Jobs’ Android attack: it’s 1984 all over again
It’s not completely unlike Steve Jobs to publicly attack a competitor, but when he took a shot at Android during Apple’s earnings announcement this week I couldn’t help but think of the early PC industry and how history has as nasty habit of repeating itself.
Ever since the first Mac was launched in 1984 Apple has always trumpeted how its “integrated” system was more productive and user-friendly than the more open PC clones.
We all know who won that war. Microsoft’s Windows could be installed on a range of PC equipment and hence spread like a wildfire throughout homes and businesses.
Times are very different in 2010, of course, but it’s still surprising to see comments from Jobs like “Google wants to characterize us as closed and Android as open”.
It would be good if Steve elaborated on such comments, but from what I can tell Android is as “open” to mobile handset makers as Windows was as “open” to the early PC makers.
And it wouldn’t surprise me if Android shipments surpass iOS shipments exponentially over the coming decade, for reasons I’ve already discussed.
Apple is definitely doing well as an “integrated” hardware and software vendor – due not least because of open source software, it is worth noting – but it still seems strangely lost on the concept of open software.
Jobs then went on to label Android as a “fragmented” platform. Let’s consider the fragmentation argument.
Android has multiple OEMs with numerous different-sized devices each having unique hardware interfaces – just like Windows.
Android has multiple user interfaces as it can be themed by the distributor – just like Windows.
Android has a common set of APIs for development, but applications still need to be form-factored for different devices – just like Windows.
Come to think of it Android is a lot like Windows, their just aimed at different devices.
Saying “Android is fragmented” is like saying “Windows is fragmented” because it’s important to note that the OEMs are not making core changes to the operating system.
Is Apple perfect at application and operating system compatibility? Do a few searches on that topic and then decide for yourself whether Apple is in a position to question anyone.
The same “fragmentation” argument has been used against Linux distributions and general open source software projects, but it’s more of a FUD word than a phenomenon.
While it’s true the more open the software the more derivatives are likely to result, the distribution benefits outweigh the “risk” of fragmentation.
Like the first Mac, the iPhone is a success and like its desktop ancestor, the much adored mobile computer will face formidable competition from open alternatives.