App Platform Wars
Which platforms dominate the app world in 2017?
The two platforms that dominate in 2017 are Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Apple’s iOS Ecosystem
Apple’s iOS is the operating system introduced alongside the iPhone in 2007. It’s launch brought about the mainstream adoption of smartphones and successfully made touch-screens the predominant means of interacting with devices. We’ve learnt all about swiping, tapping and pinching since it’s launch.
Here's Steve Jobs launching the original iPhone.
In addition to phones, iOS now powers iPods, iPads, Apple TV, the Apple watch and the new Apple HomePod speaker. iOS is the second largest installed smartphone system in the world and remains dominant in certain demographics and markets. It’s often easier to monetise your app on Apple platforms where the user base remains more willing to spend money.
iOS apps are distributed via Apple’s Appstore.
- $100 billion in app sales since it launched in 2008 (June 2017)
- 2.2 million apps available (March 2017)
- 1 billion active devices per month (January 2016)
Google Android Ecosystem
Android is the rival platform from Google. It was introduced in 2008 when Google released the first version built on top of the open source Java programming language.
At first, Google didn’t make their own devices to run Android. They instead released it as a low cost system for any manufacturer to use. This strategy led to it’s wide adoption and it’s now the biggest mobile system in the world with about 80% of the worldwide market.
Google has subsequently launched it's own devices, including the recent fantastic Pixel phones. However, it is other manufacturers such asSamsung, LG and HTC that have made it so dominant, with support on both high end and more moderately priced devices.
Android supports tablets, watches, TV devices and home speakers and has been customised by manufacturers like LG and Samsung to help their offering stand out.
Apps are distributed both on Google Play and via third party app stores.
- $17 billion in app sales during 2016 (June 2017)
- 2.8 million apps available (March 2017)
- 2 billion active devices per month (May 2017)
Microsoft Windows Phone Ecosystem
Microsoft was once the king of operating systems. Having defeated IBM OS/2 in the year 2000 Microsoft Windows had a virtual monopoly in it’s various guises and went on to dominate desktop and laptop computing.
In the early 2000s Microsoft also had a mobile solution called Windows Mobile with a decent installed base. However, when the iPhone first surfaced it was slow to see the potential in a big touch screen device and it got left behind.
Watch Steve Balmer rueing his missed opportunity.
Microsoft has tried to catch up with both Windows Phone and with its purchase of Nokia but neither made the impact it was hoping for.
Microsoft continues to dominate on desktop and laptops with Windows 10 and has some great hardware with it's latest Surface computers. Rumours continue to surface about a serious re-entry into the phone market but nothing concrete has appeared as of June 2017.
For the moment the other platforms appear to have given up. Even once dominate players such as Blackberry, Nokia’s Symbian and Samsung's Bada have seen their market shares tumble away to almost nothing.
Two years ago apps on touchscreens seemed to dominate everything. Looking ahead we might see voice interfaces becoming dominant, or maybe augmented reality will be the next big thing. Time will tell...
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