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But this is the essence of the post-PC era that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs liked to evangelize. These new mobile devices are not PCs: they’re not being purchased like PCs and they’re not being used like PCs. They are defining a new category of personal computing that is pretty different from that defined by the personal computer, and they should be considered separately: why lump the computer of the future in with the computers of the past?

The grandparents of the PC era—Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Intel—are well aware of this shift, no matter what they say in public. Intel (NSDQ: INTC) has struggled for years to get its processors into phones and tablets but will finally ship some products in 2012, and, as longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley pointed out yesterday, Microsoft is spending an awful lot of time promoting its upcoming Windows 8 operating system on tablets.

Five years after the launch of the iPhone, Apple is dominating the market for this new type of computer. It sold 52 million iOS devices in the fourth quarter and has plenty of room to grow, especially considering that more radical remakes of the iPhone and the iPad are likely in store during 2012.

And if Android’s lead is really shrinking, the basic rule that has governed mobile development for the last several years will remain true. If you’re trying to build a business around mobile computing, you still have to start with iOS.

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