It seems like not a day passes that we don’t talk about the Apple wars.
Why all the nasty words? Since Apple entered the mobile market with the iPhone, they’ve got the hold on the mobile world, with 51.15 million units since it’s creation, and 8.75 million sold last quarter–their most successful to date. As the Fonzie of mobile phones, Apple’s set the playground’s rules, isolating people who’ve been in the game, and in turn, and creating unhappy days for some.
Apple’s App store has garnered 15.6 million unique views from iPhone and iTouch users. Although Apple has only a minority of mobile users, their popularity is undisputable: over 140,000 apps have been developed with 3 billion downloads in its two years of existence.
With that hold, Apple have been increasingly particular about how Apps are made, and who gets in the club. They’re infamous for having a stringent review process and sometimes rejecting apps for arbitrary reasons. A safeguard for consumers, but a nightmare for some developers who are waiting in the long line to cash in.
Different Flash for Different Folks
One of the biggest scuffles is Apple’s move to flush out Flash, a tool used to enable web videos, on iPhones and iPads. Apple’s iPhone is the only smartphone that isn’t Flash-compatible, making websites that contain Flash-based content inaccessible. CEO Steve Jobs says it’s too slow to be useful for Apple products and opts for HTML5 for video purposes, which doesn’t make Adobe, it’s producer, all too happy.
But in the past few weeks, Apple’s taken it one step farther by banning outside development tools. So Adobe’s new Flash Developer for iPhone a part of CS5 is instantly obsolete, leaving Adobe to pull the plug.
Despite criticism, Apple stands their ground, easily and understandably: they want to keep their share of the market, and they want it done their way. When criticized as being a walled garden, Jobs responded that “…intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.”
Google is taking the polar opposite approach, working cross-platform and wooing developers. So far, they’re growing at a faster rate with 25,000 apps since its inception, and 9,000 apps in March alone. Oh, and they’re Flash-friendly: in late 2010 Android phones will become enabled with Adobe Flash 10.1 and Air 2.0, and the two companies are rumored to work together on the upcoming Chrome OS. Google has an open arms approach compared to Apple and it’ll be interesting to see the alliances and innovations that develop.
In February, the world’s 24 largest wireless carriers announced a collaboration called Wholesale Applications Community, which aims to wants to “unite a fragmented marketplace” making it easier for mobile app developers to create applications that would work across multiple carriers, devices and operating systems.
The new consortium includes Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint as well as the biggest international providers in countries like France, India, Britain, China and Brazil. Phone developers LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson voiced their support. This collaboration will tap into a three billion user market currently untouched by Apple. How they’ll wrestle in customers and developers is yet to be seen.
Microsoft is playing a whole different game. They recently unveiled the Kin One and Kin Two, two phones that bring information from a user’s social networks onto the phone and eliminating third-party apps. So instead of downloading an application to view what your friends are doing on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace, the user has it all there on their homescreen, an innovation definitely worth taking a look.
Inside Apps: Advertising
The mobile world is evolving as more people obtain increasingly smarter phones and larger mobile devices, it’ll be a constant race to see who can own the playground. The iPad’s popularity was unprecedented, with 500,000 units sold the first week. Google is rumored to soon have its own version.
And with that, the two technology giants will again compete for another faction of apps: advertising. Google’s acquired AdMob after Apple’s failed attempt. However, Steve Job bought up Quattro Wireless and introduced iAd, Apple’s own advertising platform that will offer rich in-app advertising.
When it comes to mobile development, open-source and collaboration between carriers, phone devices, operating systems is ideal for reaching the most users. The International Telecommunication Union estimates that there are 5 billion mobile subscribers this year. Mobile is the way to connect to people, so the key is to make applications that would work on any device or carrier. It’s not just about Apple or Android, but developing content accessible to the most mobile consumers possible. Can’t we all get along?