We are very excited to have Daniel Eran Dilger of Roughly Drafted Magazine guest-blogging for us today as part of what we hope will be an ongoing series of guest posts by the brightest names in Mac enthusiast blogging. We’re calling the series “Rabid Fanboy,” and when we approached Daniel he was extremely cool about the idea and was open to tossing around ideas for his guest post. I mentioned to him that I’d received a lot of nasty comments and hate mail on my recent post about Android, where I pointed out that Android is not really a platform at all and is already fragmenting into a zillion pieces. Daniel said he too was taken aback by the response to any attempt to discuss Android — there seemed, he said, to be an almost organized and concerted effort, perhaps funded by Google or its partners, or shadowy front organizations acting on their behalf, to stamp out any kind of debate on the subject and silence dissenting voices. Nevertheless, he told me he’d been spending a lot of time researching this subject lately and would jump at the chance to explain, in a very dry and analytical fashion, using lots of statistics and charts, why Android sucks donkey cocks and anyone who buys an Android phone is a stupid pussy who doesn’t deserve to have an iPhone. His excellent piece begins after the jump. Enjoy.
Android v. iPhone: A Calm, Fact-Based Analysis
Google released the first iteration of Android in October 2008 and today after two minor upgrades and one major upgrade (to v2.0) the software remains far behind iPhone in every important way. If you are only reading this to find out whether you should consider purchasing a smartphone that uses Android software, let me cut to the chase: The answer is no.
For those wishing to learn more about why this is the case, follow along. You should also consider reading my in-depth comparison of iPhone and Android, which I am providing in a series of 40,000-word articles. Following are links to Part One: The Platforms, Part Two: The Business Model, and Part Three: Advancing Technology. Parts Four through Fourteen will follow over the coming week.
But let us move onward. First of all, comparing smartphone platforms may seem like a daunting task, and we should acknowledge up front that no comparison is perfect and that in some degrees we are always comparing (please forgive the pun) apples to oranges. Also, in the particular case of comparing iPhone to Android the conversation in the marketplace of ideas has been clouded (intentionally so, I argue) by shills at Gartner and “journalists” at TechCrunch who have embarked on a fanatical crusade to smear Apple and spread misinformation about iPhone.
Who’s paying you off? Google? Verizon? Motorola?
In Gartner’s case this amounts to hilarious projections in which Gartner claims Android will outsell iPhone at some point in the future, a projection based on nothing, it would appear, other than Gartner’s own wishful thinking and decades-long hatred of Apple. At TechCrunch the problem is more serious as this “blog” has devoted itself to an irrational smear campaign against Apple that boggles the mind and has raised serious questions about the ethics of that particular site and its potential conflicts of interest in matters involving Google.
Perhaps it is just that some pundits want so badly for an “iPhone killer” to exist that they have decided to invent one. Or perhaps there are more serious ethical lapses involved. I am not saying that TechCrunch is being paid off by Google or by others in the Android ecosystem, though curiously no one at the blog has stepped forward to assert, on the record, that this is not the case. And an examination of past TechCrunch posts reveals an incredible pro-Google bias and curiously timed posts that seem to indicate a degree of collusion between the blog and its “sources” at Google.
I am also not alleging that TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington has a history of such collusion and in his previous career, as an attorney, was repeatedly sanctioned by judges for his improper behavior and only became a blogger because his license to practice law was suspended; I’m not saying that, and as far as I know, it may not even be true. But it is curious that a successful attorney at a leading law firm would go become a blogger, isn’t it? It is stranger still that this ex-attorney would devote his energy to spreading misinformation on behalf of Google — which happens to be a leading client of his former law firm.
Anyway, far be it from me to impugn someone’s reputation. So let’s move on, and stick to facts.
On the other hand, it’s not so complicated
The anti-Apple FUD and smears make things cloudier but it is possible to cut through the noise and find the truth. In fact there is one mitigating factor which renders the task relatively simple. Because what was once a highly fragmented market with many different competing platforms is fast becoming a binary market with only two platforms that matter: iPhone and Android. All other competitors, such as Palm Web OS, Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and various weird Linux distros, are already irrelevant. In this essay I will argue that the market has already boiled down to two players and soon will boil down to only one, because while Android right now enjoys a lot of buzz, the truth is, Android already has become as irrelevant as all of the others.
This has all happened before
It is best to begin the analysis by comparing the approach that Google is taking in comparison to the one Apple is taking. Google takes an open approach. This has all happened before. It was the case most notably in the PC market with CP/M and in minicomputers with VAX v. Ultrix v. generic SPARC-based Unix, where a platform tightly locked to an instruction set architecture was ultimately deemed to be less appealing for most users, the exception being edge cases in which polynomials were prioritized.
Also worth noting is that the name “VAX” was derived from Virtual Address Extension, which pretty much sums up why comparisons between VAX and Android, though commonly made by pundits at Gartner and bloggers at TechCrunch, are actually not appropriate at all.
There is only one Apple
Android comes to market from a number of handset makers, all with relative strengths and weaknesses and each with different priorities. Most notable is that none of these handset makers is named Apple. Thus none will provide a seamless end-to-end experience with a reliable, consistent framework for developers and end customers alike. Leading Android implementers include HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson. All have many years of experience in the mobile handset market with varying degrees of success and reputations for quality that range from poor to good depending on which shill analyst is writing the report.
At this point Android unit sales remain almost too small to measure and it is too early to determine what kind of post-sales service and support a customer could expect with an Android phone, except this: You will not be able to bring your Android phone to an Apple retail store and have it fixed or replaced. Because, of course, it is not made by Apple. This by itself is a considerable drawback and for many will be a deal-breaker. Plus, no iTunes. And no MobileMe.
Android = uncertainty
Let us momentarily set aside the question of whether an Android phone will successfully place and receive phone calls. Google claims Android phones will be able to do this, but your experience may vary. There is also considerable risk that an Android phone may or may not be unable to play music or videos. Please note: I am not saying Android will not do these things as well as an iPhone, because that is almost a certainty. What I am saying is that Android phones might not do these things at all. Or, on the other hand, they might. But that level of uncertainty should be taken into consideration when making a purchase decision.
The future: For Apple, bright; for Android, bleak
Another issue: the future. Let us assume for the sake of argument that Apple will continue to improve the iPhone operating system along with iPhone hardware, adding features at the same speedy yet sensible pace that it has maintained since the original ship date in June 2007. Apple, to its credit, offers no roadmap, an indication the company feels comfortable with the pace of innovation that it has set and can maintain this lead indefinitely.
Google, in contrast, offers no information about future plans. It refuses to say what upgrades it has planned for Android or when we might expect them. This lack of transparency is typical for Google and may indicate that Google is already losing interest in Android. As with many other projects, Google may just drop Android, leaving its handset maker partners in the lurch and customers with dead-end phones that are suddenly obsolete. Of course there is no way to assert with total confidence that Google intends to abandon Android. On the other hand, Google has not said that it does not intend to abandon Android. That level of uncertainty is something customers will have to take into consideration. Some may find they can handle the anxiety. Most, I suspect, will prefer the Apple approach.
This has all happened before
In 1992 Digital Equipment Corp. introduced its 64-bit Alpha microprocessor to great fanfare from shills and pundits including Gartner which called it “a revolution” and “the future of computing.” Some pundits, most notably Gartner, were quick to declare that Intel was dead.
However, this was not to be, as Alpha’s superpipelined, superscalar design and complex instruction formats — those who wrote for Alpha, or tried to, will recall its 6-bit opcode field and its nightmarishly bifurcated CALL-PAL subroutine format — presented substantial impediments to acceptance. Digital then was acquired by Compaq, which was in turn acquired by HP. Somewhere along the line Alpha got lost in the confusion. Customers who had jumped on the Alpha bandwagon found themselves stranded, with no support, no service. They were confronted with a painful, expensive migration. Just like the one Android users may face in the future.
Gartner and TechCrunch are lobotomized by their own hatred
The lesson of Alpha as it applies to Android should be obvious. Though apparently the similarity is lost on TechCrunch and Gartner, which continue to lash out at Apple with ever more hysterical tirades whose stridency only reveals their arrogance and bias.
For these pundits and many others like them, this irrational fear-mongering has nothing to do with facts. It is simply a matter of disliking Apple and passing off emotional responses as analysis. The sad fact is that these pundits and analysts suck as badly as their Android phones. Like those Android phones, they soon will be obsolete.