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.

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