I’ve been programming for the last 10 years predominantly with Microsoft technologies and languages. I can develop windows, web, silverlight applications & services easily in .NET. The .NET Framework provides a great foundation to develop applications which can span many computing technologies and platforms. Handheld devices (phones & tablets) is where the future end-user computing is going to be. Unfortunately, knowing how to program .NET applications doesn’t appear to be able to assist much here.
The 2 dominant mobile operating systems are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Microsoft has tried to get in the market, but has had difficulty doing so. My .NET skills can make mobile applications on Windows Mobile, but the OS is rarely supplied on new phones. As of February 2011, Apple, Android, and Blackberry comprise of over 90% of the smartphone market in the US. So even if you could use your .NET skills in the mobile market, you would be reaching less than 10% of mobile users.
Yeah, Yeah. I’ve read and seen Windows 8 and its “Metro” apps offer. But penetrating a mobile market that’s already dominated by Google and Apple will be no easy task. And if they beat the odds, I already know .NET and XAML… so I can easy kick out a metro app if I needed to.
After sitting back and watching what has been happening in the mobile market over the last few years, I don’t think my .NET expertise is enough to sufficiently program for mobile users. So it’s time to step up my game and tackle programming for a new OS: Google’s Android.
Why Android? Well, I think both Apples iOS and Google’s Android are here to stay. Both are attractive and legitimate mobile operating systems. In the end, I believe Google’s Android will reach more users and devices than Apple’s iOS and some statistics show that it already has in the smartphone sector. ComScore reported for February 2011, the Android platform now accounts for 1 in 3 smartphone users. Even more interesting, recent trends show Android has been taking more and more of the smartphone market share at an increasing rate. February 2011 had Android taking the largest increase in smartphone market share over 3 months and is #1 at 33%. Obviously trends may change, but this is showing that the Android OS has continued to grow at a rapid pace and has finally past Apple’s iOS on smartphones.
If you factor in tablets with smartphones, Apple’s iOS takes the cheese with 53.04% market share. However Google’s Android did not come out with tablet support until 3.0. Hardware manufacturers have not released a competitive tablet device with Google’s Android OS on it to successfully compete against the iPad. That will eventually change. Amazon recently announced it is going to release its own Kindle tablet running Android and more devices are sure to come.
So why do I think Google’s Android will have the higher mobile market share in the end? Let’s look back in recent history to the 1990’s. Apple has always controlled the end-to-end hardware and software product offering. This yields a less buggy and better optimized product. On the flip side, Microsoft had Windows that could run on many hardware manufacturers’ products. Developers took to Microsoft’s OS & development technologies for many reasons and propelled it to have the dominant market share. Is the mobile battle going to end the same way? This time, Google’s Android is Microsoft's Windows. I don’t necessarily think it will win out on innovation or quality of products, but it will prevail when it comes to market share.
So why is market share so important? Apple could release the next new iPhone or iPad which rocks Android devices and trends could favor Apple. I would agree that this will happen and things will go back and forth, but when it comes to developers developing applications, they typically stick with the dominant platform which will reach the most users and will be around a long time. They also migrate to the platform which is easier to develop for. Android is showing that it is a dominant mobile OS, is trending up, and it will be difficult to dislodge. It’s SDK’s, IDE’s, tutorials are all free, easy to learn, and run on Windows as well as Mac. As a result, I think Google’s Android will have the majority of market share both with smartphones and tablets in the not-to-distant future.
Companies looking to create applications will obviously want to develop a mobile application and reach users where they are at. Because Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS is the majority of mobile operating systems, that’s where the work will be.
So, like I said, I’m stepping up my game and I plan on learning how to program for Google’s Android. As a result, I plan to blog on it occasionally as I progress. I’ve just got my 1,000+ page Pro Android 3 book from Amazon today… So here I go. Weeeee.