back to article Microsoft's past - the future to Android's iPhone victory

The desktop market was won by Microsoft in large part because of its appeal to the broadest segment of the developer population — cue the Steve Ballmer fight song, complete with sweat stains and manic enthusiasm. In mobile, Microsoft is AWOL because it has failed to attract developers in meaningful numbers. Instead, Apple and …


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  1. fandom Silver badge

    60,000 devices

    That was in may, now it's 160,000 daily

  2. Jimmy Floyd

    History is on Android's side

    Spot on article, and it reminds me yet further of The Perplexing Case of Jobs.

    Why, with all of computing history against him, does Steve Jobs persist in pushing a closed, restrictive platform? Sure, it has worked in the short (and maybe even medium) term but in the long run it's only ever going to be a losing strategy.

    Maybe that's enough for him.

  3. James Hughes 1

    Cost and ease of development

    I don't develop for Apple or Android, but I have installed the Android dev system to see what it was like, and it didn't cost me anything to do that. That's one advantage over Apple I presume. As to the system itself, I have been quite impressed, it integrates well with Eclipse, and the simulator was a bit slow but functional. I was able to knock up a quick Android app with about 1/2hr of deciding to download the dev kit. This mirrors another reason why Android and Windows dev are similar - MS produced Visual Studio which was easy to use and enabled rapid (ish) development and debugging of apps, in a sensible IDE. Just like Google have done with Android.

    As stated - I don;t have any experience of the Apple dev system, so would be interested to see what people think its like compared with the Android system.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Good analysis

    "Perhaps, as Dave Rosenberg writes, Android needs a touch of the Jobsian strongman, someone to cut out the clutter of Android apps and enforce quality control."

    To follow your Microsoft analogy, this issue has never mattered to Windows, or, maybe even to a greater extent, to Linux. There's good software for both, and there's an awful lot of rubbish too. But, you pays your money and takes your choice. Very few people complain that there's too much choice (with the possible exception of video and audio standards, which is a mess).

    Also, Microsoft, for all their ills, never tried to police the market at all. It has pretty-much always (except for maybe deliberately trying to block rival versions of DOS in the old days) left the software market to itself, and this has, quite obviously, paid off for it. Apple on the other hand seem to be coming up with more and more restrictions, almost on a weekly basis. This, coupled with the seeming shifting sands of the iPhone API, (another thing that MS have been pretty good at maintaining; Linux less-so - which audio standard are we using this week?) will inevitably put-off developers. Why put huge effort in to writing something when you don't even know if it will work (or be allowed to work!) a year from now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jimmy Floyd

      Let's hope that history isn't on Android's side - if it goes the way of Windows, it'll be nothing more than a copy of innovation and deliver nothing but pain, misery and at best mediocrity, and then it'll hit a peak and start a rapid downfall.

      I don't agree with your dig at Apple, however, I think devices like the iPhone will flourish - the locked down environment isn't as locked down as developers would have you think. For the average consumer, ease of use is far and away better than an environment which allows the tinkering of the techy crowd.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @James Hughes 1

      "That's one advantage over Apple I presume."

      The iOS SDK is free. There will be a charge if and when you build an app and want to submit it to the App Store, however.

      1. Daleos

        SDK free?

        The SDK may be free but you need a Mac to run it on.

      2. RegisterThis
        Thumb Down

        Give me (more) open any day as a prosumer ...

        Personally I hate the direction Apple, and now Google, have sent the mobile device market. Beautiful big screens - but dead-duck battery life ... touch screen keyboards - and massively reduced WPM typing ability. Hardly progress!

        For both Apple and Google (indirectly through Symbian), everything has moved from productivity, to consumer orientation as a platform for those companies to generate continuous revenue streams. If you buy Apple, you are buying their media delivery platform - Google, their add delivery platform. Of course, this is getting fuzzy with both Google and Apple expanding into adds and media respectively.

        What they have done to the mobile device industry is the equivalent to Sony selling televisions that only deliver Sony stable movies!

        In this regard, Apple is worse insofar as they have, on numerous occasions, blatently exploited their control to stop other companies from monetizing the platform in areas they see potential for themselves to. Google so far has not, and it seems do not intend to. The closed approach of Apple WILL kill innovation long term as the prime aim is to grow and protect Apple's revenue streams which means doing everything Apple's way and for Apple's benefit regardless of whether it is in the consumers best interest or beneficial to them or not.

        Give me (more) open any day!

      3. David Cook
        Thumb Down

        @Anonymous Mac Coward

        "The iOS SDK is free. There will be a charge if and when you build an app and want to submit it to the App Store, however."

        But the Apple Mac hardware to run the iOS SDK on is anything but free. For a PC user that wants to dabble with some casual mobile app development in their own time and on their own dime this is a bit of an obstacle. The Android SDK is equally at home on Windows, OS X and Linux.

      4. Gulfie

        SDK is free...

        But the mandatory Mac to run it on is not. If you're not already a Mac owner.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down


          With comments like yours and others above, you will always have a comeback because you have already decided that Apple is bad and not Apple is good.

          OMG, you have buy some equipment and you can't develop that next iPhone killer app on a netbook. FFS, find a better reason to stay away from Apple.

        2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

          Which part of "Sapiens" do you not understand?

          And are you *seriously* claiming Windows PCs are "free" now?

          Legendary Fail.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            Nobody said that; you just missed the point entirely so your choice of icon suits you very well indeed.

            Obviously anyone interested in developing for a phone will own a computer, that's just common sense. Of course not all of those people own a Mac.

            The point is to develop for Android, it doesn't matter what type of computer it is (Mac, Windows, Linux), the person is free to go for it without any additional financial commitment.

            To develop for the iPhone, you have to own a Mac. If you are one of the many who doesn't, you must buy one first (or pirate OS X).

            Something tells me those who complain don't already own a Mac. Do you get it now or was that not simple enough?

          2. Richard 12 Silver badge

            No, he's not.

            He's saying that in order to develop for Android you need a computer running Windows, Mac OSX or Linux.

            In other words, if you own a computer capable of rendering a web page, you own a computer capable of running the Android SDK.

            The same is not true for iPhone/iPod Touch or for Windows Mobile, both of which require a specific operating system.

            1. Bonzo the Wonder Dog

              Easy There Tiger...

              We don't want to see anyboby upsetting anybody. I always like STB's postings... makes me feel like a freaking genius.

      5. The Other Steve

        Minor points of note

        You can get the SDK and the XCode IDE tools for free, although you must register, however if you want to get your app running on a physical device you must sign up to the paid developer program at $99 or some number of euros that I don't recall. It's not just access to the app store that you're buying.

        Free devs can only get the current release versions of the tools, SDK and docs, paid ones get the betas well in advance of public release as well as access to the 'confidential' sections of the developer forums.

        It is worth noting that in both cases you will be asked to indicate your acceptance of Apple's developer agreement, which as far as I recall is word for word the same for both free and paid devs. I cannot stress enough that you should take the time to read every word of it, and if you are uncomfortable with legalese show it to someone who isn't.

        If you haven't seen many corporate NDAs before, then prepare to feel queasy, have a good long think about wheather you are comfortable working under what many people will regard as quite unreasonable terms but IME are boilerplate for corporate NDAs.

        And yes, you'll have to buy a Mac which will set you back a few quid, but given the seriousness of the agreement you will be required to enter into, starting iPhone development is not something you should be doing on a whim. Despite much recent wibbling, it is unlikely that Apple's corporate legal ninjas will have put together an agreement that will fall down the first time someone throws UCTA at it.

      6. Dave Rickmers
        Jobs Horns

        Access to the file system is so very "techy"

        I am a Linux person, but learned to edit video on Macs. I recently got an iPod Touch 3G 32 GB Newest (to listen to web radio via mobile 3G/WiFi.)

        The way Apple treats its customers like idiots is truly eye-opening. While Microsoft has all the industrial style of East Berlin in the '70s, they are not nearly as creepy as the iCult.

        I have a couple friends who, due to Leo LaPorte's scathing review of iP4, made the leap to xdroid phones and they have no regrets. A month ago they were loyal iFanbois.

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      You'd assume Jobs' plan is...

      ... to stay closed and restrictive, grab the short- to maybe medium-term gains, then liberalise as necessary. Though he doesn't seem to be doing that. His plan actually seems to be, in the short to medium term, to leverage Apple's vertical integration, marketing and user interface nouse to jump into domination in nascent markets with the same software platform. How many Android tablets are there in the world? Probably a few thousand (since it's restricted to weird Chinese knock-offs for the time being; this will change). How many iOS tablets are there in the world? A week or so ago it was 3 million, with the rate increasing. I reckon he can pull off at least three more years of his current behaviour on that achievement alone.

      1. RegisterThis


        Interesting comments. I was talking to some mobile industry analysts the other day and their view was that Apple lives by new product launches. (Makes sense given Apple device price-points giving them a limited market, and the high ratio of repeat sales to a loyal following?) They needed the iPad as a new device to keep growing. You are probably right that the iPhone is part of a strategy for another 2-3 years and then it will be of secondary interest and kept on life support.

    4. GrantB

      Enough for most people

      Given that Steve (and Apple shareholders) are richer than most, Mac's are still around 25 years without being fully opened (but use open source where it helps), iPods, iPhones and iPads have all largely taken the mindshare (and profits) from their respective markets I would say closed restrictive platform seems to have worked pretty well.

      Depending on what you mean by long run of course, but Mac's and then iPods have been around a while. You could argue Mac might have been more successful if they had not open; but other systems have come and gone and they are still around churning out a nice profit.

      I suspect the market has room both for commodity open-source gear and some closed expensive designer kit like Apple stuff.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's already been won.


    Developer fees for Android: £17 once off payment.

    Apple yearly recurring fees of about £75 a year.


    Android: Free and pretty good (Eclipse plugin works well as does the Android device emulator)

    Apple - pretty rubbish and mac-based.


    Android: none, you post your app, it's there right away.

    Iphone, 4-6 weeks if you are lucky enough to get it approved.


    Android: Lots, you can do pretty much anything you want.

    Apple: Not very much. It Jobs doesn't like it, or it may hurt their income streams, then it's banned.


    Android is just about beating iOS in sales, and it's only going to get worse for Apple, by the end of the year it's easy to see a scenario where Android is crucifying it.

  6. My Alter Ego

    The public are understanding the benefits of an more open* app store too.

    This is a comment I received from a customer who bought one of my apps. He found a bug which I verified and fixed. I emailed him to say that the new version was available in the Marketplace with the bug fix. It's looking like I may have to start writing iPhone apps, and I'm dreading that day.

    "Incidentally, I must say I'm impressed with the way Google allows developers like yourself to download apps without the limitations Apple adopts for their iPhones."

    * I say more open, as I'm fully aware that apps can be removed from the store and killed remotely. You're still are allowed to install an app from outside the store without voiding your warranty though.

  7. Maliciously Crafted Packet

    Android may take the largest market share...

    but Apple and it developers will take most of the money.

    For the very same reason the author pointed out. Android will win over in emerging economies.

    Places where software piracy is endemic, where people have far less money to spend on apps and where ad revenues will be low compared to the developed world.

    The only party to make any real money from Android will be Google's ad business. For the rest I fear it will turn into another race to the bottom.

  8. chr0m4t1c


    As a former developer I can say that what I wanted to happen in the OS adoption patterns of the public very rarely happened in practice.

    The problem with the mobile landscape is that something which catches the public's imagination can change the whole playing field in less than 12 months. Look what happened with the RAZR and compare that with the relative flop that was the RAZR-V2 and ROKR.

    It's entirely possible that Nokia manage to get their act together and make an extremely desirable phone that works properly so that Simbian becomes the next big thing (again) or that Sony make a WinMo7 phone so desirable to the public as to make WM7 huge.

    The only thing you can say about the future is that it's rarely what's predicted.

    Now, if you'll excuse me I need to don my little silver cape so I can go on my day trip to the moon. Oh, wait, that prediction was wrong too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @AC who is wrong

      Crucifying Apple. Hmmm. Not bloody likely. Look at the early success of the iPhone 4. Now I'm not saying that Android phones won't sell more, but what you imply is that Android will not only sell more, but at the same time the iPhone will stop selling. That will not happen. The iPhone will always sell lots and lots, and there will be a huge market for apps - that will not change.

      This competition thing is so stupid. Nothing is better merely for sellng more. And it's even sillier when you compare software to hardware.

      The one thing that Android needs to manage is this fragmentation issue that is becoming more and more of a big issue.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        @AC @AC who is wrong

        Competition isn't stupid. It drives change and improvements.

        Whatever anybody may feel about Apple, iPhones and the nutters who fanatically support them (compared to normal users) is that they have substantially changed the mobile market for the better.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Nice, ya capitalist shill.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Actually, the Android development tools are rubbish

      Do I actually believe that? No. Am I offering it as an unqualified subjective statement in order to make a point about exactly how persuasive that sort of argument is? Yes.

      I chose to judge the accuracy of your post entirely on the grounds of "Iphone, 4-6 weeks if you are lucky enough to get it approved" — you seem not to know what the device is called and seem to have missed the memo that 95% of apps submitted are approved within seven days. It looks entirely like you're asserting things you wish were true just to kick up an argument.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fair points on all.

      1) What are the sales like per handset, of apps though? Not seen any figures yet?

      2) the only trouble with open source OS, etc is that there will always be someone who is willing to spend their time for free to produce an app, especially if yours is any good.

      3) People can copy your app to all their friends

      4) Google will remove non-malicious, no affecting apps with their kill

      trouble is the only other market in town has Jobs in charge... :(

    4. Tufty Squirrel

      O RLY?

      >> Android: Free and pretty good (Eclipse plugin works well as does the Android device emulator)

      >> Apple - pretty rubbish and mac-based.

      Last time I looked at the Android dev stuff, it was utter cack. Eclipse is vile, but that's personal opinion. Even when I was developing Java I paid for an IDE rather than suffer Eclipse.

      Android documentation is either outdated, partial, splattered across the web on a dozen contradictory blog posts, or simply non-existent.

      Apple's devtools are slick and well integrated, and *everything* is documented. You might not much like XCode, but that's, again, personal choice.

      I've got a game on the app store. It took me less than 2 days to port it, and it runs well. I'm currently struggling with getting half the framerate on Android.

      Java is a shite language for developing apps that have to perform on a platform with limited resources. Yeah, Froyo delivers a new Dalvik with an up to 450% increase in performance, but it's taken 2 years to get there, and it's only out on a couple of devices. And even then, it doesn't stop the "hic" of garbage collection.

      For what it's worth, I don't see either Android or iOS as being a sustainable long-term platform. iOS is too limited (in general terms, not in terms of "what you can get approved"), and Android doesn't seem to be interested in being anything other than a "me too" iOS clone. That comes from seeing real innovation being passed by over and over again.

      As for android taking over in countries where expense is everything? Dunno, Linux was supposed to do that to the developing world's desktops, but everyone seems to be happy enough running Windows. Go figure.

      1. Giles Jones Gold badge

        In total agreement

        Yeah, I could never understand the use of interpreted code. It's like running all your applications in a CPU emulator.

        What do people have against native code? C and C++ produce fast code usually. The browser you are using now is likely to be written in C++. You wouldn't run a Java browser, it would be slower and more resource hungry.

        So why on earth have a JVM on a mobile phone where you have a fraction of the memory and CPU power, plus a battery!

        I guess one reason is skills, there are plenty of people around with Java skills. So as usual it's not about providing top quality software to the end user, it's about attracting developers.

      2. Daniel B.

        Developing countries have already shunned the iBone.

        Don't worry, though ... they're *also* shunning the Android thingys as well. The only ones I've seen over here (Mexico) are the Motorola Dext and something called the Motoroi. And that last one is for the minority CDMA network... I'd like to see how it fares with the iPhone, which is an exclusive to Telcel, the carrier with 80% market over here.

        I'd like to note that at my workplace everyone has smartphones. One guy has an iPhone. Unlike the Linux/Windows wars, the OS choice is linked to specific devices, which have a price tag. iPhone's price tag is somewhere near the "average income of a Mexican family"; the subsidized with 18-mo contracts are cheaper but few mobile users have contracts; most of them are on PAYG.

        Blackberries are the ones that have been doing some inroads lately, as there are lots of them on sale on the $200 price tag, something that can be bought by middle-class people without wincing. Android handsets also seem to have a decent price tag, so those are selling even though there is close to none marketing for Android over here. Even though I've seen few Android handsets, there are more of those than iPhone handsets. And the few iPhones I've seen ... well... a couple of them are the hiPhone knockoff. I doubt Apple will ever have a raving success here in Mexico.

    5. Gulfie

      "Apple and its developers will take most of the money"

      I'm not sure how you can reach that conclusion.

      The very markets you finger as high piracy are those same markets where Apple products are stratospherically overpriced and therefore have a tiny market share. I'm going to ignore them completely for the purposes of this reply, assuming revenue ~£0.00 on both sides.

      The good/popular applications on the iPhone are swiftly starting to appear on the Android store as well, at similar prices. Angry Birds (coming soon) and F1 Timing (last week) are just two that spring to mind.

      Nobody seems to dispute that Android smartphone sales will outstrip iPhone sales soon, and end up dominating this space. On face value then, more app sales too, and more profits to developers. The available market for Android applications will be huge, so sales revenues will end up being bigger on Android than they are on iPhone.

      Apple will earn more per phone than the Android handsets on sale. But the volumes shipped could easily compensate for the lower profit per handset. You also have to remember that it is cheaper for the networks to put an Android smartphone in the hands of a customer than an iPhone. Therefore it will pentrate further down the social scale than the iPhone in every market. And those people will still buy apps.

      Analysis fail?

    6. Giles Jones Gold badge


      XCode is rubbish and Eclipse is brilliant?

      I use Eclipse every day, it gets slower and slower with each release. Helios is awful, it takes about 3-5 times as long as the last release to deploy JSPs to my Tomcat.

      If you didn't get much freedom on iPhone OS then there would be no apps.

  9. Johnny G

    Key to Android's iPhone victory is developers...

    I doubt it. More liekly to be good advertising, which Apple has done successfully.

    Joe Public really doesn't care if there's 800 billion apps for either platform, all they care about is being cool and trendy and blindly absorbing the adverts. Suckers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hmmm but?

    I am not sure what the pricing strategy is for the china and mobile markets for the android phones? This is not mentioned, presumably they are lower but no statement is made about actual costs of a desire in india? Of course in an anti apple rant I didn't expect to see actual comparisons of such things as facts, it doesn't suit the purpose.

    Quoting Gartner for things such as ".. sees Android surpassing iOS by 2012 in the mobile operating system market. It's only a matter of time before it also displaces Symbian, the dominant-but-fading mobile OS leader." are completely pish, as good as Gartner may be at somethings, I almost always ignore most of these predictions. Not to say it won't happen, but using Gartner as evidence is a fail, in this case it is somewhat obvious.

    Of course Android will outsell the iphone, its the only decent OS other manufacturers have, and only chance of putting out a decent smartphone. So no surprise it will outsell numbers wise. Question is does that make it a victory, and who for?

    Google aren't giving it away without a reason (philanthropists, uh uh), your data, location, email, contacts, etc are going to be the price, as well adverts (Googles money maker). However they promise to do no evil.

    The other tabular evidence is interesting too, we should be happy there are two important player s in the market, I am not so sure we should be happy if googles OS was the only choice (we have already seen how greedy handset makers are quite happy for older (>6m) phones to be left to die (please don't tell me users can flash their OS rom, etc)).

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Advertising is more about direct competition

      Android competition is more diffuse. The coming Android army is likely to be populated with (i) those who made a specific choice about the handset; (ii) those who made a specific choice about tariffs; and (iii) those who don't care and took what the network offered. Even if Apple's hardware, software and marketing platforms were such that everybody in category (i) opted for an iPhone (please don't flame me here, I'm being hypothetical) then Android would still pick up a massive body of users from categories (ii) and (iii) because it has the momentum amongst the operating systems that compete in those categories.

    2. John Bailey

      Not so much..

      Scenario 1) Sees ad on TV, likes gadgets, buys iProduct.

      Requires someone into tech enough to buy pretty expensive toys.

      Scenario 2) Coming up to a year on the contract. Phone company calls and asks if you would like a new handset. Android phone with trial data plan arrives in post.

      Requires existing cell contract. Not hating it enough to throw it away.

      Which one gets their gear into more pockets over a given time?

  11. Anton Ivanov

    China, india, significant going forward? Sorry I just choked on my expresso

    The only market which is significant in going forward for a vendor is a market where it can SELL ITS GOODS AT PROFIT. While it is possible to sell some hardware (taking the risk that it will be copied) in these markets, selling software for a profit in them is something which is nigh impossible even for someone like Microsoft who can bring in the USA diplomacy as "tactical support".

    So as far as the success of phones as a software platform the amount which is sold in these countries matters very little and will continue to matter very little until it will become possible to sell non-local _SOFTWARE_ there at a profit.That is yet to appear on the radar.

  12. Joerg

    Android is a scam worse than the 3D with glasses...

    Android is the Linux scam of the mobile world. Corporate managers are pushing a badly engineered architecture on the market like it was better than anything before it... the fact is that it is the worst possible option.

    SymbianOS is the only real viable platform that could be better than iPhone if only Nokia pushed it properly.

    But no.. there is the low quality Android from Google everywhere now... which just sucks.

    Google couldn't even define a real and proper hardware specifications standard for manufacturers.. so application developers have to deal with a real nightmare trying to support an increasing number of incompatible devices.. it's the Linux anarchy.. a real mess with no real engineering plan.. that is the opensource scam for the masses...

  13. vegister

    agoraphobia (fear of the market place)

    i hope google sort out their marketplace, and clear out the smut and at least put some controls on it. i'm an android user and a little nervous (security-wise) about installing apps from there. i generally choose poplular ones, but don't get that nice feeling like when i'm downloading apps from ubuntu's software centre.

    maybe google will sort it after there is a massive malware issue due to a rogue app.

    had an android phone for only a few weeks and haven't paid for any apps yet. although not to say i won't ever. i'd probably pay for an app if it was cheap enough and useful enough (e.g. locale?). wave secure (remote wipe app) looked a bit too expensive for my liking.

  14. DrXym Silver badge

    IBM vs Microsoft should teach a lesson

    The issue of wooing developers is not a new one.

    Back in the 90s, OS/2 and Windows were battling for developer mindshare. IBM sold its SDK through its Developer Connection program when you could get it for free from Microsoft. IBM used to sell their command line CSet++ for mucho dinero when Microsoft were selling a visual equivalent for a fraction of the cost. Microsoft made development easy with wizards and visual editors, IBM belatedly threw in some C++ foundation classes but not enough. IBM documentation was dry and often unreadable "red books" while Microsoft implemented intellisense, context sensitive help and filled the bookshelves with accesible and cheap documentation. It's almost like IBM purposefully went out of their way to piss on interest in their platform.

    What has this got to do with Apple & Google? Well the costs of developing for the iPhone are WAY more expensive than Google. Apple requires enrollment to the developer program costing $99 PER YEAR, vs nothing on Android (except a small 1 off fee if you want to use Marketplace). Apple requires devs use Macs for development. Google lets devs choose their platform and OS. Apple forces devs to use their app store, their ad service, imposes odious approval conditions and takes a cut of the profits. Google has no such restrictions.

    Apple would do well to broaden the appeal to developers by cutting the iPhone development loose from the Mac and lowering the fees. There are money fronts to the war of course, but Apple is losing badly on this one. If they don't start making iPhone development more attractive they will lose out the way IBM did to Microsoft.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Fact Check

      While not being able to dispute many of your points, I think you over egg your argument in the following areas:

      • Google takes 30% of your profits if you sell through their app store, just like Apple do

      • Apple allow you to use any ad platform you want (or indeed none at all)

      • the iPhone fee is for marketplace listing and on-device testing only, not for access to tools or support

      • your claim that Google "has no such restrictions" would seem to be contrary to the news that Google have recently used their kill switch to remove software on customer handsets

      On Android you don't have to use the marketplace if you are able to find a different route to market. Conversely, you may publish to the Android marketplace only if you're from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK or the US.

      You may agree with Google's use of the kill switch, but that's still an area where they have unilaterally decided what software is acceptable and they have unilaterally decided to kill an existing piece of software. The correct argument is therefore that Apple are significantly more restrictive, not that Google are unrestrictive.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Fact check

        1) You don't have to use Google Marketplace. Companies like Gameloft sell direct. Even if you DO use Marketplace you could use it to release a demo / trialware version for nothing on marketplace and then take users to a pay site to unlock or download the full version. That's just one way and it's not hard to envisage other models. In other words there are many ways to keep all 100% of the money.

        2) Apple don't allow you to use any ad platform. Most advertising platforms rely heavily on analytics to deliver relevant adverts and Apple have banned 3rd party analytics. Without analytics the ads aren't as relevant and clickthroughs fall through the floor. They have deliberately banned / crippled the competion so people are forced to use Apple's instead. Their excuses for doing this "to protect privacy" are horseshit, otherwise they ban apps like Facebook, Twitter etc. who use / sell data in all sorts of ways.

        3) You pay to enrol in the iPhone Developer Program which is $99 annually. Since you can't distribute apps in any way except the App store, it is effectively a mandatory charge unless you never want to release anything ever. So what about distributing in-house enterprise apps? Well that's only $299 a year.

        4) A non sequitur and not a very good one. The marketplace has terms and conditions and people who upload apps must abide by. Compared to the app store these are very liberal. If you are extra paranoid about marketplace, don't use it in the first place. Distribute the apk from your own web site for example where you are not subject to the T&C of marketplace.

        As for the kill switch in general I agree it has the potential for abuse and I would like Google to spell out and commit to the occasions it could be used for. I don't believe for a second that Apple has nothing equivalent and their record for declining to list apps and taking them down after the fact demonstrate they have no moral highground.

    2. TheOldBear

      Some actual history

      Actually, Microsoft not IBM was the original source for the OS/2 2.0 development kit. IBM was working on OS/2 1.3.x and LAN Server

      Back in 1989, the prices were $2600.00 for the OS/2 SDK, the Windows 2/286 SDK was only $200 or so [this was just before MS's developer subscriptions]. Most developers preferred the Borland tools to Microsoft compilers anyway.

      While the core of the API [API names beginning with 'DOS'] was available, the UI [presentation manager] was unfinished - MS OS/2 2.x used the same UI as their OS/2 1.2.1 and Windows 2.x

      For that matter, the Microsoft OS/2 3.0 NT project [later renamed to Windows NT 3.0] still used the same File Manager / Program Manager UI.

    3. Anton Ivanov

      Close but no cigar

      You are missing the point.

      The difference between Apple + Apple fees and their competition is a couple of dinners in a decent restaurant. The difference between IBM costs and Microsoft from 17+ years back was on the order of half an annual salary. If we inflation index IBM prices for compilers and kits you are looking at 20000K+ for some of them in todays money.

      The cost of a couple of dinners or a weekend in a 1 star motel in a third rate resort is something that most people can swallow. In fact it is not that different. The average cost of a documentation book from Microsoft Press (and they were excellent by the way) around 1991 was 30-40$. In todays money this is not far off from what Apple is asking for.

      Half an annual salary however is... how to put it... a slightly different proposition.

      So the comparison between Apple/Android today and Microsoft/IBM from 20 years back is a bit bogus.

  15. Tim Almond

    Not just Developers

    Apps are part of it, but it's also cost. You can get an HTC Legend for £20/month, which is the sort of money that iOS just doesn't have an offering to compete with.

    And of course, that was always the thing with Windows vs Mac - you could buy a PC for a lot less than a Mac.

  16. Alan Bourke

    it's very simple.

    Unless Apple stop raping the consumer price-wise in certain territories, and wise up with regards to the App Store, and produce a non-Apple version of the dev tools, then in a few years the iPhone will be way behind.

  17. Rob

    Saturation and choice....

    .... are the main advantages of Andriod over iOS4.

    Saturation is always a battle that once it's won usually helps to dominate the overall competition war. As mentioned by some comments, Andriod on the face of it could be an inferior platform but if it saturates the market with so many different devices and price points against the 1 model that Apple are offering at a fixed price globally than Andriod will surely come out top. The quality of the product vs the superioty of another won't help as the VHS vs Betamax battle proved.

    Apples best move at the moment would be a recall, they can afford it and they could do it well enough that they would not only reinforce those customer loyalties that were waning but maybe even pull in some more customers out of respect for the move. I think the atenna problem is a severe chink the armour that is Apple's roadmap to success and market domination.

    Personally I prefer Andriod, due to price points and choice.

  18. jubtastic1


    There's very little to dissuade Joe public from jumping between iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm or WinPo7, All their MP3's, MP4's, videos, email, contacts & calendars will just slide across, and at 99c a pop I doubt people are going to lose much sleep over sunk software costs.

    The best situation for us (consumers), is for lots of competition, not a dominant player that sits on their arse and rots, been there, done that already.

    I expected this would be fucking obvious to an IT readership.

  19. rgmonkey

    It's Marketing Stupid


    I applaud Matt Asay's article. He definitely looks at it from a practical point of view. Unfortunately, he needs to look at it from a consumer marketing point of view. You can make the coolest phone out there and develop the best apps for it but if it is not marketed correctly, who will care?

    At the end of the day, the majority of consumers (that doesn't include me or the other folks that are computer geeks) care about the user experience. Android may have had true multi-tasking at first but the moment the phone slows down because an app didn't free up resources like it should have, then the consumers blames the phone and not the apps. Crazy thought right? But that is how the consumer thinks and behaves. That's why Apple thought through how to accomplish the same goal but with the user experience in mind.

    It will be the consumer's money that dictates the lead. And how do you talk to consumers? Marketing. Who is one of the best marketers out there? Apple. Google tried to market their Nexus One phone only to pull the plug on their efforts a few months later (with an odd comment from Eric S. on the reason why). They found out their partners (i.e. Motorola, HTC, Verizon, Sprint) can market to consumers a heck of a lot better than they can. Motorola's Droid was extremely succesful because they targeted their users (mostly young males) and aggressively went at Apple's jugular feature-by-feature and not proclaiming the joys and wonders of open-source and developers.


    Apple needs Google - Why? Apple succeeds as an underdog. For it to be cool and trendy, it can't be the mainstream. There's enough money for the two to succeed. No different than Microsoft and Apple right now. Apple is sitting pretty stock price wise. They hold less than 10% of the PC market and have a bigger market cap than Microsoft? Investors are happy. So in my crazy mind, I have to think that Mr. Steve spoke with Mr. Eric and said, "Hey, you want to make a crap load more money?" If Android surpasses Apple in the number of phones sold, then Apple's iPhone becomes the Jesus phone again. It's also a heck of a lot easier to fend of anti-trust inquiries as well being second in the market.

    Long live Google. Long live Apple. I think I will be buying both stocks. Maybe they should merge and call themselves Gapple. Maybe not.

  20. gimbal

    I just wish RIM was on that sheet

    C'mon, oh Canuck buddies, can't we get Research In Motion to enter into this whole mobile-smartphone free-for-all too? The BlackBerry platform should not be such a lonely developer platform, after all............

    Hey, beg pardon, should've marked it WOT.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    This is why I hate cell phones

    Honestly, I've never embraced the whole "smartphone" fad... At least as seen by a geezer. In short, all I want is a phone that works. I have several relatives who have first gen iPhones; one of which lives only a couple blocks from an AT&T tower, and both have horrible problems with calls dropping, so Disadvantage Apple.

    I don't give a damn about how people may think Android maybe the iPhone killer, it's still a Google product that's always collecting data on you. Never mind emergency GPS location service, it's all the other crap it collects that still grates on me. Disadvantage Google.

    Nokia has long been a pioneer in cell phones but their product development and delivery channels is as painfully slow as stearing an oil tanker. So they're rapidly losing out to the latter platforms. So disadvantage Symbian.

    RIM has flat out missed the boat too many times, and as I see it they have a few loyalists, but for the most part they are circling the drain and will either close up shop or be snatched up by someone else within the next 3-5 years... If they aren't in talks already...

    You all can can argue about who has the greatest apps or capability, but when you look at how rapidly they turn over technology, initial cost of ownership and their ability (or inability) to perform the most basic requirement, I'll be damned if I'm going to spend thousands and thousands of <insert your currency here> for a cheap POS that really isn't anything more than a two bit novelty.

  22. Jeff 11

    This assumes Apple will put policy ahead of profit

    ...and not adapt to the changing marketplace. If Android starts to seriously overtake Apple in its market (and the Android market doesn't have the same demographics, yet) then I'd imagine Apple would rather open up to developers than lose valuable revenue, if that indeed is where the money's at. After all Apple exists to please its shareholders, and those shareholders will abandon ship if they think Apple's policies are getting in the way of profits.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    microsoft won by market manipulatio

    I would suggest that

    The desktop market was won by Microsoft in large part by unethical market manipulation

  24. Eric Hood

    Sunk software costs.

    @jubtastic1 Friday 2nd July 2010 14:33 GMT

    I have purchased over 50 applications for my iPod touch I have 13 free applications. Some of the paid applications cost $40.00 or more. I have spent a significant amount of money on applications. I do not buy music online as I prefer to own a cd and copy it to my drive.

    I think you are glossing over the sunk cost issue. The application store is not there to make a profit for Apple it is there to guarantee repeat business in iOS devices. Once you have applications that do what you want in the way you want to do it, you are not likely to give it up.

    This is as true for my iPod touch as it is for my N95. I agree about competition, it will improve everything for all consumers, I really hope Nokia make another phone as good as my N95 but if not then I may get an iPhone the new model looks a winner and of course there is the devilish vendor lock in from the touch trying to seduce me from the path of Nokia.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @rgmonkey: at last, thankyou.

    I know this is a Dev place, and the author is an uber-Dev, but can it really be that only one commenter cares to say that "actually, it's not all about how many developers you attract, it's about the User Experience"?

    Microsoft didn't lose the phone wars because they couldn't attract enough developers. I mean "Duh". They lost because any normal person unfortunate enough to buy one Windows Mobile device would never, ever, in a million years, buy another. Because the User Experience is so awful.

    I thought developers were supposed to have quite big brains. Are you all so divorced from reality that you can't see this?

  26. Doug Glass


    It all comes down to marketing and on which field you choose to do battle. On those fields where Microsoft understands the market, and has chosen to fight, they have done extremely well. But what this leaves are voids where MS isn't so aggressive. On those fields other have done well.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android still not up to it

    Even if you look at it only from a dev's point of view, there are many points to address. Some are probably just a matter of taste. Everybody wants cool stuff, nobody agrees on what is cool.

    Btw, an HTC with a bigger screen isn't a better phone than an iPhone, it's just a phone with a bigger screen. And it's no match for the iPad (which isn't a phone).

    Usually the reaction to that is something like this:

    "What? you can't turn an iOS device into a WiFi access point? it sucks"

    I had that on my WinMo 5 HTC P3600 3 years ago and I can see why it's not a great idea. If you combine it with GPS and GSM at the same time the device will go through thermal shutdown if its battery hasn't died before. I can see why Apple doesn't want that: no ordinary user understands the constraints of battery life vs CPU power vs user experience. They care for user experience, Google and HTC not really. Google relies on you to fix your friends' phones problems just like MS did with Windows OEM. No, thanks.

    -sdk: I prefer by far XCode. It's logical, it works as expected and uses native code, not a Java layer. And the device simulator won't crash your workstation's audio services at exit ;-)

    -open: Apple is open if you stay within logicial limits like not hacking the OS or using code that may break in the next iteration of the OS. If you think like Apple about avoiding the need for people to struggle with their handsets later on, it's fairly simple. They also won't let you develop unlicensed stuff that may breach copyright rules just like Sony won't let you develop a Nintendo64 emulator for the PSP. Sensible.

    -UI: Android still needs a much better, more coherent interface. It's not good enough and yes, it matters. Beautiful logical stuff are less stressful to use than incoherent/undocumented/unresponsive stuff (pick your daemon).

    -Apple's eco system is coherent and you know your app will end on a trusted platform where your customers will have no trouble paying, installing and getting updates for your app. You'll get support from Apple, spare yourself many headaches, have better customer satisfaction... All in all, the deal is better than the Android wild west which is closer to the land of the Windows sharewares.

    1. Magnus_Pym


      Isn't that one of those sudo-latin words that 'intellectuals' use to describe sex acts?

      Puts a whole new complexion on how Microsoft won the market?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Has the Biggest market for my business apps = Iphone 65% Blackberry 21% --- Seriously!

    Has the Biggest market for my business apps = Iphone 65% Blackberry 21% --- Seriously! What type of developers did they speak to? Blackberry per user base has a far larger business base, becsause that is the niche with email and not the iPhone's fasion statement niche.

    Bottom line if you can get a free devkit and a virtual phone running on your box to test your application on then and only then do you have a developer base that will truely help make your product, any level of cost in being able to develop application for your phone reduces the number of people who will have a go at it. Now if only we had a mobile copro that could speed up flash and java in hardware, that would realy put tha cat among the bird collection.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    re: O RLY?

    The latest version of IntelliJ Idea (and I'm struggling to think of another commercial Java IDE) comes with Android support out of the box, so if that's your preferred development environment, you're well catered for.

  30. Smokey Joe

    Nice article

    Let the other players argue over their share, Android users are becoming a silent uptake/majority because *ahem* it just works :-)

  31. Sergio BR

    Android should fix fragmentation

    Android platform should rush in fixing platform fragmentation.

    End users doesn't want to bother about the specific version of their Device's OS nor about any hardware layer that could compromise software experience.

    Java ME fails in the past for the well known " write once, test everywhere" syndrome. If Google and community does not get serious about reduce the impact of fragmentation, Apple will continue to reign in consumers and developer minds and hearts.

  32. R Cox

    Not about open or closed

    I think we have to be careful comparing PCs to embedded devices like phones. MS products were beneficial not because they were open, but because they allowed IBM PC software to run on cheap hardware. This gave them value. Even so, when the PC market started taking off, many firms ran MS unlicensed until the crackdown of the late 90's, indicating that many considered the value non-monetary. Furthermore, as PC prices dropped, MS did not aggressively price software, which lead to the situation we are in now. So it was not developers, but the inexpensive hardware and often unlicensed software. This is not possible with Apple.

    But this really means nothing for google. I don't think phones are going to be like the IBM PC. It is not an immature market ruled by a few firms. There is no s100 board that hobbiests can use to build their own devices. In terms of business, most are happy with blackberry in a way that many were not happy with IBM. Those that are not have alternatives. While that Apple Store may be annoying, the cost of entry to develop on Apple, under $1500, is not going to any more or less than Google. If Google gains major market share it is because the wireless firms are allowed to limit what users can do on the phone, the status quo, not because of openness or developers.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Tufty Squirrel - FAIL

    You don't have to write in Java, you can write in native code too.

    The fact you don't know this blows any credibility of your other points...

  34. jack jack
    Thumb Down

    Java is not slower than native

    For all you that keep saying apple -> native is faster than Android -> Java/JVM, you clearly are the same people responsible for spreading the FUD about how slow Java is after all these years. Java, years ago, was slow. It's made VAST improvements and in most cases is as fast as native, in some cases it's proven to be quite a bit faster, and in a few select areas, not so much. I would not use Java for life support systems software, or time critical such as device drivers. However, the JVM with it's JIT monitors and optimizes code in real-time as it runs and figures out what is running slow and speeds it up. Native code does nothing of the sort. If native is so much better why do more than 1/2 of the large scale enterprises and most of small to medium sized businesses trust their business to Java on the back end? Please, stop with the Java is slow fud. It's hardly the case. Most apps on Android run just as fast as they do on iPhone.

    Android has a MUCH larger reach, and impact than apple's OS. By this I mean, google has to be concerned with just about every phone manufacturer out there using their platform, as well as tablets, set top boxes and more. Apple has two devices, the tablet and the phone, to worry about. For that reason android is going to take longer to mature and round out the features. Thus, we are not seeing as big a push by the android team to get better native support for games, for example. The latest 2.2 update comes a long way in helping out apps and games, but still, apple's native layer for games is going to beat android right now. As an android developer this is probably the most shocking thing to me as games are about 40% of the apple market, I would think they would put a LOT more resources on getting that segment of the architecture working better. Music apps is another area that android just can't come close in competing in. The audio latency is so bad, you can't tape the screen and get an immediate sound very easily with Android. Forget drum machine apps and such.

    It's just a matter of time before it gets all that in there. But really, the native to Java comparison has to stop. There are always tradeoffs. Java is far easier to develop in than xcode. The tools are set up and ready to develop in about 5 minutes. I've developed in both and gave up on apple.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      As a computer scientist

      I fail to see how non-native code (using proper optimization) could be slower than code running on a virtual machine, even if methods like JIT compilation are used. Whatever happens, the VM must issue a series of instructions to the physical machine. Thus there are two actions needed: translation from VM opcodes to physical opcodes and executions of these opcodes. These same instructions could be compiled and built beforehand, so we only need to run the opcodes of the physical machine. The only possible exception is improved branch prediction at run-time, but this can actually throw a bit of a spanner in the works of JIT compilation as well, because the prediction ITSELF has to be done at run time, making compilation more expensive.

      There are many situations in which you do not notice much difference between Java and native code, because the native code is waiting for user input for more clock cycles. In the background however, this can impact actual power consumption. I know several (seriously) power-conscious embedded-systems researchers NONE of whom use Java, ALL use C.

  35. John 62

    cost in India/China

    In India and China there are a lot of extremely rich people. Maybe the absolute price should be more equivalent to what's charged in the US, but the target market is Bollywood stars and captains of industry. Do you think people in the slums will flock to a device that costs merely 50% of their yearly income rather than 70%?

  36. N2 Silver badge

    I recently witnessed

    Someone actually using Windows on a so called 'smart phone' to capture data and it was anything but smart.

    The database crashed after 150 records & just like other Microsoft products it was terribly slow.

    At the end of the process I had to sign on the screen, unlike the many other devices that capture a signature with ease it failed and all it could recognise was a meaningless squiggle.

    I eventually ended up making my mark very slowly with an X which it seemed to cope with reasonably well.

    Perhaps Steve Ballmer signs his name the same way, but I think that the competition will howl with laughter if that's representative of their 'smart' offerings.

  37. christech81

    Poorly informed ?

    Which came first the software to sell the platform or the success of the underlying platform ?

    Microsoft won the desktop battle due to

    * Backing from IBM and other vendors wanting to be compatible with IBM

    * No viable alternative for small scale computers

    * Backwards compatibility (key to keep consumers previous investment in software and hardware)

    This was way before Bulmer made an appeal to developers (developers, developers).

    Software should be quality not quantity, if I want an internet radio streaming package I'll buy just one (the best one for my requirement), same goes for video editing, word processing etc etc. The best package could be the first to market, it could be the last, the size of the market for the product makes no real difference.

    Microsoft don't understand mobile operating systems, you can't downsize a desktop operating system to a phone. The hardware that runs the Microsoft Windows Mobiles have tended to be underpowered and resource hungry, who wants a portable device that almost entirely runs off the mains ?

    Andriod, possibly viable to iPhone but no standards across the hardware manufacturers, surely the market will fragment.

    iPhone has been successful because it is a good design, packages hardware and software to make it easily accessible to the Jo Bloggs user.

    Who cares who takes first place in the market; continued development and choice for the consumer are paramount.

  38. Neil Hoskins

    Dear Yanks,

    Get real. Whatever happens in the smartphone world, it is unlikely to be decided in North America by English-speaking developers.

  39. Syed

    Going gorward...

    "...and their significance going forward..."

    could be re-written as "...and their future significance...".

    One less word and it conveys the same meaning.

  40. Jesse Casman

    international markets really that important?


    Great to see you at The Reg. Congrats. Quick comment on this piece. As you know, I work with Japanese companies coming into the US, plus a lot of open source and developer companies. American software companies are often criticized for not thinking of other markets -- unicode wasn't even that common until recently -- but Japanese companies can be very parochial, too. You assert that international markets are an important consideration for developers, but I don't see this often. Do you think this is different in the mobile development space?



    Jesse Casman

  41. Lewis Mettler 1

    Android will do fine

    Android will do fine. Apple has shown that arrogance, demanding control and stupitity in designing antennas does not work.

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