Android as an operating system for mobile can be likened to the Windows operating system for PC’s. There are so many differences and similarities that it is worth comparing and contrasting them instead of comparing PC’s to smartphones.
While we cant call the smartphone market at its “peak” yet, there are over a billion Android users right now. If you look at the PC market, there are a billion PC users as well.
At its peak, there were 195 Windows PC manufacturers and 1400+ models of PCs.
There are 400 manufacturers (known) and 4000 models of phones and over 500 carriers in the Android ecosystem.
What’s different in the PC world vs. the phone world is the carrier.
Few of them (primarily in the US) subsidize the phone with an ongoing payment for usage of the network.
The carriers ensure that you will continue to use the phone and pay a “subscription” fee monthly for usage. In the PC world, without the “Internet” the system was pretty useful.
Without the carrier the phone is pretty much useless. You can possibly use it as a MP3 player or a screen, but trying being productive without a mobile plan.
While there were other operating systems (MacOS and linux) in the PC world, (iOS and Windows) in the phone world, the similarity is that the “winner” has a dominant market share or profit share, rarely both. Similar to Google in search, they dominated the market share and profit share for the PC OS.
Another key is is profit share.
In the PC world, the closed Windows operating system made the majority of profits, and in the mobile OS world, as well, the closed iOS operating system has made the majority of the profits.
The difference is the the “open” operating system in the PC world – Unix did not fare as well as the “open” one in the mobile world – Android.
Which leads us to some questions – What matters for the health of the ecosystem? What matters for the health of an individual company? If you were to project what happens in the Internet of Things world – which “OS” might win?
For a healthy ecosystem, I think both open and “closed” systems matter. The closed system tends to make most of the profits. The open one, either gets no traction at all, or tends to dominate marketshare but not margin share.
For the health of an individual company, being there first to get developer traction matters most. Developers go where the consumers spend good money, not where they use the product as a utility.
Finally in the IoT world the “operating system” will likely be the cloud. The likelihood of a dominant operating system taking both marketshare and profit share seems very high.
So I were a betting person, I would go long on AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure. If there were to be a dominant system, it is likely they would be the contenders.
Most “Internet of Things” are focused right now on the Things,not on the Internet. That will change, resulting in more data driven models for IoT than device models.
What do you think?