The bulk of the discussion is over who will dominate in mobile apps. To which platform will developers flock? Who will have the most apps? Who will be most expert at app monetization? To me, this entire discussion is missing the point; because it ignores the most important application on your mobile phone.
The most important application on your phone is the browser!
Hasn’t the web taught us anything? The web obviates the need for many (and eventually most) applications by enabling them to be delivered from “the cloud” through the browser. When we look back in five years, I think we will see clearly that the app. phenomenon was a temporary bridge to a rich, and highly functional mobile experience dominated by the browser.
You can replicate just about everything mobile apps can do in a browser. In some cases you can do more in the browser. And as Java, Flash and other browser display technologies continue to roll-out, the browser will only become more powerful. And as 4G networks begin to roll out the browser will have the advantage of a fatter pipe. Fatter pipes shift the economics of app development away from edge processing and toward the cloud. The mobile web also has huge advantages for application developers; no carrier approvals, no app store approvals; totally open.
Apple’s issue is not whether Google will surpass them in the mobile app battle, but rather the speed with which usage will shift from apps to the browser where Google has substantial advantages in delivery infrastructure and monetization (search and display).
Just my two cents. What do you think?
(Cross-posted @ Non-Linear VC)