With the release of the Motorola ‘Droid’ phone running the Android 2.0 operating system, there has been much talk and chatter on whether this is the long anticipated “iPhone killer”. It could well be, there are a number of impressive features on the Droid such as multi-tasking that are not available on the iPhone. That said, in the long run I think the feature that will make the most difference is the operating system itself.
For the first time, I can as a T-Mobile subscriber with a G1 phone make recommendations on ‘good applications’ to a Verizon subscriber with a Droid phone. The application catalog is no longer tethered to the mobile phone operator. It is the realization of develop once and run on multiple networks (in this case GSM and CDMA).
Finally got around to reading the WIRED September issue. In an article titled “Betting on the Store” Steven Levy makes the argument that the iPhone’s success is primarily due to their immense application portfolio (according to the latest Apple TV ads 75,000 or more)
While I would be the first to agree that the applications are impressive (same goes of course for applications on the PRE, Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian phones) but I think the days of the quantity of applications being the key success factor are about to disappear. There are just too many of them and managing your personal application catalog is becoming onerous at best.
Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I have an Android G1 phone not an iPhone. But I think the same arguments apply – there are just so many applications (15,000 plus for the G1) and there are very few applications that are inherently exclusive to a platform – for example the Hey Where Are You application (iPhone exclusive) provides the same functionality as Google’s Latitude which is multi-platform). Plus looking across the mass of applications, there are a select group that get used regularly (e-mail), some occasionally (travel sites), some as needed (a dice throwing app anyone?). I would contend, that all platforms are well served by their application catalogs for regular use and even occasional use applications.
The implication is that Apple’s Application Catalog is the de facto ‘walled garden” and as such every mobile platform needs to have thousand and thousands of apps to succeed is just plain wrong.
There are lots of reasons for the iPhone’s success, the App Store is but a small part of it.