Google has been fairly generous when it comes to giving its users the applications they want to use even if they’re on Apple’s iOS platform. However, Google hasn’t been quite as generous with Windows Phone as they continue to hold back API’s from WP developers to make proper applications. Apple has been the most stubborn of the bunch, preferring to lock itself inside a protective bubble, which isn’t always a bad thing, but not for everyone. Microsoft also rarely pushed anything out to Android but did push some apps out to iOS. So with Apple’s upcoming release of Apple Music on Android and with it looking to hire an Android dev, could Apple’s attitude toward cross-platform apps have changed? And what about Microsoft’s almost daily release of apps on Android, could the Redmond company be embracing cross-platform apps as well?
For years now, it has been a battle to lock people into ecosystems and try to provide them a one-stop shop for all their needs. For the most part that works really well. Most Apple iOS users are generally locked into the Apple world using Apple’s services to access just about everything they need. Most Google users are also locked in with Google and happily use all the services Google provides. Windows Phone users are the same as well, everything they need is provided by Microsoft. So have we gotten to a point where users have chosen where the alliances are? Is it possible to really gain a substantial amount of users from defection?
For the most part I think smartphone users have settled on what works best for them. The mobile OS world has had its time to mature and settle in and users have had time to test and find out what each has to offer. The past few years hasn’t really seen much of a change in any of the mobile OS’s other than some minor aesthetics, and of course, performance and security improvements. And even when iOS, Android or Windows Phone comes out with a feature, the competition quickly finds a way to clone it and offer up its own variant. So I think it’s safe to say, unless there is a massive innovation, people have picked their poison.
So what’s left to do? How do you continue to gain users and generate new avenues of revenue? Apps.
Perhaps Apple and Microsoft are finally seeing what Google has been doing all along. Providing apps and software to the competing platform’s user base. In a few months we’re expecting Apple to release Apple Music for Android which is marking a huge step for the company out of the walled garden. For the first time Apple will be providing a mobile service to a competing platform in a major way and this is good for all. It’s especially going to benefit Apple through music subscriptions and broadening their user base through software. A case can be made that Apple has always provided music to non-Apple users in the form of iTunes on Windows and there is truth to that. But that’s desktop and that was a time before Apple really started to try and reel everyone in to a developed ecosystem.
Microsoft is on the same road, offering up Office apps on Android and iOS and even open-sourcing Windows Bridge for cross-platform app development. It has also developed other apps for Android that cater to Android users specifically, such as a lock screen application and widget applications. With Microsoft slipping to third place in smartphone sales, making the move to cross-platform applications was probably a good idea. If Microsoft wants to have a decent leg in the game, the company will have to convince Google to release its APIs. Keeping Windows Phone relevant is important to the company as most analysts would agree that the future of computing is mobile and Microsoft’s mobile app play might pay off for them.
The future of the smartphone wars seems to be drifting to the applications front. Apple, Google and Microsoft will now do battle inside each others devices for your loyalty. Trying to convince you to move away from one device to another isn’t as effective as before, too many people are comfortable with what they use. Application choice and what those applications can do for the user makes sense. People have been using the pre-loaded apps or third party apps from other developers and having software giants like Apple and Microsoft offer up apps in the users’ own ecosystem is a welcome change for them.
What do you think? Are cross-platform apps going to increase between Apple, Microsoft and Google? Is this a good thing or are you settled in with the software you already use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.