I had the opportunity yesterday to watch the Android keynote from Google I/O. I was impressed with some of the stuff they talked about and showed. I was amused by the jabs at Apple also.
The new version of the Android operating system, named Froyo, looked as impressive in a demo. The features such as natively being a wireless hot spot, speed increases, the new API for pushing from the web, the new update features, all of it seemed to work rather nicely and smoothly. Even the peeks at the future beyond Froyo looked nice. The addition of flash was one of the biggest improvements people wanted to see, and it didn’t disappoint either.
To compare, they had an iPad, and tried to bring up Nickelodeon’s website. This is a children friendly, Flash based website. Of course, the iPad failed at it, as would the iPhone. The new version of the Android OS, opened it and showed it no problems. The dig at Apple was complete. The OS that allows porn, also allows a kid to view a site that has Sponge Bob on it.
After the keynote, I was chatting with some friends about it, when we all came to the same realization. We’ve seen this fight before, and we know who loses.
At this point, lets set the wayback machine to 1984. the computer world has a number of players, but the 2 big ones are IBM with its PC, and Apple who has just announced the Macintosh. The Macintosh, was an innovated, fantastic machine. the price points between the PC and Mac were about the same. The Mac offered that simple GUI interface and a mouse in a compact, all in one unit. The PC was larger, ran DOS, and you needed to get a monitor for it separately.
It was the start of a war that would last for a number of years, with Macintosh staying as a closed system. The PC opened up, a number of manufacturers started making them and selling them with Windows 3.1 on them in the early 90’s. Prices dropped on the PC. Windows 95 Came out, and made the PC even more popular.
In the same time frame, Macintosh got rid of Steve Jobs, and became a niche product, that was amazing for graphical artists, but not worth the price for an everyday user. Limited software, due to the tightness of the development terms was a big problem. The hardware was all controlled by Apple, with no competition for other types of Mac OS machines. Even when they tried to license the OS companies couldn’t compete to drive the prices down. The Game market took off, and those games were not as readily available for the Mac, again because of restrictions, or cost of getting the proper information to program the games for Macintosh. Apple needed to stay in control of all aspects of the Mac and force others to follow super strict guidelines.
Now don’t get me wrong having to follow those guidelines does help prevent some crashing, make things work nice and seamless, etc. Apple, though real innovative, had gone ahead and limited itself. Basically what ammounted to trying to kill itself in small increments. Microsoft came in the 90’s and infused money into Apple to help keep it afloat. Jobs came back, created the iPod, then the iPhone, and now the iPad. Apple was back in a position of innovative importance.
So you all know, I use a Blackberry Curve from work, my personal phone is a Motorola Droid. I support clients that have iPhones in a SMB environment. I have had a chance to play around with the iPhone, and it is a nice phone. It does just work. The issues I’ve had with it are, the lack of being able to change the battery out on it, and how much control Apple has over it.
You take a look at the market now, and its really iPhone OS vs. Android OS. the Android OS has become viable in the 18 months its been around, and continues to impress. It also works on multiple devices, on multiple carriers, and is open to developers. The new terms of the iPhone OS developers agreement tightens the requirements again. If the rumors of an Android tablet from Verizon and Google is true, Apple could be in major trouble.
I hope that Apple turns around and learns from the mistakes of the past that they made, because competition is good and needed. If they don’t, well, we already saw this happen to Apple once, and I don’t know if they can survive another downturn like that. After all, those that don’t learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it.