A week ago, I put together a roundtable about the upcoming mobile platform wars between the iPhone, Google’s Android, and older platforms like Nokia’s. One thing I discovered as I was organizing the event was that it was really hard to find anyone developing Android apps other than the 50 people who won the Android Developer’s Challenge. (We tried to get someone from Android on the panel, but Google declined to participate).
Most of the 20 CEOs, developers and VCs on the roundtable were more interested in the iPhone, Nokia, and other platforms that actually exist as something other than a software emulation. Their attitude seemed to be: Show me the phones.
Pandora CTO Tony Conrad went even further, saying, “I need Android like I need a hole in the head.” To which Michael responded: “As soon as it launches, you are going to be kissing Google’s ass and you are going to be launching on their platform.” Here’s a clip with Tony and Michael going at it:
Another debate was whether the iPhone is really anything new. AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui (in T-shirt) argued that it indeed represents a fundamental shift because it is the first time most people are actually using the mobile Web, regardless of how long it’s been around. (This was basically the premise of the panel). Skydeck CEO Jason Devitt (in striped shirt) pointed out that the existing mobile Web is already a fairly large market, citing a figure of $700 million spent on mobile games alone. Devitt, though, is old-school (he previously founded Vindigo), and even he admits that he doesn’t browse the Web on most phones other than the Phone:
[More videos after the break]:
One audience member, though, nearly lost it because he thought we were ignoring the reality of existing platforms:”It’s important to talk to people in terms of building businesses. Not just, whatever!”
Except that, we did talk about other platforms. CrunchGear’s John Biggs argued that all phones are becoming smartphones with similar capabilities, and ULocate CEO Walter Doyle explained the pros and cons of developing for the iPhone (you can experiment with cutting-edge features) versus Nokia (you can reach a lot more people)
Below is the full two-hour panel as captured live on UStream.tv (via regular video cameras) and on Kyte.tv (via mobile phones) (Note: The Kyte video is in segments in reverse-chronological order):