Yeah, a variety of android phones have already sold millions. I also heard that Google has a new android phone too. Motorola and Sony are betting on android for their flagging cell phone fortunes too. It’s not going to kill the iPhone though. Or maybe I should say it’s not enough to kill the iPhone. Sure, consumers are going to be faced with a staggering array of choices and competition will be fierce. If you want to look at it as a zero sum game, China is the big winner because that’s where all these phones are manufactured. However, that’s not going to be how it plays out.
I’ve had some hands on experience with android phones and I think they are pretty cool. Certainly a much more enticing offering than a Windows Mobile cell phone. I’d rather use a Nokia from the 90s if that was my only choice. The android is open source and cutting edge (have you used the Google Goggles app?). Less restrictions. Even though it’s from google, the domination of the iPhone gives it that underdog appeal. In the end, there are people who are going to prefer the android over the iPhone just as a matter of preference. There are probably lots of iPhone owners using them despite hating Apple just because it’s the most compelling product out there.
Still, the iPhone has many distinct advantages even with Apple trying to exert an inordinate amount of control on what’s allowed on the platform to their own detriment. Let’s look at some of the advantages starting with the weaker ones.
This is probably a short-lived advantage. Sure, Apple might have ten times as much apps than any given android phone but half of those apps are Twitter clients and 90% are junk apps created from source code copied from Apple tutorials. The number of apps is something that will change dramatically when a platform takes off. It also doesn’t take into account the freshness of apps. If updates and new apps aren’t coming as quick as they used to, consumers will feel it sooner than the numbers.
This to me is the biggest advantage I see right now. Apple developers are keener to design and user interaction as a rule, especially the veterans with experience developing for the mac platform. Phones might rival PCs of a decade ago but the limited resources and interface quirks make it that much more important that developers can turn weaknesses into strength. I think Apple will continue to maintain a competitive advantage in this arena even as android continues to improve.
Economies of Scale
Apple has decades of experience building the whole package from software to hardware. It’s the reason why they almost went out of business. However, it’s hard to beat a company focused on quality with complete control from screws to pixels under the leadership of Jobs and Ive. While android may have an army of open source programmers, Apple has a wider variety of software spread out over diverse areas of expertise. Not only that, they have formidable retailing might with both stores and e-commerce.
Just looking at the OS, the foundation powering the iPhone is the same one powering macs and will be the same one powering the rumored iTablet. It’s such a rich playground for experimenting with interaction that one platform can’t fulfill. However, whether it be macs, tablets or phones, Apple can pick and choose what architecture to deploy on and that makes a world of difference.
All the handset makers may benefit from the common platform of the Android OS but they still make hardware separately.
The strength of android is strength for Apple whether it’s the raw competition or interface inspiration. Even macs borrow good ideas previously spotted in the Microsoft Windows world. Android phones will continue to get better and keep Apple on its toes.
In short, it’s full of win for everyone as long as you pick the right 2 year contract for you!