Sunday, March 22, 2009

iPhone OS 3.0 impact on other mobile platforms

It had been two straight posts where I was talking about the iPhone OS 3.0 software and the exciting new features in it, so I better stop using “part” to show continuous topic and start with a new title before it gets out of hand. ~LOL~

iPhone is on the spotlight once again with the announcement of new software update that’s coming to this summer, or let’s just say the news have cooled down a bit and will be on the rise again when the software update is released (months from now) to users worldwide.

And as iPhone users are having “itchy update fingers” on to the OS 3.0, how about software developers? With many other mobile platforms out there right now: Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, Android and even the upcoming Palm’s webOS™; they are facing a big challenge on which platform they should be supporting. Or instead, should they do like what Scott Austin from Wall Street Journal has said in his article: “…or should they spend the extra effort and money to make sure the app works across multiple operating systems?”

Scott is not the only one who’s been thinking about this dilemma for developers, ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan also has been thinking about the same thing: “There are only so many developers and there is only so much time. At some point developers will have to choose sides–or at least eliminate a few platforms as options.”

Larry then concluded that in the end the selection will likely boils down to three obvious factors: money, reach of the platform, and developer relations. But both Larry and Scott indirectly agree on the important of how developer friendly is for a platform to support great apps to be developed for the success of the platform itself, simply put: the developers along with their apps are one of the keys to make a platform triumph over another/competitors.

So when Apple introduced App Store, the Cupertino-based company struck a gold. The fact says there were over 800 million apps downloaded from App Store, and that’s not even the exact number up to today. Not long afterwards, other mobile developers follow suit to release their own app store. Let’s take a quick stroll over them:

Apple’s App Store

There’s no need of an introduction or anything else to tell you anymore about App Store, perhaps almost half of you mobile addicts have know it yourselves. We are yet to see what it’ll become, since Apple is planning to re-design the store when iPhone OS 3.0 is out in summer this year. But there’s one big problem in App Store, that even perhaps Apple can’t sort it out: a vast sea of crap apps collection. If the company who invented the App Store itself can’t fix it, then it’s bound to be bloated with junks till explode…


Android’s Market

Android did have a bang when released in the form of T-Mobile G1 or HTC Dream, an open mobile platform sponsored by Google, that’s a real magnet for software developers. But the excitement now went cold after the Market was opened, there aren’t much of buzz generated to be seen around the blogosphere except at Android communities. The fame could come back to Android if just there are more Android-powered handsets out there, but the wheel of production doesn’t seem to churn fast enough before iPhone (and possibly Palm Prē™) took everything left.


RIM’s BlackBerry App World

We don’t know how fair App World will be, because RIM is taking its time to bake and shake it before opening it up, I’d say too long. But RIM might have confident, because with strong sales of its BlackBerry handsets all over the world and its deep roots into big companies who use the company’s email system, the App World seems to have bright opening (when it finally opened).


Palm’s App Catalog

Palm’s “new-ness”: the webOS™ and the Prē™ are predicted to be the next big thing in mobile platforms, the one that analysts and reviewers are calling it as the “iPhone-killer” (Palm didn’t fond of the nick-name so much though). But because it is a newly born platform, Palm still need to prove many things that webOS™ is as good as advertised before software developers start jumping aboard. Other than keeping tight lips on the launch date of the Prē™, Palm also stays mum about App Catalog. Palm is doing a superb job at killing-off the heat of the Prē™ since its introduction at CES 2009, good job Palm…

Nokia’s “Ovi” app store

The number one mobile manufacturer in the world apparently comes up as an under-dog in opening up its own app store, Nokia may have strong grounds in international market, but clearly not in the U.S. But still, it’s hard to understand why Nokia seems reluctant to make its “Ovi” successful even on the other side of the world.

So, after you seen a quick look at above stores, imagine yourself as a software developer then which one who do you think is more favorable to pick right now?

Wait, before you give any answer, let’s hear out what Accel Partners’ Rich Wong has said: Developers should consider the subset of handsets that deliver the best experience for the application. If, for instance, a start-up is building an enterprise application, it perhaps should choose the BlackBerry and those devices using the Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems.

In contrast to that, Shasta Ventures Managing Director Robert Coneybeer stated: “We think the iPhone and Android are really driving a wedge in the industry, and companies that focus on one or two platforms can really win…the successful start-ups that break out are the ones that focus on a few key platforms.”

Everyone may have been nothing but predicting of what the future will take shape of, and talking sweet about Apple and its iPhone, but at least Coneybeer is talking about the facts: “Just follow the developer activity on the iPhone and you’ll see it’s got 20 to 30 times more activity than any other platform. You don’t hear about the Windows Mobile meet-up where people say, ‘Hey, let’s get together, drink beer and talk about writing Symbian or Windows applications.’”

Iphone app storeWe are blind if we are not to see the evident math here: over 17 million iPhones (including first gen) sold already, that’s a lot of figure of handsets that are ready to accept and install the apps made. For one simple imagination: you can rake a huge amount of income just by writing a “fart” app in your spare time, hey that’s a true story.

What iPhone OS 3.0 really mean for both software developers and users is a hope and dream of what the iPhone can really do, the same thing goes for Palm’s webOS™. Apple has gone quite far leaving behind competitors with iPhone OS 2.x, and will be running farther away to be caught up with the iPhone OS 3.0 update.

Apple is not just creating the hardware, but also all the supports and the entire new ecosystem which never known before the App Store is born, where now everyone including software devs and users can enjoy the benefits altogether.

And that's the key idea, right there: make not just hardware but also the whole ecosystem to support it. That's what Palm is lacking when the company started to stop developing Palm OS, and just selling hardwares with less supports.

And hopefully, Palm will be able to create a better app store (fingers crossed) when the Prē™ finally gets to be launched.

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