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Business columns: The smart battle over smart phones

War has broken out in the smart phone industry, and it strongly resembles “the tussle between Apple and Microsoft over personal computers in the 1980s,” said John Gapper in the Financial Times.

John Gapper
Financial Times

This looks familiar, said John Gapper. War has broken out in the smart phone industry, and it strongly resembles “the tussle between Apple and Microsoft over personal computers in the 1980s.” Back then, Apple’s Macintosh computers lost the market-share war to Microsoft. Corporate customers opted in overwhelming numbers for Microsoft and its Windows operating system, in large part because they could load their machines with a wide range of software from the huge “ecosystem” of independent developers who wrote Windows-compatible programs.

This time around, the contest pits phones using Google’s Android operating system against Apple’s iPhone. Apple has the biggest ecosystem—its App Store contains four times as many offerings as those in the Android Marketplace. But Apple won’t dominate smart phones the way Microsoft once dominated PCs. The wireless operators that sell smart phones, such as Verizon and AT&T, won’t allow it. They have “a vested interest in diversity,” because they don’t want Apple or any other manufacturer to dictate what they can sell and at what price. This time around, the winner won’t take all.

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