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.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    apple cannot compete on price, it goes against “the apple way.” the company is 35 years old or whatever. just like a 35 year old person has to accept the limitations of their future as established by past decisions so too must companies. it’s not in their DNA to play the game this way. they should accept their role as a niche usual, amazon has the strategy of the future. fork android, build your ecosystem on top of it. then you have competing ecosystems, but since they’re all android forks, porting is not a huge disaster. though of course incumbents will strive for some form of lock-in and make cross-development unnecessarily difficult. niche ecosystems based on forking android that cater to a specific customer type is the way forward.

    1. andyswan

      AMZN wins the marathon along with GOOG.

      1. Yaniv Tal

        Yeeep. Samsung’s been crushing it but I doubt they’ll last at this level for much longer. They’re having their moment but their operating system’s never going to succeed and they’re FAR from having the type of software / services that amazon, google, are going to battle with.

    2. awaldstein

      “35 year old person has to accept the limitations of their future as established by past decisions”You’ve got to be kidding here kid!

      1. kidmercury

        can a 35 year person who never played a day of basketball in his/her life wake up one morning and decide to go pro? or have past decisions already determined whether or not that can occur?

        1. awaldstein

          in that case you are correct.Can a 35 year old person learn to stop being a jerk and start anew, learn a new skill–yes though.

          1. pointsnfigures

            If I can’t reinvent myself continually, might as well end it all now.

          2. jason wright

            yes they can. 35 is young.

        2. LE

          Agree with respect to organizations. I’ve said this many times in terms of large organizations that are built a certain way because of the founders. So everyone hired fits a certain mold. Google with it’s hiring tests of the best and the brightest. [1]A good example of this was back in the 80’s when the baby bells divested from being public utilities and just couldn’t quickly get off that mentality of not having to market or work hard to make sales.There is truth to your point but I wouldn’t say it’s off the dartboard. Me with basketball is off the dartboard.For example so many things tie into the price points that Apple sells for. I made a comment the other day that Apple didn’t care that much about store security because who cared if you stole a $39 connector that cost them $1.50. [2] That attitude changes if the connector costs you $1.50 and you sell it for $4.50. [2] Hard to predict the unintended consequences of a decision to sell a product at $200 (return policies, customer support do you have enough bodies to support that many more products when you don’t have the margins). The list is endless.[1] Not as simple as just hiring some new people when the entire organization has been hired around certain values and you have thousands of people who all think the same way.[2] Numbers are made up to prove a point.

        3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Yup – and 1 in 100 milllion might make it.Since Basketball Pros start off say 1 in 100,000 the odds are shorter than starting a company and IPOing itSo maybe you need to get to 35 before you realise that with time you have nothing to lose.- Note – no idea or statistics about baseketball or IPO’s but I have been thinking of giving the former a go if I don’t pull off the latter ! πŸ™‚ – That or work on my *irony* a little

    3. muratcannoyan

      Agree that Apple is headed toward being that niche provider again. I still can’t talk an Apple fanboy into trying Android and I’m guessing they will always have that base. Interesting since they unleashed mobile in a way that had never been done before.

  2. Jason Gelman

    Interesting timing – Steve Cheney just wrote a great post on the future of iOS vs. Android. Very much worth a read…

  3. Alexander Ainslie (@AAinslie)

    Fred, have you read this: On The Future of #iOS and #Android /by @SteveCheney

    1. Aaron Klein

      Yes…Steve’s post is a must-read, Fred. Some fascinating points on this discussion.

      1. steve cheney

        Thanks guys! yeah read it Fred πŸ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      i just added an update to my post with a link to that post

      1. steve cheney

        Thanks for reading + linking. I have a lot more thoughts on the topic.

      2. Alexander Ainslie (@AAinslie)

        Also, Bubba Murarka @bubbam just posted this:The most important mobile design decision a startup faces – he states:”If you are building something that has never existed before – if you are trying to capture people’s imaginations, or create a new consumer behavior – you’ll be better off targeting the iPhone and launching a highly polished v1. Instagram andUber are two examples where this focus has worked very well. If you are targeting the enterprise, you might want to start with iPhone as well, because it has far more penetration right now than Android.However if you are trying to create a viral loop or iterate your way to success by figuring out how to displace existing workflows over time, you should start with Android. Unlike iOS, there are no App Store delays to go through – you can publish new versions everyday if you like and even push updates to your app silently, directly from your servers. The ability to iterate so quickly comes at the cost of device fragmentation and less platform functionality than iOS. Said another way it is hard to build beautiful on Android.”

        1. CJ

          I agree with everything but the last line as it in no way relates to anything else that’s quoted and it’s completely untrue. It’s easy to build a beautiful app on Android, I’ve seen several, had he said monetize then I might have agreed.

    3. drrjv

      Excellent post – best thing I’ve seen on future of iOS and Android. Must read for everyone!

  4. ivospigel

    Question in my mind is, how many horses can run this race? Is it only two from now to eternity or will there be room for Microsoft, BlackBerry or perhaps someone as yet completely unknown to establish critical mass in the mobile OS space?

  5. Paul Sanwald

    apple can also compete on development environment and SDK, although there are limits and this is maybe not important enough a point to merit consideration, but I do wonder.I just know that as a developer, I would much rather code for iOS; and although I keep looking at android development, it hasn’t been anywhere near parity.The flip side of this is that having a great, integrated development environment and SDKs hasn’t helped MS; I loved the C# development I’ve done although I generally can’t stand using windows.

  6. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I just inherited an iPhone 4 from a relative. The only smartphone os I’ve used til now is Android, even though all my other equipment is Apple.I was immediately struck at how annoyingly locked down the damned thing is. I can’t just browse it as an external device hooked to my computer. Getting files *off* of it is nearly impossible. It’s irritating as hell. Yet still, I can’t wait to jailbreak it and start using it cuz it’s so sexy!The market doesn’t just need Apple to survive, it needs a third OS.

    1. LE

      “Getting files *off* of it is nearly impossible.”What’s the use case where you need to get files off it and browse the file system?

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        The “I am free to own my possession and do with them as I choose” use case”Personally if given an iPhone I could use it as a doorstop or paperweight – These apps are open source

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          This experience did a lot for my view on Android. But, no one’s giving me a free sexy Android phone any time soon πŸ˜‰ The Android I have now is a bit of a fossil, and I’m constantly running out of space.

          1. fl1nty

            Try google drive or dropbox or skydrive if you haven’t yet. All great solutions to have just in time access to files which are taking space locally and aren’t being used on a daily basis. There are other tools too like 4shared which do the same, not as polished though.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Thanks πŸ™‚

        2. CJ

          I’d use it as an MP3 player…unless it’s the first one with the recessed headphone jack in which case fuck you Apple.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        The prior owner didn’t put anything in the cloud (privacy concerns). So when he upgraded to his new iPhone, he didn’t automatically get all his iTunes music (200+ tracks), images, videos, or documents.I thought, I’ll just hook the old one up to my mac, download all the music to iTunes (or ‘sync’). Then, hookup the new iphone and upload (sync) all the tracks from the old phone to the new phone.I couldn’t just browse the file structure on the old iphone – it simply doesn’t show up as an external device (so I could just drag and drop files). The only way to access it via the computer is using iTunes, iPhoto, etc.I managed to get the music tracks from the old phone onto my computer’s iTunes. Then I hooked up his new iPhone. iTunes wants to reformat it. I can’t bypass reformatting and just sync the phone, even though it sync’d two other iphones previously with no probs.Hopefully, that’s clear πŸ™‚ I’ve done a tiny amt of searching on how to hack my way around this, but haven’t found much.

        1. LE

          In other words a totally 1 time outlier case of where someone needs to browse the file structure, correct?I would have simply done a version of sneaker net with this. I would have burned CD’s from the old phone and then imported the CD’s to the new phone. [1](Noting that like trying to get somewhere in NYC I’d have to actually be having to do this to navigate the exact way to do it. It’s one of many things like this that I have to do I don’t have a clear idea until I try to do it the first time as far as the most efficient way to do it. I do know that there are ways to browse the file system on the Mac though if you are just trying to get the files w/o doing what I initially suggested. I would evaluate the quickest way and depending on the amount of material would then judge the best way to go about what I needed to do).[1] For example a machine sits in front of me and 2 machines sit in back of me. Even with file sharing and all sorts of connectivity it’s sometimes simpler to just put something on a USB and plug the USB into the other machine (in other words for security purposes the file sharing is off on the recipient machine.)

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Ya, burning cd’s or a memory stick is what I’ll try next. But I still haven’t been able to retrieve his documents for him.I’m not so sure this is necessarily an outlier case. Obviously not the typical case. But, the point is that I did not have the experience I expected, and the experience I did have was not superior to what I expected.

          2. LE

            One reason for not allowing people to easily do what you want to do is that it also makes it harder for them to mess something up. So it prevents them from their folly.Have you tried this:

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Will take a look at that, thanks πŸ™‚

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            iExplorer is positively awesome! Thank you for the tip πŸ™‚

      3. Mike Post

        The use case where there’s no Dropbox because you live in the 90’s.It’s cool to champion useless capabilities, because it’s cool to like Android.

        1. kidmercury

          lol ya’ll are so young, makes me smile. reminds me of my youth when i was innocent and didn’t think anyone in the world could ever be setting me up to lock me in. you’ll learn when you get older, unfortunately.

          1. LE

            Makes more sense to take the newbie under your wing and nurture him so he is one of your protectors in the prison yard. And gives you his cigarettes.Otoh we all like to see you drag someone out for a fight in same yard.

          2. Mike Post

            Right. Because it makes more sense to be in the Android ecosystem where they sell your sensitive files and email content to advertisers. Ohhhh facepalm >_<

          3. kidmercury

            right. because apple doesn’t do the same exact thing. and in a way i’m more suspicious of, given the documented lack of moral integrity of its beloved founder. Ohhhh facepalm >_<

          4. Mike Post

            You sound really young because you haven’t learnt how to let go of personal vendettas yet. Keep going with that in life and see how happy and fulfilling that makes you and others around you.

          5. kidmercury

            lol….i’m just playing with you i love beefing with apple fanboys. i may be young, though not quite as young as those naive enough to use apple. how i long to be that young and innocent!

        2. fl1nty

          The need for a service like dropbox is because file system access is blocked on iOS. In addition to having the convenience of sharing files outside of email.

        3. mcbeese

          I agree. Dropbox is an awesome solution that solved the issue of moving files around for me. Much easier than jockeying memory devices. I LIKE that Dropbox is not an embedded feature of iOS because that makes it available seamlessly on every PC/Tablet/Mobile I own.

      4. RichardF

        I move audio, video and photos to and from a thumbdrive on my samsungs all the time. I watch movies that reside on a thumb drive rather than clog up the device memory. I can move documents around, all of which do not require me to use itunes or a cloud based file system like dropbox to move files about. I hate itunes with a passion its a dreadful piece of software.

        1. kidmercury


        2. LE

          A company evaluates the pros and cons of adding or enabling a feature or a benefit based on how they see it playing with whatever market they are selling to and what they hope to achieve.I can come up with a million things that I think the company that makes my car should do that would be better for me. That my mom or sister wouldn’t care about.That company will evaluate the idea and decide the pros and cons of spending .50c or $50 to put in that feature. How much will it move sales etc. And at a certain point they will draw a line and decide not to cross it. But they will give it thought. Do they mess up? Sure they do.Sometimes someone can deviate from this (Honda put change trays in the Honda Accord back in the 70’s which was really revolutionary back then) but people didn’t buy the Honda because of that. It was a great car for other reasons. Although the tray definitely stood out. And if GM had put in trays it would have done nothing. Even though everyone eventually adopted these little trays noting people used the ash trays (remember those?) for change.My point is I question how many people would benefit from needing to have easyaccess to the file system vs. the drawbacks etc. I don’t know the answer all I know is that it’s been thought out and discussed almost certainly.

          1. fl1nty

            Great points. Something to add to this – hiding away complexity, and file system access is a complexity, makes sense for a tightly controlled platform like iOS especially in its initial years as it had a limited user base. Now with a lot more variety of users using the OS maybe the use cases have become varied enough that file system access needs to be made accessible? Perhaps hidden by a setting which advanced users can use to enable it.Also to Fred’s point – there are alternatives right now in the market with Android phones for users who want deeper access to the OS features that cannot be found on iOS.

        3. mcbeese

          I agree with the comment on iTunes, but everything is relative. Relative to Samsung’s Kies, iTunes is a thing of elegant beauty.

          1. RichardF

            You are right but I dont use or need Kies is superfluous, unlike Itunes if you are an iphone user

      5. kidmercury

        that you are asking this question sincerely illustrates why android users think iphone users are getting played.

        1. LE

          Asking someone “why do you like sports” or “why do you think the single bullet didn’t kill Kennedy” isn’t the same as saying “I don’t understand why people like sports” or “I don’t believe a single bullet killed Kennedy”. It means “tell me what you think about this”.

          1. kidmercury

            apple is clearly trying to control your files and how you interact with them, so that you are always within their system. they’ll tell you this is for your own good and to create a great user experience, and while there is kinda/sorta some truth to that, it’s also about having you by the balls so you are forced to keep buying their crap.

          2. LE

            I think you should shift your focus to the food companies who make (and market) food that people over eat because it tastes so good. Or Walmart engineering ways to get people to spend money that they don’t have or Casinos and how they prey on poor people. Or the fast food restaurants.If people with money want and get pleasure from buying Apple products (with the lock in you describe) that’s a much lesser evil (not that I even agree it’s an evil).I buy a shitload of Apple products and I”m well aware of what I’m getting into.I mean for god’s sake we live in a world where hipsters still haven’t gotten the message that smoking kills but they will worry about lock in and choose android over iphone for that reason (not you afaik you’re not a hipster.)

          3. kidmercury

            hey if you want to choose to put handcuffs on and walk into prison no one’s stopping you. after all it’s a sorta free country. i will chuckle though.

    2. ShanaC

      there are alternate os’s. None are really catching on

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Ya, I just meant another serious contender πŸ™‚

    3. Christopher

      Try GoodReader App. You can ‘Open In’ your files and share to GoodReader. GoodReader has a desktop USB app for your computer and then you can connect your iPhone to your computer and add/browse/drag/drop the files stored in GoodReader to your computer from your iPhone or vice versa. The GoodReader App also works wirelessly. Well worth the $3 (i think) the App cost.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        That sounds ideal. Thanks for the tip! I’m going to try it tonight…

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Follow up: iExplorer ended up being exactly what I needed. A very cool app, if you haven’t tried it.

  7. reece

    if you do try on an iPhone, i’ll be happy to ship you a beta build of the Shelby app πŸ˜‰

    1. William Mougayar

      you have a shelby iphone app in the works? that’s cool. i’m available to try your beta πŸ™‚

  8. Jason Flick

    Now that everyone agrees that HTML 5 as an app platform is dead, we need a new cross platform app strategy. QT? Too heavy. Flash? Dead. Phone gap? It’s just HTML5. Unity? Just for games. Any others?

    1. Yaniv Tal

      It would have been reeeally nice to have a silver bullet cross platform solution like HTML5 but it looks like the big boys screwed it up..Looks like we’re out of luck. For simple UI’s there are plenty of solutions including HTML5 and native frameworks that will abstract out platform differences and will save development costs. For more complex UI’s where performance is important the big players who can afford to develop multiple code bases will continue to be at an advantage..

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Screwed it up how? Didn’t they purposely not let HTML5 work well with their OS/devices?

        1. Yaniv Tal

          I doubt it.. I think it’s similar to how netscape screwed up javascript for the first many years. The W3C and other standards bodys suck and are way too slow for the tech companies who have to ship fast to stay competitive so each one goes ahead and ships whatever they have which is a) buggy and b) non standards compliant and over the course of a few years with all the different device/os/browser combinations you end up with a really big mess.

    2. Mike Post

      Something completely new. And by new I don’t mean another framework built on Javascript.There needs to be a platform that allows developers to build components instead of apps, then app creators would be able to slot in those components.

      1. Michael Brill

        Would agree that the app model has to be superseded by something more modular… I’ve often ruminated whether platforms like Google Now may allow that. However, I don’t understand why everyone is writing off Javascript and HTML5. Another generation or two of phones and we’ll have all the performance we need… expose a handful of native APIs for hardware-dependency and that seems to be a winner. If you look at where innovation is happening with application development, it’s happening with Javascript, not Obj-C and Java.

        1. Jason Flick

          Mobile CPU and battery life is growing far slower than it does on desktop where they double the CPU power and often double the power it draws every 18 months. In many cases when mobile CPU’s go up in frequency they go down in piplelines. So there is no doubling of power each year. Then factor in that Java script is 1000x slower than many C++ equivalent lines of code and your looking at a decade before we can have what C++ can do today.I think a C++ based approach built on OpenGL 2.0 is a viable option, but just not for the light of heart.

          1. Michael Brill

            Yeah, it just seems that there are a bunch of ways to address performance with CPU-intensive operation support in the runtime… and not every app is a 3d animated camera gyroscope flashlight. But I don’t think anything is going to happen until there is a new approach to delivering app functionality more flexibly – a problem that very few seem to be bothering with.

    3. ShanaC

      I don’t think HTML5 is dead yet. Just still in development. Flash was like that too in the early days

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        I find it interesting that you compared HTML5 to Flash because it seems like the only thing people are using HTML5 for is the same bullshit vanity crap that people used Flash for — pretty websites with no real substance. And that is the only way the two are comparable. HTML5 still has promise precisely because it is unlike Flash.

    4. fl1nty

      Xamarin? Using C# and the .net stack to write libraries of code with about 70-80% reuse and 20-30% platform specific code. Works on android, iOS (and windows phone too I think)

    5. Elia Freedman

      There never has been a good cross platform solution and there never will be. The trick is to figure out which pieces we can build with technologies that work on multiple platforms and which must be in native code.

      1. Jason Flick

        What about the fact that OpenGL is a standard on every one of these devices. If you build a C++ code base on top of OpenGL then you can bypass all the native controls, animations engines etc and have one very fast small foot print app everywhere.. Sure you’d need a few open source pieces to get there fast but seems to cut through all the fragmentation. In other words a video game engine that does UI.. That doesn’t sound impossible, not easy but possible..

        1. Elia Freedman

          You still need to wrap it in native code but that’s exactly what I mean. These are all pieces of the puzzle that, when mixed with native code, makes an app. I’ve been more focused on reducing native code reliance then eliminating it.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Why never though? I don’t like that word.

        1. Elia Freedman

          I don’t either but there never has been. Java is probably as close as we’ve gotten. HTML still needs a wrapper to be native. And both of these work better on desktop OSes then mobile ones.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I think it’s mainly because the OS and device manufacturers don’t want to connect HTML to the full device functionality.

    6. Matt A. Myers

      Is HTML5 as an app platform mainly dead because OS developers aren’t support HTML5 and linking it into the functionality of the phone?

      1. Jason Flick

        It’s dead because of this:- very few Design tools- very poor debugging- very slow and very memory heavyIt’s also not in an OS’s companies best interest to support it and its always going to be a fraction of the user experience of native.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Sad face.

    7. Sebastian Wain

      For games: cocos2d-x (iOS, Android, HTML5, OS X, Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux) + native bindings.For applications you can take a look at:

      1. Jason Flick

        I took a look at Xamarin. It seems like a good start, but not as good as native apps. And really we want as good or better.This kind of app cross platform :

        1. Sebastian Wain

          I would take a look at using Cocos2D for that, even if it’s not a game. This is a list of games done in Cocos2D (huge list) http://www.cocos2d-iphone.o…Look also at some Cocos2D applications presented in WWDC 2010 Keynote (one by Steve Jobs himself) http://www.cocos2d-iphone.o

  9. sethberman

    iOS will continue to be the preferred platform for developers as long as it generates more revenue per user. Among our users outside the US, iOS continues to lead in developed markets like Canada, UK, and Australia. Germany is one market where Android leads. In markets with low smartphone penetration, like Brazil, neither platform has taken off. Certainly Android has a better shot for mass adoption in developing markets, but those users are much less likely to spend money that developers will see. Even in the US on iOS, where revenue per user is highest, very few developers make enough revenue to support more than a lifestyle business.

    1. fredwilson

      Check out Benedict’s post which I linked to. It is largely about this

      1. sethberman

        It’s accurate that if Android’s installed base grows enough, revenue per user won’t matter as much. However, Ben says, “Android is no longer optional for any publisher seeking real reach. This applies even more if your app is free, since Android download rates are much closer to iOS than are Android payment rates (and of course ‘free’ doesn’t mean no revenue)”. Yes, Android is not optional, and as a publisher we’ve been developing Android apps for some time. But, with our free global apps for a mostly female audience between 20 and 30 years of age, iOS still has about a 2-to-1 lead over Android on downloads and 3-to-1 on usage. We have not yet seen signs the gap closing.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          Your two posts are probably most interesting for me. Especially love pointing out fact it isn’t so much about ease of system, but which one will mean more profit to the dev.

  10. Ian Beckett

    Microsoft – valient attempt ? i think not .. NOKIA now is making the valient attempt, held up badly by MS refusal STILL to consumer code .. the Nokia 1020 is a great step forward in smart phones – great buildquality/design, class leading Nokia consumer coding and revolutionary camera held back by MS not coding support for Quad core, larger memory, high res 1080p screens and just about any improvements at all since win phone 7 came out ? VPN yet ?. How many times do you read reviews of the high end Nokia’s “if only they came with Android and not Windows Phone” !And on the corporate side we have Nokia in the EU now popular enough to sign corporate deals with the likes of Britvic to replace their BIS server/Blackberry’s no doubt on a promise from MS to get round to decent VPN support in the “near” futureFundamentally MS has grown in to a “corporate software WILL fit consumer mindset” which is fundamentally why its struggling so much now.Remember windows phone 7 was basically Windows mobile (CE) underneath and MS should have delivered this years earlier to windows mobile but its corporate sware mindset (no consumer coding needed … basic features will do to integrate with MS corporate server software) destroyed their position.

  11. iamronen

    I get your point … but a part of me wants to see Apple fall.I am rooting for the underdogs – FirefoxOS / Ubuntu on mobile.

  12. William Mougayar

    The phone I really want is an iPhroid.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Right on.

      1. William Mougayar

        it’s more of a virtual statement than a real one πŸ™‚ maybe a state of mind.

        1. fl1nty

          It’s an abstract type. Trying to instantiate it gives you an error πŸ™‚

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      And its competitor iJung πŸ™‚

  13. William Mougayar

    The genius of Apple is about to be revealed on Sept. 10th, but the chances of a $200 iPhone are zilch in my opinion. $299 or $350, maybe.

  14. iderdik

    Apple also needs to recognize that taking days to approve apps makes it very difficult for developers to test and iterate new features. Android has done a great job with this; more and more developers will start releasing features on Android first as long as Apple doesn’t allow this rapid iteration.

    1. fredwilson


  15. William Mougayar

    The paradox of this battle is that despite Android beating iOS on # of units, when it comes to Revenues from apps, and Usage, iOS beats Android by a large margin:Revenues: iOS 74% vs. Android 20%Usage: iOS 61% vs. Android 25%…

    1. fredwilson

      Read Benedict’s post. He addresses this issue

      1. William Mougayar

        I dunno. Maybe that gap is a valley. It is based on a theoretical formula that if X3 more people spend 1/3 less, then you have a market equilibrium of sorts.But the reality is there are lots of moving parts and factors in-between.I think Android could win, not by sheer volume and brute force, but by attracting a larger segment of users like your persona that will use their smartphone more for apps that cost some money.

  16. panterosa,

    As a first time app designer, we chose iPad because that’s where all our customers are.

    1. William Mougayar

      Spoken like an entrepreneur +1 πŸ™‚

    2. drrjv

      Plus, it is a LOT easier to write for iOS – vs the multiple versions of Android devices.

    3. ShanaC

      smart woman

  17. pointsnfigures

    I have an iPhone, and recently checked out a Samsung. Have Apple computers etc and like how everything works together. Am starting to think about switching to Samsung, while maintaining my Apple computers.Agree with Fred on ecosystem. Competition is important. Extremely important in so many ways. But, I don’t like it when govt regulators make decisions to influence competition-would prefer to see markets and entrepreneurs enforce the invisible hand.

  18. LE

    “suggest to me that the tide is turning in the all important digerati which until recently was all about iOS.”The “all important digerati” are not representative of the simple consumer brain.Consumers want a turn key solution they don’t want to have to patch together a solution. [1] There is to much to think about with Android in terms of getting it to do what you can do with an iphone.Consumers want an easy to wrap your hands around solution to a problem. Especially now when they are so time pressed.This for example is not easy to wrap your hands around:I no longer maintain an iTunes library and haven’t for the last few years. I’m more than covered with music podcasts, Hype Machine, Rdio and Spotify.Itunes is the one place you go for music. You don’t have to think to go to three places. The reason that apple was successful is the reason this won’t take the place of Apple.[1] Example: Here is a local company in Philly that specializes in doing Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs (among other things). do a sub par job (bands are not as good as the band you would typically hire on your own) but they solve a niche in the market for people who don’t want to think and just want a “nice enough affair” and have money.Back in the day this would be unheard of. You got the best bands, flowers, video etc. all from different vendors. Today it is different. People don’t want to patch together a solution.Apple offers simplicity that works.

    1. fredwilson

      iTunes used to be the one place you go for music. the internet (spotify, rdio, rhapsody, songza, pandora, etc, etc) is now.

  19. LE

    ” then iOS will lose one of its most important value propositions (it is where all the best apps are).”The comparison here is accurate for business but not for consumers. Apps may have built the iphone demand but the problem now is to many apps to choose from. This isn’t the same as Mac vs. PC back in the 80’s. Consumers can do anything they want (the killer apps) on the iphone and that will always be true.

  20. Tom Labus

    Mobile is a volatile area and because of that I don’t and can’t write off MSFT. Plus I like the phone a lot

  21. Brandon Burns

    I’m not sure Apple has it in its DNA to accomplish this.Apple sees itself as a maker of beautiful products. When the company talks about itself out loud, the emphasis is usually put on beautiful hardware. But from the first (widespread) icon interface of the Macintosh to the first (widespread) touch interface of the iPhone, interface and operating system have been the parts that got the press, critics, and eventually consumers to join Apple’s cult β€” with pretty hardware as a (very, very) nice to have.It’s like having two kids, one smart one and one pretty one, but the pretty kid is the one you always brag about… despite the smart one being the “better” kid.Viewed under that lens, I’m not sure Apple knows how to make a bet on software β€” the smart kid β€” that will take the limelight away from the pretty kid: hardware.I’ve read the reports about the supposed upcoming, cheap, plastic-cased iPhone. For some reason, I just don’t believe that, if it happens, it’ll be done well (most likely, the pricing will still be off).Apple favors the pretty kid way too much.

    1. Daniel Eran Dilger

      Apple released “a cheap, plastic-cased iPhone” in 2008 and again in 2009.Prior to that, Apple risked destroying the iPod’s ASP by releasing a cheap new mini, followed by the nano. Those cheaper models obliterated the segment of the market Apple didn’t already own: flash memory-based MP3 players.One of the fastest growing businesses at Apple is iTunes/App Store/iCloud. While it makes most of its money by far on hardware (with free software and super cheap, high quality apps mostly just adding value to that hardware), Apple’s content/media sales are what the company is investing in and paying back in a way that Google Play/Amazon/etc are not.Apple has tremendous interest in keeping the iOS platform the most valuable , it just isn’t going to throw away its huge profitability lead to do so, because it doesn’t need to. Apple isn’t picking from two children. It’s sending them both to college and popping out more behind them.

      1. kidmercury

        apple faces the innovator’s dilemma because they are addicted to high margin hardware, which is fundamentally at odds with building an all encompassing platform. they may intellectually realize the need to change, but profits are a tough habit to kick. msft realized intellectually they needed to switch from selling software to monetizing cloud-based services, but when the incentives are in place to drive a huge organization in one direction, change is difficult even when everyone knows it is what is needed.

        1. fredwilson


        2. splamco

          iPhone, iPad and iPod were all competitively priced to consumers. Big profits came from various related schemes, the point being that a cheap iPhone won’t make much difference if for no other reason than we’ve still got the iPhone 4. Apple’s real problem is that the cool innovation engine that got them here is sadly gone. Jobs putting Cook in charge was test – Dilbert never had a chance.

        3. baanzu

          Anyone who uses Innovator’s Dilemma against Apple must be aware that the man who coined that term has been wrong about Apple failing on that basis for at least 7 years – – (oooh but any day now it’s gunna happen!) and anyway I’d argue Apple aren’t addicted to high-margin hardware, it’s been their core business since at least the original Macintosh. Also, the iPod Nano/Shuffle, the MB Air, the iPad Mini (and maybe the iPhone 5C should it come to pass) show that Apple are willing to bend on margin where it makes sense.Preserving profit from existing products while building new products/markets is not a dinosaur-model ripe for disruption, it’s exactly the model for good business.

          1. kidmercury

            christensen isn’t wrong about apple. he has said open source will disrupt apple and android is a somewhat open source OS, as evidenced by the forks that are emerging from it (nook, kindle). it is clear to many of us that android is disrupting iOS. christensen did not forecast this disruption occurring overnight, and while many people like myself underestimated just how long apple’s run could last, that does not invalidate the basic thesis of disruptive theory.what you call the model for good business is exactly why newspapers, television, and microsoft are in the position they are in. the solution would be for those companies to create spin-off organizations designed for the disruptive opportunity, which they generally failed to is also worth noting that jobs himself was a big fan of clayton christensen.

  22. Guest


    1. kidmercury

      lol brilliant!

  23. jason wright

    “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.”you’ll be voting Republican at the next election.what of the Firefox experiment?

    1. fredwilson

      it hasn’t started yet, but it will soon.

  24. Pramod Dikshith

    I think apple is having a tough time diversifying globally at the sametime staying relevant locally. Also, till Steve Jobs was around they felt that people would buy Apple irrespective of the price point. Things have changed now with Google and Samsung taking Apple head on.

  25. hypermark

    In Android vs. iOS, I think a lot about the battle between HBO and Netflix, where Netflix has been very pointed about defining the narrative as “We’re striving to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”Google seems to embrace this ethos fully, getting better at design, integration, breadth of services, the PR game, etc, while carefully pivoting back and forth between supporting the “open” ecosystem, anointing “select” partners, and delivering their own “best in class” examples.By contrast, Apple seems almost exclusively focused on their own dance, save for paying attention to the lessons learned from the past; namely, not leaving pricing overhang, not losing control of distribution and direct touch with the consumer, doing what they say and saying what they’ll do, and ensuring that the platform story is compelling, especially as it pertains to the “halo effect” of families embracing all things Apple.I guess the point is that a very material aspect of Google is to attack Apple its core; yet, I have seen no sign that Apple has a scenario to attack Google at its core.I wonder if this truth will be seen as obvious or irrelevant in the future.

  26. James Fayal

    I think there is a bit of a tech industry bias among this crowd. We need to remember that the vast majority of individuals have no opinion on whether a system should be open or not. Benedict Evans has a great post on the subject here:

  27. jason wright

    who here is using iOS and who is using Android, and why?i am using neither. that could change next month.

  28. Jason C

    Regarding a cheaper iPhone, just look at BMW over the past 10 years or so. Like Apple, they are an aspirational brand and the introduction of cheaper, more attainable models like the 1-series or lower end 3-series cars has grown business while maintaining much of the BMW spirit. Sounds a lot like Apple.Then again, I barely drive so I’m not the best person to be making this analogy.

  29. bbaucom

    With my new venture, I started with Android development. First time I’ve done that. I think Samsung’s rise (Galaxy) is the deciding factor – you don’t have to design for 14 different phones. Anyway, very interesting post. Brian, Chapel Hill, NC

  30. Joseph Scott

    Today a problem I still see for Android is OS updates. I’m not interested in buying a new phone every year. Just like I don’t buy a new laptop every year, but I still expect to be able to update the OS when new releases come out.Right now most Android devices have a really, really bad track record when it comes to supporting OS updates.

    1. ShanaC

      If prices drop, I’m actually ok with it. I think phone as accessory and app as a portable user layer will be the model

      1. Joseph Scott

        If prices drop for high quality phones, yes, I’d probably be ok with that to. For the most part that is a trend that just hasn’t materialized.

    2. Dan G

      phone for faster Android OS updates without rooting: right now, there’s the Nexus 4, and Google Play edition Galaxy S 4 and HTC One. Wait for the Moto X and see how it is

      1. Joseph Scott

        There needs to be an established track record of supporting OS updates on a phone. Just hoping that they do won’t cut it.

  31. Shaun Dakin

    I used to use an iPad and my Android (GS3) 50/50.I have not used my iPad in 6 months. I do everything on my Android.As a small business owner and consultant I depend on Google apps (ALL OF THEM) to run my business. Android simply works better.Thank you Google.

    1. fl1nty

      That’s a blessing and a curse I am realizing over the past few months. Our google accounts are a single point of failure protected only by a measly password. Always a good idea to have some redundancy built in in case something catastrophic happens like a stolen phone leading to a stolen identity or something along those lines.

      1. fredwilson

        yup. i mentioned this in a post this past week.”Google has me every which way but sunday right now and that’s not particularly comforting”

  32. ShanaC

    I think we’re misreading the situation a tad.Android has yet to produce an amazing, must have tablet.And I keep thinking as work merges for non programmers (and even some programmers, like that guy who programs via voice!) the need for a computer with a keyboard all the time will lapse.Hence, tablets. And android is still failing.Phones still get to be playthings/lighter weight. They are too tiny to do otherwise from a usability POV.

    1. kidmercury

      pfft. a lil somethin’ somethin’ called kindle fire HD.

    2. mcbeese

      I’m pretty happy with my Nexus 10 hardware… And the 4.3 release is pretty good. It’s nicer hardware to hold on to than my IPad 3.However, way too many Android apps are butt-ugly. It’s getting better, but there is still a looong way to go.

      1. JLM

        .Let me second and third that. I am very happy with Nexus 7 and 10. I also own an iPad.JLM.

    3. fredwilson

      the new Nexus7 is a thing of beauty



        1. fredwilson

          Different strokes for different folks

        2. Lucas Dailey

          Care to share why?

  33. Semil Shah

    Having focused on iOS for the last year (in venture and operating), I’ve been testing out this line with devs, so am curious for the reaction here — Build on Android for large user base, or build on iOS to invent a new mobile experience. More of an explanation here:

  34. CJ

    I don’t think a cheap iPhone is necessary or even in Apple’s best interest. They are a premium brand, they shouldn’t mess about in the lower profit ‘cheap’ phone market segment. They should innovate the hardware design, that’s where they are suffering IMHO. The iPhone is stale and were it not for the inertia of the ecosystem it would be fading a lot faster than it is.They are really missing Jobs though, someone internally is going to have to step up and make it cool again because, as they are starting to notice, people don’t buy an iPhone they buy the marketing of an iPhone.

  35. Sebastian Wain

    I want iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry (QNX), Firefox OS, Ubuntu Edge, and mainly a complete open software and hardware platform. Call it “Debian Mobile”, “GNU Mobile” or “BSD Mobile” but I want to buy a mobile phone in the flexible way that I buy a PC.At the end (ten years from now?) the fragmentation issue will be solved with better multiplatform responsive tools.Returning to the concern presented in the post, I would say that beyond the power and intelligence of Google, Apple is doing some obvious mistakes and that’s the part that can erode their market.

  36. Dave W Baldwin

    Two things. First, regarding Blackberry. I think that may be something just to keep an eye on since the news is happening regarding BB looking to either be acquired/merged.Second, I’m late to the party… but I think the point of post is looking forward and who will be the dominant one in the near/long future. Paul Stamatiou’s post (I will finish reading) is great due to it is based on the CONSUMER pov! The Android side has already made some headway, experimenting with the “Are they (apple) really that cool?” message. Simple reality is, most consumers don’t care about open/closed… they just want the product that makes most sense performance/price.

  37. Youssef Rahoui

    It’s just intuition from a long time Apple fan but I have the feeling that cheap is not Apple’s way ; innovation is. Historically, Apple’s core strength has always been to pioneer a market (or making it mainstream), capture the maximum of value and move on to the next big wave before anyone else. That said, it was when Steve Jobs was in command. Now that it’s not the case anymore, cheap iOS devices may be the reasonable (only?) path. But what a cultural sea change!

  38. Shoe On Head

    my issue is that iOS has become a hosting organism for OmniGroup products.OmniGroup don’t do android.:/

  39. Mordy Kaplinsky

    I empathize with the concern but I kind of hope that Android has a bit more of a run especially in tablets, so that Android apps reach parity with iOS on both phone and tablets. After that i’d kinda like to see them balanced out.

  40. Pete Griffiths

    Too late.We’ve seen this pattern before.UNIX vs alphabet soup of mid-range computer vendors.PC vs Apple.No one vendor can withstand the tide. Apple didn’t before and it won’t again.The only question is whether Samsung can get out of its own way and build a meaningful ecosystem.

  41. falicon

    At the end of the day, I don’t really care about the hardware or the OS…I only care about what I can do with my pocket computer/phone.Right now the hardware matters, but I don’t think that will last much longer…and the OS matters but will probably become less significant in the next few years as well.To me the differentiating factor is going to be more around the app store experience and how people go about discovering and trying apps.iTunes is all about the curated ‘top’ lists right now…if you aren’t in one, then your app is basically dead to the ecosystem.Meanwhile, Android has two primary stores that I know of (google play and Amazon)…so they are forced to be a bit more innovative around the ‘discover apps’ problem…that along with the fact that ‘discover’ is a core value for Google, and I think it’s clear which hardware/OS has the best long term potential here (even if they are coming from the rear right now).

  42. Dave W Baldwin

    For the hell of it, why not read this?… Vanity or visionary? Tech billionaires back futuristic ventures… basically looking Diamondis, Musk, Bezos and so on. Who’s to say that a group doesn’t look at the cell phone world and say enough? How many billion would it take to produce the phone/tab/entertainment that serves the customer per what the customer wants/uses/needs? Just a matter of real brains and marketing. What needs to be broken is the current pathway that leads to same hum drum with the big corporations who will, like their government counterpart, figure out how to screw it up.

  43. mikenolan99

    The writing is on the wall… and I’m leaving Apple. Slowly, of course, as phones go off contract.The final nudge – Chromecast. My son asked me what this new thing on his iPhone was… I told him I bought Chromecast. Half a minute later Breaking Bad was streaming from his iPhone to our TV – easier than with Apple TV.He raised his arms in the air and said “Google Wins!”

    1. mikenolan99

      And, I need a larger screen – or longer arms.

    2. techsnarkblog

      Faster compared to owning an Apple TV? I’m doubtful.

  44. andyidsinga

    ohh shit [ andy bellefleur voice ] … root hard for firefox os for crying out loud πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      i am going firefox os as an experiment. i will blog about it.

      1. andyidsinga

        looking fwd to that. i want to get one myself.

      2. andyidsinga

        btw ..its a little confusing to me which handsets are avail …i might try to get a geeksphone : ..which one are you goi g to use?

  45. hubris

    I just wish one or both of them would implement on of the best features their now dying predecessor (blackberry) had since the early days – an auto on/off function that actually turns the phone off at a set time and turns it back on at a set time (bbry was even smart enough to have a different time for weekends).

  46. Anand Vemuri

    It’s already happened in India. Everyone goes Android first here.

  47. Gabriel Gunderson

    Fred: “I don’t want either smartphone OS to be so dominant that we lose the level playing field we have now..”Commoditization of the OS is the *very* best thing that can happen to this space –let it fade into the background. Now you have hardware manufacturers, telcos, app developers, the entertainment industry, and regular old companies, *all* competing on a level playing field and innovating on an open platform.Commoditization FTW!It’s the same thing that happened to the Linux kernel, but at a higher level.Meanwhile, we’ll still write apps for iOS and Droid :/

  48. george

    Great to see you pull for iOS, I never expected to read this! I think this is all a bit premature and very speculative. Developers go where the dollars are, iOS generates approximately 2.3X the revenue of android apps. Does that sound like the ecosystem is in jeopardy?

    1. fredwilson

      yes, because that’s pretty much because of their dominance of the high end in the US. but besides that, they are getting their asses kicked and that will come to an end someday soon.

      1. george

        I agree that android has wonderfully accelerated but I think that will also begin to slow and mature. Here’s a current chart – I only see Apple getting beat up in South Korea region.

  49. AntiLaw

    This Indian is very happy with android, I can now get a world class phone at 1/4th the price of the top-end Iphone. Maybe we are cheap and don’t deserve the absolutely best things in life, but I believe I speak for every Indian when I say that good enough is good enough for most of us Indians and I suspect it is for most of the world as well(except for maybe US folks πŸ™‚ )

  50. kenberger

    Data point: As someone who directs a couple mobile development teams for hire, I can tell you anecdotally that *so far*, I see no such turning tide. Benedict himself does emphasize IF, so I understand that he’s not nec saying it’s happened yet.Yes, Android is taken very seriously, or at least considered whereas it hardly was a few years ago, but I still see the majority of mobile work requests come in as iOS first. This is partly due to the perception that iOS is where the money is vs Androiders being deadbeats, as perpetuated (true or not) by many of the articles out there including perhaps Benedict’s.another data point is: go attend a NY Tech or SF Tech Meetup event. You’ll still today (annoyingly) see more startups launch as iOS first. And it’s still rare to see Android only. another reason besides that mentioned above is many very early stage startups believe that most of their potential investors and early users are going to be iOS toters.

  51. harris497

    Fred, much like american party politics, there is desperate need for a third option but in this instance, one that bleeds market share from both major contenders. Duopolys are inherently dangerous and kill innovation and the perception that there can be something else that is as good as or better that serves everyone. Apple needs to open up, but then what? The balance of power will shift back and forth until one eventually overcomes the other.

  52. harris497

    Perhaps Apple could create its own competitor, it’s not an unheard of strategy…

  53. James_G

    Well, I’ll root for the cheap iPhone, but I don’t see that Android really is making companies enough money to put Apple at risk.

  54. Sean Hull

    I agree Fred. Having at least two players to keep a level playing field is key to competition.There are two things still dogging the Android ecosystem. One is rampant malware in the appstore, and bloatware on the phones themselves. It makes it a challenge for low-end phones and reduces the after market value:…The other is device fragmentation.…These two things make me confident that Apple can hold onto their slice of the pie.

  55. Glen Hellman

    Apple is to mobile smart phones what AOL was to the internet and what training wheels were for bicycles. When people learn to ride their bikes, they take off their training wheels.Or maybe a better analogy would be diapers. Because as toddlers get older they take off their diapers and when adults start aging we need to put those diapers back on.

    1. techsnarkblog

      I love the comparison. It’s so simple, it misses the fundamental differences between AOL and Apple. AOL had the ‘easy’ part down, but it restricted the internet with unnecessary AOL features. The Internet was simply more compelling.Apple has a richer more compelling ecosystem of apps. If you think most people care about having better access to the filesystem or ‘open’ (as warped as that definition is with most Android installs), you’re in another world. Most Android installs aren’t actually open. Most people don’t care.But you do!

  56. someone

    Apple already has a low-cost phone strategy. They still sell the 4 online and in their stores (my guess is that they still manufacture it). it is free on any carrier (w/2-yr contract). their real problem has been their stubbornness w/r/t screen size. customers want bigger screens. hilarious that the Droid “Mini” and Galaxy Mini have larger screens than you can buy on an ios device.only if they deliver a $99 no-contract device, like the nokia 520 winphone, will their erosion from 50% to 20% to 14% worldwide marketshare start reversing. but I doubt they will go “that low”

  57. Dan G

    First off, the iPhone’s screen is too small for my chubby fingers. So, it wasn’t even on my shortlist when I was looking to replace my Windows Mobile phone, a year and a half ago. I got the Verizon Galaxy Nexus.I use alot of Google’s services and they just work better with Android. Now, with Google’s contexual services- Google Now, getting better with Google’s data advantage, and the ever increasing hardware choices with Android, it’s looking like Android vs iOS is ending up like Windows vs Mac

  58. sigmaalgebra

    I’d explain it to you, but I can’t get itinto 200 characters!