Why is Android not like Windows?

Android is often compared to Windows, not because of its being open source, or for it being run by a software company that doesn’t charge for software, but because some find Android to be following a similar playbook. One that aims to build a platform that serves a greater ecosystem of hardware manufacturers. And for this reason Android will win in the long run. I don’t think this line of reasoning holds up.

The argument seems to go something like this – Windows was dominant, Android is like Windows, ergo Android will dominate. Just as it took Windows a few years to really get its grove, Android is still in this early period, and just like before, Apple’s early lead will deteriorate. At least this is how the argument goes.

Microsoft was able to build Windows into something that manufacturers wanted to use as a way to sell their hardware. Fast forward two decades and we find Google building Android into something that manufacturers wanted to use as a way to sell their hardware, only this time the computers fit into our pocket and happen to make phone calls. Like Windows, Android works on various screen sizes, CPU speeds, and form factors.

However, the key difference is that Microsoft also got the developers. Developers started building for Windows with key productivity apps and soon games for the platform. They chose to build for Windows first and would later port to Mac. This is a critical difference from today. Developers primarily build for iOS first – Instagram, Flipboard, Rovio, OMGPOP, etc. iOS is where the developers start. Android is where they port. In this way, iOS is more like the Windows of old than Android ever has been.

iOS will continue to dominate as long as developers continue to choose iOS first and everyone else second. People care about what these devices can do for them, and great apps are still what matter.

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