Apple’s Unspoken Advantage: Lower TCO

Tomorrow is the big day Apple announce the iPad 2 and with too many articles reguritating the same content, I’m a bit taken aback at the complete lack of discussion of Apple’s big competitive advantage: Lower TCO. Yes, you read that correctly. The Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad have a lower TCO than the competition.

I buy a lot of content and I’ve come to one distinct conclusion: Over the lifetime of my consumer electronics device, Apple has a lower TCO.

For example, Peter Guber’s new book Tell to Win (in audio book format) is $20.95 in iTunes, and $24.50 on Audible.com (owned by Amazon.com). That’s $3.55 that I save by purchasing through iTunes, or 14.5%. This small difference adds up if you purchase a lot of content such as ebooks, audio books, music, videos, and so on.

While I have observed the lower price of content sold via Apple, my own purchase habits are obviously not a large enough sample size to qualify as conclusive research. However,  I would guess that a little bit of leg work and a representative sample of consumers would confirm my suspicions.

An Opportunity in Mobile Computing

An obvious and large opportunity exists in the mobile phone market. At present, developing mobile phone apps requires a development team to obtain specialized skills in either Java/Linux for Google’s Android or Objective C for Apple’s iOS.

A code generator that can output to both Java and Objective C, combined with an abstraction layer, would appear to be an obvious winner.

Clearly, this is a difficult problem to solve, but one that would none the less have huge market potential.

Update: July 16, 2010

OK, so I need to publish an update to this post. As soon as I clicked Submit I came across several companies that are going after this exact opportunity. So here they are:

Appcelerator’s Titanium: http://www.appcelerator.com (Open Source, licensed under the Apache Public License v2)

PhoneGap: http://www.phonegap.com(Open Source, licensed under MIT License)

MoSync: http://www.mosync.com

RhoMobile: http://rhomobile.com (Open Source, licensed under GPL v3)

I’m sure there are more, but this is what I’ve come across. Haven’t used any yet, so no feedback on which, if any, of these options are acceptable.

If you’d like more info check out Savio Rodrigues’ post on cross-platform mobile development using open source platforms: http://saviorodrigues.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/building-native-mobile-applications-with-open-source-mobile-platforms