Thursday, October 20, 2011

I can't help it: Comparing iPhone experience to Android

Update 10/27:  This article puts some of my concerns well: Andoid Orphans


I have to start by saying this: I'm not an Android user.  What I have comes from marketing aimed at me, users around me, and some news on the net.  But I have these thoughts and this blog is where they come out.

Who else is successful at making a reasonable experience?  Palm and RIM.  They made the OS and sold the hardware but still the cellular carrier got their mitts on the user experience and OS a bit.

Apple came along and pried just about the entire experience away from the carriers.  The carriers do not focus on "the best user experience" the way Apple does.  AT&T did contribute something great - a network that supports being on the phone while using your cellular data plan.  Apple and AT&T partnered - AT&T got something - all iPhones have a data plan.  That was really new at the time.

This is what I see of the Android experience...

First, a lack of control of the experience:

  • Google makes the OS
  • Someone makes the hardware
  • The cellular carrier controls part of the experience (this is the old-school way of things)
Second, changes in direction that fly in the face of their marketing:

Google has aggressively marketed how Android is open source, and how much better that is than Apple's ways.  It is now closed source.  I feel lied to by Google's marketing, and I'm not even an Android user.

Third, a lack of updates:

I have heard from people around me and from news stories that people cannot upgrade to the newest Android OS version.  This sounds related to the first point.  This article says it pretty well towards the end: Apple aggressively markets IOS5 upgrades

Fourth is just general confusion:

If I wanted an Android phone, what should I pick?  Which is best for screen, battery life, and more?  There are so many choices... Is the best phone on all carriers?  When will who come out with the next one?  Does it have the right OS version?  Do any have any special integration with some features?  Are any missing any Google features?  Ugh.

Fifth is what I call "total packaging" and is perhaps an extension of point 1 in some ways:

This is perhaps an extension of control of the experience.  With an iPhone I know how I am going to:
  • Put music, movies, podcasts on my phone, and share them with my computer and immediate family
  • Buy music and share with my immediate family as needed
  • Make sure my phone is backed up and recoverable should I replace my phone even if I upgrade in 2 years - the path is already confidently defined.
  • Get support - at the Apple store (NOT THE CELLULAR CARRIER)
  • secure my phone (find remotely, wipe remotely, encrypt if I want to)
  • Get apps - a walled garden with some vetting by Apple for security
With Android I know I have more choices.  I have more ways to "normally" buy music and apps, sync data, tinker and possibly fix problems with my data I cannot fix on my iPhone.    

Google has all kinds of great services - like:
  • gmail
  • maps
  • google voice
  • search
  • google+
  • blogger
  • reader
Having them available on iPhone makes sense - it is a marketing tool for Google and drives traffic to Google search and other ways Google makes money.  But I do not know how there are special integration capabilities for Android and Google services that are better than they are for iPhone like there could be, flowing between them.

And if there is a problem, whose fault is it?  The manufacturer?  The carrier and their special additions to the OS?  Google?  Who is accountable?

Android phones just don't have the total packaging that Apple phones have.

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