Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageiPhone versus Android. The choice between the two smartphone platforms is as contentious as the battle between being a Mac or PC person. However, thanks to the war emerging between Apple and Google, the battle is not just heated — it’s just plain nasty.

It’s no secret Apple was displeased when Google entered the smartphone arena with army of Android phones and an app market, recently rebranded as Google Play. However, it shouldn’t have been a shock either.

Those who have a disdain for Apple products — and there are a lot of people on the planet who fit that description, despite the seeming ubiquity of iPhones — had as much right to inundate their smartphones with apps as iPhone users.

Although the Android app market is still small in comparison to Apple — 70,000 to 230,000 apps, respectively — the Android market is quickly gaining ground in the world of mobile application development. Incensing Apple even further, many Android apps are free. Why pay $.99 for an app on an iPhone when you can get it for nothing on a Galaxy III?

As tech goliaths, Apple and Google have run into more than a few disputes. Remember when Instagram moved from iOS-only to Android? Apple recently unveiled its new proprietary Maps application, designed to supplant Google’s ultra-popular-to-the-point-of-being-de-facto offering.

In a similar move, Apple is removing the YouTube app from its phones, effective with iOS6. This probably won’t be enough to make people chuck their iPhones, especially since the app hasn’t been recently updated, but it might make consumers on the fence choose an Android the next time their contract expires.

It’s hard to say if these differences will affect the populace in any more than a divisive capacity. Even when it comes to price, there isn’t much difference between the iPhone and Android phones. The iPhone 5 is priced at $199 with a contract, which is in the ballpark of the Galaxy and other mid- to upper-range smartphones. The decision may become clearer as the dust kicked up by the iPhone 5′s release begins to settle, even though it will be stirred up again with the next major smartphone release.

So, who’s going to emerge as the winner? As much as Apple and Google want to think they have the power to destroy each other through the end user, the bottom line is Apple people are Apple people and Android people are Android people. It’s really not much different than the Mac versus PC debate.

Sure, you do have people who cross over — some Mac people have Android phones and some PC users have iPhones — but for the most part, people are loyal to their brands. If Apple or Google want to crush each other, they’ll really have to do it without the help of the consumer. However, if they both continue to play nasty games, they make themselves ripe for a third player to emerge on the scene and take a share of both their markets away. I wonder if Linux plans to enter the cell phone market…

26 Comments

Filed under Android, Apple, Connected Devices, Google, Guest Writers, iPhone

26 responses to “Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android

  1. Zooks64

    I”m pretty sure you Google Play and Apple iTunes app numbers are in error. The Google Play market is fast approaching parity with the iOS market.

  2. The future of smartphones is an interesting topic. I don’t see Apple as being at the top of that list. RIM has fallen and can’t get up. And Microsoft’s solution is still an infant with potential. Globally, I think Android will likely dominate, at least in the short term, but in the long term it’s difficult to say what will happen. Apple phones are beautiful devices, but so are Android phones. Brand-name loyalty will certainly ensure Apple always has a market, but their innovation seems to have reached its limit. Their latest release offers very little of consequence to most people.

    What we’re missing is the functionality innovations – the leaps in operational use that allow users to do more things with their mobile devices.

    Who will be the first to add infrared control as a standard in phones (allowing users to control their televisions without needing specific hardware)? Who will add customization user interfaces (allowing users to decide how their screens display)? Who will add tactile interfaces (allowing raised buttons to appear when needed)? Will NFC take off and become a desired utility (allowing users to make payments or upload data with a wave of their phone)? Will phones start to come stock with projectors? Will full integration with XBox or Playstation make a big difference? Will flexible expandable screens become a desired feature? And all of them appear interested in AI of some type, which will produce the desired results? Then there’s audio – and some manufacturers seem focused on pushing that to the extreme limits, making the screen itself into a speaker. And then there’s Google’s project glass and integration between those glasses and their phones may force Apple and others to compete.

    I think the smart phone world is poised to move on a variety of innovations that will vastly enhance the capabilities of the phones slated to come out in the next few years. Most of those phones will not belong to Apple. To keep up with this wave of new functionality, Apple will have to either jump on that bandwagon – and pay the patent rights to use them – or come up with an intuitive leap just as risky as their first iPod venture. Their fans will support them regardless, but the rest of the world will only support them if that leap is useful to them and something they can’t get elsewhere.

    Heck, if Apple put infrared and tactile into their phones, I’d even buy one. And a projector too? Worth it. Particularly if it can project a keyboard in addition to being used to project slides and video. But maybe these are features that don’t matter to most people. Only time and user adoption can tell that story.

    • Hey Writerdood,

      One of the best comments – EVER! Far too informative to let it sit in comments.

      I’ll post this in the AM as a special feature.

      Best,

      Bill

      • Thanks Bill. And I forget to touch on the Galaxy Note’s pen. The entire concept of writing on your phone is another feature to look at. A lot of people (myself included) love this feature. It’s one of the things I miss from my Palm. Sure, I can write on my tablet using my finger or a stylus, but the tip is too fat to see what I’m doing accurately. Will more phones of the future support proprietary pen devices for writing more accurately? I keep notes on my Nexus 7 daily, but it’s difficult. It would be easier with a Galaxy Note. So what will other phones adopt? It’s not as if this is new technology. It’s twenty years old, and phones still haven’t caught up to some of Palm’s features. Verbal dictation, however, seems far more accurate than it used to be, so perhaps people won’t want pens. The Note was an interesting gamble for Samsung. Personally, I’d like to see more phones and tablets supporting pen-based input, if for drawing than nothing else.

        • Hey Writerdood,

          Totally agree – pen input can often have major benefits. Would love to see more of this too. Maybe we’d see a resurgence in penmanship, huh? :)

          By now you’ll have noticed RedNightHawk’s personal response to your earlier comment. You may wish to counter respond but, in any event, I will be posting RedNightHawk’s POV in the AM as a followup to your “special feature” which I’ll post shortly.

          Best,

          Bill

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  4. Dave B.

    “I wonder if Linux plans to enter the cell phone market…”
    Mozilla does, http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/b2g/

  5. Pradip Shah.

    I was under the impression that Android was a derivative of Linux. The only error – Not error a blunder – made by Google was to opt for Linux , already bogged down with copyright lawsuits, in stead of a BSD variety. It is still not too late. In most cases the applications will run directly or be easy to migrate. The end result just may put more money in the pockets of Android manufacturers leading to even greater market penetration.

    For information of your readers an independent manufacturer going by the name of Micromax has recently introduced a model A100 sporting ICS, 5″ capacitive touch screen, front vga camera + 5 mpx camera with led flash, GPS and many more goodies for around US$180/- in the Indian market. BTW phones in the Indian market are NEVER tied to the service provider. The sudden surge in demand, if supplies keep up, will see Samsung literally pushed out from the top position.

    • Hi PM Shah,

      You’re right of course – Android is a derivative of Linux.

      I appreciate the info on the Indian market – I find it a fascinating marketplace.

      Best,

      Bill

  6. Hi Bill
    I’ve never owned an Android device before. Recently I bought a Google Nexus 7 tablet, and I’m pretty impressed. The interface is very good, a little clunky, but the speed of the device and the high quality components really make this a compelling little tablet.
    I bring this up in a discussion of smartphone because this device has become a proxy for a smartphone for me. The email client is excellent regardless of your provider, and you can run Google voice or Skype in place of a phone and it works amazingly well. Admittedly it doesn’t fit in your shirt pocket so well, but it the larger screen when surfing or doing emails is worth it to me. Right now I use a Verizon 3-G mobile hotspot but a tablet with a 3G/4G connection would work just fine as well. And compared to a smartphone plan it is relatively cheap compared to a smart phone.
    Mark

  7. jbe

    Sorry to counter what you said, but Linux has already entered the cell phone market. It goes by the name of Android.

  8. I’ve owned a Mac laptop for 6 years and never complained about it. I was always very happy with Apple and its quality,now I own an iPhone 4S as well. But last few months started changing my attitude towards that brand. First the patent war which is just too obvious to be considered as genuine concern about stealing someone’s ideas. Than the recent release of iOS 6 which has more bugs than actual improvements. I wish I’ve never updated my iPhone. And the war about the apple-like-names – this is simply abusing the position on the market. So Android really didn’t have to do much to gain some points – just to remain on the good level… Will be buying a new laptop soon and I’m almost convinced not to buy Mac for the sake of Apple recent attitude…

    • Hey Myfrienddoesthat,

      Have to agree – the patent war stretched reality. A bad business overall, I think.

      Best,

      Bill

      • delenn13

        Speaking of “patent war”…Let’s start a rumour.

        Star Trek is going to sue Apple….

        Brent Spiner claims ‘Star Trek’ invented everything, including the iPad – National Technology | Examiner.com

        As far as the subject, I use Android. I am not a “fanboy” of either. It suits my purpose and it was cheaper.

        I think all the companies need to pull their heads out of their butts and start listening to their customers. ALL their customers. If a customer just wants a phone to make calls..make the damn thing and call it something like “Grandparent’s Phone”. Make them hard to hang up too… I have one friend over 70 that when a call comes through, she always hangs up on them. Do they realize how many people would just buy that??

        Then you got people that want something out of “Star Trek”..Make one that will make coffee and serve it to me in bed..I am kidding..but..file that thought for later..when we get the phone/tranporter/replicator. Don’t laugh; I am sure it’s in the works

        Listen/ pay attention and don’t cost an arm and leg.. Got it, people?

        • Funnily enough there is an iPhone app that connects to a coffee machine and turns it on so you can have a fresh coffee ready when you wake up. And my grandfather already has got the “grandparent’s phone” with huge letters on the keyboard and very basic options. It’s not Samsung nor Apple though…

          • delenn13

            My coffee maker will make it for me. Still waiting for the “serve it to me in bed” part. :)

            As far as the “grandparent’s phone”..see..The big boys need to listen…. They need different phones for different needs…Not just the “next iPhone/android killer” phone.

  9. Let me begin, by saying I’m not picking on you (Writerdood), you raised some excellent points and even managed to do it without the fanboi attitude that so often needlessly pervades these types of discussions.

    “RIM has fallen and can’t get up…”

    I’m not so sure about that. I went to a recent BlackBerry Jam event in my area, and they demonstrated they have a lot of ways for developers to launch their products on their new BB OS10 platform (Android developers can port their apps over, and many, many other development options are available). I was surprised how many different ways people could leverage their existing knowledge to get into BlackBerry development. Here’s an article about an iOS developer porting their game to the PlayBook: http://kalogirou.net/2012/08/31/porting-your-ios-game-to-blackberry-playbook-and-future-bb10-phones/

    Don’t get me wrong, I had just about given up on them after years of frustration with OS updates that featured ever so slight loosening of the Java reins (Java!), and corporate thinking that showed just how out of touch they were with the new smartphone realities, but the move to QNX (BB OS10) looks like they got the message loud and clear and are ready to introduce a viable alternative to Android and iOS. Much like Apple, they also have a very loyal fanbase (though they lost some of them due to years of letting them down). Developers also make more money on BlackBerry since more BlackBerry owners actually purchase apps, so they are getting some quality apps ready for the upcoming launch.

    “What we’re missing is the functionality innovations – the leaps in operational use that allow users to do more things with their mobile devices.”
    “Who will be the first to add infrared control as a standard in phones (allowing users to control their televisions without needing specific hardware)?”

    Dammit. When I had a Palm PDA the infrared port was one of my favorite features on it. My laptop then also had an infrared port and it was nice to be able to communicate wirelessly long before the days of wifi. I do still miss it. That said, I don’t know if anyone will be willing to use the space in a modern day handset to add an IR port. With appliances becoming more and more connected, I would love to see a protocol to allow easy connection using existing hardware on the phone – bluetooth, or wifi. So many things could be done if people had an easy way to make their own drivers for hardware so they could do things like connect their phone’s keyboard to their TV over wifi.

    “Will NFC take off and become a desired utility (allowing users to make payments or upload data with a wave of their phone)?”

    I’m not hot on the technology myself, but one of the lead BlackBery OS developers is, and, as a company, they have invested pretty heavily in it being a selling point for their upcoming phones (and some current models). Apps have been made for payment and secured entry. Apple seems more intent on developing their own alternative and still haven’t equipped their phones with NFC ability. Some Android sets have it. It will be interesting to see how consumers embrace it (some people will, some won’t), and why.

    “Will phones start to come stock with projectors?”

    I’ve heard of a few of these, but definitely more of a rarity than something mainstream. I think this is an interesting thing – most people would say I have no need for a projector phone…but, the right app could likely make them think otherwise. A phone company that not only built the projector technology into their phone, but also paired it with well-made software that got people thinking about HOW they would use it (rather than if they would or not) would likely be able to sell it…by creating a market (more on this shortly).

    As you said though, so many companies aren’t innovating.

    Palm made devices I really liked – I would love to see a graffiti type app on some current touch screen phones since it’s still something I miss (I also had a nice folding keyboard that made it easy to travel with and setup a full-size keyboard on the go). But they reached a point where they were happy to sit on their laurels; where they not only stopped innovating, but stopped listening to their customers needs. By the time they started innovating again, it was too late. In the past, I’ve often compared RIM to Palm. This may be why you feel they’ve fallen and can’t get up, since they definitely went through a period where they weren’t paying attention to the right things. Apple now seems to be moving into that mode, as RIM moves out of it.

    A few years back I’d read about VMWare, the maker of the software that allows people to easily setup virtual computers on their existing OS and run a different OS on the virtual machine, working on a mobile version. That set off all sorts of daydreams for me about being able to have one piece of hardware that ran virtual machines which had different mobile OSes installed.

    I think, as you mentioned, it’ll be interesting to see how the mobile space pans out in the next few years. It’s definitely becoming more volatile as once main players can quickly and easily lose their spot. This oddly enough makes the current main players both harder to unseat, and more vulnerable!

    While companies like Samsung make 101 different types of phones, and ones like Apple make 1 type of phone (and keep old ones to sell off), what I’d like to see is a sort of build-your-own phone where you can custom order as if it was a PC or laptop (and let’s face it, nowadays the specs on phones are pretty close), choosing upgrades to the base RAM, processor speed, etc. and have an OS that can work with that.

    Back to my earlier comment about how the right app might be able to sell projector phones to the masses. One of the reasons I liked the Palm PDA so much was that I used to use it to write – I could take it down to the waterfront and write using the stylus and grafitti, or take the folding keyboard and sit in a coffee shop and type, then I could later easily bring the files into my computer and work with them there. Now, if you look at why more and more people are using smartphones, it isn’t because the hardware has gotten better (well, it sort of is – no one wants a laggy phone with a bad screen), it’s because they have an app or apps that make it necessary or desirable for them to have a tool that allows them to use the app where ever they are – it’s not enough to have a laptop because they need instant and convenient access to that app. The app might be Facebook, allowing them to keep in touch with their friends and family more so than without the app, it might be a combination of being able to take a photo or video and quickly share it online, it might be YouTube, it might be a good music player, it might be some custom work software (dispatch, some of the waiter/waitress order taking software, etc.), or a combination of all of the above. While you mention some hardware you’d like to see, I think a killer app that uses any new hardware will be the difference between people really feeling that the hardware is a selling point or not. And if there’s killer apps (more than one) for that hardware – more reasons to buy in, all the better. This leaves a huge (and much less expensive) area for innovation as well if the phone companies actually start making those apps (which in some cases, the OSes, especially when they first came out, felt like killer apps – they made you excited about the possibilities of how you could use them, leaving you imagining what you could or would do with them).

    P.S. In response to Grady’s question about Linux making a phone – I was discussing something with a friend a few weeks ago: I found it interesting that iOS is based on MacOS, which was derived/based on a Unix variation; Android is (as others have mentioned) a variation of linux, and QNX (RIM’s new BlackBerry base for the OS) is Unix like too.

    • Hey RedNightHawk,

      Beautiful! At 1400+ words, your “comment” is so much more than a comment. You have laid out your point of view in an instructive manner and we can all benefit from that.

      Since I’m running with Writerdood’s original comment as a stand alone post later today, I’ll follow that up with your point of view in the AM.

      Best,

      Bill

    • “While companies like Samsung make 101 different types of phones, and ones like Apple make 1 type of phone (and keep old ones to sell off), what I’d like to see is a sort of build-your-own phone where you can custom order as if it was a PC or laptop (and let’s face it, nowadays the specs on phones are pretty close), choosing upgrades to the base RAM, processor speed, etc. and have an OS that can work with that.”

      I’m completely on board with that idea. It puts the power in the hands of consumers where it should be. Why pay more for something you don’t use, and why not pay more for those things that are valuable to you. Modular design would enable this. In addition, consider what I mentioned about customization of the OS UI. Android apps include a variety of launchers, and some of these are beautiful. Some of them (I feel) should be purchased by Samsung and included by default as options. Why not let users choose how they want their main UI to look and operate? This is where I feel like MS has failed with Metro. When you want to change something, forcing a user to adopt to it is not the way to go. Giving them the option to try something different is fine, but give them options. The same should be true with smartphones.

      I loved my Palm folding keyboard. When I got my Galaxy I searched far and wide for something similar. I finally found this: https://writerdood.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/expandable-hard-keyboard/ (Written in my usual satirical fashion, sorry).

      For information about Tactis (if you haven’t seen it) Have a look here:
      https://writerdood.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/going-tactile/

      Tactis has me really excited. I hate flat keyboards. I’m hoping their technology takes off.

    • Oh, and in regard to RIM, I think you are correct. It is possible they could get their footing back. The company I work for continues to support BlackBerry. The BES security model is preferred by government and military agencies – although this is starting to shift a little – but right now, BB is the choice for a lot of these agencies because they can lock them down. RIM has the ability to get back up, so I shouldn’t have said they “can’t” get back up. But they’ve let things slide a lot, just like Palm did, and now they’re trying to play catchup in a world that has become far more competitive. They have a hard row to hoe at this point. And it will take more than just incorporating larger touch screens to fix them. Like Apple, they need to take a technological leap and give something to users that no other phone provides. Something they want, don’t know they need until they have it, and can use to enhance their daily operation. That’s the holy grail of mobile technology, I know. And it’s out there. But they have to reach for it and take the risk.