Mr. Jobs, rest in peace, had a vision. His vision is now our reality.
This article will be a tad technical but I will attempt to translate it into understandable terms.
Apple (AAPL) introduced the App Store and successfully created a mobile platform built for extension. Its success was in the adoption of this idea by the development community, but I’ve covered this extensively in a previous article ("The Key Factors Behind The Mobile Revolution").
After the success of the iPhone, Apple (and Jobs) resurrected the Newton concept and created the iPad. Aside from the “revolutionary” iPad, it created an interesting paradigm where developers were now creating a single application for two devices and a single platform.
The development of the application is where Apple was clever. The developers simply reuse the backend code and build a new user interface for each device. Apple has also chosen to use a scalable and transferable development language, Objective-C. This was a clever choice as all Apple devices, including the Apple TV, run a backend derivation of Apple’s Mac OSX capable of executing the application code.
Apple has also created the iCloud, an integrated Internet service to connect multiple devices and software applications …
Why the ellipsis (…)? Let’s reconcile:
- Apple has four major device pools: iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Mac computers.
- On all devices, the system platform is the same.
- The language used to build for the platform is modern and performance optimized.
- When developing for Apple’s mobile platform you can customize your applications for multiple platforms.
- You can connect applications on various platforms using the iCloud.
Those beg the obvious question? Why not create the ability to develop a single application that can be deployed across the entire suite of devices with a customized user interface for each and keep every instance of the application connected to other instances through the iCloud?
For such an obvious question, there hasn’t been an obvious answer.
This also begs another obvious question: Why didn’t Apple extend the application model onto the Apple TV allowing developers to build TV specific applications? They could have been two years ahead of the curve and instead Android is now finding its way onto Smart TV’s, complete with the App Market, essentially sowing ground that Apple could have easily been reaping for years.
That is all great for the Apple platform and stack but where does this leave the rest of the mobile market?
If Microsoft is to claw its way to the top of the mobile world, it must leverage its most valuable asset: its enormous desktop implementation base.
If development on the Microsoft stack were to be multifaceted and interconnected, they would have a hope of leverage the existing developer base to promote their new mobile platforms. They could even go as far as to extend the Xbox environment to promote the devices gaming functionality. What Apple could easily do, Microsoft is also, structurally, well positioned to do.
Google’s Android, was unfortunately created using a non-performance optimized development platform, Sun Microsystems’ Java. Google also lacks a credible operating system for computers. Chrome OS may go the way of the Wave (Google Wave) and the handfuls of other failed Google experiments (kudos to them for the R&D). This is why it would be bad for Google having no established platforms except for Android to leverage from.
How could this be great for Google? Well, Android is now becoming somewhat of a fully-fledged operating system. Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGF) just introduced a Smart TV running Android 4.0 and rumors of an Android 4.0 netbooks a float. Instead of trying to integrate platforms, Google has the opportunity of taking a single platform and spreading it across all device types (similar to Apple using OSX as the backend for all their devices).
One spoon of bad, one spoon of great. Will Google be the first to release a single operating system for all devices? Time will tell.
Research in Motion
Well, what to say about RIM that hasn’t been stated.
RIM has a large but aggressively decreasing user base. They offer a product that is years behind their competitors. They have failed to attract a development base. The only perk they have to offer is … themselves.
Microsoft has a considerable business base. RIM’s market is primarily corporate. Microsoft lacks a significant share of the mobile market. Aside from the Blackberry, RIM lacks any other product line with a user base worth mentioning. Due to this single platform, RIM would need to introduce a large infrastructure and various product lines to stay competitive.
The mobile revolution is underway. I suspect the next step will be the complete cloud integration from desktop, to TV, to mobile, to gaming platform, and back again.