Is Android the New Windows?

For most of my career as a PC analyst, I have followed and chronicled the evolution of the PC. My first project when I came to Creative Strategies was to work with a new group formed inside IBM that created the original IBM PC. By the time I was asked to be involved in some design strategies and retail projects, the IBM PC had just become a hit and was in the process of solidifying the role of a PC in business.

A short time after the IBM PC became successful, clones started hitting the market. The most successful one of its day was the Compaq computer. I was privileged to attend the first ever Compaq analyst event in which all (four) PC analysts at the time were invited. In the early days of the PC, there really weren’t any PC analysts per se and those who had the title had been covering mini-computers — PCs were added to our research roles.

During the visit we spent time with Compaq Chairman Ben Rosen and Compaq co-founder Rod Canion to learn about their new PC clone and why they thought they would be successful. IBM had become a force with their PCs and I found it curious an upstart like Compaq would even challenge them. In fact, I asked Rod Canion during that visit why he decided to put up his own money and go after funding to take on IBM. He told me when he was at Texas Instruments, he learned early on that whatever IBM did, it would become a standard. He saw the success of the IBM PC and understood it was created with off the shelf parts and placed what he called a “sure bet” to create a competitor, knowing full well that IBM’s PC would become the standard for business computing. Not long after, Dell and others brought out clones too.

However, the one constant for all of these computers was an OS created originally for IBM known as MS-DOS. Since it was not proprietary, it was also licensed to Compaq, Dell, Acer, and about a couple of dozen other PC vendors in the heyday of the PC. MS-DOS eventually became Windows and this OS has been dominant for PCs and laptops for over 30 years. Of course, Apple created a computer OS for the Mac but Apple’s OS is proprietary and, even though it has done and is still doing very well, PCs running Windows out sell Macs exponentially.

It is interesting to note that, for most of Windows’ life, it was a local PC and laptop OS but Microsoft had visions of this OS becoming a standard for use in tablets and smart mobile devices as early as 1990. However, due to a lot of infighting inside Microsoft and a huge emphasis on productivity, they were never able to really establish Windows as a dominant OS beyond the PC. This opened the door for Apple and Google to create new operating systems designed just for mobile computers and IoT.

While Apple’s iOS is a huge success in its own right, like OS X, it is proprietary and used only on Apple products. On the other hand, Android has a lot of the original characteristics of Windows in that it is a licensable OS that can be used by any PC, tablet, smartphone and IoT vendors in the world. Indeed, if you look at the number of mobile devices on the market today running Android, it makes up about 75% of all products shipped.

At Googles recent I/O developer conference, Google’s leadership clearly stated they want Android to be the dominant OS for connected devices and IoT. Like Windows, Android is hardware agnostic and can easily be applied to any mobile or IoT device. Even more important is that Android serves as Google’s OS/UI to their overall cloud vision and are building most of their worldwide ecosystem of products and services channeled through Android.

Almost from the beginning, Bill Gates and Microsoft wanted their OS, and especially Windows, to be dominant on devices around the world. I still see that as their goal but, due to various choices and infighting, they are far behind Google and Apple in this quest — I don’t see that Windows outside of the PC could ever become a dominant device OS worldwide. Apple, with their proprietary approach, has made major strides in their quest to dominate the device market and with the iPhone, iPad, HealthKit, HomeKit, Car Play, Apple Watch and Apple TV they have emerged as a serious powerhouse of their own in this space. However, while in the past their main competitor was Microsoft and Windows, this time it is Google and Android and Android has become the Windows of our generation.

The big difference between Microsoft and Google is Microsoft still has to protect their legacy devices as well as try and move everything to their One Microsoft strategy. That is not easy to do. When it comes to mobile devices, their Windows mobile phones are a very distant third in the overall market of smartphones. As for IoT, iOS and Android clearly have an edge and momentum over Microsoft. Market projections from most research houses see Android basically dominating the market for mobile and IoT because it is device agnostic and is a free license for anyone that wants it.

From where I sit, it really does seem Android is the Windows of our day and Google is in a place to broaden their lead in mobile and IoT barring any serious missteps. Apple will be a worthy competitor and I don’t expect Microsoft to rest on their laurels and let Google dominate this space without a fight. However, Android’s lead in these two markets is quite huge and, if Google keeps moving in this direction and keeps their customers happy, I suspect Android, at least from a numbers viewpoint, will continue to be the dominant mobile and IoT system for many years to come.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

869 thoughts on “Is Android the New Windows?”

  1. I think there are a lot of similarities:
    – an OEM-based business model, which has both advantages (choice of supplier, lots of different models for different niches ie rugged, flashy, XXS, XXL,…, price/features competition) and issues (quality control, race to the bottom, intra-ecosystem competition…)
    – market dominance.
    There are a couple of huge differences though:
    – Open-sourceness, which does have the issue that competitors can freeload on the work Google does (I’d argue that’s by design, to avoid MS-like complacency, plus it lets Google sell Android in China), but mostly lets OEMs innovate and differentiate whether through HW or SW or even Cloud (if they ever manage to innovate there, which they haven’t)
    – Free as in beer, the cost to the user is in terms of ads and tracking, to the OEM it is in terms of lost app/content store and ad/tracking revenue. I think a side effect of that one is that since OS updates are free too, there are fewer of them. That puts the focus back on hardware sales, which seems to run counter to history.

    What I kinda lament is the internal competition with ChromeOS. I think Android would make a better laptop/desktop OS from the user point of view (native apps, less dependent on a internet connexion, lots more apps), while ChromeOS’s management advantage has already largely been backported to Android (limits to what the user can do/install, central management).

  2. If there is to be intra-ecosystem diversity, applications need to execute. This means, at minimum, a common kernel in the OS as a standard. That it took Windows until version 7 and Android until version 4 to be “good enough” is almost immaterial, and is a separate issue. If there is to be a modular system, someone has to be the common OS.

    Though nothing prevents it from being a desktop OS, I think it’s more apt to say Android is “Windows for mobile devices”. It actually goes one step further, the code is published and licensed under GPL. Among other things, this permitted the Kindle OS as well as ASOK in China. What matters though, is that Android applications run within the hardware/software requirements of the application.

    Being BSD based, OSX can serve as a modular OS as well, if not for the proprietary interface and permission components, especially drivers. iOS could have been too, things are controlled at the permissions level even more. Aside from non-licensing, this rules them out as a potential standard. The culprit though is business, not tech.

  3. Hi Tim –

    How do you see ChromeOS fitting into the GoogleMicrosoft interplay you describe ?

    thanks !

    1. It seems clear that Chrome and Android are on a collision course in the same way the Mac OS and IOS is moving towards being one in the same. I don’t know how long it will take either to unify their code and UI’s but in Google case I have already seen an Android laptop in the works. to a degree this maps what Microsoft is doing too. Windows PC and Window mobile are unifying around a tiling metaphor even though the apps have very different code. But in the end all three players are trying to build a single UI/OS architecture that will work on all devices.

      1. Several Android laptops have already been released, one by HP for example. There are plenty of desktops too, including by Xiaomi, Huawei and ZTE. The Playstore-compatible Android gaming consoles also make OK desktops, though they tend to be more expensive than basic desktops.

  4. Android became the windows for mobile by default because none of the oem’s had anything that could remotely go head to head with IOS when iPhone launched. Android was the only viable solution available to all of them, so everyone jumped on board and the rest is history. Although, I do not think we will see a repeat of that in the IOT space. If there is anything those oem’s learned is that not controlling the os/platform leaves you at a big disadvantage for comodizations. That is what happened on the android side and look at all the casualties, even samsung is not immune.

    If anything, the IOT space will be a mess for years to come. I anticipate every oem’s will want to own the platform as a way to deal with commoditization. Samsung is already pushing their ARTIK platform and I am sure others will follow suit. For that reason, I do not see google replicating their dominance in the IOT space like they did with android. I actually like what Apple is doing more with their homekit framework. At least those oem’s will not feel threatened by their approach, unlike google’s.

    1. Exactly the same thing happened when MS had the ONLY “IBM compatible” OS. Everyone had no choice but to sign up. But it did allow you to run the same software at home that you used at work/school. This prompted tremendous unimpeded growth, if for no other reason than economies of scale.

    2. Shouldn’t OEMs feel more threatened by Apple than by Google ? Hasn’t Apple been booting headsets makers from their stores since they bought Beats, and cutting Monster from MFI over a conflict with Beats too ?
      Will that be standard practice for IoT too ? buy into a category, boot competitors out or decertify them ?

      1. I see your bias completely blinded you from what my point was. Apple strategy so far is not looking to own the IOT platform from those oem’s, but instead are building frameworks where oem’s can just add support for their products. Google is looking to replicate in the IOT space what they did with android, where they own the platform and let the hardware oem’s kill each other on price and the rush down to zero.

        How did that work for those oem’s with android. The last position those oem’s needs to be is to hand over the IOT platform to google where they have no control over their own destiny, and google again extract all the values. It worked out so great for those oem’s that even samsung with all their resources are struggling. This time samsung is pushing their own platform in ARTIK. Unlike google, they create and sell products they can control to push their platform.

        1. You missed the parallel I was making: like Apple wasn’t into headsets early on, then they bought a headset company, and former headset partners found themselves kicked to the curb w/o notice. That could repeat in IoT.

          With a layered approach like Google’s, OEMs aren’t competing with the ecosystem’s owner, so there not such a huge risk.

          1. I don’t know that it was entirely Apple kicking out Bose (there are still plenty of well respected, competing headsets at Apple, B&O, B&W, Blue). I think at the very least it was mutual, and it may even be Bose feeling a bit insulted, ala Steve Jobs when he felt a supposed partner betrayed him, so they could just as easily have ditched Apple. Bose has some pretty crazy retail agreements (if you’ve ever worked music retail, they are all a bit crazy).

            Joe

          2. Sure, let’t leave some minor detail about a lawsuit shall we? It’s obvious what you are trying to do here. We all can pinpoint bad stuffs companies do, we just don’t need to leave out some parts to make out points.

  5. From a ubiquity standpoint, Android is clearly the new Windows. But there are major technical hurdles to overcome before Android could move from small-screen, touch-based devices to say, laptop devices.

    Anyone following the behind the scene progressions of Apple’s iOS would be familiar with the technologies they had to develop just to properly utilize all the current screen sizes within the iOS family of devices – let alone split screen views and the rumored “iPad Pro.” And those are just the display issues.

    Since Android is not a subset of a desktop OS, Google can’t simply graft the mouse/cursor/menu features back into Android to adopt it to laptop/desktops. No current Android software would be of much use on a laptop form factor without massive reengineering of both the Android OS and all of the user interface elements and graphics/display resources within the applications.

    Any merged Android/Chrome hybrid would be years behind iOS and Microsoft’s efforts, right out of the gate.

    1. “Since Android is not a subset of a desktop OS, Google can’t simply graft the mouse/cursor/menu features back into Android to adopt it to laptop/desktops. No current Android software would be of much use on a laptop form factor without massive reengineering of both the Android OS and all of the user interface elements and graphics/display resources within the applications.”

      I wonder may be we underestimate the modularity of Android OS and it is not such a big effort to make it work for Chrome. I think Microsoft is trying to merge Windows OS both for Mobile and Desktops, so it should not be that hard.

        1. OK. Then would it be fair to say that even if Android user applications for laptops and phones are different due to UI differences they will share the same look and feel? I think as long as there is only a limited number of UI/Form factors combinations, applications differences should not be an issue to handle for the developers.

          1. I’m not sure I understand the question.
            The type of pointer input (ie, touch, mouse, trackpad, trackpoint…) is already transparent to the developer. AFAIK, no developer has ever done anything specific to support those input methods, they’re just supported directly by the OS.
            I’ve yet to come across an app that doesn’t work with all of the input devices I listed. Except of course for the multi-touch dependent ones: mice can’t do multitouch, at best you can zoom in/out w/ the wheel.

          2. I am talking about the user, not developer. You know how menus are different on iOS and Mac OSX? The way to finish and launch applications? Look and feel to the user not necessarily dependent on an input method either it is a touchpad or a touchscreen. This is what I mean. So there should be different applications for laptops and phones even if they merge Mac OSX and iOS eventually. Which is not going to happens anyways I think anytime soon. Since I am not familiar with Chromebox I ask if a look and feel of applications there is the same as on Android OS, so it is easier to merge the two.

          3. OK, thanks for the clarifcation. The two are only partly converged. Google’s new Material Design is cross-platform (web ie ChromeOS and Android), on purpose to hasten the rapprochement. But quite a few details do differ:
            – Android’s UI is built around 3 buttons (back, Home and menu/recent apps) that ChromeOS doesn’t require.
            – Android’s UI is touch-first, ChromeOS’s is kb+ms first, though both support the other
            – many apps are different-ish, think Feedly’s web app vs their native mobile app for example.

            Going from one to the other is not seamless. I’m putting my tech-handicapped users on Android desktops and not ChomeBoxes so they don’t have to learn anything different from their phone and tablet.

      1. Sure. With effort it can be done. But as I opined, to reach the maturity consumers expect, especially when mature platforms already exist, will be a major undertaking. Unless you love using software designed to display on a little screen on your high-def laptop.

        The obvious questions are who would buy it?, who would develop for it?, and how can anyone make any money off it?

        Android on laptop-class devices would be years behind its competitors.

        1. the obvious answers are: people who want something cheaper, lighter, easier than Wintel stuff; all android devs already develop for it; same as in the Windows world: by offering a good product+service for the right price.

        2. “Android on laptop-class devices would be years behind its competitors.” same as a tablet is years behind full-fledged laptops. Different people need different things.

    2. There are already Android desktops and laptops. Most apps work perfectly well, even w/o touchscreen, because Android fully supports mouse/touchpad… Some Android devices have had split-screen and PiP multiwindows for years.

      Also, ChromeOS and Android are already partly merged: ChromeOS can run validated Android apps officially, and unvalidated Android apps w/ a workaround. And Chrome browser on Android can run most Chrome apps.

      1. “Most apps work perfectly well…” Is a far cry from ready for mass consumer acceptance.

        Klugey, half-baked operability is a hobbiest’s choice, but not a viable choice for people who like premium, dependable devices.

        So let’s not pretend Android on a laptop is in the same league, division or ballpark as a Surface or iMac.

        1. It doesn’t try to be, features-wise.
          Consumer-readiness wise, I’ve got a couple of seniors on Android desktops because Android is so much easier than Windows, they’re happy with it. I wouldn’t call it kludgy , and maybe 95% baked. I’ve used it. have you, to support your very strong opinion ?

          1. To know what you’re talking about,for once. How can you call it “Kludgey, half-baked” if you don’t even know what it’s like ?

          2. On this point, I much prefer to remain uninformed.

            I prefer to own quality. I buy quality food, clothes, cars, musical instruments, and tech. I spend my money on things with value.

            The second-rate junk you keep blathering on about is of absolutely no interest to me. I am well served with the choices I’ve made, so I’ll ask you the same question any sane consumer would ask: why the hell would I want to buy that crap, when I could buy something so much better?

          3. So, you admit to passing judgment and having an opinion on something you don’t know.
            What word describes those kind of people ?

          4. Yes. I admit to my good judgement. I have no need to experiment with or evaluate a class of products that do not offer any compelling use case for me. Whether the Android laptop is 10% or 95% as useful as other systems is irrelevant. The devices you are discussing are cheap junk that no one would buy if given a choice.

            Have fun with your Android laptops. They suit you.

          5. I know right.
            You don’t know it so it’s bad
            You don’t have it so it’s for losers
            It’s not expensive so it’s beneath you
            We are our things, and our things are us.

          6. Are you saying that the currently available Android laptops are NOT cheap, underpowered plastic junk? Are you saying that they will hold their value (ha!) and receive regular OS upgrades? Are you saying that they offer some unique capabilities or software titles? Are you saying that they are a viable upgrade (ha!) for what I –or any other Mac and/or PC laptop owner– may already own?

            I’ve asked you twice why I (or anyone else) should consider buying an Android laptop. The only answer you’ve provided can be paraphrased as: “so you can say you did.”

            That’s simply not good enough. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to stick your hand in the fire to know you’ll get burned.

            I, like other sane people, don’t buy things simply because they’re expensive or inexpensive. I buy things because of their value to me, both now and in the future. If that makes me an elitist, then I’m a proud elitist.

          7. Or I did answer, but then again, I’m not sure you can read.

            “Consumer-readiness wise, I’ve got a couple of seniors on Android desktops because Android is so much easier than Windows, they’re happy with it.”
            “the obvious answers are: people who want something cheaper, lighter, easier than Wintel stuff”
            “I’m putting my tech-handicapped users on Android desktops and not ChomeBoxes so they don’t have to learn anything different from their phone and tablet.”

            I did neither say nor imply anything off your crazy list. Especially not about them being an upgrade for current Windows/MacOS laptops owners. This is so ridiculous, only you could think of it.

            Speaking of not answering question, I’m still waiting on that one:

            informed > obarthelemy • 2 days ago
            There is more to software functionality on a laptop than support for mice and keyboards.

            obarthelemy > informed • 2 days ago
            such as ?

          8. An interface that takes full advantage of the screen resolution. Compatibility with and full use of the latest software APIs. Just off the top of my head.

          9. – Laptops have similar resolutions as tablets, and very close sizes, so I fail to see how there’s a laptop-specific issue there ? Android has been handling a wide gamut of DPI and definition for years now.
            – Plenty of people are using lap/desktops on older versions of OSes, so I fail to see how that’s a key requirement. Should we grad them and burn them (the PCs, or the users ?) Reciprocally, I don’t know any app that, for example requires Android 5.x, so I fail to see how “latest OS” can be a requirement except in very edge cases.
            – “same level of functionality as the desktop” ? That only happens at the stratosphere of prices, if ever. I dare not think how much a laptop with a dual screen, SSD + HDD, high-perf GPU, 16GB RAM, hifi sound system, comfy keayboard… would cost, if it could be done. Indeed, Android cannot, just as Apple and Wintel can’t. And it would be mostly pointless.

            Off the top of your head ? Are you sure your fanciful list of requirements wasn’t pulled out of somewhere else ?

          10. Again, total B.S. My list of “fanciful” requirements are the requirements I have for anything I would buy. What isn’t a “key requirement” for you, is for me.

            My laptop is not in the “stratosphere of prices.” I run the full Adobe Creative Suite. No loss of functionality. I’ve run Digital Performer & Logic on my laptop. No loss of functionality. I know people who run ProTools on a laptop. Again, no loss of functionality. These are not “edge cases.” My laptop is a serious, full-featured tool. It supports an external monitor if I want to go dual screen.

            You keep confusing the capabilities of the Android OS (what it supports) with the capabilities of Android software (what the software actually implements). The two are not in sync. Most Android software is designed for phones. It’s actually a shame there are no apps requiring the latest Android. It shows how developers in the land of Android are held back by the fragmented ecosystem. That fragmentation will prevent any Android laptop from taking the world by storm. Which is why Android is NOT the new Windows.

          11. “What isn’t a “key requirement” for you, is for me.”. Good first step. Now reciprocate it: what is a requirement for you, isn’t for everyone. Most people don’t run Adobe CS, so *you* need a laptop able to run it, *most people* (by far) don’t, and don’t want / can’t pay for an expensive capability they won’t use. But they want/need a laptop or desktop for some other reason, sometimes just force of habit, ergonomics, storage space, larger keyboard…. That’s what cheap PCs are about.

          12. Now I see what the problem is. You keep confusing ‘laptop’ with ‘tablet’. You’re defining them by their FORM rather than their FUNCTION. A ‘laptop’ needs to run desk-top class software to be a ‘laptop.’

            A ‘tablet’ with an attached keyboard is still just a tablet. It still runs a tablet OS and tablet apps. That is why I said there is more to software functionality on a laptop than support for a keyboard and mouse. We’re talking about two different things.

            There is a world of difference between what an iOS device can be expected to do, verses what a laptop running OSX can do. There is NO real difference between what an Android ‘tablet’ and an Android ‘laptop’ can do. For the purposes of discussion we should observe that distinction.

          13. Laptop *is* a form factor (Merriam-Webster: a portable microcomputer having its main components (as processor, keyboard, and display screen) integrated into a single unit capable of battery-powered operation).

            The OS/ecosystem is relatively unimportant as long as the hardware is supported and the apps available. Today’s Chromebooks and Android laptops can do a lot more than the DOS laptops of yore.

            Hybrids are indeed an interesting edge case, be it the dockable tablets, or the foldable laptops. I think the frontier between categories is blurring, with Mobile ecosystem enough for 80+% of users, and form factors bastardized.

          14. They may be blurring, but they are still different. My examples prove that. Comparing today’s Android tablet capabilities to laptops of yore doesn’t change the fact that Android is a phone/tablet OS. Words have meaning, misunderstandings can be avoided when words are used properly.

          15. Indeed. You should contact everyone, including HP, zdnet, every reviewer and user of an Android laptop ever, basically everyone on earth aware of the topic, and tell them they’ve got it wrong.
            Or maybe you did ?

          16. I don’t have to. The world figured it out on their own. That’s why you are the only person in your Android laptop user group.

          17. Let me quote some guy named obarthelemy from a June 24, 2015 reply to Kizedek:

            “I don’t have the same faith as you in articles, hearsay, anecdotes rumors and news.”

            That some idiot reviewer can’t see the difference between a REAL laptop and a plastic glorified piece-of-crap tablet doesn’t sway me. I can’t be bothered reading your links.

          18. Fine. You win. Android is in the same league as OSX and Windows. You are so persuasive. Bonus question: If I install a terminal on my PC, does it become a mainframe?

          19. That’s not what I’m saying, I’m saying Laptop is a physical form factor. The OS has nothing to do with any of it.

  6. I am a bit concerned that Android is open source. Although it appears that its availability in a source form and free model helped its high adoption for mobile devices.

    We see though that proprietary platforms and open platforms differ in terms of security. As far as I know there are no known viruses on Mac, but from the security standpoint Windows when it comes to hardware is quite a mess. For example Stuxnet was able to infect Windows computers and cause a massive damage through a third party hw support software. I wonder if Android is in the same state of affairs, since it is “hardware agnostic” as you say.

    Although sub par security is acceptable for consumer grade devices, but for mission critical applications that we will start to see with wider IOT deployment, it may be not enough. So I wonder if Google Chrome effort, although it seems at a conflict with Android at first is an attempt to move Android to closed source and control the platform.

    1. Something like Stuxnet would happen on any platform because it was almost certainly created by a government and specifically targeted. Open/Closed source had nothing to do with it.

      Security is a process. No software created by humans is ever going to be perfectly secure. All the big vendors (Apple, Google, and Microsoft) spend huge amounts of resources locking down their platforms. Again, open vs. closed source is mostly irrelevant. Software has bugs and many times those bugs manifest as security issues.

      Even if the OS for IoT was 100% open source, had 1 million independent security researchers testing it for vulnerabilities, and was perfectly secure, IoT would still have security issues because the applications sitting on top of the IoT OS couldn’t possibly have the same level of scrutiny. Security bugs are going to happen. The important thing is that vendors take them seriously and have a timely way of fixing them.

      1. Yes and No.

        No, you do not want a software developer for the airplane engine SW to announce on Internet: “Oh, guys, by the way, I left some things unchecked in ChangeElevation method. Would any of you be so kind to check it?”

        Yes, bugs are going to happen but I would assume you do not normally want to expose your source code to the outsiders if you know there are some critical bugs. This is a difference between white box and black box.

      2. Yes, app security is an issue. This is why you have to design all security related services outside of apps, and give developers only tools that they basically cannot create security vulnerabilities.

        For example, a sandboxing that’s proven to not let any virus in the app damage other apps or the OS. or programming languages and special cpu’s that prevents most(if not all) viruses , even if your software has bugs.

        1. That’s a good theory but the reality tends to be a bit messier. People who are good at finding security holes tend to be able to work around things like sandboxes. Witness the current XARA attacks on the OS X and iOS sandbox. Like I said, security is a process. As attacks reveal vulnerabilities, vendors need to push fixes. The process is never ending.

          1. Sure , but that’s a problem with the OS. In your comment you talked about “a perfectly secure” OS.

            Personally , after reading research on the best security possible, i think a perfectly secure OS(or at the very least, a very secure one) might be achievable.

            But as consumers ,all we get is crap. Partly because it’s cheaper , and maybe because there’s no real interest in providing bulletproof security for users.

    2. “As far as I know there are no known viruses on Mac”. Erm. http://www.kaspersky.com/internet-security-center/threats/mac . There was even a 700,000 Mac botnet at one time…

      FOSS and proprietary software are not intrisically different in terms of security architecture and features. The BIG difference is that Open Source software can be audited, proprietary software can’t. Most security experts argue that Open Source is thus safer, whether from bugs, hacks, or intentional developer backdoors (such as, ,say, iOS’s http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2014/07/22/every-iphone-has-a-security-backdoor/ , which was a big surprise to eveyron. Read the “counter argument” towards the end). http://www.dwheeler.com/secure-class/Secure-Programs-HOWTO/open-source-security.html is a good primer for that point of view.

      1. And your example is not a virus. It was a Trojan.

        Fake Flash installers from untrustworthy sources are not viruses. So there are no known viruses on Macs.

  7. It is difficult for me to equate Android with Windows/MS-DOS. The only real similarity is number of vendors relying on Android and Google for their mobile OS. The difference is that Windows and Intel were a profit machine for years. There is not an equivalent for that on Android. Google does not make much revenue from Android directly as Microsoft did during the heyday of Wintel.

    Without the sustaining profits that Windows generates, what is the long term outcome of Android dominance? We already see the race to the bottom from Android hardware vendors. I don’t know what that means for Android but it is a very distinct difference from what Microsoft had when the PC market started a similar race to the bottom.

    The other major difference is that Android as a platform is not particularly dominant. It shares developer attention with iOS. That was never the case for Windows vs. Mac where developing for the Mac OS was and still is a secondary consideration for most companies. But a significant portion (majority still?) of the developer community develops for iOS first because the ability to make money on iOS is still superior to Android for many purposes. This does not seem to be changing any time soon. What does this mean for the idea that Android is the dominant platform for hardware vendors but not software vendors?

    I wonder what useful predictions we can make with Android is the new Windows given these facts.

    1. The race to the bottom is not that clear, Samsung for example are steadily raising the price of their flagships, and specs on those flagships are raising even faster than prices. The market is moving more to the middle though.

      The dev revenue situation is evolving extremely fast. From 7% of iOS apps revenue in 2011 (??? I find it hard to believe, but here it is http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-app-store-revenue-share-2011-11?IR=T ), to more than Apple’s appstore in 2014 (http://uk.businessinsider.com/android-apple-revenue-digi-capital-china-ios-google-app-store-2015-4?r=US ). Anecdotically, my search also pulled up that guy’s numbers: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2929612 from 1,400 days ago which is a lot ^^

      What I’m actually wondering is if Android apps are becoming a sort of .mp3 of apps: a basic format that can run anywhere. Pretty much any OS can run then (even MacOS in a VM, though not iOS, also Windows soon, RIM, Linux in a VM…) and there are compatibility libraries for desktop OSes if you don’t want a VM… I know I’m running it on my desktop, because some apps are simply better than Windows’.

      1. Hmm, if Apple allowed an Android VM into the App Store, would that be a good thing or bad? In the near term they wouldn’t want to do that because it would undermine their App Store business but if Android did start eclipsing iOS for development, would it benefit Apple to allow Android apps in their store?

        1. Why, on Earth, would you need an Android VM on iPad? How, on Earth, would it undermine Apple’s App Store business? When, in the cloudy, distant future, are we hypothesizing that Android development will eclipse iOS?

          Shouldn’t we be more concerned about Black Holes? Or the ongoing battles of Mothra and Godzilla?

          1. It was in context of iOS losing significant developer mind-share to Android. While I agree that iOS losing out to Android isn’t particularly likely, it certainly isn’t impossible either. If that did occur, would Apple be better off allowing Android VM apps in the App Store or would standing firm on only iOS native be more beneficial?

            I don’t know the answer and as you say, we aren’t likely to find out. I just thought it was an interesting question.

          2. The consumer market is so large that it is normal for many companies to do well, selling to various segments. In absolute numbers Apple’s base is so large it can’t be ignored. At this point both Apple and Android have already won. There’s little danger of developers not paying attention to iOS/Apple. And there’s little danger of Android not getting enough developer attention either. As development environments become more abstracted the danger on both sides decreases even more. It will become easier and easier to develop for multiple platforms. At least that’s my guess.

          3. I’ll address the question head-on.

            Running a virtual machine uses a great deal of RAM and processor cycles. There would have to be a compelling reason to do it. I cannot think any reason why someone would tank their iPhone/iPad’s performance to run some arcane app. It’s not “impossible.” But it would be stupid. If there WERE something exclusive to Android so compelling, it would make more sense to buy an Android phone.

      2. “The race to the bottom is not that clear, Samsung for example are steadily raising the price of their flagships, and specs on those flagships are raising even faster than prices.”

        It’s interesting when you say things like this; because it seems like somewhat a denial of reality.

        Let’s be clear: “a race to the bottom” is not something that a company engages in out of choice. It’s not an event in the World Mobile Olympics. It’s a statement of a reality, and companies need to deal with it.

        What you have shown is that Samsung is trying to put the brakes on. They are trying to stop a headlong slide into an abyss. That’s what raising prices and throwing features onto devices is.

        It’s not clear that there is a race to the bottom?
        When you talk about Samsung raising prices on some devices, how about you also look at their ASP. Is that also going up? No.

        Are Samsung’s profits going up? No. Are the profits of any Android OEM going up? No.

        Is Android really helping Samsung and other Android OEMs differentiate themselves on anything other than price? No.

        Are anyone’s mobile device profits going up? Just Apple’s. Are anyone’s ASP going up? Just Apple’s. Whose price points are pretty rock solid over multiple years, while delivering additional value to 100’s of millions of new customers year after year? Apple’s.

        These questions (among others), and their answers are pretty clear indicators that Android OEMs are engaged in a race to the bottom. Just as Windows OEMs are.

        1. Your post is so crazy and false it’s actually funny.
          Adding features and raising prices is “sliding into an abyss” ?
          No Android OEMs are seeing raising profits ?

          I’d be curious if you have any sources ? I’m not even sure about the ASP.

          Big answer: Android is helping OEMs not die, ask Nokia, RIM, … Second big answer: Android isn’t preventing big OEMs from differentiating, they’re free to do whatever they want in hardware, software, or cloud. They just suck at it, especially on the cloud & software side; on the hardware side, there’s plenty innovation/differentiation even Apple seems to like: touch ID, pen, larger formats, smaller formats… even on the software side, split-screen and PiP multitasking were Samsung innovations on tablets. At least, having the Android baseline frees them to focus on really innovative stuff, whenever they do get a good idea.
          Most mobile innovation happening on Android is the best sign that the race to the bottom isn’t terminal yet. most of Apple’s “new features” are heavily Android-inspired.

          1. It certainly is a life-line to some. Which is why I called it table-stakes. You need something at least comparable to Android, and Rimm and Nokia didn’t. But it’s only helping in the short-term. All the optimism hasn’t quite worked out for it as it was supposed to over the last 5 or 6 years.

            And I didn’t say an OEM using Android couldn’t differentiate; I said they would have to differentiate in spite of Android. You use Blackberry and Nokia as examples. How about all the big name OEMs that collectively are losing money as new (cheaper) alternatives from new Chinese companies come available?

            Likewise, what about big Windows OEMs who have greatly reduced their presence in hardware, or gotten out of PC hardware altogether, in order to do services or something else instead?

            It’s very difficult to add value to an open, generic OS designed to run on just about anything — as just about any example, including your own, will show you. And yes, the OEMs collectively pretty much suck at it because they never had to do software. Sony is a great example of this — once on top with great hardware, but largely gone now.

            As the quote goes: “if you care about software, do your own hardware.” The opposite is true, too.

          2. In the commercial sense, I don’t think Android is the new Windows. Windows decimated the competition including Apple, Android isn’t decimating Apple.
            In the conceptual sense, the open-source aspect and permissive gapps licensing does free OEMs to do whatever (as long as they don’t break compatibility and include Google’s stuff). Windows was technically more flexible than current Mobile OSes, but the actual OS experience was much more uniform in the end, I’d argue even the hardware experience was more uniform (the feature set at each price points, even the HW design)
            In the business sense it is Windows, because it provides the baseline features, apps & services, and network effects that most users want… and there’s nothing else they want on top of that.

            The quote about hardware:software is weird, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. First it is dated, the action is in services (cloud) now mostly. Second it seems OEM-centric, or old-paradigm-app centric: Facebook, Twitter, Uber… are mostly software (less so Uber), they didn’t need hardware to blossom. They did need ubiquity, from which being device-dependent would have cut them off. So yes, arcade console Raiden is more fun than its Android port (that’s what I played hooky for, way back when… who needs Latin ?). Not sure arcade-console Facebook would be it though.

          3. Samsung today announced a t/o decline of 8%. This is the 7th sequential quarter of decline in the smartphone division. How’s life in your “alt-reality”?

          4. Indeed DesPDizzy, Canaccord Genuity reports that Apple in 2014 had a colossal 93% profits share of the Entire mobile phone industry with Samsung plunging down to a pitiful 9% down from over 40% just a year earlier. Those two figures are greater than 100% because all other Android manufacturers combined add up to a -2% share of the profits.

            What was that about “Android helping OEMs not die” again obarthelemy?

            http://www.businessinsider.com.au/apple-is-taking-93-of-the-profits-in-the-smartphone-industry-now-2015-2

  8. One huge assumption that is being overlooked is that in consumer electronics, the Windows model (separation of hardware and software) is very much the exception. A lot of consumer hardware now comes with some form of computing and hence software, be it microwave ovens, televisions, set-top boxes, VCRs or automobiles. However, the vast majority use proprietary platforms. This is an observation that Steve Jobs made, I recall, at All Things D, and I think Horace Dediu has also reiterated this.

    If the separation of hardware and software as in the Wintel platform is the exception, and the norm is hardware and software integration on a proprietary operating system, then this whole discussion breaks down. That is, Android may be the new Windows, but that is irrelevant because the market does not want a new Windows anyway.

    Hence in order to make a sensible argument, we need to first think whether the modular approach makes sense on IoT and whether hardware manufacturers will adopt it. Although the modular approach has seen success on smartphones and shows some similarity to the Windows platform, in the wearables market, we are still seeing the integrated and proprietary platforms (Apple Watch, Fitbit, and even Samsung Tizen) being much more successful.

    What I personally expect is that IoT hardware manufacturers may adopt Android, but only as an operating system and maybe as a communication standard, but definitely not as an ecosystem. They will use Android as a Linux replacement on the merits of the abundance of hardware drivers and maybe communication interfaces (which will inevitably include HealthKit interfaces in the near future), but otherwise, I expect hardware manufacturers to keep their platforms closed. This will hardly be like the Windows model that we see on PCs.

      1. It’s very unusual even now to be modular in the same way as Windows was. Of course components may be modular, but that is rarely exposed to the end user. For example, the Xbox may use IBM processors, or Japanese imode feature phones may use Symbian OS, but the end users don’t have to know.

        Steve Jobs believed that Windows style modularity was an anomaly, and I agree. It’s interesting to note that the two anomalies, Windows and Android, were both direct responses to products from Apple which were years ahead of the competition when launched. This seems to be what creates these anomalies.

        1. Interesting idea, although I think Android was more of a response, at least at first, to Microsoft. But you’re right, Android changed direction dramatically once the original iPhone launched.

          I think there was a certain time period where modular or open systems could thrive in tech, and that was when tech was not truly a consumer product. Windows was never consumer-facing, the basis of competition was not consumer-driven. Consumer markets favor more closed and more integrated systems. Of course nothing is 100 percent closed or 100 percent open, but the trend is clear. The more closed and integrated (typically, I’m sure there must be exceptions, but I can’t think of any at this moment) the better the user experience. Since in consumer markets the end user is also the buyer, products that deliver a better experience to the user tend to do better.

          In practical terms OEMs that create Android devices are learning this lesson, Android is becoming more integrated and more closed. You may be right about how Android gets used for the Internet of Things. OEMs may build their own systems using Android, but those systems will effectively be closed and integrated.

          Of course this doesn’t mean standards can’t happen. Apple products, while closed, work perfectly well with the real world because of standards.

          1. You are speaking of Windows/Android being modular and Apple products being integrated/closed overall… but an interesting discussion is the one raised last year, I think, by Horace Dediu or Ben Thompson or someone (can’t remember where): different parts of the stack can be open/closed or modular/integrated. In fact, alternating layers within one business model seems to work well.

            Apple seems to have excelled at this all the way up the stack, from manufacturing to sales and support. In fact, Apple seems to be able to switch from one to the other approach (eg, outsourcing GPUs or creating its own) at any given point as it adds new pieces or products to the puzzle. But overall it retains end-to-end control of user experience.

            It seems MS and Google don’t properly understand this and they are actually too integrated at some points in their stacks or business models. And their ability to switch back and forth or adjust is poor, as evidenced by their forays into hardware.

          2. Good point about alignment. In a consumer market your business needs to be aligned with the customer. Alignment with the customer, who is the end user AND the buyer, seems to cause more integration naturally, as a consequence of the alignment.

        2. Xboxes are a once-every-six years purchase, that
          – are used independently from other devices around the house,
          – have no remote features and are fully self-contained,
          – have no real-life security impact,
          – require no investement in infrastructure (no wiring, installation, central command center) nor skills to operate (the games do, not the console itself).
          – are in a market of 3 incompatible competitors, and 6 devices total (current+previous-gen console for each).

          Quite the opposite of an IoT scenario ?

          Even so, MS chose to equip them with a Windows variant, because it cut down on dev costs for them as OEMs, for games makers, and for tools makers.

          Windows’ “anomaly” was a direct continuation of MS-DOS’s preexisting business model. The products might be a reaction to Apple’s, the business model isn’t.

          1. Quite the opposite of an IoT scenario ?

            That’s exactly the issue. Is it, or isn’t it?

            What is IoT and what do people expect of it? Will IoT require new skills to operate? What will be the security issues and will people buy IoT before security is a non-issue?

            This changes the whole discussion.

            If IoT is only convenience, then customers won’t put up with the hassle of learning how to use it and setting it up. They wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice security. In this scenario, IoT will have to be even easier to use and longer lasting than Xbox. This demands an integrated approach.

            On the other hand, if there are concrete benefits to IoT, like there was with VCRs in the 1980s for example, then customers will take the time to learn how to wire it up and how to program it. It can be closer to PCs. A Wintel-like approach will be tolerated.

          2. I think it is intrinsically both.

            Some devices will be lifesavers, others will just be gimmicks. Maybe the important stuff will take off first, but maybe not (early adopters can lean “gimmicky” a lot !). Probably early products or lines of products will require bespoke apps, but there’ll be a backlash against having 10+ of those ? An isolated IoT gizmo is not really IoT, more remote-controlled over the ‘net.

            So there’s probably need of a unifying architecture able to accommodate both types of devices (it’s more of a continuum, really, and user-dependent: I don’t care I have to press a button to get coffee 2 mins later, some people would die if their cuppa wasn’t ready when they wander into the kitchen). There was wild excitement about the semantic web a while back. I think semantic something will be needed for IoT, so gizmos can expose their capabilities and a controller can know how to present+handle them.

            Edit: I think a key point is that value rises exponentially when devices can interact among themselves, and/or actions can be linked+programmed ?

    1. “may adopt Android, but only as an operating system and maybe as a communication standard”

      That may be enough…

      As in any ecosystem, applications must run. In the case of IoT, they must talk to each other. If they don’t, innovation will suffer because then each vendor must do it all, and the user gets locked in. Gee I bought this device, but their camera software is not quite as good as xyz…

      1. Are you say it may be enough for Google?

        The way I see it, if you’re only using Android for the device drivers and communication standards implementations, there is a good chance that AOSP will be sufficient. If this is the case, I’m not sure how it will benefit Google.

        Also regarding apps, it’s unclear if you need them on IoT devices. Do you need an app to install on your smoke detector?

        1. No, not Google. Google is not my concern. By apps, I mean software, including embedded software in this case.

          Without standards we will have an incompatible mess.

        2. Using Android on IoT will never happen, Android is top-heavy, with a lot of UI, multiasking, interoperability features that are not pertinent for devices but create huge HW requirements.
          Google has launched another platform for IoT, dubbing it “Android-based” which sounds mostly like PR, though the programming paradigm is probably similar. http://www.engadget.com/2015/05/28/project-brillo-internet-of-things/
          Plus there are really 2 things that shouldn’t be confused: the features and API of the IoT network, and the underlying ecosystem+apps used to implement those features. Hopefully both will be independent so we don’t get locked in.

          1. Thanks for the link. That’s basically what I expected.

            What I don’t understand yet is how important this Brillo/Weave component will be in terms of branding and ecosystem lock-in. Without these two, Brillo/Weave will not become as strong as Wintel but merely the majority platform (much like Linux is the majority platform for web servers, but Linus Torvalds does not have extraordinary market steering powers).

          2. My understanding is that under the pretense of supplying free infrastructure, cloud services, and standards/APIs, various suppliers (Apple, Google, Qualcom, Huawei, Samsung…) are jockeying for position in supplying the hardware and software and cloud IoT devices will run on, and the dev toolchain.
            Once things crystallize around a handful of standards (hopefully not more than 2 or 3), the winners will probably start to try and extract rent.
            I’d expect the ecosystem branding the become as important for IoT as for Mobile and Desktop: very. You don’t want to end up with a device that’s incompatible with all your other stuff, and that’s different from everyone around you.

          3. If I understand correctly, there are two ways IoT devices can communicate with each other. One is peer-to-peer where each IoT device directly talks to other IoT devices. This requires both devices to speak a common language. The other scheme is where your smartphone serves as the hub. Each IoT device talks to the hub using its own language and app (on the smartphone). Devices talk to each other only on the hub (smartphone) using frameworks like HomeKit. With the hub-based scheme, you don’t need standards for the communication between the hub and the IoT device.

            If peer-to-peer becomes dominant, then all IoT devices have to conform to a standard. However if the hub-model wins out, then IoT devices will be given much more freedom in how they work. They won’t have to conform to a standard communication protocol. They don’t need to directly connect to the cloud (their apps residing on the hub can provide that). With a hub approach, the IoT devices themselves can be much dumber because the intelligence will be in the smartphone app.

            If peer-to-peer communications becomes important for IoT, then it makes sense to consolidate around a single standard. This favours the Wintel model. On the other hand, if the hub-scheme is preferred, then standards are much less important. In this case, standardising on the OS is less important. The hardware itself, or the app residing on the smartphone will remain the key purchase drivers.

          4. I think the technical hub is separate from the UI hub: there’ll probably be a box somewhere checking the devices status, setting parameters, distributing tasks, applying firmware updates etc… Humans will access that box via an app (whether mobile, web or legacy is immaterial; if routers are anything to go by… all 3… each with their specific idiosyncrasies and bugs… damn you Netgear ! :-p) . I don’t think a smartphone can be the technical hub, because… things would stop when you board a plane ?

            IoT has in its very name the notion of internetwork, ie everything on it can talk to everything else on it. I don’t think it’s about simply using the internet as the transport layer for 1-to-1 remote control. It’s one-to-many (a single controller handling many devices), many to one (a single device controlled by many controllers, say yours and your wife’s phones, plus a programmed server that holds scripts with various triggers), and in the end many-to-many (combination of the previous 2).

            Whether it ends up peer-to-peer is I think up in the air: reporting one’s status and executing predetermined commands is a lot easier than requesting and handling inputs from something else. I doubt a water sprinkler with a $0.5 anemic chip on a miserly power budget can handle turning itself off if there’s kid noises in the garden OR the gate opens OR the front door opens OR the garage door opens etc… Maybe for a handful of specific cases, not for open-ended situations with devices added/removed regularly. On the other hand, a lot of devices can have power (in both meanings) to spare: anything mains-connected and not too space-constrained can host a 1990s supercomputer in a few cubic centimeters, if that. We might end up with a centralized system (but with several centers if that doesn’t create unmanageable conflicts), a single center… full peer-to-peer will probably never happen, some devices will be the equivalent of dumb terminals.

            I do think the ecosystem is important regardless. The development, control, communication, security, updates, interoperability… problematics exist whatever the communication/control paradigm ?

          5. about the water sprinkler: OR it’s raining, OR it’s forecast to rain before the night is over and there’s enough time left to switch on if it doesn’t, etc…

          6. What you’re describing is so complex, I fail to follow you.

            I’ve seen reports that the Apple TV might serve as a hub instead of your iPhone when you are away. Wouldn’t that be a better idea?

          7. I’m failing to find a nice explainer about IoT and its different layers (in-device hardware, physical & logical network -often P2P for power reasons-, command and control structure…).

            Unless they go for a fully P2P command and control structure (which would make things very resilient, but would be complicated), I do think a central always-on “dispatcher” makes a lot of sense. For convenience’s sake, it can be anything always-on, so yes, Apple TV, or router, cable box, or a dedicated box.

            That also makes it easier to handle disparate infrastructures and interoperability: a more powerful box can handle different protocols on behalf of the barely-smart lesser IoT devices.

            The complex interactions I was describing earlier are a second step though. For now the “sprinkler” scenario is just turn it on/off from my phone, maybe set its timer. No fancy presence /weather/… checks ^^

          8. I think you are making it all a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

            The “remote” aspect may be all we really need:
            Phase 1) Philips and others make it possible for their lightbulbs or whatever to be controlled by an app, as they have. Android apps can do this, and iOS apps can do this. Done.
            Phase 2) To mitigate against your nightmare scenario of having 20 IoT apps to open and manage, Homekit allows the apps to interact without compromising device security.
            Phase 3) Someone creates an awesome iOS app with an awesome interface that you give authority over all your homekit apps or appliances (kind of like how I can integrate all my cloud service subscriptions into other services, so that I can use the one of my choice but still have access to my Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, etc. through that one service). Let’s call this a “hub app”.

            We already use location-based notifications, so why not address all this complexity you are worried about the same way? In your chosen “hub app” set up a rule, or choose from common “recipes”: “tell the sprinkler to turn off when I walk out the door”. Enable.

            Phase 4) Apple sells a gazillion devices and apps because everyone appreciates how they took the complexity right out of IoT and built a platform and tools that developers could use to do awesome stuff that we never thought possible.

          9. Let’s not make this about Apple vs others, this is totally cross-platform.

            The issue with your examples are simple:
            – if I have several light-bulbs and devices I want switched on, I need some kind of meta-command to do that, I’m not pushing 5-10 switches even on my phone.
            – if it’s not me going out the door but someone else, I still need the sprinkler to turn off. So the motion detector and the sprinkler need to communicate.
            – it’s fairly certain already this is not going to be a one-horse race, so there needs to be interoperability. Nest et al. are not going away, and different OEMs will chose different ecosystems.

          10. 1) yes, it is cross-platform, because Philips allows both an Android app and an iOS app to talk to its device.

            2) you do have a “meta-command”, because I am envisioning a situation in which homekit apps allow authority to be ceded by one app to another app (one app to rule them all) or one homekit interface.

            It’s about Apple if homekit provides some special ingredient that allows a developer to create a great interface for all your appliances, including multiple lightbulbs from diff manufacturers.

            Besides a great and intuitive interface, I envision some form of customizable “recipes”, a la the IFTTT app. These would set up all sorts of sophisticated interactions in a way that is “simple” to manage.

    2. I think the separation of hardware and software came about for a number of reasons:
      – software is hard (and expensive) to do right, Cloud even more so. If you look at that most computer-like appliances, the router, there are an unconscionable number of software issues even from well-established, high-end vendors. Translate that over to newly-minted app makers for up-to-now less techie devices… A pre-existing ecosytem does away with a lot of the work, and, hopefully, provides helpful tools.
      – HW and SW are rather different skillsets. Even big buck car makers seem happy to hand user-facing apps to Apple/Google. Oven makers…
      – network effects. Apps/features/user skills that aren’t limited to a single manufacturer products are a lot more valuable. People don’t want their smart bulb choice to dictate which phone they have to buy.
      – interoperability. Unless all manufacturers start making all possible devices, at some point there needs to be a standard for our IoTs to talk to each other, to the centralized command, and to us. A baseline OS/ecosystem with baseline features ensures a minimum of interoperability.

      I think today’s integrated software survives mainly because it’s so early in the process of software-izing things, so it’s still relatively simple, and the above issues haven’t struck full force yet.

      1. Your arguments make sense and I agree that we might see IoT move to the Wintel/Android smartphone model. However, there are also arguments that favour the opposite and what we see right now seems to favour an integrated approach with some exceptions such as the car entertainment systems that you describe (previously from Alpine, Panasonic, Pioneer, etc. in Japan, now possibly coming from Apple/Google).

        You mention things like HW and SW being different skill sets, and I totally agree. However, looking back to the i-mode days in Japan, it was a bit more complex. DoCoMo, the carrier, developed the OS for the i-mode phones, but the hardware was build by various electronics makers. The OSs were based on either Linux or Symbian OS, with DoCoMo providing middleware which interfaced with the Applications. Device drivers came from the electronics makers. Application software that ran on top of the OS would often come from 3rd parties. From the customer perspective, the phones were almost exclusively branded as DoCoMo products with manufacturers often getting no mention at all. This was great for customers because DoCoMo was fully responsible for supporting the device, unlike the situation with Windows where depending on your issue, you might have to consult the HW manufacturer, Microsoft, or the application vendor.

        https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/binary/pdf/corporate/technology/rd/technical_journal/bn/vol13_1/vol13_1_055jp.pdf

        What I’m saying here is that the HW manufacturer doesn’t need to provide the SW, even in an integrated model. The important thing is that one company tends to takes responsibility for the whole widget in consumer markets. In the case of cars, automobile makers will be responsible from the engine to the suspension to even the entertainment system, if you buy the whole widget from the car company.

        Looking back at the complex DoCoMo model, the question is what role will Google play inside the whole product? Google rarely plays the role of the integrator, and will likely only provide software and services. Then how big of a role will Google’s software be? More importantly, what 3rd parties will supply the applications that sit upon the OS? If integration is important in consumer markets, then the customer facing company will be able to make the choices, and might relegate the role of Google to the basic OS (the Linux and Symbian behind i-mode).

        Summing up, to understand whether the Wintel model will apply to IoT, we need to discuss the points that you brought up. I consider it to be a precursor to arguing over whether Android will become the Windows of IoT. Additionally, we have to understand how modularity works behind the scenes in the construction of products that seem integrated to end users. The peculiarity of the Wintel model is that the components defined the product whereas normally, the components are hidden from the end user. Will hardware vendors be able to hide the OS in IoT? More fundamentally, what is the role of an OS in (mostly) single purpose IoT devices?

        1. It’s quite true that we always see OEMs making commoditized hardware to run high-value-added apps and services, but never see the contrary.
          It does exist, quite a few companies make a living from real-time OSes and licensing IP/apps + consulting (QNX before being taken over by RIM for example). But by definition, software that gets subsumed into a product becomes invisible.
          the IoT game will probably be about visibility and interoperability: nobody’s ready to have 20 apps for 20 device types (early on, for a handful of devices, maybe, but not if IoT takes off I think), and those devices will sometimes/often need to coordinate, or at least coordination will add value. The power balance might be closer to parity than the OEM/MS and OEM/Google ones though, plus there could be an independent standards body instead of a private corp driving things. What standard bodies failed to do for documents formats, they might achieve for IoT APIs, as they did for ECMA script, POSIX, …

    3. The first mistake many of you commit when talking about the internet of things is to focus on the consumer or the smart homes sides, when in fact the real use and value of the Internet thing will come from the enterprise, government and city therefore being integrated into a single type of device a la Apple Homekit is a non-starter.

      1. What’s the basis for that supposition? I pay attention to things and enterprise and governments are not a major topic. Retailers are embracing IoT for things like beacons but the scope seems to me to be very limited.

        Do you have references that say governments and enterprises are getting into IoT in a big way? I’d be very interested.

      2. I suspect IoT for enterprise and government is a very different market with very different jobs-to-be-done. I think it makes sense to keep these discussions separate.

  9. Tim, I’m a bit disappointed you haven’t gone deeper with your comparison and analysis.

    Android may be the new Windows when it comes to raw unit market share and malware (97% share in 2014 according to Pulse Secure), but Apple’s iOS is the new Windows when it comes to the metrics that actually matter.

    In all of the *important* metrics that the WinTel duopoly and ecosystem used to dominate, it is Apple’s platform and ecosystem that dominates Android:

    – Software. Developers target iOS first for software development while Android takes second place. Because Google doesn’t curate apps on the Play Store, 30% of Android apps are spamware.

    – Developer revenue. Apple generated 70% more revenue for third party developers than Android in 2014, up from 60% the previous year according to the WSJ and AppAnnie.

    – Peripherals and accessories. Because of Apple’s huge sales and limited number of form factors, there are far more peripherals and accessories available for iOS devices than for any model of Android device.

    – Business Market share. iOS has 64% share of mobile business up from 54% YoY according to Citrix and 72% share according to Good Technology in 2015.

    – Education Market Share. Apple’s iPad dominates the Education tablet market with 90% market share.

    – Mobile Phone Industry profit share. Apple now captures a gargantuan 93% share of the profits of the entire Mobile industry in 2014 while Samsung has plummeted to 9% and other Android manufacturers continue to haemorrhage cash in the negative according to Canaccord Genuity.

    – e-commerce revenue. IBM and Adobe both report that iOS users again generated 500% greater e-commerce revenue than Android users for providers in 2014.

    – Advertising ROI. iOS users generate an eye-watering 1,790% greater advertising ROI than Android users – the latter of whom actually cost more money than they generate according to Nanigans.