Wednesday Apple will be announcing the iPhone 5. It’s no surprise. And given the amount of leaks that have been out about the product, it’s probably not going to be anything too surprising. Regardless, I’m reading through the news today and every time I turn around, I’m reading about Apple vs Android. Google vs Apple. Apple vs Samsung. Over and over again I am hearing the comparisons and it’s always one side vs the other. How awful Apple is for being the company it is and how Google is just ripping everyone else off. Seriously. Enough is enough.
I am an iPhone/iPad user. I’ve had my iPhone for quite awhile now and it was the first smartphone I owned. Prior to that I was a Motorola Razr user and never even thought about getting any kind of smartphone. When the option came in at work for us to get iPhones, one of the guys got one and much like many were when they were first available, we were all pretty impressed at how well they worked. So, our whole group jumped on and got them. Since then, I have come to love using my iPhone. It works very well for the things I want it to do. I also have purchased many apps, movies, music, and books using the App store and thusly have a pretty large collection of “stuff” for my mobile device.
Not long after Apple came out with the iPhone, Google came out with Android and in no time flat, the phones followed. Realistically, the first Android phones sucked. They were horrid pieces of garbage and most people would agree that Google had a hard time getting their stuff together until eventually, they did manage to find a way to make Android work for them. Now there are plenty of Android phones out there that are just great and work very well for people. That being said, who did it first? Apple did. Apple chose to do something bold and came out with the iPhone and then somehow everyone else decided that what they did made sense so they made their own version of it. Have you seen what cell phones looked like before the iPhone? Was there anything on the market from anyone that was actually SUCCESSFUL that anyone was using? No. Apple initiated a fundamental shift in the way we use mobile phones. Android followed, as did the Windows touch phones as well.
I’m not saying Apple is better. I’m saying Apple did it first. I’m sure someone else out there can find some other obscure device that shows Apple didn’t do it first so for those people, I say Apple was the first to do it successfully.
Then let’s talk tablets. Prior to 2010, e-readers were really the only tablet device out there but they were all being used for only reading books. Microsoft tried tablets years ago but totally screwed themselves by trying to make them work exactly the same as a desktop computer. The product tanked and never worked as expected and thusly ended up in very niche markets and priced through the nose. Who wanted to pay $3,000 for a tablet computer? Just too much.
The e-readers from Kindle really brought the idea of tablets into the market. A company like Apple saw this and saw how they could expand their existing iPhone platform (iOS) onto something a bit bigger. 2010 saw the launch of the iPad. Then what happened? Oh ya, a whole ton of Android tablets came out something like six months to a year later and they all pretty much sucked. Since then, Android tablets have grown in maturity and now are quite viable and used by many individuals around the world. I have friends of mine who own both Android tablets and iPads. Once again, this is another example of where Apple was the first to do this successfully.
Now, with all of this being said, I’m really trying to actually hammer out two points. The first of which is no matter how much you love Android and talk about how superior it is to Apple (topic of next point), the one thing that Android fans cannot deny is that Apple did it successfully first. The entire concept of a “touch” based phone with “apps” did not exist in popularity or real use at the time until Apple came out with the iPhone. Regardless of how different Android phones are now, in the beginning, everything was being inspired by Apple’s original concept. They were the ones that pushed the envelope and said let’s try something different. I’m not saying that everything they did was right, but they did go ahead and make the first step. If someone hadn’t made that first step, everyone now might be using a Blackberry and we all know how innovative they have been.
I saw something on Facebook awhile back regarding the entire Apple vs Samsung business and I have no idea how accurate it is, but it did make me realize the direction things shifted to after the release of the iPhone. I think it would be a similar story for other mobile phones.
I might also point out that they were the first ones to come out with a tablet computer that was actually successful. You can argue all you want about fanboys, etc. But NO ONE produced a fully usable tablet type computer device that was widely accepted until Apple came along and did it. Now we see copycat tablets and plenty of others out there. No one else had that guts to just go for it and look at it now. Like it or not, the iPad is still the most popular tablet device in the world. It might not remain that forever, but Apple did do it first.
The second point of this has to do with the whole Android Vs Apple business. Who’s better, blah blah blah. You would think from my article so far that I would be anti-Android but in fact I am not. Yes, I am an iPhone and iPad owner but I am not anti-Android. I’m a fan of iDevices because I started with an iPhone, went to an iPad, bought music, books, and movies with my iTunes account and have no desire to try and start from scratch on a totally new platform like Android. If I was starting out today, I would probably look for the device that I like the most and then choose from that. I’d also be looking at accessories, and things that I might want to do in my home with some of these devices and make an informed decision. I can’t give an unbiased opinion today because yes, I am an Apple customer and quite frankly, I like being an Apple customer. I like the services and products Apple has offered and some are nice, some suck. It doesn’t mean I’m some huge fanboy, it just means I like what they make and it works for me. Why does that somehow make me such a “fanboy”. I also prefer A&W over McDonald’s and Coke vs Pepsi but there isn’t a big war over those is there? I actually also own two Blackberry Playbooks and I love them.
What I do have a problem with is constantly clicking on a news site and it’s yet another Apple vs Android debate and quite frankly, it’s getting old. The real bottom line here is that as long as the device or devices you own work, and do what you need them to do, that should be enough. But instead, people (and unfortunately now I must count myself among them) go on rants about why one platform is better than the other. I’m sick of reading how when a new device comes out it is going to “change everything”. The new Kindle stuff came out last week and now the news is all a buzz about how this is going to destroy the iPad. Then you read some of the comments and it’s one giant war of Apple vs Android and I can’t help but wonder why the hell I even bother reading the technology news.
It really is just like the early days of Mac vs PC all over again. Buy the product that will work for the individual it is intended for. Don’t buy a product simply because you buy into the hype (which I admittedly did) and don’t buy a product because someone else has told you the others suck. Be your own judge and pick something you like that works for you. After all, you’re the one that will be using it right?
So to finish this off, I’m going to provide 10 reasons why Apple devices suck, and 10 reasons why Android devices suck.
10 Reasons Why iOS Sucks
- You are limited to apps on the App store unless you jailbreak your device
- You cannot play your iTunes material on non-Apple devices
- You cannot use standard USB cables for charging your devices
- iTunes is a piece of shit software and should never have been written
- You are asked to agree to the iTunes TOS far too often
- Apple is just copying things Android did first
- The battery life of the iPhone is complete crap
- The app publishing process is a ridiculous nightmare
- The price of iDevices are far too high
- The cameras on the devices are always far too dated
10 Reasons Why Android Sucks
- There’s 1,345,654,324,342,556,321 variations of the OS so it’s impossible to make all apps compatible with all versions
- Apps can be installed from anywhere (because the platform is open) and thusly entire markets of “virus infected” malware now exist
- Android is just copying things that iOS did first
- The piracy of Android applications is 54747x times that of Apple
- They claim to be “open” yet much of the code used on many devices is completely closed
- Many iOS apps are not available on the Android platform
- Android can’t play any of the Apple media files
- Android is a stupid name for an operating system
- The app development platform is a ridiculous nightmare
- Google doesn’t “get” the use of a standard interface
Actually, I do have one more comment to make. As someone who does own Apple products, I am willing to go as far and say that although Apple came up with some of these great concepts, their lead time has now dramatically dwindled. Since the launch of the iPad, Apple has not really come out with anything that causes jaws to drop or people to go “WOW”. Even someone like me who loves his iPhone has been somewhat disappointed by the fact that I haven’t seen anything really exciting come form them in awhile (I also haven’t seen anything spectacular in the world of Android either). I think the playing field is pretty even across the board now that if either side wants to make a serious jump, they need to come up with something better.
UPDATE: September 20, 2012
Since writing this opinion piece, the iPhone 5 has come out and there has now been even MORE attacks on how “meh” the new phone is compared to Android. There doesn’t seem to be a day go by where I don’t see someone comparing Apple to Android and I am even more annoyed than I was when I posted this. On top of that, I’m seeing a lawsuit from Samsung against Apple for what appears to be some of the same things Apple tried to sue them for. I mean seriously? When is this going to stop. Enough is enough.
I am really sick and tired of constantly seeing people posting articles about how much the iPhone 5 sucks because Android does the same thing, or does it better, or has had it for a long time now. Android people always bitch about how Apple “fanboys” just buy because it’s Apple. It seems that an equivalent can be said about Android fans. They can’t seem to stop bashing on Apple fans. No matter what Apple does, whether it is good or bad, it is all bad in the eyes of the world of Android and quite frankly, I’m sick and f*cking tired of hearing it. Yes. I get it. Android did that stuff a year ago. Do I care? No. I use my iPhone and iPad quite happily and it works for me. Why is that such a horrible thing? Do you see me going out and talking about all of the major issues Android has had (viruses, malware, inability to update your phone, app incompatibility due to differing hardware, OS issues created by carrier modifications, and countless more)? No. I use what I use because it’s what I like and what works for me. Why is that such a problem for users of Android?
I will be upgrading to an iPhone 5 but not because it’s some fantastic new device or that I HAVE to have it. No, for me it’s simply because it’s been 2+ years and I’d like to upgrade my phone. I already own plenty of apps and other content tied to the Apple environment and I am not willing to re-buy all of those apps, songs, movies, books, etc, simply to switch platforms. On top of that, I have other iDevices in my home that I already have integrated together. Switching to Android for me would be a VERY costly decision and so for me, it’s easier to stick with what I already have given that I’ve made a serious investment in my mobile devices already. If I had a way to migrate all my stuff from the iOS world to Android and the device was as fluid and easy to use as my iPhone, I would gladly entertain the idea. But today, that’s not possible so I’m sticking with what I’ve put money into already.
Do I think the iPhone 5 is awesome? Not even close. I watched some of the liveblog stuff from the announcement and I kept waiting for them to announce something that was going to make me, and others, go WOW. But it never came. I think the real reality here is that Apple’s lead innovation time has now expired. Yes, they make really nice products, but the hard truth is that nothing they are releasing these days is innovative enough for people to go WOW and want the device for that feature. To use an overrated term, there’s no “killer” app on the iPhone anymore.
In the early days when Android was in it’s infancy, Apple had an edge but they have spent too much time just floating along and now the Android army has caught up and is now surpassing them. Despite their loyal fans, Apple isn’t really doing anything that you can’t get somewhere else anymore. At one time they were but that has now passed and I feel a bit bad for them. This is a company who really did revolutionize the world of smartphones with the release of the original iPhone back in 2007. But here we are five years later and another platform has taken what Apple did first, and improved upon it.
Moving forward I think the Apple vs Android debate will go the same way the Mac vs PC debate went. I actually do see Android as becoming far larger than it is today (which is quite significant) and becoming the sort of “PC” version of mobile where the iPhone will remain the “Mac”. Unless Apple comes up with something else that truly does revolutionize the smartphone/tablet world again, I believe that their popularity and innovation in the mobile world peaked with the iPhone 4. It is unfortunate but I believe to be the truth.