It isn’t clear what started the war, but in the chaos of bombs and gunfire, all that matters is staying alive. Apple and Google have each been dancing in awkward, fan-sullying steps since the two decided to get phoney. The first awkward step may have been Apple’s insistence that Android phones forgo multitouch in order to protect the then-precious iPhone hegemony, but then again, no one knows who started the war which has hit both director’s boards. The second – forget the second; suffice it to say that both parties have been stepping on the other’s toes time and time again since the middle of this year. The party is over; Apple and Google’s romance, spurned by a mutual disrespect for Microsoft has decayed into uneasy competition. To make matters worse, Apple’s exclusivity with AT&T may finally be biting them in the apps: Verizon, a potential customer, have begun taking staking stabs at Apple’s iPhone. The carrier, in a vendetta against rival AT&T have the iPhone in their sites, shooting with nothing less than the powerful ammunition, Google Android.
While the iPhone has a healthy lead, if Android’s muster can rally innovative makers and developers, brandishing cheaper development costs and fewer restrictions, it may serve as a powerful weapon in the hands of iPhone competitors. I admire Apple’s insistence on Apple-only control and to a certain extent, their disdain for everything remotely inspired by a competitor. But in double-fisting their holdings, Apple may have done more than merely offer a chair to the competition: the key to their house is also on the table and everyone it seems, has a good hand. Android isn’t only doing very well, it will continue to gain traction in the marketplace.
At first, it was iPhone VS Windows Mobile (a joke by nearly any one’s standards), and when fans drew weary of that futile bout, a real fruit-fight began: Apple VS BlackBerry. For the record, until Apple give up the ghost and add a physical keyboard to the iPhone, that debate won’t ever be over. Apple’s OS and its company prerogatives are evolving; eventually, even the staunchest of ‘Apple don’t give a ***k about business’ pundits will have to concede that the iPhone is usable in the serious world too. And virtual or not, the iPhone has a keyboard.
But in the background, right beneath Apple’s planted foot, Google were working as per usual: tirelessly pursuing new business models. Outwardly, the search giant’s open-source OS isn’t a money maker; licensees don’t payout the usual dollop of dosh to get a nice OS on their phones, but since the cost of partnership is so low, and both devs and carriers retain greater freedom, it doesn’t have to be. Google just need partners and they will have them. However, nothing is perfect, even with the robot.
Since 2008, Apple gurus have been chanting that Android’s market would be awash with viruses, pontificating that the Android phones would carry on the tradition set by Windows. But that view is too simplistic. Yes, the platform has greater tendency toward malware; Android’s open-source code means that anyone can make a nasty app, and under laxer market strictures, deploy it. But, it is precisely that aspect which is a boon for small developers who haven’t the advertising overhead to splurge at the App Store. Still, Android’s market is much smaller and returns are smaller still, but the short-term is not its biggest hurdle: when as stated by Roughly Drafted’s Daniel Dilger, it achieves DOS-status to Apple’s iPhone.
But with recent reports that Google’s OS will be seen on at least 10 phones in the next year, things are set to change. And, in preparing for the launch of their first Android phone, Verizon are poking at the same Apple who were seeking to sell the iPhone on the Verizon network too.
In their Droid Does advertising campaign, Verizon Claim the following of the iPhone:
iDon’t have a real keyboard
iDon’t run simultaneous apps
iDon’t take night shots
iDon’t allow open development
iDon’t run widgets
iDon’t have interchangeable batteries
To a certain extent, all of the above are true, in fact, barring Jailbreaking, all are true. The weak arguments revolve around the camera and keyboard bits since not every Android phone will be equipped to take night shots or interpret presses from long fingernails.
Quickpwn, however, have a terse rebuttal for nearly each Verizon claim. Jailbreaking shouldn’t be associated with piracy – that happens, but it happens in the OSX and Windows world too. People who will pay for apps will pay for apps. Those who won’t, won’t. What Jailbreaking can do is bridge the gap which divides Apple’s user base from a perfect phone. The Quickpwn article counts on an Apple failure if the iPhone remains closed; true, with so many competitors, how can Apple succeed? At the same time, the hacker team note that the iPhone (when bolstered by Jailbreak firmware and apps) is a phenomenal piece of hardware; and in many cases, the best.
Though more than a year after the App Store launched, it is far too early to tell how the iPhone will fare in the long run; one thing is certain: the pitch is crowding with more players. After reading all the rebuttals, it is clear that what Apple have going for them, is the iPhone. THE iPhone. Flawed or not, devs don’t have to worry too much about supporting multiple platform and handsets, fighting against feature creep or lack. In the end, the battle will be drawn on the line of Apple’s exclusivity and Google’s openness, and despite enthusiasm for an all-encompassing (and open) OS, the battle only be waged downhill.