with the launch of the much-anticipated iphone 5 (as my favorite review says, “a little bit taller, a little bit baller”), it’s clear that mobile is becoming less and less about hardware and all about software and ecosystem. marc andreesen was famous for his line in ‘09 that software will eat the world, and in 2012 the time has come for mobile.
in the early days of personal computers, we were happy just to have a browser… especially if it meant that we didn’t need to connect through aol. over time, as technology progressed and bandwidth increased, we began to have a choice over browser. well, not completely, at least according to antitrust sentiment around microsoft bundling internet explorer, but one could still choose netscape or explorer.
as the internet evolved, so did our browser choices with mozilla’s firefox, or opera, or chrome — all of which had their pros and cons, whether it was around performance or privacy. ask most anyone today, and they’ll have a definitive browser preference and more generally application preference for whatever they want to do on their computer or phone.
with the failed launch of apple’s own maps application in iOS 6, it’s clear that users now demand that same choice and that same level of freedom on mobile.
one of my favorite parts of android is occasionally being prompted to choose what application i want to open a particular link. moreover, these settings are easily changed as new and better apps come to market — so that i can change my default camera, for example, to instagram, or how i want to navigate to venue.
yet, in apple’s controlled experience, this is not possible. as much as i hate their apps, the apple default will load each and every time. so while people loathe safari via desktop, which has 5% market share when people actually have a choice, i cannot choose for dolphin or firefox or chrome to open a link from apple’s email.
even if apple can keep pace with every app, which clearly it cannot, but even if it could, it has to start providing choice.
software is eating mobile. with little differentiation from hardware specs, phones and tablets are increasingly about software — and to the best software ecosystem go the spoils.