I did not post for a while, working hard on projects I had to get out.

But the comments on a recent study made me wake up to add my small sauce to these debates.

What's the debate?
Gartner said that Android will be the second most sold platform after Symbian, trumping iPhone OS.
So many analysts, too happy to bite the Apple, reminded us of the 80s when Apple, after having made the PC popular was dumped off by the Wintel combination.
For them, history repeats itself so if Apple does not open its platform, it will be beaten up once again, jumping back to low market share from a double digit one on the current smartphone market.

I think the direct comparison is not quite adequate: here is why.

1) Comparing Apples and apples: Apple vs. Android OEMs

What seems to be forgotten in these comments is that Apple is not competing with Google to gain marketshare on OS platforms, but with OEMs selling pocketable computers.
At the end of the day, Apple would be better off with 10% of the smartphone market if, for example, 80% of the rest is split between many 5-6% marketshare Android-run smartphones OEM.
The real "fight" in the smartphone OS wars should be on comparable players, namely Google, Microsoft and Nokia's Symbian.

Google's Android keeps on signing OEM up. But it's funny to see that this is by using the same strategy Microsoft was to kill Netscape and for which they were sued!! Financing a huge investment with the profits of another activity.
Microsoft is slowly becoming irrelevant on this market and the only remaining chance is to make a big splash with WM7 in April 2010: a limited product may sign the end of the road for them.
Nokia is also at crossroads: Symbian is almost running only Nokia & DoCoMo's phones and is also perceived as quite dated. The real deal beyond open sourcing is now planned with Symbian^3 coming by April 2010.

2) Is the horizontal model to repeat?

What's the most fascinating about the horizontal model of PCs is that...it never repeated itself until now!!! Any other consumer electronics industry has today a very high dose of software but none of them has really switched to a decoupling of hardware, OS and applications.
Neither music players, nor cameras, nor consoles, nor cars have gone this way, so the question is why?
First, one missing forgotten piece has made it possible: the quite standard hardware architecture made by IBM that's not at all yet done in smartphones.
Second, the OEMs have learnt that horizontal system can steal profits to software / hardware components providers and don't want to get back to this situation.
Third, the Smartphone industry seems to plateau in term of form factor / hardware fonctionnality, reinforcing the importance of software.
It has so been quite remarkable that until now Operating Systems have not yet played a big role in mobiles and kept on producing highly fragmented products.

3) Conclusion

As I try to explain, OS marketshare is not yet really relevant as such for Jobs&Co. So what could really drive Apple done?

=> Innovation: Apple is clearly leading the pack in term of OS features. April 2010, with Symbian^3 and WM7 will show us if a commitee and a declining company can out innovate to give developpers the will to promote new kind of apps on something else than iPhone.
=> Volume based cost reduction: today the top end Android phones are not much less expensive than iPhone, from customers side. We'll see whether OEMs will use the probably high volumes of Android to position themselves on lower prices.
=> Developpers: AppStore is currently the most profitable way for developpers to make money. That's based on the high usage of iphone owners, the simplicity of buying process and the volume of iphone users.
Apple really lost his power in PC when many applications were only developed for Windows.
To succeed, Microsoft, Google and Nokia will have to love and cherish the developpers to move the same way: that don't seem to happen for now.