iPhone or Android? A geek dilemma

iPhone or Android?
Original graphics courtesy of Apple and Google

When the Head Apple officially unveiled the long-awaited iPhone 4 this week, my first reaction was excitement: Finally, I can upgrade my first-generation iPhone.

But I have begun to have doubts about the Apple brand. It is no longer the little elegant train that could.

Instead of being that cute rainbow-colored Apple encouraging me to “think different,” it has become a dominating media presence that threatens to control the entire media chain.

Consider:

  • Overall size: Apple has surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization, and its revenue is growing faster than Microsoft’s. In the second quarter ended March 30, Apple reported $13.5 billion in sales, a 49 percent increase from the same quarter a year earlier. Its profits nearly doubled as well.
  • Music: Apple controls 70 percent of the digital-music market and had 28 percent of all music sales in the first quarter of 2010. The iPod’s tight integration with the iTunes music store guarantees it will continue to push toward monopoly status on the digital-music front.
  • Portable devices: Not only does the iPod dominate the mp3 player market with almost three-quarters of the total market, but its Touch incarnation allows it to make serious inroads into the gaming market. One analyst declared the iPod Touch as “the most dangerous thing that happened to (game) publishers ever.” From 2008 to 2009, the Apple iOS grew from 1 percent of the gaming market to 5 percent.
  • Magazines: Apple has already sold 2 million iPads, and some magazines are reporting vibrant app sales. Take Wired: It has sold as many iPad apps as print subscriptions.
  • eBooks: With such vibrant iPad sales, Apple hopes to duplicate its digital-music success in the eBook realm. Already, Apple reports 5 million books have been downloaded, which equates to about 22 percent of the eBook market.

Which bring us to mobile phones. The Blackberry RIM operating system still dominates the market, but the iPhone has moved firmly into second place with almost a quarter of the market. However, Google’s Android operating system has begun to gain some traction.

The dilemma for me isn’t about technology. It’s about openness. Do I continue to go with an elegant yet closed system, or do I support the open-source Android that better embraces the ethic of the Web?

I put the question to Twitter and Facebook and received some surprising responses:

  • “Leaning towards Android due to Google Apps. Have iPhone 3GS now, iPhone original as well”
  • “I’ve got a 3GS and am looking forward to the OS update. Other than the OS, the new iPhone isn’t very compelling for me. I will say, like the bottom of your article, that the open nature of the Droid is making me lean that way for my next phone.”
  • “I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have a Blackberry, I am planning on giving it up for an Android.”
  • “I’m going to stay brand loyal. iPhone has better battery, app store, and design.”

That last comment hits my conundrum squarely on the head. Over the past two years, I have become an iPhone addict. I love the simple OS. It has become my primary audio device, news reader, Twitter client, and phone. It is by my side throughout the day.

Do I continue with what has worked well for me, or do I challenge myself to change systems for the long-term good of technological innovation? Your thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “iPhone or Android? A geek dilemma

  1. Great post, as I’ve been debating the merits of Droid vs. iPhone within the confines of my own twisted head. The iPhone for the hype and sheer awesomeness? That’ll take 13 months (when I can get out of my Verizon contract). The Droid? Users seem damn loyal to the system. Good to get the input. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the note, Uli. There are many great posts comparing the merits of the new smart phones (the HTC EVO is getting rave reviews), but I had seen only passing references to Apple’s growing dominance.

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