Its the coolest mobile gadget pitted against the open mobile software stack with unprecedented possibilities. The iPhone was a major contributor to Apple’s 36% growth for the second quarter results. Google’s Android is the search giants major foray into the mobile applications platform space backed by the Open Handset Alliance of component manufactures and carriers including Intel, Samsung, Nvidia and Qualcomm. Both Apple and Google are vouching for third party software development to make their business model a success.
An excerpt from Fonearena:
The guys at Google were sounding pretty confident at the recently held Emerging Communications Conference in Silicon Valley, and they were saying that Android is not afraid of Apple iPhone platform and will easily outsell the later, that is some confidence Google guys are showing I must say. For the uninformed the Android SDK was downloaded over 750,000 times, Apple are you reading this, if yes, then please respond to these guys at Google.
The battle for mobile platform dominance is also the battle between constrained and open architectures. Apple is known for its control over hardware and software technologies. Google espouses the advantages of openness. Apple has the advantage that the iPhone is a pinnacle of innovation and its software is highly intuitive. Google is yet to see the results of spreading a software stacks across a multitude of devices. There are the advantages of greater reach but then the question of varied user experience across devices.
Apple had to loosen some of its control on the iPhone SDK when it saw what a phenomenal market the whole third party application development was growing into. Through a business model similar to iTunes, users will be able to buy software via the AppStore.
Here’s a technology chart comparing the iPhone SDK with Google’s Android (credit):
Google may certainly have the reach with its Android, but you can be sure that Apple will be looking to gain from having the most innovative mobile hardware platform. Moves such as the acquisition of P.A. Semi are targeted towards reducing the dependence on component manufacturers. Google may claim that it will trump Apple but the fact remains that iPhone has proven itself already while Android will be out only later this year.
And while the battle is on, lets not forget Microsoft, which owns a healthy stake in the mobile OS market. Redmond is not going to sit and watch the show from the fence. The recent acquisition of Danger is a case in point. It is to be noted that Andy Rubins, the Director of Mobile Platforms at Google and leading the Android effort was one of the founders of Danger.
The question comes down to which SDK model provides the best returns for third party developers. Google would have the reach while Apple has an established business model and a slick device. Surely the mobile market is large enough to accommodate both.