Steve Cheney is a pretty smart guy, with a serious background in technology and mobile marketing, both as a former TechCrunch author and the current head of business development for iOS and Android chat app, GroupMe.
Cheney’s written a fairly strong analysis of the current Apple/Android war for supremacy and, as he sees it, there’s a clear advantage for Apple in the actual mobile device arena. Cheney calls it “bang per watt,” and he attributes Apple’s dominance here to the vise-like grip the Cupertino company has on the vertical integration of hardware and software.
First of all, he says, Android may appear to be winning, especially when looking at the global market. He points to a study from IDC which shows Android pulling ahead of Apple in mobile market share worldwide, but a U.S. study from Asymco reports a decline in the U.S. Android user base.
He then continues to point out that operating system dominance has moved beyond the mobile device in your pocket. The Internet of things, like connected TVs, Chromecast devices, and the like are increasingly becoming powered by Android, where in the past they might have been running Linux.
Battery-powered devices, though, says Cheney, use a different metric, one he calls “bang per watt,” and it’s Apple that continues to have the upper hand, in his view.
“Mobile computing is not about being good enough overall,” writes Cheney, “it’s about being good enough per watt of power consumption. Integrated HW/SW from Apple will likely retain a performance edge — they will be constantly optimizing multi-core chips for performance per watt and tweaking software like they have on iOS 7. Who knows if Apple will be 6 months ahead or 18 months ahead at any given time, but it’s a good bet they will be in this range.”
In essence, Cheney argues that Apple is still winning the mobile computing war due to its reliance on its more traditional integration of hardware and software. The same thing that Apple was derided for in the 1990s is now the reason they’re winning the current battle for mobile computing supremacy. Whether that will hold in the long term, as more global markets connect to the Android/Apple chasm, is anyone’s guess.
Further, Cheney says, Android fragmentation is Google’s Achilles’ heel. Android, he says, isn’t only fragmented at the hardware or software level, but soon will show signs of fragmentation at the service level and the ecosystem level. With a large adoption rate of iOS 7, Apple has a clear advantage when it comes to things like AirDrop and other local networking features. Android users, due to hardware and carrier restrictions, aren’t able to remain as current, leading to a large portion of the user base unable to use newer features which will allow them to connect to each other and to ever-improving systems like banks, ATMs, point-of-service devices, and the like.
“It’s not even funny how bad fragmentation will hurt Android and Google in location based sharing and payments apps,” he writes, “short range sharing, and the type of things developers build on top of iBeacon (e.g. payments).”
Cheney thinks we’ll continue to live in a dominantly Apple world; I tend to agree. But what do you think? Is this a solid analysis of current trends in mobile computing, or just more Kool-Aid based on a small snapshot of where we are now? Let us know in the comments.