Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Phone Wars

Windows Phone 7

Microsoft surprised quite a lot of people when they announced that the development tools for Windows Phone 7 (the visual studio and expression blend express editions for wp7) will be free forever. For those who haven't still somehow heard, microsoft has announced that developers will be able to develop application for the wp7 only in silverlight or XNA. In case you're wondering whether this is silverlight 3 or 4 i'll ask you to hold your breath till wp7 comes out. As of now, in the sdk and the emulator the silverlight is well.. silverlight... not silverlight lite or such. It's a superset of silverlight 3 with a lot of features of 4 and now that silverlight 4 is out i'm sure we'll see all that coming in as well before the launch. As they showed at MIX 10, this will help builders out there build some pretty cool stuff pretty easily. People have already been working on silverlight and XNA and the learning curve will not be so steep.

Making the tools free and convincing everyone that you're already a windows phone 7 developer is a great move by microsoft. They're paying attention to user experience while developing the phone and they're throwing stuff out early so developers around the world can create all sort of apps for the phone sell them at the market place. They've grouped stuff into hubs like all your office, gmail, social network contacts come into a people hub and this sounds like it'll make life a lot easier for all of us. It's not completely a multi-tasking OS though as in the applications that we build won't be allowed to run in the background. We can always bring them to life though using the Microsoft Push Notification service and that sounds great. Personally i feel this will ensure a good, smooth, responsive experience.

FROYO(Frozen Yogurt) AKA Google Android 2.2
Google has taken the phone market by storm with Android and has captured a lot of market share in the recent past. I wouldn't expect Google to do any less even though they're the "Search" guys. They had the right approach, the right people and partners and a good enough brand name to attract the whole world's attention to the Android open source project. To top all of this, they had the advantage of knowing their competitor's mistakes (but ofcourse they'll be making their own too).

This Google IO, they made it pretty clear(with their smug remarks) that they're on the iPhone's heels and they're in the race to win it. They've included flash and put in a lot of cool features that people have been hoping for. The open source factor also favors google in ensuring that the new 2.2 platform will gain popularity fast and people will build great stuff on top of it.

Google also announced that they'll be providing OTA (over the air) deployment in the marketplace which means you don't need to go get your device, plug it in and install everytime you see a cool application on the marketplace. One click and it'll be on it's way to your phone. They also quietly announced a music marketplace which will also allow you to download songs OTA. The partners on this are not clear yet but they've definitely told Apple that it's not just the iPhone that they should worry about but iTunes as well. To top it off they might rollout 2.2 very soon to nexus one customers.

All eyes are now set on Steve Jobs and I'm eagerly waiting for his keynot at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference this year. I wonder if he's still gonna be adamant about leaving out flash support now that google have officially announced it. The iPhone's market share has not grown much this past year and the people at Apple better come up with something really awesome if they wanna hold on to their customers.

Only time will tell who wins the battle amongst these three and how people accept their new offerings once they're out in the market. RIM (Research In Motion) on the other hand can still afford to relax a bit and keep on doing what they do best as the number of BlackBerry devices out their is still a lot more than iPhones or Android phones but they should keep the ball of innovation rolling for all of us. All this competition is finally gonna benefit all of us cause we'll get more for a lot less so lets hope the war continues.

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