Android and iPhone: A Tale of Two Articles

On what should have been a quiet Saturday, a pair of reviews/articles showed up online that provide an interesting counterpoint to Ray Walters’ The Android Army is Rising post.

On the one hand, we have Jason Kincaid’s The Switch From iPhone To Android, And Why Your First Impression Is Wrong, appearing in TechCrunch. Mr. Kincaid makes what should be an obvious point, but one that gets overlooked a lot — your past experience has an impact on your view of the present. The crux: long-time iPhone users will need some time to get used to Android, and off-the-cuff reviews don’t give reviewers that kind of time. This is no different than if, say, I were to try a Palm Pixi for a day or two and offer up a review, as it would take me more time than that to truly appreciate the differences between WebOS and Android.

On the other hand, we have “Boy Genius” (not sure his real name) and Google Android Personal Thoughts, appearing in his Boy Genius Report blog. This article shreds Android to bits. Some of his complaints are valid and oft repeated in Android-land, such as the limitations of the Android Market. Some of his claims are unprovable (e.g., “No one gives a crap about their Android phone, there’s zero emotional attachment” with nary a sign of a statistically-valid survey to back up the point). Some of his claims may be provably false (e.g., much of his rant on the icon sizes is false for Android 2.0.1, and I can replicate the experiment on the 2.1 SDK once it arrives).

The thing that struck me the most about the two pieces, though, were their respective tones. The pro-Android TechCrunch article was calm, professional, and fairly succinct. The anti-Android screed comes across like the worst of the “Android Army” rants that Mr. Pogue complained about — I can almost feel the spittle coming out of my monitor. Had the tones been reversed, I would have been upbraiding Mr. Kincaid. As it stands, Boy Genius is welcome to reach his target audience however he wishes.

The point is that, for Android to succeed, we need more sane discourse and fewer rants and diatribes. This is why I railed against those launching personal attacks and spamming Android Market comments in the Cyanogate mess from 2009. I know that the “Android Army” modus operandi is sexy, and I’ve been known to brandish a verbal gun myself from time to time — I am trying my level best to improve. But ordinary people will not be impressed with an unruly mob, if that’s what Android fans come across as.

We can do better than that. We have to do better than that.

  • Wii60

    As mentioned in an article earlier this week, Apple operates via leaks. The news agency or blog gets a ton of views on that leak and thus want to be in apple's good graces.

    It's all about the money, you can't blame these blogs for doing it, the money is too good. What you can do is keep your mind open and read between the lines.

  • Burke

    I think something that's getting over looked here is the frustration android users feel when it comes to iphone users. Not all but MOST iphone users don't know a thing about other phones and believe they have the best phone possible because people say they do. Typical android users do their research and are a more techy group of individuals, and we get frustrated with having to listen to these arrogant uninformed people try and say why there phone is better. So I think eventually we all just blow up a little sometimes when we read articles where we feel people have as you said, not givin themselves time to fully appreciate the android OS, but immediately compare it to an iphone and say its lacking. They don't get a genjuine feel for the OS befcore writing it off. Idk, just some thoughts.

  • Anand

    For Android to succeed, it's probably got to sell a lot more phones :-). Personally, I am an Android guy, and recently switched from the G1 (running the excellent Cyanogenmod) to Nexus One. However, one has to wonder what Apple's doing right. Keep in mind that till a few months ago, the iPhone could not do a simple copy/ paste, but it seemed not to matter. It still can't run mulitiple apps, and that seems to be OK by the users.

    As far as I can tell, there's no letting up in the momentum of the iPhone's popularity. Yes, I would like to see Android succeed because I believe in its ideals. At the same time, to know the enemy is to defeat the enemy. Ranting against the iPhone is not going to bring it down. However, if we take a moment to think about why it's succeeded perhaps we can gain useful insights.

    • daniel rosales

      Why does ithave to be an us against them thing? It is my belief that the iphone paved the way way for the android phones. The android will be fine. More and more phones are coming out and the buzz is growing. Relax, enjoy your phones.. enjoy the revolution

    • Fredrik Olsson

      For a starter an Android users do not need a few weeks to get used to an iPhone. The iPhone is obvious from the get go.

      How? By doing less. Figure out what 90% of your customers want, and execute on that perfectly. Sometimes it is better to not have a feature such as cut-n-paste then to have a bad implementation of it.

      Then add polish! Make sure that what you have shines. The lack of bounce when scrolling lists to top and bottom on android makes the UI feel rigid. A small detail, but add them up and it matters.

  • I am a constant “chameleon” travelling seamlessly between mobile platforms, but I also do between Windows, MacOS and Linux. The only thing I haven’t tried is WebOS, mostly due to a lack of native apps and a sound strategy to support them. I notice among friends and colleagues an almost religious “rage” when it comes to iPhone vs. other systems, be it Windows Mobile or Android.
    One of the reasons is of course that Apple made up the word “Evangelist” first in the industry. And its secrecy, pseudo-myths and mystery about inventions or patents may only be topped by a sect or cult such as Scientology. Indead, there seems to be Appleology having bound and bespelled Millions. The plattform not being open to third party vendors may be tempting at first sight, but if you look at the 10 biggest companies in the world with Microsoft and Google among them (no idea where Apple is but clearly way behind at least Enterprise vendors like Oracle and IBM or competitors HP, Dell, Samsung, Nokia or Sony) an open platform can’t be all that bad.
    Considering critizisms about the maturity of the platform, keep in mind, that the iPhone 0.5 was the Newton around 20 years ago and that 90% of the current XCoder type of SDK existed on NEXTStep by Steve Jobs around the same time!
    Some of the aging steps you see from Android 1 to 2.1 or G1 to Nexus One took Apple at least 15 years or longer. And back then Palm fans probably smiled at Apple Newton and its lack of greater installation base. Compare that to iPhone vs. WebOS now;-)

    • Tim F.

      "The plattform not being open to third party vendors may be tempting at first sight, but if you look at the 10 biggest companies in the world with Microsoft and Google among them (no idea where Apple is but clearly way behind at least Enterprise vendors like Oracle and IBM or competitors HP, Dell, Samsung, Nokia or Sony) an open platform can't be all that bad."

      You really should have looked. I dismissed you after mentioning Scientology, then I laughed at you when you claimed Apple is behind Dell. Apple is only behind Microsoft and Google (and only 2 billion in the case of Google, having crossed paths a couple of times, they are virtually equal). Apple is 20 billion larger than IBM, 50% bigger than both Oracle and HP, and six times larger than Dell. Try again please.

  • Make something simple to use..Make it beautiful to the eye and hand; make it work, flawlessly..Then have the others catch up…Apple appeals to the senses, not to a class..So keep chasing your King, loyal subjects..

  • Androidawg

    The frustrating thing is having people who have no idea how what an OS is on a phone tell me that they have the greatest phone on earth when I know I can do things with my Android that they can't do with their Iphone. Iphones are pretty, and the learning curve is as minimal as it can be. So accountants and middle managers everywhere are going to flock to the Iphone because that is the one they can figure out. I prefer to work with the more powerful unit, even if it takes a little more work to figure everything out.

    • bureau13

      The thing is, these iPhone users either don't need to do those things, or don't know they need to do them. While one might infer a level of tech or at least phone savvy behind the typical smartphone user, the iPhone has really moved beyond that. It's also the "it" phone for people who would rather be seen with what is perceived as the best than be seen with something that makes people go "WTF is that?" And, it IS and intuitive, and more or less works flawlessly. After months playing with my G1, my 11-year-old daughter played with her uncle's iPhone for about an hour and is now telling me she "has to have one." Not me…I love all the things the Android phone does that the iPhone doesn't, I love the open source and hacker-friendly confines of Android-land, and I would much rather someone look at my phone and say "WTF" than simply see I bought what everyone else is buying…but I do realize I'm not like everybody else. IMO what Android needs right now is a simple basic phone, powered by Android, that lots of people will buy because its cheap and easy to use. I don't want that phone…I want the high-end, do-everything phone. But I want all those other folks just looking for a cheap, easy "smartphone" to get what they want and help push the platform to where we all think it belongs.

  • bummer

    I read the BGR article and it was just distasteful.

    By the way…. me 3.5 year old boy plays with my G1 and is quickly learning which buttons to press and which not to, maybe he is the boy genius…….

  • bertramdevoul

    @Androidawg I challange you, to do ONE thing, you can, that I can’t..(yes I Iphone, all day everyday) I challenge you to show where and how you have such an almighty more powerful unit…and keep it tech..wouldn’t want any accountants or middle managers adding their two cents in..nothing personal purely technical…show up, or shut up..

  • jjroni

    I love ghetto people

  • TareX

    I read BGR's personal thoughts… I have to say, I agree with the true parts… But until iPhones get:

    – Homescreen widgets, customizable icons and homescreens.
    – Non-obtrusive notifications and a notification bar.
    – Proper Gmail integration
    – Flash
    – A keyboard for emulators
    – A front cam for video VOIP
    – Multitasking

    I will keep looking forward to an Android… But surprisingly, I agree with most of BGR’s rant. I want a beautiful phone, with a beautiful OS, and beautiful apps…. So far, not a single Android has all three. Maybe Android 3.0 will… who knows. I’m waiting for Tegra 2 to hit smartphones anyhow…

  • Steven

    Personally, I thought both articles had a bit of "fan-boyism" to them. Calling "kicks the pants off…" calm and professional??? You need to take your rose colored Googles off.

    Both platforms have their strengths. Openness and configurability goes to Android. Programming community/monetization (yes, sad but very true) easily goes to the iPhone. Both have weakness. Susceptibility to phishing and worms (this is the cause of Programming going to iPhone IMO) goes to Android and lack of background tasks/overall configurability goes to iPhone.

    Now, if you are into the hole "Google Services" thing, Android is a clear pick. If you aren't, Android can be a real pain.

  • Thanks for educating the busy consumer. The business is so tricky and thunderously canning, it is difficult to pick the right one in the market. But, a caution here and warning there would sure to make the credulous consumer smarter. Good work, keep it up.

  • Android & iphone are really the tale of two products.Before Android,iphone completely captured the market and there were no competitors for it.But now Google Android is strongly reducing the market of iphone.