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Android Gaining on iPhone in Apps Battle

Is there an app (other than a DVR, we suppose) for turning off those "there's an app for that" iPhone ads? We'd be happy to never see another one again.

Oh, it's nothing against Apple or the iPhone itself. What we don't like is the way the ads make the iPhone seem like an absolutely indispensible element of modern life, when in truth a lot of what the overly happy voiceover characters in the ads are doing with their phones is also possible on a number of devices, including the simple laptop. Your editor struggles along daily without an iPhone and still manages to survive. We're sure that a lot of other folks do, too.

In fact, we know they do because the iPhone is hardly the only device in the smartphone market. The BlackBerry is still popular among traveling executives and corporate climbers who want to look important…and then there's Android, the Google mobile operating system, which is putting a scare into all of them. This week, a gaggle of venture capitalists -- people who have to spot the next trend before it even exists -- said that they see Android becoming an increasingly viable application-development environment, one that could challenge the iPhone in that category.

Taking down the iPhone -- there's an app for that, and it's running on Android, apparently. Which leaves our friends at Microsoft…where, exactly? Not out of the game, certainly, although Redmond has had a lot of trouble getting its mobile OS moving. The company's KIN social-networking phones have garnered some good reviews for what they are -- simple devices that are to a college student what crack is to…well, a crack addict, we guess. And then there's Windows Phone 7, the serious mobile OS effort in Redmond and one whose fate is still uncertain.

Know this, however. First of all, Microsoft is never, ever, ever out of a game it wants to be in. And it wants to be in the mobile game. Also, mobile computing is a wide-open field right now, with no single dominant player. That means that Microsoft can do some very healthy business and still be only third or fourth in the market. But we all know that Microsoft doesn't want to be a respectable third. That's not how Microsoft got to be Microsoft. It wants to win -- but it'll have some catching up to do, and it's staring at the back of more than just one arch-rival right now. Catching BlackBerry, Android and the iPhone -- so far, there's no app for that. It's up to Microsoft to create one.

What's your take on Windows Phone 7? Which mobile OS do you prefer? Have your say at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 19, 2010 at 11:56 AM