Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is History Repeating Itself with Google Android?

I am old enough to remember the early days of personal computing. In fact the first Mac I worked on did not have its own hard drive and thus required switching out floppies to do any simple computing task. My first non-Mac "personal" computer was a suitcase sized Compaq which ran DOS and Lotus 1-2-3. The advantage of the Mac GUI was obvious. When the first version of Windows was released it contained many Mac like functions and through later releases soon became the dominate GUI for PCs. Despite Apple's initial innovation, Windows based-PCs are the standard.

I am starting to question whether history is repeating itself on mobile devices. There is no dispute that Apple's iPhone represents a game changer in the world of mobile technology. With the first practical mobile Web browser, the iPhone delivers a vastly improved Internet mobile experience, though the telephone aspect of the device is still in need of enhancement. The Google mobile platform is in its infancy, but we should see Android based mobile phones by Q4 of this year. Google has announced an agreement with the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 34 handset manufacturers, carriers and chipmakers that have said they plan to support Android products and services. As an open-development platform, third party applications will flourish. Apple's iPhone is clearly the innovator, but the market will likely be flooded with iPhone clones with 18-24 months. Will the Android platform do to the mobile phone what Microsoft Windows did to the PC market? The answer is not completely clear as the mobile industry has many operating systems - Symbian, Palm and of course Windows Mobile. There are also a variety of development environments including Java and Brew. In addition to an innovative design, Apple's iPhone also shifted a significant part of the revenue from AT&T to Apple, something very much on the minds of all mobile carriers. This economic shift plus the power of Google to dominate the mobile market is something to watch as Google Android enabled phones appear later this year.

20 comments:

jb said...

Agreed it could be 1985 again for Apple if they don't let clones start to have a look in for their operating systems across the board.
There has been plenty of talk again about this.
Maybe Apple will make announcement next week alongside the iphone v2...but Steve Jobs is still known to dismiss all clones (see Psystar)
But you're right they should start thinking about getting deals with potential hardware companies before Google ties up deals with all lucrative mobile suppliers and their recent deals with the US wireless spectrum explains a lot..
But I think the UI experience will be what people be ultimately win out and Apple still has time to lead where others are starting to follow. However they may find issues of volume, production and mass market penetration, if they go down the road of still trying to be in control of hardware and software, if they decline to open up.

Jürgen said...

The question is, if (and how) Google remains the dominant force in Internet search?
There is development of more intelligent search engines. How lucky did we feel, when we got Yahoo's edited catalogue of web pages. Then Google came and changed the Internet search. What's "beyond Google"?
The same is true for devices. I recall my first (Motorola) mobile bone - oops ... phone... The first online access using an "accoustic coupler" (300 "Baud" - 0.3K), followed by a 2400 Baud-"Fax Modem" (2.4K) and CompuServe coming to Europe. Today I use Laptop and Cable-"DSL" (16M), UMTS (1.5M), WLAN - if I have to resort back to 56K-Modem, I get frustrated. Next? Remember the Visa-commercial with the two beduines watching the movie in their desert tent on their eye-glasses?
Where was "the Web" 15 years ago?
Shift happens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqfunyCeU5g

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mjnaus said...

And why would Apple worry about this trend?

Many people seem to confuse Apple with a imperialistic company looking for world domination. Apple is all about making great products for their customers, products which combine robust hardware with magic software.

Don't be mistaken; it's not the UI experience that wins customers, it's the overall user experience that does the trick. Nobody is interested in beautiful software running of hardware which crashes every ten minutes.

Mattijs Naus
Cloud9 Travel Distribution

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