Harry McCracken on iOS’s App Advantage

Harry McCracken:

The current situation seems to me to be a largely happy one for both iOS and Android users. They’re two great platforms, each with some unique strengths and access to vast quantities of apps. But it’s not the scenario long predicted by the market share ūber alles crowd. And there aren’t even any isolated incidents that should set off little alarms in Apple’s head — a hot app or a big company announcing that it’s decided to go Android-first.

It’s a good piece, but the headline — “The Smartphone App Wars Are Over, and Apple Won” — oversells it. Nothing here is “over”. The point is, though, iOS continues to be the leading mobile developer platform, despite years of predictions of impending market-share-imposed doom. A better headline would be this line from McCracken’s piece: “Android’s gain has not been iOS’s loss.” That is the central fact that market share fanatics can’t get through their heads.

Look at PCs. Windows still has an overwhelming monopoly-sized market share. Mac OS X has better apps. iOS has way more users than Mac OS X has. If apps on the Mac can thrive in the face of Windows, apps on iOS can thrive in the face of Android. These Church of Market Share fanatics act as though the Mac died in 1997.

Most developers who want to make artistically great mobile apps make them for the iPhone; users who want artistically great apps buy iPhones. Back in 2002, my colleague Brent Simmons wrote the following on why he was writing Mac apps despite Windows’s market share:

One of the reasons I develop for OS X is that, when it comes to user interface, this is the big leagues, this is the show. That’s probably what Joel would call an “emotional appeal” — and to call it that, that’s fine by me.

Friday, 21 February 2014