A few weeks ago I linked up to the story about Microsoft giving developers the ability to port Android and iOS apps to Windows.
At Ars Technica, Sean Gallager gets into more of the nerdy details and recalls IBM and Blackberry trying similar, unsuccessful moves:
Neither OS/2 nor BlackBerry 10 has made a success of this capability. There are two major problems with supporting foreign applications on a niche platform. The first is straightforward: it removes any incentive for developers to bother with the native platform. Investing in developing for a minor platform is already something of a gamble, and by telling developers “Oh hey, you can just use your existing Win16 or Android program…” as IBM and BlackBerry (respectively) did, you’re implicitly sending them a message. “Don’t bother learning our platform or writing native apps for it.”
Even with Islandwood, porting iOS applications to Windows will require more work than Android apps require. While some Android apps will be 100 percent compatible with Astoria, that won’t be the case with Islandwood. There are differences between the platforms that need handling—Android and Windows Phone have a back button, for example, whereas iOS doesn’t—and devs will have to change code accordingly.
The impact this has will depend on the app. King’s Candy Crush Saga for Windows Phone is already using Islandwood, and the changes required were described as a “few percent.” CCS supports features including in-app purchases in its Windows Phone version, taking advantage of the StoreKit API mapping. However, as a game, its user interface is largely custom anyway. Apps that lean more heavily on UIKit may well need more work to ensure that their interfaces meet the expectations of Windows users.
It’s Microsoft’s last ditch effort.
Just when I was duped into thinking Nadella was running things differently at Microsoft, they go and announce the 7 different editions (!!!!!!!) of Windows 10.
At BGR.com, Brad Reed on Microsoft’s plans to let you port iOS and Android apps to Windows:
Microsoft is raising the white flag when it comes to developing its own mobile app ecosystem — instead, it’s going to let developers easily bring their iOS and Android apps over to Windows 10 without having to completely rebuild them from the ground up as they’ve had to do in the past. Essentially, Microsoft is letting developers reuse most of the same code that they used to write their apps for rival platforms and is giving them tools to help them optimize these apps for Windows.
Wow! Sounds tremendous. I’m sure there won’t be any redesigning needed. I mean, it’s not like Apple or Google have their own design guidelines, like this and this.
I’m also sure performance will be lickity-split. No lag or recoding needed.
Dan Frommer asks the key ‘why’ questions about Windows Mobile phones from Nokia:
- Why should any person buy this instead of an iPhone or the preferred Android phone du jour?
- Why should carriers favor Windows phones over Android or Apple phones, in either their in-store sales techniques and marketing?
- Why should carriers or consumers favor Nokia Windows phones over similar Windows phones from Samsung, HTC, etc.?
- Why should developers make apps for Windows or Nokia phones?
Windows Mobile phones are swimming a red ocean. So what is a ‘red ocean’ you ask? From Wikipedia:
Red Oceans are all the industries in existence today–the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody. Hence, the term red oceans.
Red oceans are the opposite of blue oceans:
Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today–the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored.
Apple established the new smartphone paradigm (full touchscreen, no keyboard, multitouch UI) with the launch of the iPhone in 2007 that Google subsequently copied with Android. Apple’s modus operandi since Jobs returned has been about focusing on blue oceans. Untapped markets.
Now Microsoft and Nokia are entering the market with the Windows Phone 7 platform, a platform that introduces a unique approach to the user interface.
Despite their fresh approach, they’re still in a red ocean. Boundaries and known and rules are understood and as Frommer notes, they’re going to continue to have a hard time distinguishing themselves in this already crowded market.