Today, let me get into the details of exactly why Apple is scared of Google and what they are really afraid of.
First of all, Google Android operating system is based on Java running on top of linux. Java has not been too popular as desktop platform but it has been making a lot of progress for embedded applications for the last 10 years or so. Even myself, I have done a lot of Java programming in the past with embedded applications and Java has some really great features for multi-tasking and object oriented programming.
What Java propels is its ability to multi-task, multi-thread with ease and the garbage collection (preventing memory leak) is great too if used correctly. Other than than, Java is also very easy to develop on, there’s a multitude of FREE open-source tools like Eclipse and Netbeans to name a few. Java runs on all kinds of platforms including linux, Windows, and Mac. Where Java excels in open-source is where Apple fails due to its more closed, proprietary development platform.
For someone to develop iPhone apps, they need to actually develop it on a Mac. There’s ways around it such as installing VMware or jailbreaking an iPhone but those options are time-consuming and simply more pain for the developer than just buying a Mac.
For someone like me who doesn’t own a Mac (actually I have an old Mac Powerbook my friend gave me but I installed Ubuntu on it so…), it’s virtually impossible to get started on iPhone app development.
On the other hand, Android app development is about 100 times easier, Google provides you with free tools to get started, no need to buy new software/hardware.
That’s just the tip of the iceburg though, Android OS excels not just in open-software development, Android can be used on many hardware platforms. Hence, smartphone giants like Samsung, LG, and Motorola are jumping on the bandwagon as Android is free.
This effect of free software has been building momentum pretty fast in the last 6 months and I predict that it won’t be long before Android smartphones start taking a much larger share of the smartphone market. (if it hasn’t already with Motorola Droid eclipsing iPhone sales)
That is what Apple is afraid of. The fact is, Apple can compete against one company such as HTC but not against HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and more if they are all producing Android phones. The beauty of Android is that a smartphone company can easily customize it to its liking, swapping out user interface or even overclocking CPU for its own specific software/hardware needs.
I admit Steve Jobs had a great idea of taking Jeff Han’s multi-touch/gesture to mobile smartphones but it was Google who had the idea of making smartphone OS open-source and available free to any smartphone developer.
The snowball effect of Google’s Android strategy is starting to pay off as of this year also because of dramatically faster mobile ARM CPUs introduced by Qualcomm. Java is slow but once it’s on a super-fast CPU, it will perform very well.
Also, let me point out that development cycle for Java is much shorter than C. Plus, a lot of Java code can be easily ported to another hardware regardless of platform. There’s a ton of Java code/programs out there already, it’s only a matter of time that massive heap of open-source code is ported over to Android.
In short, I predict that Apple will have to innovate even more, introduce more iPhone models per year.
As I speak now, my Nexus One phone is equipped a 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU while iPhone 3Gs is equipped with a 666Mhz processor. Plus, my Nexus One does multi-tasking flawlessly as it’s one of the core features of Java while iPhone 3Gs is lacking and getting slower everyday.
Will Apple shrivel into nothing like they did when Windows took over the operating system market a decade back?
Windows was not open-source but it was widely available on any 8086-architecture plus people could easily make their own programs, available for public to use. Not too long, Windows had millions of free/paid programs available while Macs fell behind with proprietary technology.
I seriously think this might happen with Android. I don’t know why Steve Jobs and Apple studies history but they are only repeating their costly mistakes in the past.
According to COM scores post here, Android is growing much quickly than iPhones, the same could be said about apps themselves, it will only be matter of time the Android apps overtake iPhone apps.
Here’s an overview video of what I am talking about plus news about Sprint getting on the Nexus One bandwagon and the introduction of the first 4G WiMax Android phone in the U.S.