The ecosystem is different. Pricing is different. But the single most impressive differentiator seems to the applications. Apps. Wait. Don’t all smartphones and tablets have apps? Yes, but not all apps and their respective ecosystems are created equal. When it comes to apps, Apple is killing the competition.
It’s An App World
It seems ages ago but Apple’s App Store didn’t actually see the light of day until the iPhone’s second year.
Apple had their own first party apps which worked well, but it took the company many months to create an effective and secure software development kit. Wait Kate. Steve Jobs himself didn’t want third party apps, and promoted web apps on the iPhone instead, right? Not quite.
As Daniel Eran Dilger pointed out (a worthy read), Jobs was pushing third party apps as early as October 2007, a few months after the iPhone’s launch.
Apparently, it takes time to setup an SDK and create a secure environment to develop and deploy apps to tens of millions of customers. Unbeknownst to most customers, and certainly Google’s Android team, Apple was working on a walled garden approach to developing and distributing apps to the iPhone (and, eventually iPad).
Google took a different approach and made the Android platform completely open to app developers, and that one decision may have hampered the Android platform for years to come. Android-based devices are more like a mashup of Windows and Linux, circa 1999, than a modern platform built with customers, developers, and security in mind.
The real battle in mobile devices isn’t about hardware specifications, though those are important. The average smartphone and tablet user could not care less about CPU, GPU, RAM, or most of the dozen major components in a device.
They care about what the device does, not how it does it. And what it does is based on applications, and that’s where Apple’s lead is strongest; so strong it may be insurmountable for the foreseeable future.
I know what you’re thinking. Wait, Kate. What about Google Play and the hundreds of thousands of apps already available for Windows Phone devices? Truly, there’s no comparison. Apps for iPhone and iPad are of higher quality and are actually being purchased and used on a per customer basis far more than Android or Windows Phone.
Android devices account for well over 90-percent of mobile malware and the open nature of the platform is unlikely to change that. Thievery is common among Android developers which inhibits developers from making a buck on Android. The enterprise wants a secure mobile platform with an easy way to deploy custom apps, and iOS provides that with ease for iPhone and iPad, which accounts for Apple’s lead in mobile devices for enterprise users.
We can compare hardware features and price tags for every new smartphone and tablet, but usability is king, and Apple dominates mobile device usability, and that’s because of the app ecosystem. The app wars will continue for years, of course, but when it comes to how mobile devices are used, Apple is simply crushing the competition, in volume, usage, capability, security, and developer revenue.
One more thing. If apps are so important, and Google prospers by providing apps for both Android and iOS devices, why doesn’t Apple put their own apps on Android devices> The answer should be obvious. Google doesn’t make money selling devices. They make money on mobile ads and data extracted from users, hence Google apps on iOS devices. Apple makes money by selling devices, apps, and media. What would Apple gain by putting iMovie, Garageband, and iWorks apps on Android devices? Nothing. That’s why it won’t happen.