I’m a bit of an Android fan. I like the customization ability, the tweak-ness of it. I like that there it has its own “distros” like CyanogenMod (full disclosure, I run CM7 and love it). I’m (hopefully) not a typical Android user, though. I’m what they call a super-user, or an early adopter, or a technology maven. A one-man Lifehacker. Be that as it may.
The worst thing that ever happened to the personal computing market is Microsoft. Their monopoly (however it developed) changed the market, and Microsoft itself. It changed the market by inhibiting innovation (real innovation, not slapping a shiny new interface on an old hunk of crap) and preventing many potentially wonderful products from catching on. Microsoft’s monopoly made it into a giant bureaucracy that could only produce good, solid products by painstaking evolution (Microsoft Excel being one of these products) or by buying startups. Google is on its way to becoming this sort of lumbering giant as well.
Look, instead, at the console market. There are a bunch (and have almost always been a bunch) of competing consoles. And they’ve figured out how to gain the lead, to gain mindshare: rapid, disruptive innovation. Not just the generative, evolutionary advance of processing power and better graphics (boring!) but new game-play modes and methods (interesting!). The Wii and Kinect are examples of the latter. The PS3 is an example of the former. The Playstation team needs to (and hopefully knows it needs to) do something, anything wonderful and different to gain that mind-share back. Otherwise they’ll lose their place in the market. While everyone else is having fun making a fool of themselves with a motion-sensing controller or an infrared camera and some neat AI… PS3 owners can sit in the dark and shoot every-more-realistic zombies.
I don’t ever want Android to become like Windows. I don’t want it to have 90% market share. I want it to do well (after all, getting stuck in Apple’s gilded prison shouldn’t be something anyone wants), but not too well. I want Android to excel, but not dominate. There’s a place at the table for everyone. As there should be. Apple can have their shiny, crippled products for those who want such things. Android can have its tweak-able, customizable guts and interface. WebOS can have… whatever it has. And Windows Phone can pick up the scraps that fall off the table.
This way there’s competition. This way there’s innovation, disruptive change. This way there’s benefit for the customer, no matter whose customer you might be.