In a recent Wired Gadget-Lab interview with Steve Wozniak, the "Woz" made waves when suggesting Apple should make a smartphone running Android. Specifically, he was quoted as saying that "There's nothing that would keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market. We could compete very well. People like the precious looks of stylings and manufacturing that we do in our product compared to the other Android offerings. We could play in two arenas at the same time." Then the Woz backtracked and said he was misquoted, followed by it was "a form of comedy." Yet as insane as his thinking was, Apple actually established precedents that wouldn't rule out a form of that completely. And considering that dual OS smartphones will be an emerging trend over the coming years, some may wonder if this trend is anywhere on Apple's radar.
Precedent #1: iTunes on Windows: Hell Froze Over
The unthinkable happened back in 2003 when Steve Jobs announced that Apple's iTunes would be coming to Windows based PCs. This precedent showed us that Apple is more than willing to tap into a "larger platform" to win fans over to their software and hopefully hardware. It was a move to ensure that the iPod and iTunes would be able to grow into the future before Microsoft was able to copy iTunes. Microsoft never did copy iTunes when it mattered because Apple was able to deliver iTunes to Windows fans in a timely manner.
Precedent # 2: Apple's Boot Camp
Three years after introducing iTunes on Windows, Apple introduced Boot Camp, software that enabled Intel-based Macs to run Windows XP.
At the time, Phil Schiller stated that "Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple's superior hardware now that we use Intel processors. We think Boot Camp makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch."
So when the Woz put the idea into play that Apple should or could make an Android phone, it did sound crazy – and most Apple fans scoffed at such a development. But it's not impossible. If Phil Schiller's logical argument was true then for running Windows on Apple hardware, then it could very well apply today with a solution for Android or another OS running on an iDevice.
Emerging Trend: Dual OS Smart Devices
Today, a new IDC report titled "2014 Technology Outlook for China's Growing Mobile Phone Industry," they list six trends that are likely to emerge. The sixth trend is dual OS based smart devices. IDC notes that "The application of dual smartphone operating systems will facilitate different experiences for users. Dual operating systems have already been applied on some phones, but the real dual smartphone operating systems are rarely seen. IDC expects that in 2014, competition in the smartphone operating system will be even more intense. Vendors, out of need for innovation and business expansion, will try to develop two operating systems on a single smartphone. The application of dual operating systems will provide users with different and fresh experiences. Meanwhile, multi-operating systems will also provide more space for the development of cross-platform personal cloud service."
One such dual OS scenario may involve Samsung's Tizen and Mozilla's Firefox OS. In late November 2013, ZDNet Korea reported that "Samsung had mentioned that the new open source OS Tizen and Firefox OS must have companion-like relationship. Chief Secretary of Samsung Electronics gave a speech about how their process of developing Tizen platform is going and stressed that Tizen must cooperate and create a helping relationship with Firefox OS community."
For Samsung, a dual OS (Tizen + Firefox OS) option actually makes a lot of sense, especially if the other operating system is tuned into Samsung's future online services like Milkmusic.com. Whether the trend stays local in Asia or spills over to North America is the 64 million dollar question. But if the trend ever did prove popular, would Apple then consider some form of it?
Apple's iTunes for Android
As far as Apple is concerned, there's a chance that iTunes could land on Android devices over the next two years because there's a distinct market that Apple could tap into in order to keep iTunes the number one online store for music, books and apps. It's also supported by a precedent set with iTunes on Windows.
During Tim Cook's D11 Conference interview with Walt Mossberg he visited this issue: "Would Apple port an app from iOS to Android? We have no religious issue. If we thought it made sense to do that, we would do that. You can take the same philosophy and apply it to iCloud."
So Apple appears to have that door open and iTunes for Android has been one of the most popular apps in demand. In a Poll taken by iMore, 43% voted for iTunes beyond Apple hardware. So the time might be right before other online music stores get off the ground
Boot Camp & Other Options for iDevices
In respect to a dual OS option for iDevices via a Boot-Camp-Like solution for iDevices, it's a strategy that's unlikely to appeal to Apple in respect to Android. I think Steve Jobs' thermonuclear position on Android would all but confirm that. But that doesn't close the door to another operating system.
At present, most consumers who choose Android phones do so for a couple of distinct reasons. Putting price aside, one reason is that many prefer a larger display while others prefer an open OS so that they could have more hardware and software options. While Apple is likely to address the larger display issue later this year, the open OS issue remains. That's why leaving the door open to offering a cross-platform solution for iDevices could be viable. For some, iOS Jailbreaking is the only solution, while for others it's not enough.
Back in 2012, Steve Wozniak admitted that he supports jailbreakers because they remind him of himself and the late Steve Jobs in their younger days. "So much of me lies in the Linux and open source thinking," Woz confessed. "It's where I'd be if I were young and finding my technology way." Is Woz the enemy? – Of course not. There are a lot of like-minded Apple fans out there. Probably more than Apple would ever admit to.
In the end, Phil Schiller's argument for offering Boot Camp to Windows users made sense back then and could make sense again for a different platform. I'm sure that developers like Parallels would jump on that development and really make it easy for consumers to run two operating systems on an iDevice. An alternative option for some that IDC saw as another emerging trend is in the area of cross-platform cloud services. That's an interesting point considering that it's one that was on Tim Cook's mind during his interview with Mossberg as we noted earlier in our report.
In the end, should Apple consider a Boot Camp-like solution for iDevices? I think there's a market for such a solution for the iPhone and more so for the iPad, especially in business. What's your take on this?