"Power lasts 10 years, influence, not more than a hundred."Nothing lasts. And Google's Android has all the "ducks in a row" to change the order of things in 2009. My thesis is that Apple's bent on control is just the reason iPhone's ascent will falter. A quick examination of one of the top requested features on iPhone, and a little contrasting with the Android platform will expose Apple's addiction to control.
Viewing Adobe Flash while browsing the Web
The three top run-time environments for PCs are Flash, Java and Silverlight. None of them are available on iPhone. Flash is by far the most pervasive on the web, reaching 99% of Internet viewers. While Steve Jobs has previously said Flash video was not suitable for iPhone, Adobe happily ported Flash (and it's run-from-local counterpart, AIR) to Windows Mobile, Android, and Symbian platforms. It's pretty commonly held that Apple is intentionally blocking run-time environments on iPhone, not because of technical issues. But, because run-times cede control away from Apple's app store and the iTunes franchise. If you can download games and other programs from the web, then why do you need to go through Apple? And so iPhone users will go without the same browsing experience they do on their PC. Flash is an Inconvenient Truth for Apple.
There are a number of other examples of Apple's control addiction which have resulted in deprecated user experience, and open doors for Android. For example, turn-by-turn maps. Apple reportedly disallows such apps from populating the iPhone app store, I could only guess while they work out a deal with one of the mapping companies. The Android community by contrast has recently received a free turn-by-turn app, by the ad-sponsored and nascent AndNav2.
Other form factors (netbooks)
If you'd like a big brother netbook to your iPhone, you'll have to wait. Steve Jobs has gone so far as to describe the netbook market as "nascent". That's an interesting comment considering netbooks are now more popular than the iPhone! Of course, there appear to be a number of companies working on Android netbooks for mid 2009. It's also worth noting some power hitters recently joined the Open Handset Alliance.
Scale and business model
Apple is but one company with a business model built on a premium brand and control. Android and the Open Handset Alliance represent a large number of heavy hitters, who can tap enormous economies of scale. And yet Google has caché. So chic, yet open devices can be commoditized and customized and can deliver what consumers ask for. Google does not need to exact a premium on smartphones, netbooks, etc. In fact the cheaper they are the better; more Android devices means more mobile search, LBS opportunities, etc. And that's how Google wins. Unfortunately for other players, due to peak phone, this is a zero-sum game.
Disclosure: no positions