Misguided Developers: Apple dominates mobile development now, but “open” will win in the end

The way developers see it, Apple might be dominating the game today but in the long-term, it will be Google and its open platform approach that will take the top honors.

Right. Just like Linux with its “open platform approach” took “top honors” on the desktop. Which reminds me, is this The Year Of Linux again?

Anyway, you can develop an app taking advantage of unique hardware and software with off the charts customer satisfaction scores, or you can write lowest-common-denominator code in Java or Flash on wildly fluctuating devices. The choice is yours.

I’ve said before that Google can have all the philosophical/political developers they want. I still believe that. I’ve seen no correlation between a developer’s politics and ability to code.

Consumers just want a really great app. Whether the developer can also sell it on a dozen other devices doesn’t mean diddly to a typical end user (you know, the ones developers should be trying to sell to). Further, whether an app is “open” is irrelevant in a tech world where the meaning of that word has been twisted by every corporate entity to mean whatever it needs to in order to fit their marketing plan.

The “open” advocates are misguided believing they don’t want to buy or code for an Apple device because the six-inch high “wall” around Apple’s “garden” has only allowed over 39,000 developers and 225,000 apps—way more than competitors’ alleged “open” systems have—but it’s the theory, not the practice, that matters to such people.


Oh Goody, Another iPhone vs. Android Feature List


All the article “proves” is that it’s just as easy to devise a feature list favoring the iPhone as it is to favor Android. Big deal.

The inherent worth of a product is the total package, from the hardware to the software to the ecosystem. When measured on that scale I think the iPhone beats up Android and takes its lunch money. But you’ll never capture that in a feature list, can’t we just leave those to the marketing people?

A Switcher Switches (or How One Pundit Learned To Milk A Storyline)


I tweeted the above in response to this article. Today I found out I was right.

Not only has the author not stopped whining about Apple’s “creepy” culture, but he’s not even switching like he threatened to do.

Does anyone still not believe there are tech pundits who’ll write anything to bag readers?

This guy spouted off twice in one week, taking alternate positions while using the same silly talking points each time. “I’m switching from Apple because of X, Y and Z.” “I’m staying with Apple despite X, Y and Z.” Two articles for the price of one, and he grabs both the Android and Apple crowd.

Welcome “back”, Mitch. I’m glad you got an iPhone 4; now just stop writing about it so we can all enjoy your choice.

Google to Android Hardware Manufacturers: Be Generic

While it’s doubtful Google would outright restrict custom interfaces, the move could potentially solve much of the OS fragmentation issue that plagues Android today. Proprietary interface layers have been the primary cause of OS upgrade delays as phone makers have gone several months before updating the OS or even skipped upgrades entirely because of the extra testing and compatibility problems found in Google’s own updates. Despite Android 2.2 being available for the Nexus One a month ago, for example, no other Android phone currently uses it.

If Google puts the kibosh on custom UIs, hardware makers will have little with which to differentiate their devices. Google couldn’t care less, but the hardware makers do.

It’s a return to Dell and HP spitting out no-name clones running the same software and racing to the bottom on price. This invariably leads to razor-thin margins, cheap products and low quality as they must squeeze every penny they can. When your hardware “partners” aren’t happy it can’t be good for the platform.

Could they differentiate on hardware? Not really. Not if there’s no custom software to support it. This is where Apple gets it, and kicks ass. Add a front-facing camera, and include FaceTime for video calling. Add HD video recording, and offer simple clip editing/sharing, with more advanced iMovie editing for just five bucks.

It’s the integration of hardware and software, not one or the other, that makes a device. If the article is true, Android took yet another step to becoming the next Windows Mobile (you know, the mobile OS that ran on tens of millions of devices and nobody knew it, or cared?), not the next iOS.

Apple’s ad terms

Consider the flipside perspective, too. What if it were Apple honing in on Google’s lucrative search advertising business, building up profiles on Web searchers via Safari and displaying targeted ads within the browser during Google searches? Or selling the search behavior of Safari users to Microsoft so that it could improve Bing at Google’s expense? I can hardly imagine Google would be happy about Apple using Google search data to threaten its bread-and-butter business. In fact, whatever deal Google and Apple have struck for Safari’s search bar probably already prohibits that kind of behavior. Does that sound anticompetitive to you? Or is it just the sign of a company protecting its crown jewels from a fierce competitor?

The big difference is that, if Apple did attempt to “hone in” on Google search, and Google took steps to prevent it, Apple, not Google, would be derided as the aggressor. Such is the tech tide flowing against Apple.

Apple’s secrecy pisses tech pundits off. Push comes to shove, the majority of them will support the company with free-flowing PR every time. Any communication, whether vapor, marketing speak or statistical manipulation is better to them than a “no comment”, and typically reported with little question. It’s why they proclaimed Microsoft King the better part of 20 years.

About Google “Openness”

Google’s main product, its search engine, is still a very, very closed platform. If a developer wants to innovate off of Google’s search, they currently have two options the AJAX search API and Google’s Custom Search Engine (CSE) — both of which have tremendous limitations. The AJAX API limits results to just 8, and really just keeps trying to drive users back to Google’s properties. For CSE, the terms are quite limiting and only let you display Google ads on the results page

I’ve been saying for a while that Google is no more open when it comes to its key products than Apple is. When Apple’s competitors beat the ” open” drum, it’s BS. Most of the tech press don’t care—they just want a story to write—but it’s nice to see some people have no problem stating it clearly.