Google is making a couple smart moves aiming to develop a more open platform for the Web (OpenSocial) and mobile devices (Android). It isn’t hard to see how the two will interact in the future and we can expect to see some pretty funky applications being developed for Android devices that will quickly make the iPhone look positively closed and quaint.
Rich was telling us about his iPhone at the Innovation Series with Jimmy Wales event last night and he was telling us how limited the iPhone is and what a disappointment it is. I have little interest in the iPhone because, aside from the very cool interface, it is a crappy device and falls way short of what it could be. The Android device which was demonstrated in the video reveals what the iPhone could have been. Granted Apple is releasing an API next year but the question remains how restricted developers will be. It seems that Google is opening up Android for developers to build apps for the platform much like Google has opened up OpenSocial for developers to build on.
I can see myself using Google services more and more and while I may find myself pretty dependent on Google going forward (Google already runs my email, calendar, search, feeds and more), if Google stays honest (relatively speaking) and open I can live with Google dominating my connected experience.
Apple, on the other hand, is closed and dominated by the type of command and control mentality that the Cluetrain Manifesto railed against. It creates a demand for what it wants to produce and then releases products under the guise of meeting its customer’s needs. It is a sham. There is no meaningful interaction with its customers or an appreciation for what its customers really want. Why have there been no 3rd party apps natively available on the iPhone (as opposed to Web apps through Safari), for example. I am with Rich on this when he says that Apple, the company, can get stuffed. Apple does make great software although its hardware is increasingly plagued by bugs and faults and that is really disappointing.
Ultimately, though, Apple is opening itself up to attack by Google and others. If Android is as good as it seems and is open to 3rd party developers I don’t see the iPhone being able to compete very effectively. I will certainly be in line for an Android device and ditch my Nokia N73 (I have been a dedicated Nokia user for over a decade and Nokia is really not doing much to help itself either).
I just hope Google doesn’t become evil …