miércoles, 11 de agosto de 2010

Openness vs Appleness in the smartphone space

Any reader will discover in a quick browse at this blog that we strongly promote "openness" in its many shapes. We think open source software will finally be adopted and promoted by governments and used by more users than proprietary one. We have talked so much about open standards as the right way to store and exchange data. We are involved with the open data community as it is the more needed space in the openness world, and we will announce very soon our plans to support open knowledge more actively.

Perhaps that is why I am frequently asked about the extraordinary success of Apple and its i[whatever] brands when competing against the rest of the world with its more than closed platform. It is really remarkable that markets think that Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the second most valuable company in the world (Apple overtook Microsoft in market capitalization in May 2010). And Steve Jobs is probably one of the biggest business genius in history and an incredible innovator as he has shown several times in his career.

But I think Apple will fail as it did in the 80s when they had the opportunity to dominate the personal computing market with its Macintosh. They decided to play the hardware and software game on their own and refused to collaborate. As a result Intel and Microsoft dominated an incredible growing and profitable market that somehow Apple invented. After a painful decline in 1997 Apple had to be rescued by Microsoft's money to remain independent.

In Apple's platforms third parties have no space and users hardly have any right further than paying every 2 years a lot money for a fancy new device. As far as "appleness" is trendy and apple-fan-boys go on spending 600€ a year in their i-devices, the big hype will work. Yes, hype is the word to define what Apple is living now. An incredibly big hype that openness will end up with. Android will emerge as the winner in the smartphone space simply because its business model and growth is sustainable and iphone's is not. As well as the iPad will enjoy a couple of years of lonely diving, as the prize for the big innovator. Of course Apple will make a lot of money waiting for competitors powered with open sourced platforms as they are doing with the iPhone, but in the end they will not dominate the market they have created.

What I usually say when I am asked for a recommendation, oversimplifying is, "iPhone is cool, but if you plan to use an smart-phone, buy an Android powered one". With Palm acquired by Hewlett Packard, Blackberry looking like a retro device although still in place, Microsoft out of the game and Nokia completely clueless, never an emerging market looked so clear to me.

2 comentarios:

Unknown dijo...
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Unknown dijo...

The big question is: in two years or so, when Android really dominate the smartphone&tables market, will Apple re-invent a new "market" with a new i[whatever] device that their fan boys will not be able to live without?

Maybe Apple's will is not to dominate a stable market, but to innovate opening new markets or refining old ideas (e.g. the tablet), making business out of them for some years, taking advantage of their fan boys legion and their impressive marketing strategy!