Mike Cane just posted on his excellent blog, arguing that WebOS can be successful in spite of a lack of apps:
That’s a problem of perception. If every platform has the same Top 100 apps, any deficiencies beyond that point aren’t that big a deal. If everyone can have 99% of what they want on a platform, there is no compelling reason to jump ship and lose that investment chasing a missing 1%.
His argument is compelling and well written, but I think it has three basic flaws:
- Diversity in Unity
- It’s not just the top 100
The second basic flaw is only looking at 100 apps. Not everyone gets into apps right away. For some it takes a long time.
But when they discover the universe of opportunity in apps … 10 isn’t enough. 30 isn’t enough. Even 100 isn’t going to be enough, over time. They’re going to have more apps on their phone.
Maybe not right away, and maybe not everyone. But eventually for most, and certainly for the adopters and sneezers who create buzz and spread platforms.
- WebOS needs switchers
The third basic flaw is the most obvious. Cain says if users get most of what they want on a platform, there’s no compelling reason to switch. Well … he can’t be talking about the tens of millions of WebOS users today, can he?
‘Cause they don’t exist.
It’s not about users staying with WebOS. It’s about users switching to WebOS. Good luck with that … a platform users switch to needs to be twice as good as the existing platform, just to cover switching costs. And only a dreamer thinks that WebOS is ever going to be twice as good as iOS or Android or even Windows Phone 7.
The first basic flaw in Cane’s argument is that there is surprisingly great diversity in everyone’s “10 things I need” lists. His 10 things don’t intersect too well with mine … never mind millions of others.
So while in theory the top 100 applications should cover most people, the reality is that everyone has outliers in the “10 things I need” lists. And when your must-have is everyone else’s who-cares … the hundreds of thousands of apps in the iOS app store become important.
You’re just more likely to get what you want … even in the 1% of your desires.
Maybe even more importantly, you’re more likely to feel that you’ve got “platform insurance” in case your desires ever change. 300K+ apps and counting is good future-proofing in case your interests take a radical shift.
It’s unfortunate, because WebOS had/has some real innovations. And the people behind it were among the leaders in mobile technology.
But WebOS – even with HP’s formidable marketing muscle – is not going to be a major platform in mobility.
It’ll never be as good as the proprietary models (iOS, Win Phone 7) or as cheap as the open source models (Android, Meego).
Thanks for showing up, though. There might be a ribbon for that.