The latest UK June paper edition of Wired (and I guess the US version as it was written by Fred Vogelstein of US Wired) has an interesting article on "Why Android Will Beat the iPhone". It describes the early days of Android and recounts the story of how Google and Motorola worked together to create the Droid. This and the app revenue sharing deal with Verizon became instrumental in Android’s success.
The article concludes that the…
"insatiable demand for mobile device will allow the iPhone and Android to coexist".
"once the market is saturated – say, in three to five years – sales will slow. Then the only growth opportunity will lie in poaching customers from other companies".
Despite this, the author thinks, without any justification…
"as is often the case in technology, only one platform will prevail".
When I first read this, I didn’t agree until I thought some more about the end game when the market is saturated.
I think that selling less devices per quarter will hurt Apple more than Google. Google will continue to sell ads on the huge installed base of devices. It will have achieved its end game. Unless Apple can somehow move the majority of its revenue to be from services, selling significantly fewer devices in a saturated market will become much less profitable. Also, as Google gives away most of its services for free, Apple might not be able to compete on selling services anyway.
This all assumes, of course, that there isn’t a technical disruptive force in these timescales (from Apple, Google or an Other) that causes smartphone users to buy a new generation of devices – and no, it’s almost certainly not Nokiasoft’s Windows Phone.