I’m often torn between the elegance of the Apple User Experience and the freedom offered by, well… pretty much anyone but Apple.
As you probably know, I’m a pretty big supporter of open source (hardware and software) and I’m also a Mac user, and more recently, an iOS user. Apple is pretty damn good at providing a great user experience with their hardware and software, and as it’s often said, most time things “just work” which is important to me, because I use Apple products to make a living.
As far as the freedom thing, I love freedom, and Apple isn’t the leading provider of freedom, so I live a life of conflict. Most of us do in some way… so be it.
As for the iPhone, there’s a lot about it to like, and truth be told, there are things to not like. I’m currently running an iPhone 3G, and I’d probably be a bit more up on the iPhone if I were running an iPhone 4. (The other day someone was recommending an iPhone to someone and said “It will change your life” which may sound far-fetched, but depending on how you use it, this can be true.)
The Android platform does hold some appeal, but I’m not sure if it’s enough for me to jump ship. I mean, Android has it’s issues as well, so I don’t even know that it can easily be said that one platform beats out the other.
Wired’s got an article about How the Android Ecosystem Threatens the iPhone which is worth a read. The graphs are worth commenting on.
As my disclaimer, I am not a “switcher,” and by that I mean, I was not a Windows user who eventually replaced it with a Mac. I’ve been using Apple hardware since the early 1980s and my first Mac was a IIvx. That said, I lived through the dark times of Apple in the 1990s, including Amelio, the clones, rumors of Apple’s death, etc. With that perspective, these numbers don’t look scary. There were (and are) way more manufacturers of “PCs” than “Macs” and 90% of the “PC manufacturers” made crap. Cheap crap that competed on price, each trying to be a bit cheaper than the other because they were all basically the same. Some were bigger/better than others (Dell) and most of them got around to following Apple’s innovations in hardware eventually. So the real question is, out of those 170 devices running Android, how many are awe-inspiring, and real competition to the iPhone?
Again, I’m no financial wizard, but to me I assume that 30% that goes to Apple helps maintain the iPhone ecosystem, the cost of running the App Store, future R&D, product development, etc. Plus, people hate carriers. I want as little of my money going to AT&T, Verizon, etc. as possible. If Apple gets it, I think I prefer that. As for the Android App Store, it goes to Verizon. What has Verizon ever done for you? What if you are a competitor to Verizon? And who runs the Android App Store, Google? Does it cost them nothing to run it? No, they’re just making their money elsewhere… (Advertising? Yup, we need more of that.)
This is the one I may be the most “meh” about. It seems to show the number of apps for Android increasing, until someday it will surpass the numbers of the iPhone. Again, if you’ve lived in the Apple world long enough, you probably remember back when the argument was “Windows has more applications!” and it was true, but it was also true that 95% of them sucked. Sure, there were 200 text editors for Windows, and if you were lucky, 2 or 3 of them were good enough to use. Meanwhile, Mac OS had BBEdit and tons of devoted fans. There were other text editors, but we had one really good one. It wasn’t rare to read a post saying “I’m being forced to use Windows at work, is there anything even close to BBEdit on Windows? Please??” This repeated elsewhere, and I think it shows the whole Apple cares more about quality than raw numbers when it comes to doing things. Sure, they want to sell a lot of computers, er, I mean, iPhones, iPods, iPads, but they also want them to be the best devices out there. I think it’s rare that the most popular thing is the best thing, and I think Apple knows that, and they’re fine with it. As for Android apps, I’ve read a lot of complaints about the quality of them, and the dubious nature of some of them (there’s money to be made with apps you know!) but hey, they say the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, right?
I’m eligible for an iPhone upgrade later this year, about the time the iPhone 5 is rumored to be released., but Android does have some appeal to me… I’ll get into that next time.