Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple v. Android: Bang per watt

August 13, 2013: 11:52 AM ET

Integrated software and chips could give Apple a 6- to 18-mos. edge, says Steve Cheney.

Cheney

Cheney

FORTUNE -- "We've entered the age of iOS and Android penetrating beyond mobile," writes GroupMe's Steve Cheney in a provocative post that introduces a benchmark I hadn't considered before: Bang per watt.

"For non-mobile (plugged in) devices," he writes, "Android + ARM is 'good enough' and will win much of the market globally in terms of embedded OS's."

He envisions Android replacing Linux as the open platform of choice for what he calls the Internet of Things -- modems, robots, televisions, automobiles, traffic lights etc.

But for battery-powered systems, it's a different story.

"Mobile computing is not about being good enough overall, it's about being good enough per watt of power consumption. (emphasis his)

"Integrated [hardware and software] from Apple will likely retain a performance edge -- they will be constantly optimizing multi-core chips for performance per watt and tweaking software like they have on iOS 7.

"Who knows if Apple will be 6 months ahead or 18 months ahead at any given time, but it's a good bet they will be in this range. Low power needs will drive convergence in design."

Cheney, an occasional contributor to TechCrunch, also evaluates Apple's prospects in mobile commerce -- i.e. paying for stuff with a smartphone or smartwatch -- and concludes that Android's increasingly fragmented ecosystem may trail Apple by 12 to 24 months, at least in high-end markets.

This is smart stuff. Highly recommended. Link: On The Future of iOS and Android.

For a bracing update on the current state of the worldwide market, see Benedict Evans' Defending iOS with cheap iPhones.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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