Posts Tagged ‘Apple’
[This is a repost of my guest article at Vision Mobile's blog]
Ever since Adobe announced that it will stop developing Flash for mobile browsers, the blogosphere has been buzzing with a broad range of sentiments including “I told you so” by critics, disbelief by Flash developers, Monday morning quarterbacking by analysts, and even a petition for Adobe’s CEO to resign. Check out also the Occupy Flash and Occupy HTML manifestos from the opposing camps. Flash is one of those topics that attract very emotional responses from both its passionate developer community and its very vocal detractors. Although I am generally an Adobe supporter, I will put emotion aside and summarize, in hindsight, what went wrong. For full disclosure, I am a former Adobe employee, but this post is based only on publicly available information.
HTML5 did not kill Flash. Steve Jobs did not kill Flash. The death of Flash was caused by a time bomb planted inadvertently by Adobe many years ago.
Although Flash for mobile ultimately died because Adobe did not adapt fast enough to post iPhone changes in the ecosystem, the seeds for Adobe’s failure were planted earlier on. To understand what went wrong, let’s first review what happened before the iPhone and how those events set the stage for what happened later.
When you buy a BlackBerry, why do you do it? Because you want to run many apps? Or because of RIM’s leading messaging applications and services?
In the era before the iPhone (aka “Bi“), this question did not matter as there were no viable alternatives. In fact, with hindsight, the notion of a smartphone to run many apps did not exist for most consumers. You bought a BlackBerry primarily for messaging and phone calls (maybe a couple extra apps, at best). However, in this new “Ai” era (after the iPhone), the situation is dramatically different. RIM has been incapable of defending its position as a smartphone platform against new entrants Apple and Google. And the situation can only get more difficult for RIM with the resurgence of Web OS under HP and of Windows Phone thanks to the recent Nokia deal. If RIM can’t compete in a 3 horse race, can it survive a 5 platform war?
By contrast, RIM has been very successful with its messaging and collaboration applications. RIM is the clear leader in Enterprise email, with others playing catch up. And in case you have not been paying attention, RIM has been able to build a very large base of consumer messaging users with its flagship BBM application especially in international markets. In fact, RIM’s troubles in North America are only being masked by its unprecedented growth of consumer messaging users internationally (for more on this, check out Mike Mace’s Tale of Two BlackBerries).
Should RIM continue to try to compete as a platform play? Or would RIM shareholders be better off if RIM focused on building its messaging franchise across more platforms?
As the launch of Windows Phone 7 approaches the question in everyone’s mind is: is it too late for Microsoft to secure a leading position in mobile? We’re now at year 3 “Ai” (After the iPhone). In the last 3 years the landscape has changed dramatically:
- Apple launched 4 successful phones plus the iPad
- Google launched Android and quickly secured a market leading position
- RIM has lost some ground with two under achieving devices (Storm and Torch)
- Palm launched the failed Pre and ran out of cash
- Once almighty Symbian faded
- Nokia and Intel joined forces with Meego
- Samsung launched Bada….
all this… and Microsoft has yet to make its first move.
In a platform battle that is surely to consolidate, in the limit, to likely one big winner plus niche players, it’s not a pretty situation for Microsoft. But if you are in Redmond you can’t afford to lose in mobile. PC shipments are an increasingly small share of device shipments, with mobile devices enjoying all the growth. Losing in mobile would relegate the Windows platform from a virtual monopoly to a minority player in only a few years when looking at all connected devices.
The question is what cards does Redmond have to play (besides a ton of cash)?
[First a quick disclaimer: although I worked for Adobe in the past and I still have many friends there, I have no inside information on this topic. This post represents my personal opinion based on publicly available information.]
Given the launch of the Flash-less iPad and the leaks from Apple’s post launch employee meeting most industry insiders have finally concluded that Adobe Flash is not coming to iPhone OS devices. Over the last two-and-a-half years the conversation has shifted from
- When will the iPhone support Flash? to…
- Will the iPhone ever support Flash? to most recently…
- Why won’t Apple devices ever support Flash?
The question in most people’s mind now is why not? That is the question I want to address with this post.
While most of the debate in the blogosphere centers around technical reasons, the real reason is not technical at all. It is a calculated business decision made by Steve Jobs.
[This is a repost of my guest article at Vision Mobile's blog]
2009 was the year of the app store wannabes. Following the remarkable success of the Apple App Store, OEMs, mobile platform vendors, mobile operators, and traditional aggregators either created new app stores or repositioned their existing offerings as app stores. There are now between 24 to 32 app stores depending on who is counting (see Distimo’s app store report and the WIP App Store Wiki for reference), and more stores are surely to follow. However, key questions remain about how the app store landscape will emerge after the current period of hysteria subsides and the dust settles.
- Are we going to see many app stores on each handset?
- Will app malls emerge to host multiple app stores within?
- Will operator stores gain critical mass?
[Or will we see a "no app store" future as proposed by Matt Millar via the comment thread?]
Andreas Constantinou wrote an excellent article that defines the app store building blocks and predicts a “dime-a-dozen” app store future. I will build on this post, but will offer an alternative view of how the landscape will evolve.
It’s a Winner-Take-All Contest
By now I’m sure you’ve seen Verizon’s aggressive “idon’t” campaign to compete against the iPhone with its new Motorola Droid. This is Verizon’s second attack on the iPhone after the first attempt with the Blackberry Storm failed miserably. Despite the Storm, AT&T continued to add new subs on the strength of the iPhone. Just last quarter AT&T added another 3.2 million new iPhones, 40% of whom were new customers to AT&T (a 2 year trend now).
Although Verizon desperately needs to counter the iPhone, I believe this latest attempt will hurt RIM much more than Apple. In other words, it will backfire cannibalizing more Verizon RIM devices than AT&T iphone devices. Here are two reasons why:
I want to write about merchandising apps in the mobile ecosystem, but first let me say that we need a new way to measure time in mobile. The launch of the iPhone changed the ecosystem so dramatically that any discussion of how the mobile ecosystem works must specify Ai or Bi (After or Before the iPhone), in a similar way that historians use BC and AD to date historical events.
As an example, how you merchandise a mobile application today is very different than at any time Bi. And this is what I want to post about.
At CTIA in San Diego I attended and spoke at the #wipjam event and I found the discussion on merchandising apps most interesting. It was led by Mitch Oliver from Qualcomm with many developers sharing their experiences, and I thought it would be good to share some of the learnings with developers looking to go mobile. Some of you not interested in the details may want to skip to the recommendations below.
I just participated in a panel discussion representing developer needs from operators. The panel was moderated by Alan Qualye who kicked off the panel with the question:
If you could have one wish to make working with a operator easier, what would that wish be?
Having worked with many developers I have many wishes, but my top wish for operators is simply to LISTEN to developers. And by this, I mean to really listen, prioritize their requirements, and take action.
Only a year ago operators had a virtual monopoly for distribution of mobile applications and developers had to beg to get on deck. It was difficult to get on deck, it was expensive to get certified on every handset, revenue share was low, and it was difficult to stay on deck because discovery by consumers was difficult.
But the tables have been turned now. Competition for developers is at an all-time high. Handset OEMs, OS players, development tool vendors, social networks, game consoles, operators, infra providers are all luring developers. In fact, many developer programs have even created multimillion dollar funds to subsidize developers for their platform (such as the $10M Open Screen Project Fund my team and I set up for Adobe with Nokia).
Once upon a time operator branded app stores were thought to be doing well. After all, lots of games, screen savers, and ring tones were being downloaded on mass market feature phones. Qualcomm bragged about its thriving developer community and Verizon’s Get it Now store was a good case study in the industry.
Unlike the poor attempts thus far to launch a device that truly rivals the iPhone, the battle of the app stores is proving to be much more competitive and will require responses from Apple to maintain it’s advantage. Already Nokia announced plans to improve on the App Store with by leveraging location and the social graph to discover more relevant applications. Now RIM has raised the bar in a number of key areas as well. All this while operators sit on the sidelines watching the app opportunity slowly move away from their own walled gardens to OEM branded stores.