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Could Android ennui boost iPhone 5 sales?

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The iPhone 5(s aapl) is likely almost here, and for at least a few people pondering a new smartphone purchase, it’s already better than the alternatives, sight unseen. Two bloggers explaining why that might be caught my eye today, and since I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy S II for the past couple weeks, I have a few thoughts of my own to add to their excellent points regarding why an iPhone 5 is already a better prospect than any current Android(s goog) phone.

Inconsistencies and the app problem

In a post on his personal site, Mark Polino lists six great reasons why his next phone won’t be an Android device. He cites some very technical problems, like the fact that a lot of apps grow in size as you use them, and can’t really be trimmed because data gets stored as difficult to remove data instead of in an easily clearable cache. But he also points to more obvious practical issues, like the fact that finding accessories for your specific Android device may be difficult, and even if you can find some, the range of choices just can’t compare to those that are available even for Apple’s older phones. Some of Mark’s issues come from using an older Android device (the original Motorola (s mmi) Droid), but most apply in a broad sense to the OS as a whole.

Even if you do figure out how to root, you can run into problems with some devices and apps.

Over at ZDNet, blogger David Gewirtz posted a very similar lament about his decision to stick with Apple smartphones, despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to be that big of a fan of the iPhone 3G he currently owns. Gewirtz has a very different list of 10 reasons he’s going with Apple over Android for his next device. Some highlights include inconsistent user experience across devices, inability or difficulty of upgrading if you’re not a technically proficient root user, and malware issues, which Ryan Kim recently pointed out are a growing problem for Android devices. In all of the above examples, iOS offers a better alternative; that’s not the lopsided view of a fanboy, it’s just the truth.

Once place where there’s overlap between both Polino’s and Gewirtz’s perspective is on the subject of apps. Android has many, but Apple has more, and as Polino notes, marquee apps tend to hit iOS first, and Android second, if at all. Apps also aren’t necessarily compatible with all, or even most Android phones when they do come out. I had to hunt down a copy of the official Netflix application outside of the market, because my GS2 wasn’t recognized as supported.

There’s also the problem that Android devices ship with lots of bloatware, a problem ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes also pointed out today. Apple devices don’t have to suffer the same indignity. Apps also aren’t necessarily compatible with all Android phones when they do come out

Not stagnant, but repeating mistakes

I’ve only taken a few examples out of the thorough lists provided by both Polino and Gewirtz, and it’s well worth checking out the rest. But even if you only consider the issues highlighted, I think you can start to see how Apple might benefit from, rather than suffer because of, the aggressive spread of Android over the last few years. The problem is that Android hasn’t done enough to smooth over its faults, and the ones that remain could cause a migration to Apple’s side of the fence, even if Android’s lower cost of entry and greater range of hardware choices proved the jump-start needed to get more cell phone owners on smartphone devices.

The Samsung Galaxy S II: Good, but only as good as Android allows it to be.

Don’t get me wrong, Android hasn’t been stagnant over the past few years by any means. The Samsung Galaxy S II phone I’ve been using easily beats my Nexus S on most measures, and even that device was no slouch. But even though it’s an impressive piece of hardware, the GS2 still suffers from the problems mentioned above. I recently tried to figure out how to update Android to 2.3.4 on my international unlocked version and was left pretty much confused, for example, and seeing battery life take a huge hit, then having to dig through running processes to find out why, didn’t provide a positive experience.

I was definitely impressed with the device in the short-term, but I can see how, after owning one for a year or longer, these and other issues with no fix in sight could dull my enthusiasm. There are often third-party solutions or tweaks that can fix areas where Android is deficient, but over time, finding and implementing these can become a chore.

Taking the easy way out

It’s not exactly inspiring to think that Apple’s biggest advantage in the smartphone war could be due to to customers growing annoyed with the alternative, but it also isn’t a new phenomenon: Apple positioned OS X as a better Windows (s aapl) alternative based on similar circumstances. OS X continues to gain ground, and while Apple might’ve started on top with Android and then suffered a modest fall, it’s beginning to look like the tide could turn in its favor once again.

31 Responses to “Could Android ennui boost iPhone 5 sales?”

  1. I am an iPhone user since the 3G. But my 4G sits in a drawer, replaced by my Thunderbolt. There are plusses for both, but more misses for me with the iPhone. I probably will never go back to the iPhone due to lack of Flash and relatively poor navigation and also lack of voice input. The iPhone is definitely better built, but it just doesn’t meet my needs. I get a new phone every year anyway.

  2. Apple hopes that will happen and it very well could. Time will tell. Apple already has the better apps, closed store but the quality is better.

    AppTank for app development

  3. John Harrington, Jr.

    Whether consumers decide to buy an iPhone over an Android is entirely their decision. A smartphone should be picked based on what is going to do for you, and we all know certain phones are better for certain things. What cannot be overlooked is the need for businesses to take a proactive approach to managetheir full mobile infrastructure, and the quantifiable business value that they experience as a result. Learn more from this webinar recording:

  4. They are both good operating systems. I think this is article is a little biased against android though. That fine, he has his opinion. I myself am more excited for the Moto Bionic or next Nexus phone with Ice cream sandwich. Different strokes for different folks.

  5. This does not shock me. Many people that I know who bought android phones (in particular the galaxy line of iPhone-esque handsets) returned them an got genuine iPhones. The reasons ranged from incomprehension on how to work them to not being happy with the thin plastic shell. All cited the lack of wanted apps on Android and the fact that even if an app has been remade for them it is often far worse than the iOS equivalent e.g. Facebook. Whilst I briefly considered switching before getting an ip4 last year, the apps just weren’t available which I need.

    Now I also own an iPad 2 the convenience of iCloud and iOS5, with it’s notification centre, wireless updates and syncing, infinitely better hardware and more consistent experience is hard to argue with, unless you like tweakig with your phone to the exclusion of all else. Also, my work let’s iOS devices connect to the network and support working on iPad, but they don’t support Android so I’d be forced to carry a full laptop.

  6. inconsistent user experience? How many GD phones from different manufacturers is a single person going to use at one time anyway? There are many phone vendors who make Android phones, so of course their phones are not all exactly the same. But that makes no difference since a given user will only be using one at a time anyway. This “list” is absurd. Difficulty upgrading if your not a root user???? What? What does that even mean? Upgrading what? What a laughable, biased, POS article.

    • I think he refers to updating of the android os itself, as most android phones can’t immediately be updated when google releases a new version of the OS!! Sometimes they have to wait months on end for the new version or the manufacturer just releases a brand new handset instead and they get nothing! Glad that on iPhone you don’t have to worry about scams like that.

  7. Vladimir Rodionov

    The only feature I personally need from phone is ability to make calls. But this feature must be perfect. Both Android and iPhone fail miserably in comparison with old good LG Musiq (Sprint phone). Another feature I need from phone/provider – robust coverage, great voice quality and 0% of dropped calls.

  8. Jozozovko

    You wrote “There’s also the problem that Android devices ship with lots of bloatware…”
    As if the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, doesn’t come with preinstalled apps that you can’t ever delete. I would say a very large majority of my iPhone user friends rarely ever touch most of those “bloated” Apple apps they force onto their device.

    • Seriously? My iPhone “bloatware” was Phone, Calendar, Contacts, iTunes, App. Store, Notes, and Settings. Not like my last Windows 6.5 phone that had, easily, 30 useless trial apps.

  9. Luís Marques

    If you wrote a story on how Android is gaining a kind of momentum that not even an iPhone 5 could stop, I guess that kind of self-fulfilling prophecy would happen too, just by word of mouth.

  10. If people in general were annoyed with Android, wouldn’t they have switched to iPhone already? I mean, there’s nothing in this article that explains why the release of iPhone 5 would cause some sudden shift in market share.
    Besides, these are the same arguments people were throwing around just before the release of the iPhone 4 and its Verizon counterpart. In both cases, Apple saw a nice bump in sales, while Android was left unaffected.

    “OS X continues to gain ground, and while Apple might’ve started on top with Android and then suffered a modest fall, it’s beginning to look like the tide could turn in its favor once again.”

    Well, first of all, iOS never suffered a fall. Sales of iPhone has increased considerably every year. It’s doing fine. It’s not going away. It’s also not going to catch up with Android. Android phones are simply a larger market.

    And secondly, hasn’t the tide for Android always been just about to turn?
    If it’s not malware it’s fragmentation… or lawsuits… or Google getting too much involved in the hardware… or Google not being involved enough… or some new OS that is supposed to replace it… or the next version of the iPhone that for some reason will have everyone flocking to iOS…
    And yet, Android’s market share is growing by leaps and bounds.

  11. >>>
    He cites some very technical problems, like the fact that a lot of apps grow in size as you use them, and can’t really be trimmed because data gets stored as difficult to remove data instead of in an easily clearable cache.

    From Settings, Applications->ManageApplications, select the app and you can click on the buttons to “Clear Data” and “Clear Cache”. Not too difficult now, was it?

    Can you run Rage HD on the iPhone 3GS? No. You have to run Rage. Can you run any app that uses a magnetometer on earlier iPhones? No. You could install Netflix from outside the Market. Can you with the iPhone? You can get free apps from Amazon daily. Do you have that option on the iPhone?

    I moved from the iPhone to Android. And it looks increasingly unlikely that I’ll ever go back.