09 February 2014

Apple should consider building an Android phone, says co-founder Steve Wozniak

Speaking at the Apps World conference in San Francisco, Steve Wozniak has suggested that Apple might want to consider offering an Android-based phone, before it potentially suffers the same fate as BlackBerry. ”There’s nothing to keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market,” said Wozniak. Woz, who co-founded Apple, seemed to be making the remarks in response to the fact that Apple might not be able to produce the next killer product that everyone expects, and that unless it can continue to innovate, it could go the way of BlackBerry, which was knocked out of the running far faster than anyone would’ve expected. Personally, I think hell would freeze over before Apple released an Android phone.

Apple, according to Wozniak, has been rather fortunate in the last decade with the massive success of the iPhone and iPad. ”A whole new category of product doesn’t happen very often,” said Woz. If it can’t create another new category, then Apple will have to face some tough decisions such as releasing an Android phone. Woz thinks that BlackBerry could’ve saved itself if it had switched to Android, rather than developing its own OS. ”BlackBerry’s very sad for me [but] I think it’s probably too late now [for an Android-based phone].”

Now, if we just loosen our grip on reality for a moment and actually consider what an Android iPhone would be like well, I think we can all agree that it would be pretty awesome. Imagine a version of Android that has been tweaked to be as polished as iOS, running on iPhone-like hardware. I guess Apple would call it the aPhone and, presumably, it would have the usual slew of first-party Google apps (Gmail, Chrome, Play) and access to the million-odd Android apps. I can’t see any reason Google (which retains control over who can make official Android devices) wouldn’t let Apple join the party. And yes, if such an aPhone ever came to market, I’d buy it in an instant especially if it played nicely with the iOS ecosystem (Apple TV, AirPlay, AirDrop, etc.)

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, with an apple

The Woz also spoke a little about Tim Cook, saying he needs a little more time as CEO before any judgments should be made. Woz had harsh words for Microsoft’s lack of innovation (“Microsoft sat there for decades, saying, ‘We’re the company of innovation, innovation, innovation.’ And I never saw anything compared to what Apple was doing.”), and also for the NSA’s widescale wiretapping. Rounding out the talk, he also touched upon the silliness of patent warfare(“Why don’t we just agree we’ll cross-license?’), and his dubiousness of whether we’ll ever be able to produce a human-like machine intelligence (“We don’t understand the brain. How do we make a conscious computer?”)

The odds of Apple ever producing an Android-powered aPhone are slim to none, of course. But perhaps that’s what Woz was trying to get at if there ever comes a time when Apple realizes it has to make an Android phone to stay alive, it might already be too late, just like BlackBerry. Once the world’s demand for high-end smartphones is finally sated, probably in the next few years, it will be interesting to see where Apple goes. Android, with competitive flagship devices and its dominance of the low- and mid-range market, shows no sign of slowing down. If Android’s market share gets to the point where developers no longer prioritise iOS, Apple might have to make some difficult decisions about the direction of its future mobile products.



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