Developers, the next round is about you in the mobile platform war

A (brief) history of computing platforms

The guys n gals over at asymco.com created an awesome chart which shows the incredibly short time period in which mobile computing platforms rose head to head in unit shipments with Windows PCs.

Annual Computing Platform Shipment

Can Apple sustain a pure premium segment positioning?

When Steve Jobs announced at the launch of the iPhone that Apple probably has a 5 years head start he was probably spot on: It took Android about 2-3 years to surpass Apple in units shipped, but one can argue that the Android ecosystem is less developed and that revenues on the platform are still catching up with Apple.

But there is also another story – one that Apple is too familiar with. Walled gardens usually only last for so long and taking a 30% cut of revenues on a platform won’t work forever. Think about it this way: Except of Rovio no company has gotten really big on the iOS platform. Huge companies, however, have been built on the Windows, Unix and Linux platforms.

Apple should have learned in the original Macintosh days that there comes a time when the network effects of an ecosystem with complimentary players outpace vertically integrated firms in the software sector. You can already see how Android is having more momentum even though it is the fast follower and by no means first to market.

Or is Android the new Windows?

Android’s biggest strength is also its biggest threat, however: The speed of the Android catch up is only possible due to the degree of openness of Android, that it can be adapted to Amazon Fire tablets as well as to a Samsung Galaxy phone. In order to create a tipping point where the Android platform is so much more attractive for normal consumers that they don’t want anything else Android will need to be developers’ choice #1 and this requires a manageable technology stack. The stack however is threatend by a possible fork if the the diverging forces become too strong. I think it could well be that at one point Android will need to be maintained by an independent organization such as Apache.

Let’s get ready to rumble

Oh, and then there is the original platform heavy weight champion: Microsoft. Will he make a comeback?

Pass the popcorn and get ready for round #2 in iOS vs Android