous success, the iPod.

We were doggedly reminded that the Zune would be how Microsoft would take away all of Apple’s success with the iPod just as Windows had ripped off the Macintosh in the 90s. Except that didn’t happen. Instead, Apple debuted something just weeks after the Zune that wildly leapfrogged the existing iPod, the Zune, and the Windows Mobile operating system Microsoft had been working on for the last several years without much success: the iPhone.

Apple went on to trounce the smartphone market, embarrass the leading mobile makers, and redefine how phones would work in the future. It then applied this technology to reinvent the iPod into a similarly pocket-sized device with leading web browsing features and sandboxed third party apps just like the iPhone.

Windows Enthusiasts were so violently side-swept by the iPhone that they insisted that the Zune could only be compared against the iPod, and really only against the classic legacy model from 2005 that Apple continued to sell. It has taken years of spectacular failure to drum simple reality into the core followers of Microsoft’s stillborn iPod-killer.

When Microsoft floated the Zune HD as an iPod touch killer, albeit without the same level of sophistication in its browser, without anything akin to iTunes, without a vibrant software market, and without lots of other features, the idiot tech press insisted that Microsoft would make up for all these deficiencies by using a Tegra chip, an OLED screen, and offering HD Radio. Microsoft may just as well have spent millions to grant color vision to dark cave dwelling animals.

Buckle your safety belts, because that crazy bit of off-road driving is about to play out again.

From OLED to Tegra: Five Myths of the Zune HD
Why Can’t Microsoft Develop Software for Zune HD?

2010, meet 2007.

When Apple unveils the Tablet, it will be very much like the iPhone. It will wow the mainstream with its targeted usability and its clever interface slickness, and will be met with sour grape disgust by the same clowns who desperately tried to portray the Zune as being an awesome product that potential iPod buyers should choose instead.

But importantly, it will also expose Google’s tired attempt to beat Microsoft’s Window Mobile at its own game (without applying much creativity) as being much less important than the Android-enamored seem to think it is. Google isn’t changing the world with Android, it’s just ripping off an existing, unexceptional product. Google’s Android is not more special in the grand scheme of things than Compaq’s effort to clone the original IBM PC.

Sure, that resulted in temporary wealth for Compaq at IBM’s expense, but nobody cares today. IBM is a totally different company after failing as a PC maker, and Compaq is now nothing more than a brand name that HP puts on its crappier models. The real hero of the early 80s was Apple’s Mac, which is not just still around, but redefined how all PCs would subsequently work for decades. It changed the world because it dared to do things very different.

Google can kill off the moribund remains of Windows Mobile and it won’t even matter much. It’ll be like Ronald Reagan taking credit for defeating the Soviets after they had really already self-destructed on their own feeble swords of incompetence a decade earlier. There’s really nothing impressive about inventing a suitable replacement with only slight advantages or conquering a previously vanquished enemy.

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

Adding value through real change.

America arguably invented the automotive industry. European companies frequently made the car sexier or more luxurious, and the Japanese made everything smaller and more reliable. Over the last few decades, most American car makers have fallen into crisis because they resisted any meaningful and original changes. The US government resisted seeking alternative fuels or meaningful enhancements to efficiency. Improvements in safety and sheet metal shapes didn’t save American car makers because those same innovations were duplicated by every other car maker worldwide.

Without offering their customers anything new to differentiate their models as being fitter or cheaper or more desirable, all they had left was a plea to buy American on ideological grounds. The problem there was that other foreign car makers are now just as “domestic” because they are built here from the same parts manufactured overseas.

Android similarly tries to make much of the fact that it is ideologically open, despite the fact that this doesn’t necessarily benefit customers, and isn’t necessarily any more the case for Android phones than for the iPhone or any other smartphone model. Apple also uses open source code in its core OS and within Safari. At the same time, Android phones “with Google” and Android Market apps are similarly closed off by security partitions and restrictions.

Outside of supplying the hot air that inflates’s tech media wags’ opinion pieces regarding Android’s vaunted openness, the idea that an Android phone is any more “open” than the iPhone in any measurable way relevant to consumers simply has no real meaning, certainly no more than pleadings by GM to “buy American.”

Ideological fluff is not a core feature that entices buyers because it doesn’t affect change in a way that delivers perceived advantages. It it were, the last decade would have involved a lot more retail sales of Linux PCs. Like Windows Enthusiasts and “Linux on the desktop” advocates of the last decade, the Android-enamored are quick to ignore real data about the market and fixate on meaningless data points and anecdotal experiences that suggest a real foundation for their fantasy.

Rational thought is based on objective information gathering done to understand what is actually the case. Irrational fantasy starts with a faith that something is the case and then searches desperately for reasons to continue believing that, and reasons to continue to reject any new incontrovertible evidence that arises.

Affecting change is the meaning of life.

Apple as a company, and particularly with Steve Jobs at the helm, has historically been willing to bet significant investments into delivering the future though revolutionary and evolutionary change. The Apple II made experimental personal computers into an approachable, ready-to-use product. The Lisa and Mac incorporated $50 million of research into how people could best interact with a consistent user interface. Only after Jobs left Apple did the company begin making conservative, and ultimately failed, efforts to just squeeze money from its existing efforts rather than dynamically push the envelope in new directions.

In 1986, Jobs risked his personal wealth to start NeXT and deliver the world major new progressive advances in computing. By then however, the conservative copycats outside of Apple were working to monetize the elementary technologies of the 70s in order to make easy money selling DOS PCs. Supported by a high priest class of tech press propagandists, advances in the realm of personal computing technology ground to a halt, particularly in software and usability; Microsoft continued to sell 70s DOS with a thin layer of 80s Mac clonage layered on top throughout the 90s.

It wasn’t until the end of the decade that Jobs’ merged NeXT-Apple combination managed to deliver NeXT’s sophisticated operating system to a mainstream audience, reversing the course of the following decade. In knee-jerk response, Microsoft scrambled ineffectually to deliver Vista, then face-planted its official release, only to reissue a patched up edition years later as Windows 7. In the same time period, Apple devoured the valuable segment of the PC market, leaving PC competitors to drive their product lines into unprofitable bargain basement territory just to maintain their sales volumes.

The reasons were numerous, but Apple surpassed its competitors by offering accessible bundles of new and interesting technology first and best. It did the same with the iPod, and the iPhone. There are PCs and MP3 players and phones with features and specifications that Apple doesn’t offer, but nobody offers a package that delivers as much practical “new and useful” all at once. And the various reasons are all tied to the same investment in newness that created NeXTSTEP, morphed it into Mac OS X, ported it to new platforms, and scaled it to mobile devices.

No PC maker has invested a significant effort to deliver anything comparable to Apple. None even bother to create their own core software. What does this say about Google’s attempt to deliver Android? Well, what’s new in Android? It doesn’t push any boundaries or deliver anything really new. It’s not resulting in cheaper devices, nor faster ones, nor more sophisticated ones. All that’s unique is that Google is offering the core software openly, but in a way that doesn’t result in an open platform; it only has erased any remaining business model for selling a mobile operating system.

If you asked Microsoft or Symbian about the prospects for selling a mobile operating system, they would have had to admit there isn’t one. And that was well known well before Android appeared on the market. If free operating systems were really needed or desired in the mobile segment, they would have taken off in the years before Android, when several mobile Linux variants were floated by various companies ranging from Trolltech (now part of Nokia) to Motorola. So what new thing does Google offer with Android? Fractionalization, platform confusion, hardware and software integration issues to work out, and other aspects that were all contributing to the demise of Windows Mobile in the first place.

Why OS X is on the iPhone, but not the PC

The next big thing.

Apple will kick off 2010 with a slate device that appears set to deliver a more impressive package of technical specifications, practical availability, and new abilities than anyone is even discussing in regard to Android. Even Microsoft’s most wishful thinking Courier vaporware, shown without any context of real-world price or performance or technical limitations, offers nothing that the tablet can’t overshadow to a humiliating extent.

And so it will be that–just weeks after Google announces to its Android-enamored user base that their existing Droid phone and contract are all now a joke on them–Apple will unveil a new device that will make all the talk about the next two Android phones about as interesting as any coverage of non-iPod music players. Which is to say extremely limited.

Google will find itself in the non-enviable position of Microsoft around 2006, back when it was attempting to float a widely-licensed alternative to the iPod while also at the same time competing with its own licensees in promoting a self-branded version it could use to pointedly aim at the iPod dynasty itself, leveraging all of its own brand power.

Microsoft and its partnership with PC makers in the early 90s could successfully compete against Apple’s Macintosh because useful innovation had been allowed to ground to a halt by Apple’s conservative leadership. PC makers offered innovations in price and eventually performance, while Microsoft incrementally used its monopoly market power to slowly match many of Apple’s previous software capabilities while also adding novel features of its own.

In the iPod and iPhone market, neither Microsoft nor Google are capable of generating sales that similarly overshadow Apple in sales volumes. That means neither Windows Mobile nor Android will be able attack Apple in terms of price, a factor that is also negated in many markets by the presence of service subsidies that mask (and overshadow) the hardware cost. Without being cheaper, these alternatives will have to take Apple on in features and usability, something that neither company has demonstrated any ability to do.

On top of all this, Google’s Android isn’t even trying to compete against the iPhone; Google has and will continue to share its DNA with the iPhone, as occurred with the compass feature last year and the Maps Navigation feature this year. Success for the iPhone is success for Google, because the iPhone is in many ways a Google client.

But the most devastating factor for the Android-enamored who prophesy an expansion in 2010 that will choke the iPhone is that Apple’s new tablet will suck up all the oxygen in the room and force pundits to beg Google to expand its efforts beyond the smartphone and into even greater imitation of Apple. within months of showing off the new tablet, Apple will roll out iPhone 4.0 and the fourth generation of the iPhone, and then the iPod touch. There simply isn’t enough time in 2010 for competitors to change course and shift their attention to competing with Apple in three directions all at once.

Last year’s Android-powered Nook isn’t going to look very impressive in comparison to Apple’s 2010 tablet. With Android pressed hard into the role of being good at everything, Google will either have to stop its engineers from making money selling ads and devote their time and millions of dollars into high risk R&D to compete against its closest partner, or delegate even more of the work to maintain the Android platform to other Open Handset Alliance partners. That will just inflame the Linux-fragmentation problems Android already faces.

Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as core platforms

But that’s not all.

In additional to issues on Google’s end, Android phone makers are also facing problems. Motorola and Sony Ericsson are the least successful phone makers in the top ten. HTC has all but lost its primary alternative in Windows Mobile, so it is desperate to make Android work. Even so, its own offerings are fragmented by operating system version issues and update potential issues.

More telling is how other makers are shunning Android before even giving it a shot, starting with Samsung, one of the few companies to make good hardware for a Windows Mobile phone. Nokia has both Symbian and Maemo Linux to use rather than Android, and Palm and RIM similarly both have no interest in giving up their own technology to adopt the least common denominator that is Android.

LG talks about interest in Android but is still in paid partnership with Microsoft to advertise the last gasping breath of that platform. And while it looks like Windows Mobile is nearly dead, Microsoft will likely devote as much marketing noise as it can to debut Windows Mobile 7 at the end of 2010, further giving Android the distraction of additional hydra heads to lop off.

With intense competition emerging between RIM, Palm, Bada, Symabian, Maemo, Windows Mobile, and Android, Apple will be best able to benefit from the strength between the iPhone, iPod, iTunes, and the new tablet.

This sets up why Android is far more likely to fail rather than to prosper or reach critical mass in 2010. The best news is: I’ll have all year to talk about how things work out for Android as pundits with ideological reasons to root for Android come to terms with reality. Even more fun will come from looking forward to what Apple is secretly working on to counter the vaporware being promoted by its rivals. I think it’ll be like watching a pregnant wolverine compete for survival against nests full of unattended eggs. The pundits are betting that those eggs will hatch some ferociously hungry birds. I’m betting on the wolverine and her babies.

33 comments

1 Android hype vehicle set to crash in 2010 « iNewΙΤ { 01.02.10 at 7:27 pm }

[...] hype vehicle set to crash in 2010 Android hype vehicle set to crash in 2010 Android offers nothing to make devices significantly cheaper or more sophisticated or more [...]

2 uberVU - social comments { 01.02.10 at 8:06 pm }

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by DanielEran: New: Android hype vehicle set to crash in 2010 – http://tinyurl.com/yjj38y7

3 John E { 01.02.10 at 8:23 pm }

Well, that sure was fun to read!!

putting aside all the Android hype, the situation still remains that the world’s various OEM’s and telcos (don’t forget the importance of the telcos) need some OS other than Apple’s and RIM’s to run their products. and they have to have products to sell – or quit the smartphone business (Motorola?).

the situation today is unusual because both Symbian and WinMo are pretty much dead in the water at the moment, leaving only Linux variants like Android and others to give these guys something “new” to sell. Hence the current rush to Android. i don’t think it is really much more complicated than that – Android is simply filling a vacuum.

Assuming WinMo and Symbian revive by 2011, Android will have to fend them off to maintain its temporary 2010 advantage. will it?

for that answer, i keep going back to the longer term factor that i believe will decide the fate of this competition – the supporting digital life “ecosystems” for each OS. this in my mind is Apple’s huge advantage, more important than the UI or any one model of hardware. and RIM also has a focused enterprise ecosystem.

after years of stumbling, MS has still been unable to unify all its parts into a genuine ecosystem. at best by 2011 it will have finally merged its Zune/WinMo/XBox services, but the Windows 7 array will still remain a separate world. the incompetence of this is stunning.

Nokia, who knows? it has never done anything like this. right now it has no desktop services, period. maybe in several years … (i doubt it).

But Google for several years now has been trying to assemble a “cloud” ecosystem. i don’t use those cloud programs, so i can’t comment on how well it works now. The Chrome browser and Chrome OS are intended to be part of that ecosystem of course. we’ll have to wait and see if Google really puts it all together in something that catches on significantly beyond today’s free services.

You have to give Google some credit tho, Dan. trying to invent such a cloud ecosystem surely qualifies as taking a risk to do something new and different.

Apple meanwhile continues to grow its ecosystem dramatically in 2010. yes, the tablet is next big step. and then in the Fall, AppleTV finally realizes its potential.

so by 2011, all the other guys will be trying to finally match the ecosystem Apple offered in 2009. sound familiar?

4 tzx4 { 01.02.10 at 8:53 pm }

Maybe a bit off topic,but I’ll bet this is the best place to ask this question.
How likely is it that Android’s open platform model will have security vulnerabilities? I suspect the iPhone’s closed/locked system will prove to be superior.
?? anyone ?

5 gus2000 { 01.02.10 at 9:11 pm }

Opensource is counter-intuitively very secure, since deficits are quickly identified and corrected. But the only person I know with an Android phone had it “jailbroken”, and thus is seemingly less secure.

I guess both platforms have a jailbreaking issue…

6 David Dennis { 01.02.10 at 9:59 pm }

My local Barnes & Noble had a Nook available for people to try. I came to it with no preconceptions; I have read Kindle books on my iPhone but have never owned a Kindle.

I could not figure out for the life of me how to use the Nook. Selecting items from the menu is impossibly clumsy. Trying to figure out how to turn a page was an exercise for masochists – it looked like it should be simple, but pressing the button didn’t take the expected action.

The nice fellow at the desk saw I was having problems and showed me what I was doing wrong. You have to pay attention to the lower LCD, not the upper “E-Ink” screen. When you have the book up on the screen, you have to select the book before you can turn the page. And so on.

And thanks to the rather strange e-ink technology, turning the page seemed to take an eon, and the schizophrenic design of upper and lower screens just didn’t work for me.

The nice fellow told me that he was able to get used to it, and I’m sure that with a few hours with the device I would have thought of it a bit more kindly. But that being said, the second I held an iPhone in my hand I knew I was going to buy one.

Reviews, including Dan’s, make me feel I would prefer the Kindle to the Nook, and the upcoming Apple device to either. The happiest combination would probably be a Kindle reader for the Apple device, which seems inevitable in view of the already-operational iPhone Kindle.

My strong suspicion is that the Apple device will have to be much more expensive than the Nook or Kindle and that will probably leave the iPhone as my Kindle book reading device. If the Apple is $800 and the Nook/Kindle are $260, I have to consider the Nook/Kindle if I want to comfortably read in my lap.

Still, I certainly don’t see the market for Android devices to be that great if the rather bizarre Nook is the best they can do.

D

7 chefmitch { 01.02.10 at 10:48 pm }

While I definitely see the iPhone & Apple continuing to prosper, I see Android doing well ..

The iPhone (IMHO) can never take an iPod-like position of market dominance (oh how I wish it were so (I’m long in AAPL)). There are just too many other choices and there is no one size fits all solution in the cell phone market. Apple’s choice of profits over market share also will lead to Apple not dominating the cell phone market.

The Android phones seem to be a better choice than the other phones being offered (Nokia, Win Mo, Palm Pre, RIM) and will sell well and prosper, not crash, in 2010.

Verizon has 60+ Million customers in the US. More and more folks are choosing to buy a smartphone. People like Verizon’s network and are going to buy a phone that works on it. What else are they going to choose over the Droid? Storm2? Win Mo crap?

Time will tell, but I don’t see how your prediction can come true.

8 macpeter { 01.03.10 at 12:36 am }

@chefmitch
The iPhone will come to Verizon network in Summer 2010 and with this next generation device people will have a real choice.

But Android should be strong enough to change place with Microsofts in their marketshare. Until the release of Windows mobile 7 Microsoft could drop to 5 % and have to start from zero, because the new plattform will be mostly incompatible with the existing soft and hardware. So Microsoft will need Millions of marketing dollars only to come back where they are just now.

9 beanie { 01.03.10 at 3:15 am }

Android hype is reality. NetApplications measured a large increase in Android use in December 2009. Looks like Droid might have doubled Androids marketshare. NetApplications also measured that Chrome browser surpassed Safari.

NetApplications also measured Windows 7 market share zoomed past Mac in two months. Interesting, Vista and XP marketshare declined only slightly. Because of that, Windows marketshare seems to be expanding. Did not Daniel Dilger write that Windows 7 would be the next Zune?

Anyway, Android should pass iPhone at some point in the future. Licensed/partners model theoretically beats one company most of the time. If three companies can sell 1 million Android phones a month, that would come to 9 million phones a quarter. So far HTC and now Motorola are having success with Android.

RIM is selling a lot of smartphones, but their developer community seems very small. They are defying the need for a developer community. Google’s web developer community is probably as large as Microsoft’s desktop developer community. Android SDK is supported on Windows, Mac and Linux and is freely downloadable and is Java based.

10 brendand { 01.03.10 at 3:26 am }

“If you asked Microsoft or Symbian about the prospects for selling a mobile operating system, they would have had to admit there isn’t one.”

Symbian would gladly tell you this – if you don’t know why then why should anyone take your word over those Android lovers you so deride?

John E – Why don’t you qualify the statement ‘Symbian is dead in the water’?

11 gctwnl { 01.03.10 at 3:40 am }

Very nice article, as always Daniel.

It is always dangerous to use evolution as an argument (because of the complexity of ecological relations also in a business environment) but it triggers me to make two remarks:
- Business imitates life: Darwin was inspired by survival of the fittest arguments put up by Adam Smith that predate Darwin. These days, people often look at business inspired by nature, but the original evolutionary argument was built the other way around.
- Business imitates life: Actually, in evolutionary terms, business is (part of our) life. A skyscraper is as much part of life as the mount of a colony of termites is.

Having said that: it is a good question to ask if there is a niche that Android fills and could even fill better than the iPhone. There is one: a lower initial price to pay. The architecture may not be good enough for heavy apps (like heavy games) as Prince explained, but it is good enough for a lot of mundane tasks. Calling, texting, schedule, chat, web, music listening, movie viewing, Android and the Windows Mobile hardware reference platform it is based upon are good enough for those. If those mundane tasks are 95% of what people want. The Android setup enables cheap phones with (say) 4GB RAM on a card. That is not enough for serious use, but enough for casual use. And people do not count the larger memory card they buy later when looking at the price initially.

I would also say that a real hero of the 80′s was not just the Mac, it was indeed NeXT. With NeXT, Jobs wanted to do the radical innovations Apple was not willing to undertake anymore. As Jobs put it in “Triumph of the Nerds”: at Xerox PARC they saw 3 revolutions (GUI, OO and networking) and they were blinded by one of them (GUI) so much that they ignored the other two. NeXT was the platform to correct that. If you look back, it is hard to believe how far ahead of all the others NeXT was around 1990 (btw, have a look at this collection of stuff from the NeXT era: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gctwnl/sets/72157622973369487). The iPhone/iTunes combo may be years ahead, at the time a math coprocessor and ethernet card was something you bought separately for your 386 PC and NeXT raised the bar and was never overtaken as Apple took it forward. Compare Windows 7 with Snow Leopard and you see the advantage is still there. Remember Cairo? It was supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to the technological challenge from NeXT.

The OS now running XServe to iPhone in various versions is more or less ‘NeXTSTEP v10′ and it has evolved over 20 years into what we see now.

“I think it’ll be like watching a pregnant wolverine compete for survival against nests full of unattended eggs. The pundits are betting that those eggs will hatch some ferociously hungry birds. I’m betting on the wolverine and her babies.” – Brilliant! But I guess there is room in the ecology for the birds. There will be too many for the Wolverine to eat them all and prevent all of them to grow up.

12 gctwnl { 01.03.10 at 3:41 am }
13 chefmitch { 01.03.10 at 8:18 am }

Macpeter says: “The iPhone will come to Verizon network in Summer 2010 and with this next generation device people will have a real choice.”

iPhone coming to Verizon is pure speculation.

There are 2 things standing in the way of iPhone on Verizon Incompatible networks (GSM vs CMDA( and Apple enjoying very large AT&T subsidies (exclusivity). It is certainly not a sure thing that the iPhone will be coming to Verizon.

14 ulicar { 01.03.10 at 3:24 pm }

OK. I was about to say how this analysis is as good as it gets, and then you decided to ruin everything by saying something really, really stupid like “Google isn’t changing the world with Android, it’s just ripping off an existing, unexceptional product. Google’s Android is not more special in the grand scheme of things than Compaq’s effort to clone the original IBM PC.” It all went downhill from there onwards.

Why do you think PC architecture is by far (far, far, far, far) more popular than Mac ever was, so much in fact that Apple decided to switch to it? That is right, thanks to Compaq. Clones won the battle between Mac and PC. IBM had nothing to do with it, nor Windows. If you recon Google in this story is Compaq and Apple is Apple, than I would be scared, very, very scared.

I think Android will fail as a general phone platform because Google is trying to fit it to its business model. It obviously from the beginning is not an end, but a mean, and that is what it makes it not attractive for general public, but for business… Maybe not yet, but soon… They are brewing a lot under the Android, Chrome OS, clouds and so on. It appears that in the distance those lines are intersecting. It will be very interesting time when we get to the point where they do touch. In my opinion, Apple needs to pick up its game right now if they do not want to find themselves in the same situation as in early nineties or late eighties. Superior platform, but still a colossal failure.

15 Per { 01.03.10 at 3:38 pm }

I still haven’t read a reasonable explanation why anyone would actually need a tablet.

16 ChuckO { 01.03.10 at 3:39 pm }

Did anybody else see the adds today (1/3/2010) during football? Verizon is offering a free Droid Eris when you buy a Droid. I assume that says something about Droid sales. Thinking that one over also made me wonder about Rims blowout quarter. Does the 10 million Blackberries sold include the buy one\get one deals. Again I assume it does. I agree with Dan Apple is the only company offering creative products and will win in the long run if they keep playing to the level they are at.

And what the hell is a Droid Eris? I buy a Droid and get a Droid Eris? WTF!!! This Droid thing is a marketing cluster fuck of epic proportions.

17 ChuckO { 01.03.10 at 3:52 pm }

And speaking of Droid marketing, is there any question at this point that the Droid is aimed squarely at the hobby/enthusiast crowd and not the mainstream? What’s with this whole dystopian, the machines have taken over, hellscape the Droid seems to exist in, where robots are searching Google for YouTube clips commercials? The only thing I can figure is the market for Droid is geeks who want to live in a Blade Runner or Terminator where the Connors lost world.

18 David Dennis { 01.03.10 at 6:15 pm }

Ulicar, the PC/Windows platform won over the Macintosh primarily because it was far cheaper, and because it offered an incremental path from DOS to a GUI. You could embrace DOS or you could move on to the GUI; you didn’t have to advance into an alien new world of computing except at your own pace. At first, I remember laughing at how horrible Windows was, how unreliable it was and how painful it was to use. Eventually almost everyone wound up liking it more and more as it improved.

Those are tremendous advantages, neither of which figure into the iPhone versus Android scenerio.

iPhone is better established, has a far superior software library, a better thought out basic design and costs about the same as Android.

The Motorola and HTC Droid can compete through being on the Verizon network, which for some reason many people think is better to AT&T’s. I must say that has not been my experience where I live, but things are probably different everywhere. That being said, Verizon is charging a horrendous contract cancellation fee, and if I understand their plans correctly, the data plan costs about 50% more than AT&T’s.

Looks to me Apple has learned a thing or two about competition during its years in the wilderness. I even seem to remember Steve Jobs wanted to push the pricing envelope down while other Apple executives wanted prices to reflect consumer demand. The latter won and as a result Apple computers got far too expensive for the mainstream. (For a while a top-line Apple was $7,000 while similar PCs were $2,000-$3,000.) This was great for Apple short-term but enabled Windows to overwhelm them in the long run.

It is about time Apple invented some approach to multitasking. I hope that will happen with the new iPhone 4.0 coming later this year …

D

19 sprockkets { 01.03.10 at 6:47 pm }

“Why do you think PC architecture is by far (far, far, far, far) more popular than Mac ever was, so much in fact that Apple decided to switch to it? That is right, thanks to Compaq. Clones won the battle between Mac and PC. IBM had nothing to do with it, nor Windows. If you recon Google in this story is Compaq and Apple is Apple, than I would be scared, very, very scared.”

Which is exactly why Apple is copying Microsoft’s business models and products. Oh, wait…

You better read up on this site why that happened, because you only have such a small piece of the puzzle.

20 gctwnl { 01.04.10 at 1:52 am }

DOS won in the early eighties for two reasons:
- IBM’s position in the business world
- From the three originally available OS’s for the IBM PC, (DOS, UCSP p-system, CP/M), DOS was half the price ($500 instead of $1000).
Bill Gates must be credited by being among the first to recognize that the PC would become commodity (can be read in his interesting book “The Road Ahead”, where you can read how smart they were marketing- and strategy wise and how clumsy they are with respect to technology). Gates recognized this and put his entire strategy on this assumption and won. He used the DOS monopoly to create the Windows monopoly, he used the Windows monopoly to create the Office monopoly (remember Wordperfect?), he used the Office monopoly to create the Exchange monopoly (remember Novell?). Microsoft is now trying to build a Sharepoint cs monopoly (and rather successful at that). Google offers the cloud, but Microsoft offers Sharepoint and Office Communication Services. You know, for business, the latter is far more attractive and will be for some time.

Given that they force Apple to stay out the business world (do you wonder why OS X Server does not support the iPhone as well as Exchange does?), they may make a final effort in the smartphone area to unseat RIM there by offering very close integration with the Microsoft ecology.

21 ulicar { 01.04.10 at 2:49 am }

@David Dennis
You are right, they were cheaper, but the reason for it was clones. That is the main reason the battle was won by IBM compatibles. If somebody can see Google to be Compaq… That might be a red Flagg 

@sprokkets
Microsoft has nothing to do with IBM compatibles vs Mac. Mac has up to 8% of market. It is quite big for one company to have that much, but overall it is still for every Mac you have nine or more IBM compatible PCs. Difference is even bigger if you leave US and go to Europe. I would recommend reading what was said before jumping to reply.

Also, we will see how wp vs ms plays out in the court. If they asked me, wp digged their own hole by refusing to switch to GUI on time. MS might be big and bad, but there were points in time when their opponents simply did stupid things. 

22 macpeter { 01.04.10 at 3:46 am }

@chefmitch: “Verizon has 60+ Million customers in the US. More and more folks are choosing to buy a smartphone. People like Verizon’s network and are going to buy a phone that works on it.
+
Apple enjoying very large AT&T subsidies (exclusivity)”

You write the best arguments yourself, why Apple will do everything to bring the iPhone to Verizon. Only Verizon will be worth to drop the exclusivity deal with AT&T and only Verizon will offer enough market potential and technical resources to
prolong the iphones success.
The AT&T iphone market ist almost saturated and Apple need urgently more coverage and bandwidth and for both Verizon will be the most attractive partner.

“There are 2 things standing in the way of iPhone on Verizon Incompatible networks (GSM vs CMDA)”

We are on the edge to 4G technology which will be up to 100 times faster than the current generation – so emulation of “old ” 3G standards by software on a fast new baseband CPU should be no problem.

iPhone coming to Verizon is pure speculation but the only logical conclusion.

23 David Dennis { 01.04.10 at 7:26 am }

Actually even an IBM Personal Computer AT or PS/2 Model 80 was cheaper than Macs.

The reason Compaq was so successful is that it offered the 386 – the red-hot processor of the time when IBM was sticking with the 286 so as to not compete with their more expensive computers. That caused people to look seriously at clones, and then they abandoned IBM in droves.

I was sad about this at the time because I loved IBM’s industrial design and thought Compaq was just a cheap knock-off of it. IBM made the world’s best keyboards in those days …

In any event, without lower prices or higher performance for the money, clones aren’t going to be successful. And I don’t think most people perceive iPhones as being low performance, while Android devices are frequently criticised as laggers.

In short, I don’t see the case for Android as being persuasive, except insofar as people prefer Verizon. (In my area, performance of Verizon and AT&T has been nearly identical.)

D

24 ChuckO { 01.04.10 at 8:16 am }

Holy toledo, could you guys spend some more time rehashing what happened in tech in the 80′s?

25 ChuckO { 01.04.10 at 9:08 am }

If anything Apple is more of the modern equivalent of Sony when it was successful than anything else. Apple isn’t in a battle to win the office anymore they are battling for the consumer and they’ve won.

26 borker { 01.04.10 at 11:54 am }

I think that Dan’s analysis leaves out an important measure of success that google likely have for android: in the short term it stops MS from being able to run up its cloud service usage stats with low end consumer devices, thus taking away even an illusion of success for MS in this arena (no millions of handsets searching bing by default etc). In the long term it creates a vehicle that google can continue to ensure provides the best possible experience when accessing gmail, google docs, google earth etc etc. It’s not going to be about selling a better integrated hardware / software solution than apple, it’ll be about creating a better software / cloud solution.

If the iphone keeps eating up market, but readily allows high quality access to google services and if the rest of the market can be filled with android based devices that keep MS on the outs, I imagine google will be plenty happy

27 ChuckO { 01.04.10 at 1:11 pm }

borker, I think what you described is pretty close to Dan’s assessment from this and other of his posts. Android is all about keeping Google ads in front of eyeballs by offering an alternative to Microsoft mobile. I think beyond that he’s saying it will be tough for Google going forward to keep up innovating when compared with Apple for a number of important reasons: they are new to OS development, they aren’t known for interface design, they have to deal with hardware partners and the serious issues that causes such as OS version problems and needing to support lot’s of hardware variation, attracting developers and getting top notch apps for the platform. A lot of these problems interact with each other to make success even more unlikely. Apple has most of these problems handled pretty well already and is way ahead of Android.

28 John E { 01.04.10 at 5:36 pm }

@ ChuckO and borker – agreed.

but Apple needs to keep expanding MobileMe, to have a decent “cloud” of its own. to start with, it should be free to Mac product owners, which would rapidly expand its user base. the amount of revenue it generates is miniscule anyway. maybe Apple is waiting to finish the big new server farm …

and if Google ever opens its own media store to compete with iTunes, then Apple ought to buy Yahoo!

29 gctwnl { 01.04.10 at 11:42 pm }

@John E:
Hmm, yes, completely forgotten: that new server farm….

But buying Yahoo? Why? Would it sell more hardware if it did?

30 borker { 01.05.10 at 8:36 am }

@ChuckO agreed that apple have a big leg up on the OS / user experience department, but that can (and rapidly is) being copied, whereas what google has in cloud expertise and pure existing and future server capacity is a lot more expensive to come by. So both google and apple have strengths the other doesn’t, and I personally don’t think its a slam dunk that apple’ innovation and industrial and OS design will be automatically more compelling than what google can offer in it’s field of strength, ubiquitous access to information. And google have not been without innovation (some of it acquired, same as apple acquired chip design expertise. It is not inconceivable that google could acquire better industrial design in the same way.)

In the end it’ll be an interesting bit of competition that’ll hopefully leave us all better off. Two companies with great expertise in different areas competing on their strengths… a really refreshing change to the last 20 years of desktop computing, certainly.

31 MetalboySiSo { 01.06.10 at 7:48 am }

Sorry, borker, gonna have to disagree with you just a bit:

User *interface* can be copied, yes. User *experience*? Not so much. People have been trying to copy Apple’s user experience style(s) for a long time, and they just don’t seem to get it.

I also disagree with being able to compare Apple’s innovation, industrial design savvy, OS design, and general user experience (especially in the last 8 years or so) to Google’s “ubiquitous access to information.” In one way, it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but in another way, they almost cancel each other out: form without function is pretty, but useless, and function with bad form *would* be useful, if it were usable. Apple does both, but Google seems to me to be the second (for the most part). I like Gmail, but its user interface/experience leaves a bit to be desired.

I do, however, agree with your statement that the competition will be interesting, and if Apple takes it seriously, it will definitely leave us better off. As everyone says, competition is good for all of us. And *ANY* sort of competition will be more than we’ve seen in the desktop computer industry (at least up until the few years).

SiSo

32 borker { 01.06.10 at 8:39 am }

Hi SiSo, though I agree that apple (I’d say hands down) do have the best combo of user experience and industrial design I wouldn’t say that adds up to an automatic win.

Google doesn’t need to be the best, just good enough, if they can pair it with being the best in other areas (the ubiquitous information bit).

I think you’ve set up a bit of a false dichotomy by saying google is all function and no form. Apple certainly is *better* form but google’s apps aren’t the bottom end of form and some are highly functional (gmail, maps, youtube and of course search, with things like calendar, docs etc coming along a bit more slowly).

Also, saying Apple does both is not really a fair comparison; as ubiquitous in it’s market as iTunes is, Apple really can’t hold a candle at present to google’s sheer server capacity.

I’m not trying to come off as an apple basher or google cheer leader (I use products from both, very happily) but I do think the emerging mobile data access market (which apple excels at from the client side and google does from the server side) still has a lot of room for innovation and as good as Apple are in that area, they don’t have a monopoly on it, and if google can be good enough at the client side then their strength on the server side is something to be reckoned with.

Anecdotal evidence that Apple realizes they are not as strong in google’s market can be found in their recent purchase of an mobile advertising company Quattro after being beaten out in an attempt to buy AdMob.

33 nextguy { 05.31.12 at 4:04 pm }

Oh snap, Oracle just lost their entire lawsuit against Google and Android is stronger than ever! Another failed prediction to add to the ever growing list, joining WP7, the Kinect, the CDMA iphone and others!

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