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Smartphone Wars: Why We Fight?
Date: August 12th, 2010

In this day and age, the hottest and fastest moving field in technology development is that of mobile operating systems, both in phones and tablets. Devices like the Evo 4G and the iPad have set new bars for mobile hardware, and the creation of app stores have started a new gold rush of software development.

However, not is all bright and cheery in the mobile space. Minor skirmishes turn into major wars between users of iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries alike. Each new story in a tech blog turns into just one more bullet point on why "my phone is better than your phone."

The question is, why does this have to be such a point of contention? Is not each person entitled to their own preferences? As a particular iPhone fan has aptly put it, ďIf you donít want one, donít buy one,Ē should be enough. Why do the general end users get as polarized about a product as the salespeople who sell them?

The answer to this debacle is one word: Apps. While how many new phones are activated with the same platform as yours may not seem to have a direct impact upon you, the popularity of a particular platform does have a long-term effect on the apps that you have available to you.

While the largest number of apps that heavily utilize the features of a device are programmed by enthusiasts for the platform, many users strive to have access to apps by particular companies, either due to the franchises they hold copyrights to, or the quality they provide.

One of the most notable instances of this, was Zynga releasing a FarmVille app for the iPhone. Other notable iPhone exclusives include Electronic Artsí Civilization and SimCity or the various digital editions of notable magazines and newspapers which are only available for iPad. And the upcoming Windows Phone 7 promises many exclusives for Xbox Live members.

With each major platform beginning to take a fairly large market share, approaching almost equal thirds, why are so many apps exclusive to particular platforms? Unfortunately, most platforms are different enough from each other to require completely different development methods and processes. Additionally, Apple has written their Terms of Service in a way that prevents the use of cross-platform development tools. These problems often force companies to pick and choose where they place their development efforts. And often the corporate execs who make these decisions do not know much more than they see in the press. And with current trends, that leads the decisions to often lean to the iPhone and the iPad.

Hence, the only chance these other platforms tend to get for a fair share of apps is getting people to buy these other platforms, and building enough support for them to force the press to pay attention. This is why the grass roots attempt at sales is so vital to the survival of the smaller platforms such as Android and Windows Phone 7. And why Iíll continue to promote Android wherever I go.

JW