Steve Jobs seems to be on a crusade to defend his iOS platform against Google’s Android. The Google camp is using the open versus closed argument. Steve decides to reclaim that discussion by introducing the fragmented versus integrated argument.
They are both right and wrong of course. Google is open, but not half as open as it should be. Its fragmented, but not as fragmented as it could have been. Apple is integrated, but not nearly as integrated as you would expect.
But all of this is just tech talk. I could spend hours analyzing these statements and proving them right or wrong with technical details. My company builds a mobile platform for app developers and we develop for both Android and iOS. Both platforms have their charms as well as things that drive you nuts.
Some people actually take the time to do the analysis anyways (See this post on Joe Hewitt’s analysis of ‘open’). The debate is interesting, I’ve written a lot about the open versus closed platforms myself in the past, but I think it is really a theoretical exercise for the tech community at this time.
To me only 2 things matter at this point:
1. Are developers willing to develop on the platform?
2. Do users buy the platform?
The answer to these questions will define the outcome of the battle between these two formidable companies.
My take on this is that Apple will continue to do what it does best, build beautiful top quality products. They will continue to dominate a certain market share, but they will move towards the high-end of the market soon. This is their natural position imo. Apple was never a low-cost, low-end consumer company. Apple products breathe quality and finish, and you need to pay top dollar for it.
Google on the other hand will continue to work on a low-cost, free, reasonably open OS that will lack a bit of the polish of iOS. The lack of polish however will matter less and less as their OS is rolled out on a huge nr of handsets and Google services are deeply integrated into it. Android will continue its strong growth and will dominate the mobile OS market. There isn’t anything Apple can do about that.
To be honest, I doubt in the end Jobs is after the entire market. People want diversity. If everyone owns an iPhone 4 or iPad then the experience becomes mediocre. Apple should and will not let that happen . There are huge revenues profits to be made in the top end of the market.
My advice to Jobs (if he needs any) would be to continue to set the tone in the innovation of handsets and beautiful products. Forget trying to be the biggest. It doesn’t suit you and in the end will be the downfall of the top quality you produce now. Quality will give you the market share that belongs to you.
My advice to Google would be to stop comparing yourself to iOS and Apple all the time. Forget about it, your market is and should be a different one. Instead, solve the operator issues and get everyone to adopt to the latest versions of Android. Focus on the user experience and the app market. Make things easy for developers and users. That strategy will bring you mass market domination which is what Google should be all about.