Saturday, February 25, 2012

EDITORIAL: Mobile OS Wars vs. The Cloud. Are Google, Apple, Microsoft, RIM, et al wasting their time?

In a recent interview on the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) Research professional community website, G+ (not to be confused with Google+, which comes up on top of the list if you search for G+ on Google),  Charlie Kindel - former GM for the Windows Phone developer experience at Microsoft, criticized companies such as Google, Apple and his former employer for "wasting time building mobile operating systems". "They are all fundamentally the same", he said.

Kindel did say that he expects development of new mobile OS platforms to "plateau", but that fragmentation would actually increase.  He particularly focused on Google's Android operating system, saying that he was "personally disappointed that Google is doing so well, because it is a detriment to having a really easy-to-use user experience."  In apparent contradiction to his statement that all mobile operating sysems are essentially the same, Kindel said that he would not recommend an Android phone to a non-technical person. He did not say if he would recommend a Windows Phone as an alternative. 

Perhaps the U.S. population is getting more technical then. The latest (December 2011) mobile platform market share study from comScore shows that Android actually increased both its #1 market share, and lead over iOS, from 44.8% vs. 27.4% in September-2011, to  47.3% vs.  29.6% in December.

In Kindel's opinion, the mobile industry "should be focusing on creating end user value through the creation of powerful cloud services", because consumers don't want to be tied to a particular device. Creating a more seamless experience across platforms, from the smartphone to personal computer (whatever form it takes), to the living room entertainment system, is an area that Google, Apple, and Microsoft are each working on. Google is taking Android into the television as well as other connected devices, through Android @Home, and manufacturers are also installing Android interfaces in automobiles and all forms of consumer electronics. Apple has Airplay, and Apple-TV, but their closed operating system limits the number of ways they can connect with consumers. Though, with US$100B in the bank, they could easily pursue new markets if they chose to.

The question then is this:
Now that the mobile platform war is a 2-horse race, who do you think is better equipped to deliver the seamless cloud-based experiences... Apple or Google?
We posed this question to the G+ community, and the responses so far highlight some of the issues. Apple's closed system is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Google needs to deal with security-related concerns. Will Amazon leverage their success with the Kindle Fire, and its customized version of Android, into more cloud-based consumer experiences?

The cloud is looking a lot like the weather. Everybody talks about it, but what are they doing about it? 

We would like to hear what you think. Leave a comment here, or in the G+ community if you are a member, or send us an email here at the EE Daily News to share your thoughts.

No comments: