i'm writing this entry just to get it out of my nervous system. i'd much rather talk about technology than market trends; however, this one has been bothering me and i wonder if anyone else sees this: iOS is closed. You cannot (without significant effort) run emacs on iOS. You're not supposed to run JVM on iOS. This may be a defining characteristic that determines the bulk of its competition with Android and other OS's.
What made the Apple recovery possible, in my mind, was the openness of Mac OS X. It was Unix-based and it was full of open source. This won the hearts and minds of developers who were not in the immediate Apple family. Since the recovery we see the development of the iPhone, and we see a move away from this openness. It is at least plausible that on a phone (where reliability may be an issue of life and death or other mission-critical factors) more control over the OS is a reasonable stance. Further, when we look at the lead iPhone has over other SmartPhones/OS's it's likely to be a tenable stance for some time in the future. However, when we look at the touchpad applications things change. There is no mission-critical argument. These are leisure computing devices even more so than laptops. Hence freedom of development trumps any sort of control arguments.
When we look at this in the context of what's happening with the development communities we see that Apple is moving behind the curve. The developer world is moving towards functional languages as a palatable solution to deal with the concurrency requirements from above (Apps must be web and mobile) and below (hardware is multi-core-per-die chips bundled into machines that are bundled into racks...). What is enabling this move for developers is the ubiquity of robust VMs (JVM, .net, LLVM). The iOS is taking a step back from these enablers which means it is taking a step back from the platforms that developers are moving to in droves. That's very dangerous for the class of computing devices Apple is spearheading. That's where i think the Android OS has the most opportunity. Android on a larger touch device allows for a whole new world of UI and application design and supports the new world of development techniques that are emerging to meet this opportunity.
i have been so impressed by Apple. They have amazing design sensibilities. They get computing-as-lifestyle better than any other company. It would be very sad for them to have to play catch up in this space. They're much better as leaders than followers. Control, however, has always been their Achilles' heel. Part of being a truly great leader is enabling others to do great things and one of the most important ways of doing that is allowing people to work the way they want to, including using the tools that give them leverage.