News stories about Android's dominance in mobile never ends. In a Wired article, Marcus Wohlsen speculates that Android might be the MS DOS of our generation.
It's a bold statement to make, but he has some evidence to support his claim. Android has now surpassed 80 percent market share world-wide. In contrast, iOS sits at around 13 percent.
The triumph of Android would seem to vindicate Google's choice not to go head-to-head against Apple with its own proprietary mobile operating system and hardware. In retrospect, it was a no-brainer decision, owing to on very obvious precedent
Of course Wohlsen is talking about Microsoft and DOS, and later Windows. Back then, Apple, Commodore, Atari, and IBM were all players in the computer industry. Yet, Microsoft - a software company - won the race, by selling its operating system to everyone.
Google is a services-driven ad business that makes more money as more people use its services — and use them more often. By giving away an open source operating system that, among other things, helps hardware makers set lower prices, Google ensures maximum exposure to the maximum number of mobile users. Android gets users locked into Google, which lets Google show them more ads. In short, Google wins.
It's hard for Apple, which makes the vast majority of its money from hardware to compete at least in terms of market share. "Meticulously crafting" its hardware is part of Apple's image. Their design and service get people to lineup around the block for their products.
Now, most tech journalists, by touting Android's market share gains, reveal their inner Android fanboy. Wohlsen doesn't do this. Instead, he provides a very sobering analysis. He argues that Apple wins by continuing to keep its system closed. Opening up their platform and "compromising its design principles... would strip Apple of its core value proposition." He says Apple should keep being Apple.
If anything will hurt Apple, it will be price. Mass market pricing has been a winning strategy, and it's something that Microsoft can now accomplish in mobile now that it owns Nokia.