Or: Will Google’s Open Model Overcome Apple’s Closed Model?
There is an argument I’m hearing a lot lately that Apple is repeating the mistakes it made in the PC era again today with the iPhone. The argument – which I’ve heard from financial analysts, journalists, and my friend Marc on our walk home from synagogue – goes something like this:
In 1984 Apple ran an ad during the Super Bowl promising that 1984 would not be like [the totalitarian world of George Orwell’s novel] “1984.” Apple then launched the Macintosh, which had an enormous lead over the rest of the PC industry thanks to its graphical user interface. But Steve Jobs decided to keep the Mac a completely closed system while Bill Gates over at Microsoft invited all comers to build apps for MS-DOS. Thanks to the open nature of the PC platform, clone makers from Compaq to Gateway to Dell built more powerful hardware than Apple, Microsoft eventually built its own graphical user interface, and the Mac was relegated to 2% market share.
In 2007, Apple launched the iPhone, which had an enormous lead over the rest of the mobile phone industry thanks to its graphical user interface. But then Steve Jobs decided to keep the iPhone a completely closed system while Andy Rubin over at Google invited all comers to build apps for Android. Thanks to the open nature of the Android platform, vendors from HTC to Motorola to Samsung are building more powerful hardware than Apple, and soon the iPhone will be relegated to a small percentage of the market, and Apple will be in trouble once again.
That’s the argument. It’s wrong on a bunch of levels. Oh, there are parallels, but it’s still wrong.
First, let’s tackle the revisionist history: back in 1984 Apple didn’t have as big a lead as it looked. The Mac was beautiful, but there wasn’t much you could do with it (the advent of desktop publishing single handedly rescued the platform from oblivion). In contrast, the iPhone is a market leader in large part because it is the most versatile platform – there are more, and higher quality apps for iOS than all other platforms combined. App developers nearly always target Apple first because that’s where the money is.
Some argue that this app advantage will be short lived, and app developers will switch allegiance as Android shipments exceed iPhones, which is already happening according to most market sizing numbers. Jobs argues that will not happen because fragmentation within the Android camp makes iOS app development more appealing, but I expect Google to minimize the version fragmentation going forward by slowing down the pace of software releases now that Android is maturing, leaving mainly screen resolution fragmentation as an issue for developers to deal with.
However, while I don’t expect fragmentation to slow Android’s rise, I don’t think Apple has anything to worry about here: it already has the most apps, the best apps, and the deepest selection of good niche apps. It is a leader in mobile gaming. As long as Apple maintains a meaningful share of the market overall, it will remain a premier mobile platform for developers. Apple is also benefiting from the reach iOS has in media devices (the iPod touch) and tablets (with the iPad), not to mention the leading digital media store, iTunes. Android is beginning to compete with Apple in tablets, but the iPad has a significant lead – Google has not even built a tablet-specific version of Android yet, and the iPad enjoys a massive lead in tablet-specific apps.
But doesn’t open always beat closed?
Not necessarily. Google argues that consumers want an open OS. Why? The benefits to consumers for Apple’s controlled environment are clear (the iPhone delivers a consistently good user experience), while Android’s openness has been a mixed bag: there is diverse hardware available, but fragmentation has left some phones unable to run the latest apps, and even as that situation improves, carriers have imposed their own restrictions on core elements of the platform. Cellphones are the most personal of personal technology, and there is no reason to think that we will end up with a single platform. Our present state of seven major platforms (iOS, Android, WP7, webOS, Symbian, MeeGo, BlackBerry) is not sustainable, either, but it is definitely not a zero sum game where if Android succeeds, the iPhone fails.
Apple is dominant in a critical industry metric: profitability – Apple makes more money than anyone else in the industry. It sells high margin devices (the average selling price paid by carriers for the iPhone last quarter was $610) and sells tens of millions of them per quarter (14.1 million of them last quarter). Apple doesn’t break out profitability by business unit, but iPhone revenues were $8.6 billion last quarter and corporate gross margin was over 36%, so iPhone profits are extremely robust no matter how the numbers actually break down. When Google sells an Android phone, it makes nothing, because Google doesn’t sell Android phones; Google licenses the OS for free.
Google claims that Android is profitable thanks to advertising revenues Google accrues down the line, but from that perspective, Google actually gets a fair amount of mobile advertising revenue from the iPhone as well. Google’s business model is different from Apple, allowing both Android and iOS to be successful at the same time. Right now, Apple outsells any individual Android licensee and outearns all of them combined. Even if Android takes an even larger share of the market overall, as long as Apple remains one of the top three or four smartphone vendors and continues selling high margin devices, Apple wins the real game among handset vendors, which is making money.
How likely is Apple to remain one of the top smartphone vendors over the next few years (i.e., large enough to continue to present a healthy target for app developers)? Bet on it. Apple has the lead in apps, consistently refreshes its hardware thanks to strong profits, leads in digital media sales, and owns an incredibly strong brand. Given its position and assets, there are only two things that could realistically knock Apple out: if Apple completely misses an inflection point in how smartphones are used, or if Google chose to use mobile advertising revenue to subsidize hardware (not just the OS), penalizing companies that charge for premium hardware. Either scenario is certainly possible, but rather unlikely, in the near term.
The pace of innovation at Google is astonishing, and Android has easier access to market segments Apple has chosen to avoid – entry level smartphones, QWERTY businessphones, orange square-shaped swivel phones aimed at tweens. However, Apple chose to avoid those segments for a reason: it can make more money by offering a consistent experience on a limited number of hardware variants. Apple is just fine with Google “beating” it in marketshare as long as it can corral the lion’s share of industry profits.
This game is called AR.Pursuit and it’ll make controlling your flying machine all the more fantastic with augmented reality – available at the end of November in the Apple App Store. It’s a two-player game where you control your AR.Drone VS a friend’s, blasting away at them with missiles and machine guns, playing cat and dog in a real world / virtual reality world simulation. It’s so weird! It’s so wild! It looks like so much fun!
If you’re unfamiliar with the AR.Drone experience, take a look at our Hands-on post and come on back after you’re done. Then take a look at this game. There are two roles: “pursuer” and “pursued.” The pursuer is equipped with both an automatic machine gun and missiles, the machine gun firing whenever the frontal camera detects the pursued AR.Drone, while the missiles are fired by shaking your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad. Once you hit your opponent, you switch roles, they now act as the pursuer and you the pursued.
Once your iDevice is connected to your AR.Drone, one player just has to select “create” and the color of their opponent’s color and type of hull. The second player selects “join,” the components of the first person’s flier, and the game is on! What you view through your iDevice is a view of your AD.Drone is seeing. Each game lasts between 1 and 9 minutes, roles are defined randomly at the beginning of the game, and the app will cost $2.99. Cheep! Check out the full press release below, and check out the fun preview video!
AR.Pursuit: The first game in Augmented Reality especially developed for the AR.Drone
SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 18, 2010 — Parrot, a global leader in wireless devices for mobile phones, announces the availability of AR.Pursuit, a game in augmented reality that takes advantage of the exceptional technical and flight capabilities of the Parrot AR.Drone.
Available end of November in the Apple App Store, AR.Pursuit enables players to measure and challenge their piloting skills.
The rules of the game
AR.Pursuit is a two-player pursuit game, where a player has to escape from the other one, as in the game of cat and mouse.
The “pursuer” has two kinds of virtual weapons to reach its opponent:
- Automatic machine gun: as soon as the frontal camera detects the pursued AR.Drone, bullets are automatically sent in order to slow it down. When it is hit, the AR.Drone will physically ‘react’ to the attack and the escape maneuvers will be more difficult for the pilot.
- Missiles: when the opponent is locked on the screen, the pilot of the pursuer AR.Drone has to shake his/her iPhone/iPod touch/iPad to send a missile.
When it is hit by a missile, the “pursued” becomes “pursuer” and so on. At half time, the roles are automatically reversed. The winner is the player who has the longest escape time during the entire game.
A technological first
Once the Bluetooth of the iDevice is on, each player connects to his/her AR.Drone in Wi-Fi and launches AR.Pursuit.
One of the players selects the “create” option on the main menu and indicates his/her opponent’s color and type of hull (indoor or outdoor).
The second player selects the “join” option in the main menu and also indicates the characteristics of his/her opponent. Then the game can start.
Each player can see on the screen of his/her iPhone/iPod touch/iPad what the AR.Drone is seeing. Each action, a shoot received or launched, will also be visualized on the screen via the magic of augmented reality.
Note: If the game is played with indoor hulls, players should place the colored stickers (sold with the AR.Drone) on it.
AR.Pursuit is an enthralling game that makes the most of the extreme maneuverability and stability of the AR.Drone, and which dives the players into a world where real and virtual are mingling… A first!
* Game time: 1 to 9 minutes (3 minutes by default)
* The roles of each player are arbitrarily defined at the beginning of the game.
* Game available around Nov. 26 in the App StoreSM
* Price: $2.99
Reports suggest that a new iPad-exclusive news publication called "The Daily" will be launched perhaps as early as next month, in a joint collaboration between Apple and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Originally posted at Technically Incorrect
It feels like Christmas! I can’t believe these packages were sitting on my desk for more than 5 minutes before I ripped them open. Definitely 3 android devices that will get their fair share of lovin’ this holiday season, watch as I unbox the LG Vortex (Verizon), Motorola Droid Pro (Verizon), and Samsung Galaxy Tab (T-Mobile).
While the LG Vortex isn’t exactly the highest powered Android in the world, it’s running Android 2.2 and is an awesome choice for first time smartphone users on Verizon. The Motorola Droid Pro should attract an epic mass of BlackBerry users to the Android platform as it LOOKS like a BlackBerryish phone… only it’s better because it’s packed with the power of Android. And the Samsung Galaxy Tab is currently the best Android Tablet on the market and, to be honest, the only real competitor to the iPad when looking for a fully featured tablet.
Stay tuned to Phandroid.com as we’ll have full reviews of these devices and more in the coming week(s).
What could Sony Ericsson possibly have to bring into the light? What, oh what, could it be? OH, PlaySation Phone! While I have to strongly remind everyone that nothing is solid, WSJ was able to quote SE CEO Bert Nordberg as saying “There’s a lot of smoke, and I tell you there must be a fire somewhere”. Now, there are some other things that could be scheduled for that February D-Day, like the Anzu; which would line up with nicely with a rumored launch early next year.
SE, a joint venture between Sony and L.M. Ericsson Telephone, has been afraid of using the PlayStation name in their devices due to Sony’s belief that it may dilute the PlayStation branding.
I haven’t done a poll yet, so let’s have some fun:
Hey gang, welcome to this week’s edition of the SlashGear Week in Review! This is the last edition before Thanksgiving in the US, so if you celebrate the holiday have a great one! We put up our review of the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Tab this past Sunday. We figure that the Tab has more flexibility in some areas than the iPad but has an overall rougher feel.
A rumor popped up early in the week that the Sony Ericsson Xperia X7 and X7 Mini smartphones would be coming in Q1 2011. The X7 is said to have a 4.3-inch screen and the X7 mini sports a 3.5-inch screen. Intel is getting serious about open-source with the announcement that MeeGo developers will get a free IdeaPad S10-3t. The free tablet for devs will likely spur more to try to work with the OS.
Early in the week the Nokia E7 clears the FCC. The E7 has a QWERTY keyboard, runs Symbian^3 and packs in a 4-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display. We posted up our Holiday Gift Guide Monday and it’s packed with all sorts of cool gear. There should be something for everyone on this list and it’s really packed.
Facebook added a new messaging system on Monday dubbed the Modern Messaging System. The system is interesting, but caused a few issues after its implementation. A really cool remote control for your TV turned up early in the week that is called the Pillow Universal Remote Control. The remote costs about $30 and has the remote built into a throw pillow. The only downside is if you sleep on the thing you may end up with some weird channel on the TV.
EviGroup unveiled the new Paddle Pro tablet computer that runs Windows Home Premium and an Intel Atom N450 CPU. The tablet has strange head tracking tech that lets you control the mouse cursor with your head movement. Proporta unveiled a new case for the iPhone 4 with a battery inside called the TurboCharger Back Pack. The case promises to recharge your iPhone fully one time.
The Dell Inspiron Duo hybrid notebook was rumored to go on sale on the 23 of the month. The cool tablet is convertible with a screen that flips around rather than twisting. The entire Beatles catalog landed on iTunes after years of fans waiting for the tracks to hit. Among the offers is a $149 box set with music, video, and lots more content.
Microsoft has sold a huge amount of Kinect units in the first ten days. According to MS, it moved a million units over a bit more than a week. A crazy expensive new SSD card that fits into the PCIe slot launched this week called the WarpDrive SSD. The thing sells for $11,500 and has up to 1,400MB/s of throughput.
Panasonic unveiled a gigantic 3D Plasma this week that measures 103-inches. The massive TV has a price as large as the screen at $102,000. A teen selling conversion kits to turn the iPhone 4 into the long anticipated and delayed white iPhone 4 has been hit with a legal threat. The teen sold $130,000 worth of conversion gear after coverage and ended up being accused of selling stolen goods.
ThinkGeek landed a really cool alarm clock this week that looks like a Star Wars Lego minifig. The clock can be had in Storm Trooper or Darth Vader guise for about $30 each. A leaked photo surfaced mid-week that claims to be a shot of a white iPhone 4 for Verizon. The device has the Verizon logo in the left corner and has a different antenna design and no SIM card cover.
An interesting concept phone surfaced this week that used both AMOLED and eInk tech inside. That would give the best of both worlds with color LCD for video and the eInk for reading. It seems a story that made the rounds this week was from a paper known for misquoting folks. The original story had Apple’s Woz saying Android would beat the iPhone, Woz quickly clarified that iOS is the best.
The Dell Inspiron Duo was fingered with an official launch date on Thursday. The tablet/netbook will land in early December for $549 and will run Windows 7 and an Atom N550 CPU. An awesome accessory for the iPad surfaced called the Magic Pinball. The accessory turns your iPad into a pinball machine for $79.95.
A really cool stop light concept surfaced late in the week that uses the colors we are used to and an hourglass design to show how long the light has left before it changes. The concept is cool but in the real world, the lack of other lights would cause some issues for the colorblind. Call of Duty: Black Ops is selling like crazy. The game made $650 million in 5 days. That is a crazy amount of money had better than most of the big Hollywood films.
Apparently Google tried to buy Twitter at one point for the tidy sum of $4 billion. That offer was turned down, as was the first offer of $2.5 billion. Sony Ericsson’s CEO has admitted that the company is in talks with Microsoft on using Windows Phone 7 in its line. However, the strict spec and software limitations mean adoption is an off chance according to the CEO.
A new iPad rumor has surfaced that has a world version of the iPad with a multi-mode GSM/CDMA modem hitting in 2011. I wonder if this would be the version that gets that carbon fiber case that surfaced in a patent app from Apple. If you are a photography geek that want’s to show just how geeky you are we found the perfect bracelets for you. The Lens Bracelets look like the focus ring around a camera lens.
I’m not a fan of video game soundtracks, but there are many hard-core game geeks out there that are. If you really like the Red Dead Redemption sound track and have a record player you can get the games soundtrack. You need that record player because the soundtrack is only on red vinyl. Thanks for reading this week’s edition!
The LG E-Note H1000B tablet spotted crossing the FCC earlier this month has made its official debut in Korea. Fronted by a 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 resistive touchscreen (complete with a stylus), the H1000B runs Windows 7 Starter Edition on an Intel Atom 1.1GHz Z510 or 1.6GHz Z530 processor, paired with 1GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD and optional WiMAX (sadly not integrated, but bundled as a separate modem).
There’s also WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, an SD card slot and two USB ports; since this is basically a full netbook in tablet clothes, you can plug in a USB keyboard, mouse or any other peripheral. The whole thing weighs 850g with the standard, removable 4-cell battery, and measures 278.5 x 180.5 x 14.5 mm.
Options include Windows 7 Professional and a docking-station stand (as shown in the gallery below). Frankly, we’re not too impressed by the specifications, and can’t imagine battery life being particularly impressive either. The LG E-Note H1000B is priced at 961,000 won ($847) from Korean carrier KT, complete with the WiMAX modem.