Technology Wars

There is a battle brewing between technology giants that has huge implications, and you can see it everywhere you look.

If you’re going to the AHA Annual Membership Meeting next week in Washington, DC, make sure you pack an umbrella. I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion regarding the push for health IT and the expected ramifications of healthcare reform. And, just so you won’t get bored, the AHA has decided to spice things up by including forums with a variety of politicians and federal officials.

Now, on to technology. Is there anyone out there without a cell phone anymore? The Partnership for Prescription Assistance, or PPA, might suspect there’s not, as it now has available an application that provides information regarding low cost medications and free health clinics on mobile devices.

The application is available for the Blackberry and iPhone and both versions are available for download from the PPA website. On the Apple side of things, anyway, it appears to have been developed by Qorvis Communications, and is also compatible with the iPod Touch and iPad. More fodder for the debate as to whether the iPad is really just a spruced up iPhone.

But I digress… what I really wanted to write about today is the brewing battle between technology giants that has huge implications, and you can see it everywhere you look.

Take the iPad, for example. My desire for an iPad took a power nap when I found out that it doesn’t support Flash, which, as I’m sure you are aware, is all over the internet and compatible with virtually every other mobile device around outside of Apple products. Furthermore, I haven’t jumped on the iPhone bandwagon due to previous bad experience with AT&T. However, I have been shopping for a new cell phone recently, and nowhere is competition between platforms more evident than in the local T-Mobile store — the Apple/Adobe squabble is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The smartphones I had to choose from operated on systems provided by Blackberry, Google, and Microsoft. Blackberry doesn’t wander too much out of the cell phone market, right? Not so with Google and Microsoft. Or Apple. These three companies appear to be vying for tech-world domination, and the fronts these guys are competing in are so tightly woven that Shane Snow of Gizmodo has supplied readers with a map to illustrate the complexity.

Consider, too, that the map isn’t all inclusive. As we’ve covered before, Google and Microsoft are competing with services that Apple hasn’t attempted to date — think healthcare and search engines, for example. While rumor circulates that Apple may also develop a search engine, Apple’s marketing strategy to date has kept hardware and software more closely tied together.

Google, on the other hand, is coming out with its own OS later this year, to be sold in netbooks early in 2011. According to the powers that be, the netbooks are expected to cost effective because the Chrome OS is free (take that, Microsoft!). Furthermore, Flash will be native to not only the Chrome OS, but Google’s cloud-based platform (take that, Apple!), which makes Adobe happy.

However, while it’s fun right now to sit back and watch the wars unfold, how the ultimate battle plays out can have far reaching implications. With healthcare IT in its infancy, making decisions regarding technology in this climate is definitely not, as the politically incorrect saying goes, for sissies.