iPhone owners buy 1 app per month average. Lacking any good reference numbers, I’m going to make a crude assumption that most successful apps average about $2. A little basic math says that in a given year a person is likely to spend $24, 2 year contracts get us about $48…Let’s just round it to $50 to keep things simple.
Why is it important to realize that your next-door neighbor has probably spent $50 or more on iPhone apps? Because it’s one of the most compelling reasons for people to avoid migrating to another platform. Microsoft Windows ruled two decades by simply having more software than anybody else. I won’t suggest that the iPhone will have the same success, especially when they’ve already lost the battle for market share.
The problem, it’s too easy to stay with an older and less capable OS than to spend the time and money to migrate to the improved options competitors bring to the table. Microsoft recently unveiled Windows 8, basically the answer to the iPad and Android tablets. My feeling is that between Android and Windows 8, there’s little reason to even consider an iPad in the future.
Let me explain using a moment of nerd-speak. In Star Wars novels following the movies, Luke Skywalker was sometimes criticized for being trained only as a warrior because that’s what was needed at the time, but he never learned the political aspects of the Jedi which would have been of great value once the Empire fell. In a similar light, the iPhone came at a time when everybody was tired of ugly smartphones and really crappy performance and lag. The iPhone was designed to be light and smooth, answering all of the problems left behind by Blackberry and Windows Mobile while hoping people would overlook the flaws and missing features. Fast forward only 4 years later and the design decisions that made the iPhone good then are now catching up, a technical debt that is going to cost Apple years to pay off. Among some of the substantial features lacking in iOS, there’s yet to be a form of widgets as found in Android and Windows Phone, the notion of multitasking is there but it’s been harshly crippled with API decisions which will be hard to reverse for a couple of years to come and the worst of them all is Apple’s strict push to continue using Objective-C as the exclusive language of iOS.
Both the Android and Windows (Windows 8 and Phone 7) platforms bring much richer programming environments, better multitasking models, and much more open environments for innovation. It’s predicted that in 2015 Microsoft will finally overtake Apple for Smartphone Market Share, I suspect these numbers may even be an underestimate once Windows 8 is released and Windows Phone 7 is eventually replaced by a compact version of Windows 8. While it’s clear Android has cemented it’s place in the Smartphone world for years to come, it’s interesting to be watching the technological landscape now with the knowledge of what’s to come with the obvious shift away from Apple and towards Microsoft. In a way, I see history repeating itself with the imminent fall of Apple, but also the breaking of new ground with a Linux-based OS finally taking the lead position.
To bring back the simple math at the beginning and why it matters…When our technology now suffers from fragmentation and division across multiple platforms, increasing the time and cost of development while also forcing each competitor to re-engineer each feature that comes along; the sad truth is that the bottle-neck preventing adoption of the platforms we want to be on is going to always be the investment in the technology from last year…