Mobile Wars – Soaring, but who are playing better?

iPhone vs Android, Did Google misread the market?

Today’s the mobiles market seems a fairly-tale from just there years before. It’s easy to lose sight of what the mobile industry looked before iPhone came in.  Just ask Nokia on this.

Many things will change in the next years. But there seems a lot of misconceptions going on in the mobile space, about Apple, Android and Google. Still I presume many (Even Google) may have misread the market. Here’s why.

This isn’t the Mac vs PC war. This isn’t gonna end up there.

Retail Success

During the PC era, everything was the presence & availability. In any day, To be successful, you had to be on the shelves as well as on minds. Given the wide variety of common hardware OEM Windows PCs, it was a easy sell. In contrast Macs price, technical know-how to sell them and availability  were severely limited, making an Apple a hard sell those days. Today, Apple Stores drive a superior consumers to experience, hardware hands-on and get educated about the full Apple products. Aside, mobiles are is a consumer touch point where Apple sells a no-frill robust complete user experience, end to end.

Google absolutely lacks this.

Developer Interest

Developers are the key to platform success. Windows won the battle back then since Apple forgot this. Not anymore. Lesson learned, Apple re-wrote it’s Mac OS X ground up with modern scalability for it’s legacy desktop, a feat no other OS company had managed to do. And it is moving on to the mobile OS 4.0 and beyond, has consistently hit promised milestones. More importantly it’s already making pretty decent money for idevices, content creation, media, apps, ads, books with anyone who is involved.

Fundamentally, mobile is a humble platform, driven by operator greed, to play, a game, ring-tone or to browse half-cooked w@p. Now the expectation bar is set so high, thanks to the success of iPhone OS & hardware duo across so many domains, including installed base (85 million and counting), operating margins, developer ecosystem, application updates, functioning marketplace, and the ability to target both carrier and-no carrier based market with a single code (iPhone vs iPod Touch).

developers  will (already) flock to platforms that:

1. Gain them a readily addressable audience
2. Allow them to make money, lots and lots of it!
3 They enjoy themselves personally using it, as the best solutions often refined to be “top notch”

This is the bar that was set so high!

Even that Microsoft had to scrap it’s MS Mobile Platform altogether, Palm lost and sold to oblivion, and the rest of the industry is eager to hang on to anything that saves their bloodline. I saw this opportunity in 2006 of not having a successor to my famous Treo 650 phone, then Apple changed the game.  Google saw this and was decide to step in with Android. Good move.

Suddenly except for Nokia & RIM all other mobile makers fall on to the Google basket.  Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and others just saved to live a another day. Not that Nokia or RIM had any genius solution to immune itself from, other than mutate, copy- paste and adopt Apple all these guys suffer without a sound direction, it’s just too difficult to challenge Apple’s lead.

So still some keep suggesting that “anyone” can replicated Apple’s success without a glitch. Why is that? Because they think that if Apple could manage that, anyone can. Just like everyone successfully copied the iPod and the iPhone and the App Store and everything else Apple’s done since 2001. Oh wait, no that didn’t ever happen at all.

The truth is, Apple is pulling in billions of dollars of revenue from its new mobile business, so it can invest lots of money into developing that future defying technology. It didn’t just inject some steroids into the Mac OS X and made iPhone. It has created it’s own ecosystem that no one seem to replicate since iPod and iTunes Store debut in 2001, a decade has just been passed. Remember Creative Zen, SONY Walkman or Napster anyone?

It’s all about “Experience”

As things stand now, it seems Google even have misread the market in progress. “Is Google Eating Its Own Dogfood ?” To be successful, Android (any platform) must satisfy to become a durable player in the market. There’s no free train to catch. Everyone should have to re-invent and be perfect. As far as I can see it, and rest of the 85 million ”multi-touch” users feel right in their hands.  Android already getting messier and dizzier for Google, and it has a long way to cross.

Myriad of  manufactures, hundred phone types with a thousand hardware to support without a support crew, various keyboard layouts, screen resolutions, processors. Imaging the toll on the software guys. This isn’t gonna end up where Google Experience we have been getting on the browser. NexusOne just proves me that. So 10 million sold Droid users, may already feel the heat, Google have just abandoned you, where even a person who have brought an iPhone a two years back will be getting a refreshment OS features from Apple on next June. Microsoft wins Windows with OEM, but mobiles are utterly personal experience. The reason Microsoft repeatedly failed MS Mobile OEM attempts and finally had to scrap it is the same reasons why Google should take Android with care. It already started the cannibalism.

So for Android, it isn’t the rosy road it promises, if Google is unable to adopt Apple’s tactics, specially on a manage code, unique hardware, sound developer income, and consistent user experience for the user. It’s doomed to fail just like MS Mobile, Symbian, Palm and many other mobiles before. I just wish I would be wrong on this.

Some reports (Gartner) forecasts the following market share for smartphones in 2012:
•    Symbian: 203 million handsets, 39 percent of the market;
•    Google Android: 76 million handsets, 14.5 percent of the market;
•    Apple iPhone OS: 71.5 million handsets, 13.7 percent of the market;
•    Windows Mobile: 66.8 million handsets, 12.8 percent of the market;
•    RIM BlackBerry OS: 65.25 million handsets, 12.5 percent of the market;
•    Linux variants: 28 million handsets, 5.4 percent of the market;
•    Palm webOS: 11 million handsets, 2.1 percent of the market.

There is pretty much room for big 4-5 players to be in the mobile OS game. The problem is for others, Apple has 85 million installed, one click away user base even right now with iPod Touch combined. Apple eats their breakfast with industry’s most robust mobile OS for mobiles, App Store for developers, iTunes Store for content creators and hardware expertise which rival to none, right on their table.

So, Google, run Google, run faster. Competition is good. But Google for the record, you are not even on the crease yet! MS’s in drawing boards, Palm is already dead. RIM and Nokia, I am still open to hear your rant.

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