To say the mobile world is large is an understatement. Available devices are in the thousands, and users in the billions — but when you take a practical look at it then it’s really a market of two. The two being Android and iOS. These two rule the roost with 96% of the market and the rest of divided between Windows, Blackberry and others. I do not believe this is a good thing.
I was playing with SailFish and Ubuntu last week and was blown away by how they worked. They had 0 buttons to be pressed, the interface is made out of swipe gestures completely. SailFish lays out open apps on your home grid in their full glory. Android and iOS have their own style but some things just make sense in SailFish and Ubuntu like pull down to change a quick setting instead of buttons. For example, you pull down a little then it toggles sound, a bit more and it’s Wi-Fi.
Now when I look back at the differences between the versions of iOS and Android there was always something really significant changed… until now! The additions now feel like natural evolution instead of a cataclysmic change like it used to be in the past. I think the reason for this is the lack of competition. iOS and Android have no fears of being beaten so they take it easy. Competition in general forces companies to do the following:
- Innovate: Without competition it is natural to take it easy but when a competitor is around it is a natural urge to beat them even when risks are involved. With competition ideas flow freely.
- Improve (significantly): Android and iOS are improving slowly overall but there are tons of places for improvements. Take for example multi-tasking should be something like SailFish and Ubuntu have where it is obvious that the apps are alive.
- Fix mistakes quickly: This could be seen internally as a right move but the end users decide. In that case removing the quick toggles in Android was not a good idea but didn’t return till Lollipop, it should have been done a lot sooner since the replacement took twice the time to use.
- Review: On my previous example the feature though it looked nice was less efficient. I’m pretty sure no one tried using it for more than a day.
- Be Open: I’m not saying go open source here but see if anyone has suggested a better way and think about it. The guys at Google get this easily since people actually build stuff into Android as a hobby; if they listen to it is another story.
From a user’s perspective competition gives them quite a few advantages like the following because of the above:
- Choice: More competition in the market means more options to choose from. I’m sure we might even get some hybrids like Windows Metro on Android.
- Rapid Fixes: Any bug will be squashed much faster since everyone company wants to prove their platform is the best.
- Cool features: Everyone is going to go and try to find that one feature that makes everything better. On the way they will find some great others too.
- Better quality: Rather than waiting for a patch the companies are forced to ensure they are not needed else look bad in front of their competitors.
- A better product: Because of all of the above the overall product are just flat better
In conclusion, I would like to say that we need competition. Even if you have a favorite platform give the others a look if not a shot. There are awesome things hidden in the dark.