I ran across a post on Google+ recently in which a bunch of Android fans were essentially mocking and making fun of iPhone users.
Normally, this wouldn’t be worth discussing, but some of the comments passed over a certain line of decency – attacking the iPhone owner as much or more than the device. For example:
“He can harden up, stevie jobs has his (and the rest) balls in his purse. The softest wool ever!”
“IPhone = Smartphone for dumb people.”
What struck me as interesting about this is that I can’t recall ever seeing wholesale indictment of Android users from the iPhone community. There is respect that they chose the Android platform, and we can good-naturedly argue features and the like, but when it gets right down to it, everyone chooses what they like best for the reasons that are important to that individual. For anyone else to conclude that your smartphone choice makes you “dumb” is, well, dumb.
Android Is Cool Too
I happened to stop by an AT&T store, and they had a Samsung Galaxy S3 on display, so I killed some time checking it out. After 15 minutes or so of playing with it, I concluded that it was certainly a good-looking phone, and much, much better than some of the other Android phones I’d checked out. I’m confident that I could make it my primary phone with minimal effort and enjoy it as much as any other Android owner, but for myself and my family, the Apple ecosystem meets our needs much better – and I am including Apple TV, iPods, iPads, and my MacBook Air in that statement, not just the iPhone.
Fact is, I wasn’t originally going to buy an iPhone. As I mentioned in this piece, I was a PalmOS/Windows user until I took a leap of faith and tried an iPhone. I gave up my Treo (and my investment in apps and accessories) to go with the iPhone; I could do it all again with Android – I just don’t see what advantage I would gain by switching. Similarly, Android users don’t see any reason to switch, and that’s OK. You should use what works for you, whether it’s someone else’s preference or not. For some reason, however, not everyone is satisfied with that.
A Different Battleground
Interestingly, I don’t view this Android vs. Apple fanboyism in terms of Ford vs. Chevy, PC vs. Mac, or any other similar debate. Instead, I see it as being more analogous to Red Sox vs. Yankees. Let me explain why.
Red Sox fans hate the Yankees. They hate Yankee fans. They hate Yankee Stadium. They probably hate all of New York. Yankee fans? They don’t hate the Sox, Boston, or even Curt Shilling. The Red Sox are to a Yankee fan more like that little annoying brother whom you keep at arms length as he swings at you wildly with both fists. The whole “Evil Empire” nickname that the Boston management attached to the Yankees was almost a badge of honor instead of an insult. This feels like that. Those Android fans to me are the little brother that you can drive insane with just a few carefully chosen words about any iOS superiority. They have to prove 1000% that Android is superior to iOS/iPhone/Apple in every way possible, to what even a detached and uninterested onlooker must conclude is overkill.
Take NFC, for example. Android fans are slamming the iPhone for not having NFC while they have had it for over a year. However, when I’ve asked some of these folks what they’ve used NFC for, it suddenly gets a little… quiet. The only group to speak up are Galaxy S3 users who point to the NFC file transfer ability. When I point out that all the NFC does is negotiate a Bluetooth session to do the actual file transfer, suddenly NFC seems a little less like a must-have feature. As for mobile payments, only 23 merchants currently accept Google Wallet NFC payments today – and given that Microsoft and Apple are unlikely to adopt a Google payment system, it remains to be seen how successful Google Wallet will ever be. Even if Microsoft and Apple did get on board with NFC payments, it’s unlikely that it would be compatible with Google Wallet for several reasons. Nokia currently doesn’t support payments with their NFC-enabled phones. I have to believe that for mobile payments to be successful, they must be totally cross-platform – perhaps brought about by someone like PayPal or Square.
The one cool feature that Samsung supports with NFC is TecTiles – which can be programmed to do several things: Change your phone’s settings, share contact data (but only with other Samsung phones, currently, which negates much of its usefulness), send a text, or make a call, simply by touching your phone to the TecTile. I haven’t talked to anyone who has used this feature yet, but it does sound interesting, especially for someone who has to repeat one of these actions often.
Meanwhile, NFC has been the target of significant vulnerabilities on Android. At Black Hat in June, Charlie Miller demonstrated a hack that forced an Android handset to go to a maliciously crafted site and download malware – and all he had to do was walk by. The Galaxy S3 was found to be vulnerable to a hack in which attackers were able to download everything from the device – and NFC was one of the attack vectors. Thus far, there is no fix for this issue from Samsung. You’d think that NOT having NFC would be advantageous, but apparently it’s still considered a huge oversight by Apple as far as Android fans are concerned.
LTE was another major feature that Apple was decried for “being late to the party”, as many phones have had LTE for over a year. However, the vast majority of those phones had horrid battery life when using LTE due to inefficient LTE chipsets, and that would be a dealbreaker for Apple. Indeed, the LTE chipset used in the iPhone 5 is noted as being markedly more efficient than previous chipsets – which means that the iPhone 5 doesn’t have substantially shorter battery life. Late to the party? Perhaps, but arriving in much better shape. Imagine the uproar if the iPhone 4S had included LTE but only 30% of the battery life…
It’s All Good
To be sure, there’s no perfect phone, no perfect OS, no perfect company; Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, HTC, RIM, and all the other players have made mistakes in their pursuit of mobile phone excellence. No company will likely ever come up with a phone/OS combination that appeals to everyone in the world – and again, that’s OK. As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. You may rail against Apple’s “walled garden” App Store – but I prefer that to the growing malware issues that Android is suffering. Maps under iOS 6 sucks? Mostly, sure, but iOS 6 brought me integrated iMessages, so I can originate or answer iMessages on my iPhone, iPad, OR Mac. That’s not important to you? That’s OK. What IS important is that you have a choice. A lot of them, actually. And you can pick what works for you, not what works for the other guy.
So why do some folks get so hostile over it? Is this just a mob frenzy incited by ads (Droid, Samsung, Samsung, Samsung) from Android manufacturers? Use what works for you – be it Apple, Android, Windows Phone, or whatever. But I believe that we need to show more respect for others and their choices. Is that too much to ask? Can’t we all just… Get along?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Android fans are more than welcome to chime in!