Today’s myth has brought up quite a stir in the community recently. The Android vs iPhone war is bringing a lot of people back to the Mac vs PC wars of the 90’s. So what’s the myth today? The ol’ “it’s one device vs a million” cover.
“Of course android has a greater market share. If I gave away a bunch of phones for free it’d sell better than the iPhone too even if they were crap. You’re comparing a phone to an OS, that’s not fair. How many android phones are beating the iPhone. Zero. Developers would rather develop for one phone than a hundred that are so severely fragmented that half the apps don’t work. Also, Google makes NOTHING on their phones. Apple makes a killing on the iPhone…” (goes on to make nerd jokes and the whole “all Android users still live with their mothers” thing)
It’s beautiful isn’t it? While yes, both of these parties have these people, the fact that the competition is so good that these people exist is great for business. While it’s easier to see competition helping in Android than iOS (only because Android is updated more frequently), both parties should be thankful for the other. Without this kind of competition our phones wouldn’t be half as good! Enough drooling over the free market…
“You’re comparing a phone to an OS, that’s not fair.”
I see this comment a lot, and honestly, I’m really confused why the hard core Apple supporters continue to use this. Yes, iOS is only on one mobile device (technically more if you count the fact that the iPhone 3G is still being sold). Yes, it is true that if you include iPods and the iPad iOS probably has a greater user base than Android. But that’s not what this war is about (at least yet…Tablet wars are definitely in the future). This war is about which company can put more phones in people’s hands. We (as in the Android community) are not comparing a phone to an OS, we’re comparing a mobile OS to another mobile OS. It’s Apple’s choice to only sell one device. It’s a great thing for their bottom line and right on par with the company’s brilliant business strategy. However, the fact that Android phones are now selling faster than iOS phones (note, iOS phones, not “the iPhone”) means that the market is shifting to Android and away from iOS….Which brings me to my next point:
“Developers would rather develop for one phone than a hundred”
This is false, and precisely why market share is important. Think about it this way: You’re selling girl scout cookies. You have the option to sell to one neighborhood that is admittedly, much more prone to buying your cookies. Or you have the option to sell on a county level. Which would you pick? Anyone with an understanding of economics would pick the latter. The larger your market, the more opportunities you have to make money. This is why developers think Android will be the best to develop for. It’s the same thing Apple did to RIM. Why would anyone choose to make an app for Blackberry when they can make it for iOS and have an audience that’s many times larger. If you look at it from a third party point of view, those companies will back the OS that has the most users. It’s exactly what happened during Mac vs PC. Only now (with Apple’s impressive growth in Mac sales) are programs being developed for both (here’s to hoping Engineering software will soon be brought to my Macbook Pro!). It’s a vicious cycle. If you fall behind in market share companies stop developing for you. If they stop developing for you, you lose customers (market share). The cycle continues and continues. It’s what happened to Apple computers in the 90’s, it’s what’s happening to Palm and Blackberry now, and it’s what happened to the PSP in its early scraps against the DS. Do I think this will happen to iOS? Absolutely not. iOS is too good and has too large of a user base to be pushed out of existence. However, it should worry the iPhone crowd that as Android continues to dominate you may have to worry about whether Andoid apps will be ported to iOS instead of the other way around.
“…so severely fragmented that half the apps don’t work”
There are two ways to answer this. First, I could make the point that most apps require 2.1 or higher, and 80% of Android users have at least 2.1. Secondly, I could bring up the notion that most of the people who REALLY care about their phone aren’t on the few that are running something under 2.x. The small share of Android users that are obsessed with their OS probably own the latest and greatest Android phone. Does my mom care that she has 2.1 on her phone? No. I don’t even think she knows what that is, let alone when she’ll be upgraded. The fact of the matter is is that the majority of the market won’t care if they have an older OS than the person sitting next to them as long as their phones work. Will older phones be useless eventually? Yeah, I can’t argue that the few people that are still running 1.5 are probably running into a lot of problems. However, the amount of people upset with their 1.5 phone aren’t even CLOSE to the people who have an iPhone 3G and are upset with how iOS 4 crippled their phone. It is important to note that not ALL iPhone 3G’s are slowed to a crawl with iOS 4, but the product was widespread enough that Apple is still offering fixes and updates to help out. 4.3 is MUCH better than 4.0, but a lot of 3G users still say that the problem is getting better, but not fixed (this only caught my attention because one of my good friends has the iPhone 3G problem and sent me this funny video to explain to me why she was praying that the iPhone 5 comes soon). I’m not pointing fingers, I’m pointing out that EVERY technology company has this problem; it’s just pointed out with Android more often because of how quickly it upgrades. Is it a “bigger problem” on Android than on iOS? Yeah. But it’s not half as bad as anti-Android enthusiast claim it to be, and whatever OS camp you reside in has the same problems.
“Also, Google makes NOTHING on their phones. Apple makes a killing on the iPhone.”
This statement is true. Apple makes a lot of money on their phone sales, Google makes next to nothing (if not nothing) on the their phone sales. However, unless your bottom line depends on Apple’s, this means nothing in this debate; but that’s for another time. The fact of the matter is is that these are just different approaches at making money. Apple’s business strategy is probably the best of any company out there right now; I can’t think of another company (except maybe Nintentdo) that is having more fun rolling around in their money. They make a lot of it. Google isn’t exactly hurting though. While Apple banks its earnings on the immediate sale, Google looks more long term (and even if you like Apple’s strategy better, you have to admit Google as a company knows what it’s doing…how often do you use Yahoo search?). They know if they put the device in your hands, you’ll buy apps, you’ll search, you’ll hit ads, you’ll use Google appliances, etc. Apple takes the “less devices, more money per” approach and Google takes the “more devices, less money per” approach. Both work in their own right. Apple has been doing it for years and they’ll continue to be immensely successful at it. They’ve never given a crap if Macs beat PCs in sales. They could be selling one Mac for every 400 PCs for all they care, as long as that one Mac is still pulling in as much money (and probably more) than the 400 PCs. Same with iOS. Apple users are so excited to have been the top dog in OS for once. They fail to realize that that’s not Apple’s business strategy. iOS will more than likely not be the most used OS in the mobile world at the end of the day, but who cares? Apple will still make a killing on the large market they still have. If you don’t believe me look at video game companies. Nintendo is the only company that makes money off selling its consoles. They make money on every DS and Wii they sell. They’ve been around for years, clearly their strategy works. Microsoft and Sony (Sony especially) take HUGE hits when they sell a console. Before costs were reduced, Sony took some $100 loss for every PS3 sold. They banked on making money once the device was in the consumers hands. They’d buy games and other services to negate that loss and eventually turn a profit. Both Sony and Microsoft are still around, so clearly their business strategy works. Just because you don’t agree with a business strategy doesn’t mean it isn’t successful. Tell either Apple or Google that they need to rethink their business strategy and they’ll walk away laughing.
Anybody can take facts and spin them towards their preference. The original quote was taken from someone who took facts about Android/Apple and spun them towards Apple. I took the same facts and spun them towards Android. The fact of the matter is is that neither of these companies are in any danger of being phased out. Android has a lot of work to do before it truly passes iOS as the preferred OS, but at the same time iOS has a lot of catching up to do to be able to compete with the innovation of Android. This is how competition works. Now, as a consumer, sit back and reap the benefits; whichever device you prefer.