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This is why Google’s Android will beat Apple’s iPhone

By on July 13, 2010

Regular readers of GAMESbrief will know that I expect Apple to repeat its doomed experiment of the 1980s/1990s when it believed that tight integration of software and hardware, superb design and an iron control of the platform would win the desktop computer battle.

It is repeating the battle so far. Here’s how I expect the script to go:

  • Apple creates a market by making it easy to find mobile content, to pay for mobile content and to develop mobile content
  • Apple continues to exert powerful control over the platform and the content, limiting the ability of developers to do what they want, of consumers to find what they want and business to make money by releasing cross-platform games.
  • An open competitor (probably Android from Google, but possibly Windows, Symbian or HTML 5) allows consumers and developers to explore and experiment
  • No one knows what the killer app will be. But by being open, Android (or another open platform) allows the free market to explore, experiment, fail and iterate until it gets it just right.
  • Apple has a 10% market share appealing to a limited base of fanboys, investors, journalists and game developers, so it continues to get the majority of the coverage despite its small market share.

Google launched anothe salvo in its open strategy recently when it released AppInventor, an easy to use App Maker that allows uses with no prior programming experience.

App Inventor screenshot

Detractors will say (quite rightly) that this will unleash a wave of dross on Android Market, making it harder for good quality content to stand out.

But that is to miss the point of the open strategy. There are two ways to run a platform (or indeed a country). One is the “we know best” strategy of central command, where everything is fed upwards, approved and authorised. The other is the anarchic freedom of the democracy (suitably fettered by a limited set of rules and, importantly, the requirement that those ideas, businesses or apps that fail to attract sufficient attention and profits go bust).

Google’s App Inventor shows how clearly they believe in open. It’s hard to imagine Apple under Steve Jobs releasing such a project.

Go play with it. Let me know what you think.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: