Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Windows vs. Android vs. i-Phone

Bob Cringely is one of the leading technology pundits in the US. Here is what he has to say about the current battle for control of the smart phone market:

My guess is that in time Samsung, like Motorola, will devote its smartphone development 100 percent to Android.

Maybe, but what about Apple and RIM, what will happen there? This is not a time to bet against the iPhone, which is changing the entire landscape of not just smartphones but mobile phones in general. For all its teething problems, there is a new sheriff in town and his name is iPhone. We'll see nothing but progress and market-share gains there for at least another two product cycles or three years.

RIM is another story altogether. What RIM has going for it are loyal users, good keyboards, and push mail. Most mobile phone users still think RIM is the only platform that has push mail. But given that push mail will soon be everywhere and the market will eventually figure that out, RIM is facing a huge challenge. I'm not saying they won't meet that challenge, I simply don't know.

If I had to bet right this moment on the mobile 85-10-5 of 2011 I'd say iPhone, Android, then RIM, Symbian, or something completely new from behind Door Number Three.

Why iPhone over Android? For exactly the same reason why the iPod holds that approximate 85 position among music players, including ones using open source software. iPhone has a really great SDK (light-years ahead of any other right now). The App Store distribution platform is great, but locked on too many points. This is a careful timing issue for Apple. If they open the APIs too quickly they risk being blocked. They need to open an API once they are perfectly sure it is the right one and the right way to export that function. Apple is going to relax the restrictions progressively when they better understand the use cases and what are the best APIs. In the meantime it is giving an advantage to Android, but one that I think a year from now Apple will have reclaimed.

And where will Windows Mobile be in 2011? There way things are headed now, given that Microsoft can't really afford to be anything but first or second on the platform that supplants Windows, I'd say Windows Mobile will be dead.
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