Is it Already Too Late for the iPhone Wannabes?

by Chris Howard Jul 22, 2009

Is it possible that it's already too late for all the iPhone wannabes and that the iPhone has become the defacto standard for ultra-smart phones, just like DOS/Windows became the desktop defacto standard in did in the '80s and '90s.

Vic Gundorta, vice president of Google Engineering, said this week: "the web had won and users of mobile phones would get their information and entertainment from browsers in future"

He is half right. The key word is "future". Web apps are the way of the future. But that future is still some way off. As I wrote last week when talking about the internet being the server for apps for your desktop, that won't happen overnight, but it certainly has begun. Smartphones and ultra-smart phones will follow suit eventually.

However, like the desktop, some apps just run better locally and will for some time to come. And really, how would you like to be in the middle of your best ever effort on Real Racing and lose your internet connection and thus have the game kark it?

When web apps are becoming the norm, when they really do take over, Apple will be there anyway. It won't sit idle. It's Mobile Me and are proof enough that it will embrace web apps when the times comes.

When that time does come, based on its current trajectory, the iPhone will be the leading ultra-smart phone and in the best position to take advantage of web apps.

Another point of particular interest Gundotra made was "that even Google was not rich enough to support all of the different mobile platforms from Apple’s AppStore to those of the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Android and the many variations of the Nokia platform."

That might not sound good for Apple, but in fact it's exactly what Apple wants to hear. That statement tells you there's only room for a couple of serious contenders in the ultra-smart phone market. Others will get left behind by developers. And when they do, the headlines will be reminiscent of those when an iPod competitor threw in the towel. The headlines will read something like "iPhone kills off another iPhone wannabe"

The iPhone is well and truly established as the number one ultra-smart phone. There are a few other wannabes, but none have posed any threat to the iPhone yet, not even Blackberry. This is so reminiscent of the iPod and the way it rose up to dominate.

Every week I am seeing applications or services developed for the iPhone before any other mobile platform. Everyone seems to wants to be iPhone compatible. Companies are advertising in newspapers and on TV more and more are telling us their services are iPhone compatibleor they have an iPhone app. Even Microsoft released Seadragon Mobile for the iPhone before even its own mobile platform.

It seems like everybody is developing for the iPhone. When you get the developers onside, the battle is almost won, it's one of the best acknowledgements that a product is successful and established.

As I began, the iPhone is slowly becoming the defacto standard in the same way that DOS/Windows became the defacto desktop standard. Some people will argue that the iPhone still has shortcomings so will never dominate. You could say that about VHS, Windows and the iPod too.

And as we saw with all three of those, once the momentum is with you, it becomes unstoppable.

Consider the iPhone has been out two years and it still has no real competitor. And just when there looked to be some hope, Apple launched the App Store.

Without the App Store maybe something else could have made inroads, but the App Store was like a turbocharger that kicked in and sent the iPhone rocketing into the distance, leaving it's rivals wondering if they'd come to a complete standstill.

Google implies the App Store is already passe. Hmmm? Support from major developers, 1.5 billion downloads, over 50,000 applications,  a "gold rush" type frenzy by new and small developers, and all in little over a year.  Doesn't sound passe to me. Sounds almost unstoppable.

Trying to stop that sort of momentum would be like trying stop a hurricane by blowing into it.

It just may be too late already for RIM, Google, Microsoft, Palm and Nokia. They are looking like becoming to the iPhone what Mac OS, Linux, BeOS etc became to Windows.

With the iPhone becoming a platform of choice for developers, with businesses big and small looking to provide support for it, with it being constantly talked about in the media, it has become the defacto standard in ultra-smart phones and it looks to be too late for the wannabes.


  • Probably. They need to do to the iPhone what Apple did to the Walkman, and work on something even better.

    evilcat had this to say on Jul 22, 2009 Posts: 66
  • The interesting thing is that Apple proposed the same thing, the original iPhone was designed to run WebApps. Instead, developers held out for the current SDK.

    Ironically, Android uses the same Apple designed Webkit/Webcore that the iPhone uses. Developers have the option to develop cross platform apps if they care to do so.

    Time will tell.

    Steve W had this to say on Jul 22, 2009 Posts: 10
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