AT&T has finally decided to support the Android operating system (Google phone). Being newly immersed in the mobile world of constantly-updated reminders, messages, comments, posts, videos, tweets, and shout-outs calls gives me this previously unknown insight into the importance of platform in people’s decision-making process- for many buyers software makes or breaks the deal, quite frankly. The corporate marriage (and divorce) party has caused this divide, and the ‘big two’ (Apple & Google) seem to stack up on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their app development procedures.
The big white fruit has chosen total software & hardware integration, which has essentially caused a vertical monopoly whereby Apple controls all of the soft and hardware development across the board. What does this mean? It means total compatibility for users, at the high cost of total monopoly. What’s the alternative? The mobile community would tend to see the Android platform as the opposite, embodying the open-development model- the underdog of the three major platforms out there (the third, and still most widely used in the states being Blackberry). UPDATE: Someone on facebook has said this far better recently:
“It depends on what sort of user you are. iPhones are great for business users and people who want a smartphone for its “cool factor”. What they are designed to do, they do well (except for make regular phone calls, if you’re on an iPhone 4 – Apple screwed up the antenna and it’s possible to lose signal by putting your finger in the wrong place while holding the phone). However, try to do anything Apple hasn’t signed off on, and you’re out of luck. Apple’s company philosophy seems to be that it is best to maintain control of every aspect of what a user can do with his or her device for its entire lifespan.
Android phones are more like computers – and linux-based ones, at that. They are the only choice for people who want limitless options, have a bit of technical know-how, and are willing to put up with the odd system crash (just like a computer) when they push the device to its limits. Unlike the iPhone’s, Android’s app store is not censored, and you can install apps from other sources to boot. The operating system itself can be modified or entirely replaced if you know what you’re doing. And out of the box, I’ve found Android does most things at least as well as the iPhone.
I have an Android phone – an HTC Desire – and absolutely love it. I loathe Apple as a company and find most of its products flashy, overpriced, and ultimately not worth owning. However, I am the sort of user who installs multiple modified operating systems on my phone – not Apple’s target market by any means.”
However – amidst this clouded debate over which is the ‘better’ platform, I propose an alternative model of thinking- that the choice one makes in mobile platform is almost irrelevant to the more pressing necessity of BOTH in the market simultaneously. Blasphemy, you say? Perhaps- but I think that in order for mobile tech platforms to progress, we actually need the attributes brought about by both in order to push each other into higher capacity. Apple offers stability, scalability, and a highly-supported system – at a higher financial cost; Google offers a more economically-friendly, open-ended platform that isn’t as standardized (much in the way Linux isn’t standardized). The Underdog pushes the Big Guy to offer more features (like flash support?) and a more open app market, while the Big Guy pushes back with their monolithic marketing power, forcing more progress on the Android platform. The same goes for blackberry; and this seems one of the only pro’s of this extreme form of capitalism in which we live: any time you’ve got multiple competitors its going to force them to fight for the customer’s dollar, while the market democratically ‘decides’ by ‘voting’ (buying) certain technologies.
All in all, I see the two (or three) models of mobile tech companies as encouraging digital democracy in the fast-paced age of handheld portable devices. May the best men tie.