Perhaps we need to blame Apple for making computers and devices so easy to use that we no longer think about the OS, or maybe even cloud computing companies such as Salesforce for making Enterprise apps as simple as typing in www.salesforce.com into your favorite browser. I don't know, but a recent article on MondayNote, titled The OS Doesn't Matter, kind of got to me.
Perhaps Jean-Louis Gassee, the articles author is right. Who am I to argue? I can only offer another perspective and opinion. The first perspective I want to offer is that to the end consumer, I think Gassee is right—kind of. If that consumer is a consumer of apps as the world appears to be moving towards an app should be an app, just as a web page should be rendered the same on any browser. Unfortunately, we all know that isn't the case. The OS makes a huge difference.
Let's compare Apples to Apples (pun intended). Try going back to iOS v3 which did not support multi-tasking, and you will get what I mean. iOS v3 was a fantastic OS, don't get me wrong, but compare it to v4 purely in the sense of push notifications and multi-tasking and the app experience is massively improved.
The OS does matter.
Now if we look at something closer to home, Cloud Computing, the OS can make fundamental differences to scalability, cost reduction, and energy usage for example. Salesforce recently switched to Dell Servers running Linux for their data centers. Without such a change, could Salesforce continue to scale so well? Surely they could, but at what cost?
The OS AND hardware matters.
Salesforce's change to Dell Servers to dramatically reduce energy consumption as an example, touches on something else which I think Gassee failed to highlight: It is not just the OS, but also the device/hardware which makes a huge difference. It's about user experience. My iPhone is great. Compare it to surfing the web on my iPad, and again you get the idea.
The OS and hardware/devices DRIVES the user experience.
But I digress. The point of my rant is to highlight the fact that, although in concept Gassee has some great points however, the OS—and devices—make a huge difference. Whether it is from a usability standpoint or from a scalability perspective. If done well, the OS should be an enabler for innovation. In the case of Cloud Computing, Salesforce has leveraged the OS, and the Force.com platform to provide the means, the capacity, and the experience to allow consumers to focus on what is important to them. Yes, most of the time this is not the OS. Ask the majority of IPad or Salesforce.com users, and I would wager they don't know what the underlying OS version is.
Experience IS the Enabler of Innovation.
And that's how it should be. But the OS, device and platform capabilities do make a difference. It is what drives the innovation. We shouldn't forgot that. And you can't box innovation!