In what is heating up to be the first of several wars in the Mobile space, we observe the skirmish-turned-assault on what used to be a RIM/Symbian oligopoly that will result in a game-changing revolution.
Hit the jump for an industry analysis, and what we can expect in the future.
Already becomming the 2nd most widely used mobile browser behind RIM’s, the iPhone is certainly invading the spaces formerly occupied by competitors, but also making the internet mobile for a new segment of wireless users.
However, that isn’t the end of the upsets to the previously exclusive industry. Now we see the development of a platform that is going to infiltrate most mobile handsets in much the same way that the PC became popular among consumers.
Google Android is an open platform that any can download anything they want, and anyone is free to develop anything they want and distribute through any channel they want, and the platform can be used on any mobile devic. If that mobile device happens to be a wireless phone, it can operate on any carrier’s network for whom the hardware is designed for.
With so much hardware and software being developed for consumers, and some developed by consumers, the fuse is set for an explosion in mobile content which will revolutionize the way we access, consume, and use information.
This is going to the change the way we use social networks like myspace and facebook, shop for products, play multi-player games, and decide what to eat for dinner or what club to go to tonight.
But because your 2 year old phone already looks like a relic of some steam-punk alternative universe, as such is the nature of an industry that puts out new technology on a continuous basis in extremely small incerments (which is great for manufacturers and phone carriers and not good for the consumer) – you need to get the most value out of your purchase as possible.
The cost of purchasing the latest and greatest is that for 3 months your money buys you attention at parties and clubs, adn you relish the fact that every admirable “wow” your phone gets reinforces your ego and then sticks you with old technology for the remaining 21 months of your phone contract.
The best option then is to purchase what you need, at a price you can afford, that will be flexible enough to change as your needs change over the next two years.
It is here that I must step down from my lookout tower, and up on to my soapbox.
Because what I see is a few company’s attempting to contain and control the market at the expense of the development of new software, new technology, and consumer preference.
The same way that Sony, Microsoft, and Circuit City tried making proprietary formats and platforms (MiniDisc and BetaMax, Internet Explorer, DivX Discs), Apple is attempting to control the market to keep profit margins high and competition low. Their exclusive partnership with AT&T snubs the majority of the market that AT&T doesn’t serve. Their development platform must be $bought into, with Apple having the final decision whether or not to allow your application to be shared through the only legitimate distribution channel – their application store.
While this strategic framework for business is brilliant and makes Apple a great portion of money, it is not scalable precisely for the reason that is a closed system and exclusive to such a small segment of the market, and open formats and platforms succeed (think vhs, DVD, and FireFox).
This is why unless Apple reverses its position on its closed-platform before it begins losing market share, it will share the same fate that our Bankrupt Retailer’s DivX format has.
Indeed, there has been a lot of momentum gathering behind the revolution attempting to bring down the Apple dictatorship that is removing competitive apps from the AppleStore, taking a screen shot every time you use the home button on an iPhone, and attack or stifle the efforts of its own developers.
Meanwhile, taking the approach of game changers like Firefox, Google is attempting to create a standardized and open platform that any mobile manufacturer and any wireless carrier can use so that any software developer, corporate or consumer, and use to distribute applications and use.
Indeed, by making developing apps for the android platform easy, with a wealth of apps already exisiting, the only thing holding back the Mobile Information Revolution is the handset manufacturer’s and the wireless carriers who have a inherit incentive by keeping their networks and platforms closed at the cost of the consumer.
Fortunately, Tmobile is offering the G1, manufactured by HTC, which uses the android Operating System. Apple’s cofounder, Steve Wozniak, who revealed his discomfort about Apple’s closed nature. Some iPhone zealouts of gone so far as to blatently lie about the success of the G1.
The G1 also looks to have out-performed the iPhone in speed tests, which is a double-whami for Apple.
Not to say that Apple’s Jesus Phone is going to be usurped by Tmobile’s GodPhone, because the G1 has its own faults too. Fortunately, the Android will be assimilating to other carriers and hardware devices – so if the feature set of the G1 doesn’t strike your fancy, you won’t have to wait too long.
And things get better and better: While the G1 didn’t ship with Microsoft Outlook integration, there is now an an app available called MailShadow by Cemaphore.
Or for those who want to do their social networking through a custom app rather than through the phone’s web browser, the G1 now has a Facebook app that is derived from the same code as the iPhone’s facebook app, which is only made possible due to the phone’s open source nature.
The G1 also has Flash available, so you can play your favorite flash games right on the phone without gnarly work-around, or other more productive Flash uses.
When you decide whether you want to go with the iPhone or an Android phone, think about whether you want to support a system that is inherently closed and dictated, or a system that allows you to choose how its used?