Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 10th Oct 2013 16:37 UTC

Insightful article by John Gruber.

So the irony here is that iOS vs. Android (or, if you prefer, iPhone and iPad vs. commodity smartphones and tablets) is in fact a replay Mac vs. Windows - but not in the way that most who make the comparison would have you believe. Judging by its actions, Apple is keenly aware of the lessons to be learned from 20 years ago. To wit, this has nothing to do with focusing on raw market share, and everything to do with keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality. If Apple maintains a lead over its rivals in those regards, the Mac suggests that Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well - a market that is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and unlike the PC market, is still growing.

As insightful as the article is, it does pivot on the assumption that Apple does, indeed, "[maintain] a lead over its rivals" in design and quality. Design is largely a matter of taste, but as far as quality goes, Apple has, in my view, been surpassed in almost every aspect by Android - at least, when it comes to software. And let's not even get started on internet services, where Apple is a complete and utter joke compared to its competitors. As far as hardware goes, however, Apple's supposed lead is harder to debate - I've held a lot of phones and tablets in my hands over the years, and while many come close to Apple's, I've never held anything that outright surpassed it (save for maybe the HTC One which no one is buying).

Unsurprisingly, Gruber believes Apple does maintain that lead, and as such, arguing his point becomes relatively easy. However, if you ascribe to the view that Android has surpassed iOS in quality (and certainly in design, in my view), it becomes a lot harder to accept that Apple can, this time, avoid the trap it fell into in the '90s.

Now, before people will twist and turn this into me saying Apple is doomed - I don't believe for a second that it is. However, that doesn't mean a repeat of the '90s is somehow magically off the table - Apple has a lot of work to do in order to avoid it. As Tom Dale stated so aptly almost a year ago, "Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services". With Motorola and the Moto X, design might not be the only thing Google is getting better at faster.

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Not just Google because they are just the base
by tomz on Thu 10th Oct 2013 17:06 UTC
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Also remember that Google isn't the only one - each of the vendors makes their own phones and tablets - I have a Toshiba Tablet and Samsung media player. There are a lot of phones, each with different features (including those with QWERTY for textaholics). SD cards make things so much easier.

The iPhone might be the best device for the center of the bell curve, but Google has the rest, and the sweet spot has been getting narrower.

The web services are fundamentally important, and Apple's lock-in approach will burn them there if they aren't careful. They can make a beautiful device, but if I can't get my data where I want it, it will be a beautiful brick with a terrible experience. They have a dichotomy - either it should be great or impossible. And it takes a lot of engineering to make everything anyone would ever want to do great. And the impossible (or expensive with 3rd party stuff) has become significant. (Compare Blu-Ray or USB3 on OSX).

I remember the Bill Gates' memos about making it a "jarring experience" for anyone using Netscape (and making IE "part of the OS"). As Apple tries to make things painful for third parties, they make it painful for their users.

They also haven't learned (or forgot with Jobs loss) that they can't use the checkbook in place of a designer. There are many things I hate about Google Maps, but it works. They bought a bunch of pieces for their mapping applications, but there is no, I'm not sure about an OSX app (since they put the razor wire up with Lion). They could have an awesome, "insanely great" map application, but instead have a patchwork that doesn't even work up to Google or Bing's efforts.

How well is iBooks doing even without the lawsuit?

Google and others have "Import from iTunes" - but how easy is it to go the other way?

iCloud, me and the rest create a fragmented archipelago - and pushes you to jump entirely into their ecosystem (with a No Exit sign - but how do you collaborate with everyone else).

Google may go evil. They are already starting with a few shots across the Microsoft bow (but M$ is suing them or their customers so they declared war). But until they start going with the full lock-in, they end up where they want to be - a hub, a transfer station, not a one-way to a dead end.

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