And who’s not, you ask… Maybe the subject line would have been more appropriate if I wrote – searching for the best smartphone platform. In reality the top (and with similar hardware) smartphones based on the same platform differ very little in features, performance and looks. The smartphone war has a new dimension now – it’s an war of ecosystems, not just some models. The number of developers, app users, manufacturers are very significant factors when you try to decide which one is the best. Let’s have a look at the current platforms dominating the market today (alphabetically) –
- Android: Google didn’t have to pay anything for the core and Samsung didn’t have to pay anything for a ready to market platform and hence the lower price. While I agree that the price is proportional to the hardware (primarily) and other cost (like design, development, manufacturing) involved, Android could never reach the performance that one can expect on Linux. While the main factor is the UI framework, even the native C++ browser feels much slower than the iPhone’s browser. Contrary to common illusion – Google has produced many mediocre products in its history.
- iOS: Overpriced and much hyped. I mean, come on… they don’t even pay the Chinese workers in the manufacturing unit a respectable daily wage. (Not convinced? Read this.) Wish Steve Jobs rests in peace. Their hardware is good but doesn’t count up to what they charge. With more competition from cheaper and reasonably priced platforms like Android, Apple will definitely suffer.
- Windows: I am seeing a BSOD for Windows in the smartphone arena from Surface results. They had a huge advantage from being very much friendly with Intel but now both are on the decline. With the desktop hardware era ending and Intel losing the battle to ARM on smartphone hardware, I find it hard to believe Microsoft would remain more than a service provider in a decade’s time from now. A dying Nokia can’t recharge them either.
What we are seeing here is an opportunity for a platform which will give you a stunning performance at a standard price and can scale. Don’t worry, newer platforms are going to look way cooler, that’s not a concern anymore. When I say scale I mean that you get a desktop and a smartphone together – something that renders the need for touching any other device kaput. There are many hurdles to overcome here, e.g. a regular desktop gamer will always prefer an Alienware to a smartphone, a regular office suite user handling excel sheets will look for a big screen. Another important feature all smartphones are deliberately missing today is – hardware upgrades. It’s a cunning business strategy and it’s a pity people don’t see they are paying huge amounts to get stuck with the same hardware till it’s an outdated waste. Only software upgrades is the most profitable con ever played in the history of consumer electronics. I’m sure some smartphone manufacturer is going to offer hardware upgrades and change the history of smartphones. A smartphone with all these features is yet to arrive and I wish it emerges out of open source software. I have high hopes on initiatives like Ubuntu Mobile, Firefox OS, Tizen, Replicant etc.