I read a very interesting article today and I really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed most about the article was the fact that this guy seemed to really hit the nail on the head about what should dictate which platform you should choose. His point of view was very in the middle and he made a very good point.
The jist of the article is that if you don’t own an iOS or Android device yet, then the choice is entirely in the air and you can simply try out whatever devices you like and the one that you like the most wins. The other side was if you were already an owner of a device on either platform, it’s probably best for you to stick with that platform. Now, this isn’t always true, but the more I think about it, the more it made sense.
I’ve had discussions with friends who are big Android players and they always tell me about how my iPhone is crap because blah blah blah. It’s usually the same arguments I see all over the web about walled gardens and lack of openness and so on. I’m not going to get into that discussion but I would like to present a point of view that is a bit in line with what Mr. Kingsley-Hughes is saying.
I got an iPhone through work when the 3G was released. At that time, Android wasn’t even worth looking at. Even the most diehard fans of that platform can admit that the early versions of the OS was complete shit. Apple had a huge gain on anyone in the mobile market at the time and it took a long time for Android to catch up, and now perhaps in some areas, exceed what Apple had started at. Regardless, the iPhone 3G was the first smartphone I ever owned. That was around five years ago. Since then, I have upgraded twice to an iPhone 4, and now an iPhone 5. As a tech-head, folks might wonder why someone like me would stick with a device that seems so anti-customizable vs the open Android platform. In the end, it comes down to one very simple concept addressed in the previously mentioned article. I started with an iPhone.
In the roughly five years I have owned an iPhone, I have gotten used to, and enjoy the way it works. I’ve paid a considerable amount of money for apps on my own phone as well as my wife’s iPhone and the iPad. I’m in that world and have enjoyed being in that world for sometime now. Given that I have already invested a good chunk of money into that platform, and I’m quite content with the way it works, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to jump ship to Android because some people claim it’s a better platform. To give you another example, I present to you the very old argument of PC vs Mac.
In the world we live in today, desktop and laptop computers are mostly running Windows with Mac, Linux, and other OSes taking up a small portion of the market. Why do people choose PCs over Macs? I would bet that in most cases, it’s because that was the technology they were introduced to first. Many folks who own Macs have owned them all along and that’s the only thing they have worked with until they HAD to use a PC. For most Windows users, they have no reason to switch to Mac because for them, there’s nothing overly compelling that makes them want to switch. Those that do switch do so either because they have come to despise the Windows environment, or an application they need is only available on the PC. The same might be true for those who switch from Mac to PC.
The same is now true in the world of mobile devices. If you started with an iPhone, odds are you’ll probably stay with it and the same is true for Android. Yes, for some who feel Apple has fallen short on the innovation train (which I actually agree with) you may opt to abandon the platform, but I would bet by far and large, most people stick to what they know. I know this because the market share never ever went towards Mac. It stuck with Windows. There’s a reason for that. People like what is familiar to them. People do not like change and this is still true with their mobile devices. Yes, Microsoft won with their marketing of Windows so we saw it everywhere, but how many people do you know that started on a Windows computer, jumped ship and went to a Mac? It’s not a large percentage. I’d bet the number is even smaller of those who started on Macs that went to a PC. People stick to what they know and like.
The other point on this discussion for me has to do with actual reasons for switching. As someone who is fully immersed in the iOS world, for me to switch to Android, or any other mobile platform for that matter, there has to be a good reason to jump ship. Android lovers will always try to sell the idea that Android is an “open” platform so you can do whatever you want with your device as a reason to switch. They’ll talk about how Apple’s walled garden makes it “impossible” for you to do many of the things you want to do and that this should be enough reason for you to jump ship. Lastly, they’ll mention how much more advanced the hardware is for Android devices compared to iOS. A lot of the newer mobile devices have a lot faster CPU & RAM than many of the iOS devices and thusly, this should be enough reason for me to jump ship. Android fans will also list off “dozens” of features that Android can do that iOS can’t do, but will conveniently forget to mention the things iOS can do that Android cannot. In that regard I see it as being a level playing field but in the hardware and open platform debate, I can see their point. I however have a different view.
If I’m using a device I am comfortable with, the apps I run on it run very well and very effectively, and I am perfectly happy with the apps I have available to me, how does any of those “advantages” to Android actually help me? If I find the apps on my iPhone launch and run very fast and quickly, how is having a faster processor going to help me? Instead of it taking 1.5 seconds to launch an app, it takes 1.25 seconds. Does that really constitute a “need” to switch platforms? CPU & RAM enhancements are fine if you are running applications that require excessive CPU & RAM. I would argue that because Apple has such strict criteria on what apps can go on a device, they insure that only ones that will provide a quality experience pass the test and get approved. Therefore speed issues don’t really account into the equation.
A person has to really evaluate exactly what it is they use their device for and how well they use it. If I really like the way my device works and how I interact with the OS and the apps on it, any “new” device I get needs to be able to provide that exact same experience as good if not better than what I am used to. Beyond that, any new device has to “wow” me into wanting to change.
What I am really trying to get at is that if you take the best Android device and the best iOS device and put them side by side, much like what Adrian is talking about, they will compare quite evenly. Some things will work better on one vs the other, and some features will differ on each device, but at the end of the day, there’s no “killer feature” that exists exclusively on Android that makes a user go “WOW!” and their jaw drops and realize they NEED to switch today. Yes, I know that some of the Android phones support things like NFC which doesn’t exist on iOS, but since there’s no real standards for that in place yet, it doesn’t really help gain any credibility to Android’s support of them. And yes I’m sure some of the Android fans out there would point out other “features” that are nice that iOS lacks, but I would always come back and say that it’s more icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Little things are nice but if I’m going to abandon a platform I have invested a considerable amount of time, and money into, there better be a real good reason to do it.
Both platforms perform very well but there’s no killer apps or killer features. Think about the reaction the world had when the original iPhone was released. That was a game changer. Before then, smartphones looked like a Blackberry. Look where we are today? People saw what Apple was doing and went “WOW! We need to do something like that.” and now look at the mobile world. If all of a sudden Android phones came out with some sort of holographic projection phone calls, now THAT would be a WOW moment and something to consider jumping ship for. Letting me play my music or videos on certain models of smart TVs is not a killer feature. It’s called Airplay and iOS has had it for some time. It always seems that one platform releases a feature and then shortly thereafter, the other platform releases a similar app. The turnaround time is usually very quick. How long did it take Android to get to where iOS is today? It didn’t happen in a couple of months. It took several years. I’d love to see Android do the same to Apple because then I would seriously consider switching. But as it is now, it’s the status quo. Copy the same stuff your competitor made, say it’s better and now you’re even. Both Android & Apple are guilty of this but it still doesn’t yield the “killer feature”. When is Android finally going to do something that’s over the top and make people go “WOW!” like Apple did when the iPhone was released? If the feature is awesome enough, I’ll jump onboard.
Apple’s innovation has definitely died off in the last little while, but ultimately, I haven’t seen anything that jaw dropping from the Android community yet. If you want folks to switch from iOS to Android, you need to give them a killer reason to do so. Right now, it’s really just more of the same.