Apple vs. Google in open source mobility

Apple vs. Google in open source mobility

Summary: What history tells me is to bet on Google. In many ways it is replicating the strategy Microsoft used over 20 years ago to take the PC market from Apple's Macintosh.


Apple iPhoneSo the battle is joined (sort of).

In this corner we have Google, the challenger, with its open source hardware specification for a mobile platform.

And in this corner we have Apple, the champion, with real hardware, and a software development kit, but an iffy record in supporting open source.

Who will win? Will either?

Open Handset Alliance logoAt this point my money is on Apple. Real hardware beats imaginary hardware every time in my book. (I can't use that thing to the left.)

Google, and its partners, need to get their orders into China or, preferably, Taiwan (the turnaround is faster there) right now. Only upon delivery can the competition really start.

What history tells me is to bet on Google. In many ways it is replicating the strategy Microsoft used over 20 years ago to take the PC market from Apple's Macintosh.

This was not due to some genius on Bill Gates' part, as some Microsoft acolytes may claim. It was due to the fact he let anyone sell DOS, and promised everyone they would get Windows, while Apple kept its secrets proprietary.

I was younger then, and time moved more slowly for me, so I remember it well. Comdexes came and went, Apple's coterie of fans grew as fast as Apple could make Macs and they could find cash to buy them, while Microsoft spread promises.

I was there when Microsoft finally delivered Windows 1.0, at a 1986 Comdex roast hosted by John Dvorak himself. Gates hand-signed a copy for me. I keep it on a shelf here at home.

But that software did not do the job, and neither did its successor. It was not until several years later, with Windows 3.0, that Microsoft finally had something that met some of its promises.

Yet despite being behind by over a half-decade, Microsoft kept its market share. Why? Because it had what might later be called an open source strategy. It let anyone license its software, on easy terms, and everyone did. While Apple kept its Macintosh technology strictly proprietary.

There are indications, with the release of the SDK, that Steve Jobs may have learned this lesson. Besides, China can now supply whatever quantities of iPhones the market demands, and cheap. He doesn't have to make them all himself. He doesn't really have to charge a premium price for them.

So will Google Microsoft Apple, or will Apple bite back?[poll id=62]

Topics: Google, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • There is no Apple vs Google

    These guys are clearly tag team partners. I think anything Google does will
    compliment the iPhone and vise versa. Eric Schmidt is on Apple's Board of Directors
    for goodness sakes! You totally missed this guys.
    • Yes, this is friendly competition, and Google will focus on low cost, but

      feature rich. But, there could be friction eventually, if Google eats away at Apples high end with cheap and almost as good phones. Of course this all depends on Google partners and what they do.

      But, look for cheap gPhones with a screen similar to the Mac, GPS, WiFi, WiMax, Cell, etc.

      Google can spend Billions on the platform, and get it all back in mobile advertising. They will not waste any time biting their finger nails worrying that this will also benefit OTHER search providers and advertisers.
    • They still compete

      By getting into telephony Google shows itself as a competitor with Microsoft. Regardless of who is on whom's board.
  • When all else fails, form a consortium

    Can't beat the market leader? Form a consortium. Yeah, I'm sure a committee of folks from hundreds of companies will be able to design as compelling a product as Apple's iPhone. Yep. Sure. Good luck with that.
    tic swayback
    • That's the Apple View...

      ...I think it prevails in this case. A phone is hardware, not software.
    • I'm curious in what market you are referring to?

      [i]Can't beat the market leader?[/i]

      In what market is the iPhone a market leader? Seriously!
  • Very confused article

    From the title: Apple vs Google in [b]open source mobility[/b]. Where, exactly, can I download the source code to iPhone's OS? You do understand the difference between an SDK and open source. Whether or not one releases an SDK has absolutely nothing to do with whether one releases the source code. So you picked the wrong competitors, Apple does not compete in open source mobility. I don't say this is a good thing or a bad thing, it is simply a hard, cold, fact.

    I also have to question why you picked Apple, with less than 0.01% of the cell phone market as the "competitor to beat"? A far better story would have been: "Google vs Nokia" since Nokia's S platform is by far the most popular cell phone platform, orders of magnitude more popular even if the iPhone were to surpass Jobs' most wild dream and actually sell 10 million units. Nokia sells more cell phones a day than Apple has sold iPhones post opening weekend.

    Oh wait, I forgot, most ZDNet bloggers are on Apple's payroll. Carry on then!
    • Why do you do it...

      come in a ruin perfectly rational discussions. Any mention of Apple and you come in
      with your hateful drivel.
      • Show me where I was irrational?

        Show me where I can download the iPhone OS code. If you can't, you have to admit that the iPhone is [b]not[/b] competing in the open source mobility market. It is simple, 1 link and you will prove me wrong. If you can't, then my hateful drivel has outsmarted you.

        snicker, smirk :)
        • The News Peg

          The news peg here is delivery of Java for the iPhone, which makes the resulting hardware open source, based on Java's being open source.

          The question then becomes, will the next Apple firmware update render such phones into bricks? Apple promises an SDK, but that's not the same thing as cooperating with open source.

          So you're right. It's still an open question whether Apple will even compete in this area. Others, however, are doing so on Apple's behalf. And Google has yet to show us hardware.
        • Is this article about the OS?

          I thought it was about apps, sorry. While we are here, the OS on the iPhone is a
          product of the Open Source community...this is what open source is all about. Let
          people build stuff from a shared common accessible framework.

          So because OSX is derived from Open Source it should be free and downloadable by
          everyone? What kind of business model is that? Do you think it was free to build
          OSX? Do you think the Oompa Loompa worked on it for nothing? In the real world
          you need to protect your investment or go out of business. I think Apple does a
          pretty good job of balancing self preservation and being non-restrictive. Apple is
          not like Microsoft, who does not have to care about hardware. They leave that to
          their "partners"...

          Show me a commercially available/viable open source mobility OS that is free to
          download and tinker with?

          Do what Apple did, download Darwin and go I guess you can download
          the iPhone OS after all.

          NZ, it is like you refuse to believe that changes are happening, or you don't want
          to. Users are changing, their needs, their lifestyles, even the way their brains are
          wired. The new 21st century user is younger, more capable of using technology,
          and they are unbelievable multitaskers. Most of them don't care about how it works
          or the little squabbles that go on here. You don't have to like it, but at least try to
          understand it. Apple gets this and is trying to make a product that doesn't require

          So really if you don't like something don't buy it, buy something else, build your
          own. It is a privilege to be able to build off of someone else's hard work.
    • NZ...

      ...let it slide....Dana is feeling better...he is a better writer than anyone else around ZDNet. I keep reading because I like his spirit.
      D T Schmitz