Android and iOS

For years I've been proselytizing Android. Part of it was that I did not like the "closed" environment that Apple created around the iPhone and the iPad. I don't want to get into a big debate about open vs closed here. We've had that debate ad naseum. I personally like the ability to get an unlocked phone, put what I want on it, and so on and so forth. Another big part of my enthusiasm for Android was that as an investor in the web and mobile web, I badly wanted at least a two horse race in the smartphone OS world. I didn't feel comfortable that Blackberry or Microsoft would get there (Blackberry largely has not, and Microsoft, while making a valiant attempt, hasn't yet either). Startups need a level playing field and a world in which Apple largely controlled the next important platform for tech innovation scared me.

Now we are at parity or almost so. Developers have to build for both. That's not great in some ways, but it creates a level playing field where no one vendor is in command. In the US, iOS is still dominant. In the rest of the world, Android is.

My new worry is that Android could run the table. Posts like this one suggest to me that the tide is turning in the all important digerati which until recently was all about iOS.

Benedict Evans has written that Apple is in a dangerous position. If developers start building first for Android because that's where the largest market is, then iOS will lose one of its most important value propositions (it is where all the best apps are).

Benedict suggests that a cheap iPhone is what Apple needs to take back market share from Android around the world.

You all may be shocked to hear this from me but I sure hope Apple does announce and ship a cheap iPhone that prepaid users can purchase for less than $200. I hope Apple takes the steps it must take to maintain its market share and ideally grow it outside the US.

I don't think I am moving to iOS in sympathy. I have come to really appreciate the Android UI and I use it on both phone and tablet.

But I find myself rooting hard for Apple now. I sense the danger they are in and I don't want either smartphone OS to be so dominant that we lose the level playing field we have now. It's very important for startups, innovation, and an open mobile ecosystem for all.

Update: A number of commenters suggested this excellent post, also about Android and iOS, today from Steve Cheney. I guess this topic must be top of mind today.