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MS software architect: Apps don't make the phone

This sounds an awful lot like sour grapes to me: Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software engineer, told a Professional Developers' Conference earlier this week that it wasn't the apps that would make or break the smartphone platforms. Of course, that's what most press and blog outlets seem to be focusing on (maybe because we all already know what the hardware is like -- apps change every day if not every minute, and the hardware only changes occasionally), but Ozzie says customers won't buy a phone for the apps. The biggest apps, he says, will eventually be available on every platform. To put it in as few words as possible, you'll be able to tweet from everything in the future.

And he's got part of a good point there: it's true, the major functionality of "killer apps" will be available across platforms. But Ozzie forgets (or is just ignoring) that that's already the case on desktops. While yes, you could claim that porting to the various smartphones is easier than porting to the various PC platforms, that doesn't avoid the fact that I can tweet, IM, email, browse, edit photos and movies, and do whatever else I want on both platforms as well. And for some reason (ahem, the hardware and the way both software and hardware are designed), I'd rather do them on the Mac. People love their iPhones not just for the apps but for the way it fits in their hand, and how just plain slick it is.

That's not to say that the smartphone platform war is over -- no way, it's only beginning, and we consumers will take innovative ideas wherever we can get them. But Ozzie saying the apps don't count (and echoing his fellow Microsofters in trying to separate Apple from their software strategy) seems to mean that even he thinks he's already lost that race -- they certainly do play a large part in which platform consumers eventually choose.

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