Jean-Baptiste Soufron

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5 posts tagged android

In 2011, Apple will lose the smartphone and the tablet market to Android because they forgot about OSX…

I am not really into predictions, but this is something I have been thinking about for quite a long time.

Apple won the the smartphone market when they launched the iPhone: an incredible design, a multitouch interface, an app store, lot of developers eager to make a living on this new market…

…and tons of marketing based on Steve’s notorious Reality Distorsion Field.

But I always thought that it was a transitory state. I remember very well the day when I decided to switch from Linux to osx, and I never felt that I was entering some sort of Dungeon into Apple’s own universe.

At the time, I was buying a Macbook. And it was a great experience to buy a computer with a better hardware design than usual, plus a software where the same design spirit had been applied to improve an open and very secure platform.

You can think of osx as upgrading a virusless computer with a clean and meaningful interface. Clearly, osx has been a revolution to the Computer industry. The incredible growth of Apple’s share of the computer market for the last 10 years is a proof in itself.

But the iPhone was not the same revolution than osx, and the iPad even less.

Sure it’s a beautiful phone, with a beautiful interface.

That was smart. But not revolutionary.

Apple came with a new design paradigm. They showed to everybody else what that the era of 90’s mobile phones was over. And they showed to their competitors what modern customers were waiting for.

It’s a lot, but it’s not better than a car prototype for example. Sure they went a little further than just launching the prototype, but how much further? 3 years in advance with the iPhone, and less than 1 year with the iPad - Samsung already got 30% of Christmas tablet sales in France. Android is already grabing market shares at an incredibly fast pace, and there will be nothing left behind.

Why? Because it’s a better platform. The user experience was not exactly on the same level in the first few months, but owning several Android phones, an iPhone 4, an iPad, a Samsung Galaxy tablet and an archos. Today, it’s clear to me than you feel better on the most recent Android Phones than on the iPhone 4. Google Maps is a breeze, Gesture Search is a new way to search through your contacts without the hassle to look at some infinite alphabetical list, Android Market now sports 200k applications without Apple censorship, etc.

And the Android tablets are next. There is no reason why they should not become better than the iPad. Whatever the iPad 2 will be. Nevermind how innovative Apple appears to be, they will never be able to keep with the pace of innovation that is going on Open Platforms.

Many bloggers and journalists felt the same way. Seth Weintraub thinks that 2011 will be the year Android explodes. Robert Scoble thinks that Android pundits are right about it, even if he hates it. But they think that Android will be a success mostly because of its price. And if Louis Gray is (justly) kind of fed up with the Apple fanboys who can’t handle the truth about the success of Android; he explains that its success is due to the many partnerships Google has forged leading more users to these devices; on quality, there are many places where Android is now ahead.

To me, I would say it will be a success because it made me feel like switching to osx once again. The price is just collateral damage - and very cheap prices never allowed Linux to beat Windows on the desktop.

When we put it back in perspective, the development of osx on top of FreeBSD was a stroke of genius that generated long term revenues and lot of indebted fans. Suddenly, computing was about innovation all over again. In that sense, Free Software was not only about cheap prices. It meant that your money would go where it’s the most useful - in design and interface development rather than in stupid licenses.

It’s just a sad thing than Apple doesn’t seem to put much effort into the development of osx anymore.

I had the chance to visit Samsung’s headquarters in July 2010 with the French Telecom Institute, and as soon as I had the Galaxy S in my hands, feeling the power of Android in a nice hardware at last, it was clear to me. The creation of iOS and the invention of the iPhone and the iPad might reveal to be a Pyrrhic victory in the end.

To me it’s now clear that Android was the osx of 2010. Being way more open than iOS, it’s coming en force with both a solid software, a nice interface, and the possibility to build upon it to innovate even more. Even without mentioning their new challengers such as jolicloud, I am sure than Apple can compete with Google, but how could they compete with thousands of big and small companies working together to improve their own product?

Update: @Le_M_Poireau attracted my attention to Steve Wozniak who expressed similar ideas ;-)

Update: made a small change to better reflect Louis Gray’s point of view after his comment

Update: Jean-Louis Gassée wrote a column with a similar point of view, but more optimistic about the chances of Apple to auto-correct themselves - iPhone = Mac 2.0