I find it ironic that Apple is now being touted as the juggernaut in the technology industry because of its larger ecosystem. When Apple was strictly a computer company battling Microsoft Windows, the folks who supported Windows often argued that it was superior simply because it had a larger number of applications available.
Now the shoe’s on the other foot, as it were. Apple’s edge in the smartphone and tablet markets is seen as largely based on the significant number of apps available for the platform.
In truth, judging the value of a platform based largely on the size of its ecosystem is a misleading approach. As we supporters of Apple in those early days were fond of pointing out, there is a limit to how many of a specific type one user could need.The fact, for example, that there might be 27 general ledger programs available on Windows and only a half dozen on the Mac was largely irrelevant. So long as the leading programs were available on both platforms, or, alternatively, data could be interchanged between different applications, the issue is essentially moot.
I would say the same thing in evaluating the ecosystems of today’s smartphone platforms. While there are substantially more apps available for the iPhone then for android phones, a failure to distinguish application types can lead to a wrong-headed conclusion about which platform is preferable.
So while it’s true that I continue to prefer Apple products, and am all but addicted to my iPhone and my iPad, it isn’t the range or number of apps available that causes that preference. As is often the case, platform choice bears a strong connection to user intent. I’m not even sure that any one smartphone platform could claim to be the best common denominator space for a broad range of uses.