As a general rule I try to avoid historical comparisons until they become blindingly obvious. The reason is I find it too easy to draw inappropriate conclusions from just a few similarities.
That's my mind set when reading this quote from Silicon Alley Insider regarding Google's Cell Phone platform Android...
But someone who's actually seen the gadget -- similar, if not identical to the one in the photo -- tells us that both the hardware (from handset-maker HTC) and Google's Android software suffer from a similar problem: They're technically powerful but not as elegant as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and OS X.
Anyone who remembers back to the mid-to-late 90s will remember that exact same phrase being attributed to Microsoft Windows. Time after time Windows was derided as an inelegant solution and time after time it managed to best the Macintosh in sales.
So the question is: Will Android Manage To Do The Same Thing To The iPhone?
There are a lot of factors that point to that being the case. Google has managed to co-opt several of Microsoft's best tricks including licensing their OS, embracing Developers and inserting Apple's features into a less elegant package. It would seem to be PC vs Mac all over again.
But at this point, I still don't think so.
Google's sort of like a little league baseball player. They've got the right moves but they still need to be able to execute on them effectively. Google has, as of right now, not managed to effectively execute on any of it's goals beyond its initial victory in Search. An especially sad record when you consider they give everything away for free. So while they can mimic Microsoft they haven't shown they can turn that into the same success record.
Beyond that they're lacking a few key advantages that Microsoft had in the PC wars. First, Microsoft started with the support of all the major players while Google lacks support from all but the small, no name providers. The "license the OS" strategy only works if you can achieve critical mass. In addition, Android doesn't have price to fall back on. Though the iPhone is still far more expensive than Android phones are expected to be AT&T has stepped in with a contract to remedy that situation.
That means consumers will see roughly the same price when they go to buy.
So while Google might seem to be employing a historically successful strategy that isn't necessarily the case. It just looks that way because of a few well placed similarities. Android could still defy the odds and become a hit but only if Google quickly manages to become a lot more like Microsoft of old.