I had the privilege of attending a mobile conference today in Chicago, and was literally struck at the agenda. Surprised enough at its contents to gape awkwardly in my chair.
Throughout the day there was one single talk (out of more than thirteen), that was not dedicated to or centered around Android or iPhone. One. Blackberry, you get third place.
Listening to the events, it became even more lopsided. What came up in questions? What was mentioned in notes on future firmware releases? Android and iPhone, over and over again. Whatever the topic, there were two platforms.
This is not due to the conference being unbalanced; no one complained about the programming. It reflected people’s interests accurately and fairly. There was not even and minor grumbling, it was a complete non-issue.
But it gets even more pervasive. A fourth year CS major was presenting his app for the hackathon judging (a classic thing to watch, full of bleary eyes and unresponsive phones), and discussed when he had picked up his knowledge of iPhone programming. “I took a class last quarter, it was half iPhone and half Android.”
I’m no fan of Fox News, but to steal their tag line that does not sound very fair and balanced. Or is it?
Get it? Ballmer had it right. It’s about developers developers developers. Sure, iPhone and Android have the current advantage in terms of market size, and created apps. But that is transient, things can and always do change. Hell, in the last year Android has grown to be so strong that Apple decided they had to sue the whole damn thing to keep their crown.
What is not trivial is the mindshare among developers. What are they tinkering with? People coming up are learning iPhone and Android, not WebOS and Windows Phone 7 series. Either Palm, Microsoft, and RIM get some mindshare among the upcoming developers, or they will be gentrified to a slice of the older dev set that they have already acquired.
It’s time for them to put up or shut up. Microsoft and RIM have the dollars to build up their app offerings and acquire developers, Palm does not. Meaning? Palm is not only behind, but probably cannot catch up. Microsoft and RIM can catch up, or not. But it’s developer time in a big way.
Not to quote the internet, but developers or gt**.