This month we have seen number of new Android phones enter the market. Android is Google’s new operating system for mobile phones. Android is entering the open-application phone market which is dominated by Apple’s iPhone. Comparing Android phones with the sophisticated and well-designed iPhone with it’s successful App Store, has caused people to dismiss Android as a serious threat to the iPhone. However, Android has one advantage that can makes it powerful: it is open platform. And open platforms tend to win.
Some may argue that Apple is open platform. Sure, anyone can put their applications in the Apple App Store, and thus the Apple model is more open then the walled garden models of the past. Still, the iPhone OS is tied to one handset manufacturer that uses one carrier. Android is available to any handset manufacturer and carrier. In this sense it is similar to the early PC model where any PC manufactures could build IBM PC compatibles and any program written for the IBM PC would work. The open model won over the closed model pushed by Apple.
For independent developers, the Apple platform is not entirely open. Apple has to approve your app. Granted, the process is painless and relatively quick and Apple tends to approve anything that is not offensive or that might upset Apple or it’s partner AT&T. Then even if you’re app gets approved it will get lost in the sea of 85.000 apps. And if you want to sell your app from your own App Store, that’s not possible.
iPhone developers, when asked about their interest in Andriod, will laugh and ask back if I have seen the Android phones. I admit I have never seen one, but there is a funny thing working here: it’s called sustainable innovation. With sustainable innovation products get improved gradually and only by comparing with old models you see the difference. Android phones will be just as cool as the iPhone.
With its introduction of iPhone, Apple disrupted the Telecoms industry in a major way. However, Apple adopted the closed proprietary model. This model is successful for the Mac brand and for iPhone, but if history of the PC can tell us anything, Android might become more important in the long run.