The Software Platform War; Seeing a cool VHS player with your betamax collection behind you
Really impressed by seamless Nexus Q setup and integration with Jelly Bean. Not happy. Life was simpler when iOS was clearly better. ;-)
— bgalbs (@bgalbs) June 29, 2012
You can argue about iOS vs. Android. Ben would still come down on the iOS side, but you can see that he is at least thinking about it now. It is a debate. There used to be few to no features that iOS users wanted. Now there are plenty (from new: offline voice controls, to older: decent home screen w/ widgets and Intents).
It is fascinating to watch the old Steve Jobs All Things D interviews. At D2 in 2004 Steve talks about how, even though Apple is pretty good at the hardware thing, the differention is in the software. Folks can catch up on the hardware. Now, Apple has done an amazing job on the hardware, and their scale + deals + how they have taken so much of the work in house (e.g. their chips) has kept them mainly in the lead.
When I look at Jelly Bean I see some nice new features and a lot of important catch up (e.g. buttery scrolling and UI performance in general!) It also feels like most of the leaps in UX on the phone itself is to do with server side smarts. The Google Now work, and putting together info on “hey, head to the airport now! the traffic sucks”. This is great news for Google as they know the cloud and computing smarts. Apple has iCloud and is growing there too, but Google should enjoy fighting more of the battle in the cloud.
Even seeing new interesting features, I feel like I have deja vu from some old times. When I see the cool Nexus Q, it feels like I am looking at a great VHS recorder with interesting features…. but my collection is in betamax tapes. The digital lockers of Apple, Google, and Amazon are locking us in (even with some ability to get content out… like doing a tape to tape). It also feels like the days of having an Atari ST when friends had Amiga’s; ZX Spectrum vs. Commodore. It is frustrating to have to make a choice.
Competition may be good in that it will spur the horse along faster, but it sure can feel frustrating. That magical time when the content you wanted was all in the Web isn’t there in quite the same way (even with lockin on websites).
Until we get more hardware improvements (e.g. Glass) the battle field will be through client software and software in the cloud. An exciting battle for sure.