Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Chris Jenkins’ response to this post, in which he defends his iPhone: The iPhone that’s more amiable than your Android.
I see you there. You, clutching your lovely iPhone, your eyebrows raising incredulously above the edge of your shiny iPad. “Great, another zealotus tech nerd trying to rain on my iParade,” you’re thinking. Maybe. But maybe not.
Yeah, I work in IT. I have a geeky title (Business Analyst). I have a geeky degree (mathematics), I do geeky things (analytics, data mining, programming, business intelligence), and I even like geeky media (Star Trek, Firefly). And I’m partly biased, in that I use the geeky mobile operating system, Android. But I’m also partly unbiased, because I’m a die hard Mac guy, too (I’ve used them for the past eighteen years). So, I’d like to think I have a little latitude to tell you, disbelieving “i”Fan, that the green robot is here and he’s ready to take iOS’ name. Here’s why:
- It’s all about the coders, baby. As sweaty Steve Ballmer will never let us forget, it’s all about the developers (Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!). Android applications are basically written in Java, a programming language used widely by everyone from hobbyists to multinational corporations. iOS applications are written in Objective-C, a language used widely by Apple. It’s not that it’s a bad language, but a lot more people already know Java than Objective-C. The barrier to entry is just that much lower.
- The iron curtain. Publishing in the iPhone/iPad store is like publishing in a fascist dictatorship. You submit your work to a hidden cabal, which examines your work and compares it to a semi-secret blacklist of banned things. If you’re lucky, after a while, the censors will deem your work acceptable — unless they later decide it’s verboten after all.In contrast, publishing in the Android Market is like publishing in the free world. You submit your work, and a short while later it’s available for everyone. End of story.
- Here, there, everywhere. There are dozens of phones and tablets that run Android, but just one that runs iOS. It’s a lot easier to get someone to buy any of the various Android-powered devices, from the company and with the features and design of his or her choosing, than it is to get someone to buy the one particular device offered by one particular company that runs iOS.
- Come on, it’s from Google. I love Apple. They produce great hardware, and they’ve made some great software. But I really love Google. And one of the things I love about Google is their ecosystem of interlinked cloud products. My contacts are stored in Google Contacts, and my mail in Gmail. I use Google Talk to chat online, Google Voice to make calls and store voicemails, Google Maps to find my way around, and Google Reader to read my RSS feeds. Oh, and let’s not forget a little thing called Google Search (you might have heard of it).All this stuff? It’s instantly available anywhere I can get an Internet connection, and I can get into it using any device of my choosing. Apple just doesn’t have the Internet presence to compete with this range of powerful, intertwined products.
- Its the 60s again. At the end of the day, information wants to be free. Android is open source and is based largely on free components (Linux, Java, etc.). Furthermore, it has a strong supporting community. Blogs and forums full of dedicated Android developers abound, discussing the minute details of how to get the most out of the system and lending a hand to newcomers wanting to join the fray themselves. The whole platform encourages experimentation, free expression, innovation, and cooperation.
Apple’s iOS is the polar opposite of Google’s Android in many ways. While its community of developers is doubtless as friendly and open, iOS itself is closed, so only Apple can develop it. iOS is based on some free components, but also a lot of proprietary ones. It’s a tightly controlled system. The benefit of this closed environment, I will admit, is a more cohesive and “pretty” experience — Android apps have an unfortunate reputation for not being as “shiny” (i.e., refined) as their iOS counterparts. But, this tight control just does not create as free or inviting an environment. By not letting people involve themselves in the system as deeply as they want, Apple inherently shuts people out and innovation down.
And that’s just it: An open, enticing platform is going to win in the long run. While both Android and iOS have the technology, Android has the people and the excitement. No amount of “pretty” is going to win over “fun” and “open.” That walled garden may be carefully pruned and cleaned, but who wants to get stuck behind a pretty wall? I’ll take my chances walking free in the public park.
Filed under: Technology | Tagged: Android, Apple, Google, iOS, iPhone | 2 Comments »