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What's interesting now is that Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft now offer integrated hardware/software platforms. It's become similar to the way the console market has been between Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft.

Makes one wonder what's going to happen with Android.

This isn't so much vendor vs vendor. It's higher than that - the war here is between integrated/closed and discrete/open systems on the client.

The virtue re:integrated/closed systems is that the companies very survival depends on these systems, so they have the best motives in providing value/service, and aren't being steered by outside influences. The virtue re:discrete/open systems is that they encourage learning and exploration, and offer transparency.

It's not so clear in which direction things will go over coming years. Both the integrated/closed (Windows, Consoles), and discrete/open (Web, Android) are models that have proven themselves to work.

Google's doing a lot of brave work pushing in the direction of discrete/open, and regardless of outcome, it's something commendable. My only worry there is regarding their hardware partnerships. The thing with the iPhone, Lumia, and BlackBerry products is they're beautifully designed, and these designs just keep getting more refined. It's like having a games console with a controller design - all users/games know it's there, and can rely on that design, even between hardware iterations whilst other elements are improved.

Microsoft did a lot of great work getting Windows to play well with not just consumers but hardware vendors too, and more or less delivered on the promise of putting a computer on every desk. Google's probable aim of putting a smartphone in person's pocket is even loftier(expense being the main hurdle for many of the world's 7-8 billion people), yet given their positioning and partnerships, they are perhaps best positioned to deliver on this promise.

So perhaps it won't play out like the console market at all.

The thing is, if smartphones get largely commoditized by Android like PCs were largely commoditized by Windows, and you can buy something perfectly decent for $300 (and you already can in something like the Nexus 4), are going to want to or need to pay more for what is perhaps only a marginally better designed product?

And of course then there's Amazon too. Interesting times ahead.




> What's interesting now is that Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft now offer integrated hardware/software platforms. It's become similar to the way the console market has been between Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft.

You forgot Google. They have Motorola, and they are going to be highly integrated with Android, no matter what they say in public.

Also Samsung has gotten pretty integrated with Android, too. Sure they add the latest "Android features", but on their own time, and it's not the main priority for them. They'd rather ship with an older version but filled with their own apps, features and technologies. It's not that different from Amazon actually, except that they still have to adopt some standards set by Google to make sure they don't fragment to ecosystem too much, but they also get the benefit of access to the Play Store and the Android community (Amazon doesn't appeal to the Android community as much anymore).

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It will be interesting to see what happens with the Motorola acquisition.

Right now, Samsung is Android to a large degree. They're the only Android phone vendor that's actually making money, and they're selling a ton of units compared to the other vendors.

I'm amazed RIM has lasted this long. From what I've read I'm pleasantly surprised. I know there is still a small minority that refuses to own a phone without a physical keyboard, and the few I know aren't very happy with the few Android phones they've tried with keyboards. They may be able to get enough of a niche there to hold on and survive a bit.

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"Open" is dead on consumer platforms. In 4-5 years, a phone/tablet OS that doesn't ship tightly integrated with specific hardware will seem like a programming language does today that doesn't ship with "batteries included."

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> "Open" is dead on consumer platforms.

I don't see how you can substantiate the use of present tense there. Android is arguably the biggest consumer platform ever to hit mankind, and unless you are extremely aggressive about what you mean by open it's also the most open one as well.

> In 4-5 years, a phone/tablet OS that doesn't ship tightly integrated with specific hardware will seem like a programming language does today that doesn't ship with "batteries included."

You're making a prediction here which is not based on any historical evidence. This has gone both ways over time and usually it's closed that kickstarts a revolution, then open that wins during periods of growth and consolidation and then the cycle begins again. I don't see how anyone can predict how this is going to end.

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>> "Open" is dead on consumer platforms. > I don't see how you can substantiate the use of present tense there. Android is arguably the biggest consumer platform ever to hit mankind, and unless you are extremely aggressive about what you mean by open it's also the most open one as well.

How is Android the biggest consumer platform to hit mankind? iOS single handedly remade mobile and pushed the concept of the app store to all sorts of electronic devices. Windows had an insane impact on the computer industry. Android is certainly a big deal, but I think you're over selling it.

Android is technically more open, but does that matter to consumers? I wonder what percent of consumers actually install things from alternate app stores? If Apple was willing to let nearly any app in their app store, how many people would really be looking for an alternative?

Open platforms could easily be something like the issue of owner serviceable cars: while tinkers complain, to 95% of people it doesn't matter.

>> In 4-5 years, a phone/tablet OS that doesn't ship tightly integrated [...] > You're making a prediction here which is not based on any historical evidence.

I agree. There's no question that's the current path, but in the next few years I could see tablets getting fast enough that compatibility layers (like WINE, HTML5, Adobe Air, etc) may make it possible to make the OS a replaceable commodity. Or we could stay in vendor silos. Hard to say.

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> How is Android the biggest consumer platform to hit mankind?

If I was going to make that argument (I said it was "arguably" not absolutely) I'd point out that Google is activating 1.3 million devices / day with no sign of slowing. And those are just Google devices. That's 450m devices per year, nearly all of them "consumer" devices. In just 15 years that would account for the entire world population (and that's including children). Windows was certainly influential but a large portion of that was not as a "consumer" OS - the vast bulk of its influence and impact came from businesses. There might have been one Windows computer in a house but there will be 4+ Android phones, plus potentially tablets, TVs and other devices that run Android. So if you're talking size and numbers (ie. "biggest") I think Android has a pretty good claim on it. But I'm not disputing you can argue the other way. Just the fact that it's arguable at all though is pretty astounding.

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