Bach (head of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division) has said that the Nexus One phone from Google will fail as an overall strategy since with Google making their own phone, other makers wanting to also use the Android OS will worry that they’ll always be second place to Google’s own effort in hardware leaving (presumably) most of them to come crawling back to Windows Mobile.

Microsoft is wrong…and they might be right. Just not for the reasons they said.

What is selling phones? Not the hardware. There have been several phones with better specs out from all different manufactures and not a single one has slowed the growth of the iPhone. Please note I’m not saying the iPhone is outselling everything or that other phones also haven’t had growth. I’m saying that the iPhone has grown in marketshare pretty much every quarter since it’s release. Why is that? Please don’t say fanboys as most people with iPhones or iPod Touches are Windows users (just as it was with the smaller iPods). With iPods it was ease of use with iTunes (I acknowledge that iTunes can be crap on Windows) and content. With the iPhone/Touch it seems (so far) to be slightly different. Ease of use is still a factor, but it isn’t music and videos so much that are driving growth, but applications.

Palm has failed to really grow their own app store, so they haven’t made a dent. Google is just starting out with Android and have made some positive steps to develop their own apps and encourage developers to join up. However they may also have some problems in one area. Consistency of design. Yes Android is an open platform and hardware makers can make their designs however they want, but will each of those designs be able to use any app created for Android? Most likely not and this is where Microsoft failed as well. They didn’t develop a hardware standard that app makers could develop TO and it fragmented the market.

Microsoft forgot the very lesson that made them so powerful on the desktop. Windows was a standard that anyone could develop for and that brought on most of the better developers. On the desktop, hardware design wasn’t as important because the software could manipulate what was required under whatever scenario for the hardware. With phones it isn’t that simple. They aren’t as powerful as desktops. Now throw in that what can be charged for the mobile apps isn’t as much as what can be charged for desktop apps. If it’s too difficult to make an app that has to be sold cheaply to compete, then many developers will stop making apps for the platform.

This isn’t really up to Google to regulate, but the hardware makers. They need to pay attention to what kinds of phones and screen sizes the developers are making apps for and design toward that. Developers for the iPhone don’t have to worry about that (so far anyway). It’s always been one screen size. For a mobile OS just starting out, consistency in design for the hardware could make or break a platform.

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