5 Reasons Android will kill the iPhone (or Assimilate it)

Firstly let me just say that it’s pretty clear that Apple will sell about a gajillion iPhones in the next few years. I’m not debating that. What I am debating though is whether Apple’s stranglehold on the “actually practical and cool smart phone” market will live forever more.

Quite to the contrary, I predict that one day, Apple will switch to using Android… like they switched to using Intel when the realised that the Intel chips were unquestionably better than the PowerPC chips and they were bound to lose market share if they didn’t jump ship… and JUST like they switched to a unix kernel when they realised how crappy their own one was.

That’s right, I said it.

1. Open Source

Open Source will win any programming battle, eventually. Open Source doesn’t mean a bunch of long haired, unwashed hippies sitting in their basements coding up the next version of sendmail… These days it’s some of the worlds finest developers working at Google and a plethora of the rest of the world’s finest developers working at the various handset manufacturers. All of them with a single goal in life. To make the best mobile platform ever.

2. Innovation.

Android brings the promise of a truly open platform. Apple doesn’t think this way. They like to limit, enclose, encapsulate and encase anything they possibly can. While Apple’s approach has historically worked for them, the sheer innovative power of the masses will mean that Android phones will be doing things that will make Steve Jobs simultaneously cringe and salivate with jealousy.

Innovation doesn’t just mean software innovation. Personally I like the idea of a querty keyboard on my phone. I find it easier to work with than the iPhone interface, but if there’s one thing we know about Steve Jobs it’s that he hates buttons. For the most part (ipod etc) Steve’s button hating ways are correct, but there are 6 billion different ways people will be wanting to use their phones. Steve wants the world to be all be like him… Not all of us are.

3. Open Markets

Probably the most powerful force in the upcoming battle for smartphone supremacy is who can knock out good quality, powerful phones at affordable prices. The iPhone does not cost $199 dollars. It costs a hell of a lot more, they’re just letting you pay it off over 2 years. In Europe an unsubsidised iPhone 3G is going to start selling at 499 Euros… that’s $769 when you convert it back to dollars. That’s almost 4 times the subsedised price, which means that even if you factor in the fact that Apple products cost more in Europe than they do in the US, the real cost of the iPhone is still nowhere near $199. This is the era of EEE PCs

4. Greed.

Android is not greedy. Apple is. Apple specifically excludes functionality on the iPhone in order to increase the amount of money you spend with your carrier. For example, there is not SIP (or VOIP) client on the iPhone so you’re “forced” to pay your carrier’s voice rates rather than being able to make the call via SIP over a wifi link.

Android will have no vested interests and will be available to all manufacturers for free. This will mean that Android phones will have all kinds of cool functionality built into them that Apple, for sheer economic reasons, will resist putting in the iPhone.

The other interesting greed factor is what I like to call the “Windows Vista” shuffle. The idea is that everyone upgrades because there are all these cool new features you just *have to have*. The more we learn about Windows Vista the more we realise how blatantly it was an attempt from Microsoft to convert all those millions of 8 year old Windows XP owners into fresh revenue. Open Source’s approach has always been to squeeze every last ounce of performance out hardware and to support that hardware for as long as possible. This means you only need to upgrade when you really want or need to… not when someone else decides they want your money.

Greed is also the reason that Steve Job’s version of “worldwide” is actually only 30 countries… Every time Apple wants to start selling the iPhone in a particular country they have to go through a process of trying to find a mobile carrier in that country willing to sell their souls and rip off it’s customers. (Aapprently this isn’t hard but it does take time)

5. Google

Google has a lot of money and they’re on a mission to change the world. From search engines to Solar Panels, they’re trying their best to make the world a better place for as long as they have the power to do so. Whether you love them or hate them they have a track record of rocking the boat and Android might just be the depth charge that roundhouse kicks the iPhone into a brick wall.

As for the assimilation… lets just say that I wont be suprised if I one day in the not too distant future get to read “iPhone Touch – Now Powered By Android”

J.

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17 thoughts on “5 Reasons Android will kill the iPhone (or Assimilate it)

  1. Do you actually beleive this stuff when you write it?

    Really?

    It’s impossible to predict far into the future of technology. Any particular product may cease to exist (any particular company, for that matter). The guts behind the iphone will eventually change, and it could potentially move to android. Lots of things COULD happen, and the scenario you describe might be the one. Problem is, there’s no point in what you are writing. It’s speculation, and starry-eyed at that.

    Open source appeals to people for who the advancement of technology is their prime motivation. Our economy is driven by ‘greedy’ companies. If you think the open source movement even has a CHANCE to create some kind of utopic future it is in control of, you are vastly underestimating the power of money AND the general population’s laziness and lack of interest in the subject. Open source is a noble project, but it will only succeed where someone else sees how they can use it to make money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the movement exists, and I feel indebted to people making these contributions. They help make computing better. However, the bleeding hearts will never be the status quo. Can you imagine habitat for humanity toppling the major urban contractors? Doctors without borders displacing private practice medicine in North America?

    Compared to volunteers, any company with a viable economic model can be portrayed as greedy. Obviously anyone trying to turn a profit is likely to exploit those areas they feel people are willing to spend money. As a consumer, you hope you have enough options that if one company is overcharging you can go elsewhere. The idea that things should just be ‘free’ is impossible…

    Android will take off once someone figures out how to make money from it.

    Of course, there is always the possibility that the world’s economic structure will fundamentally change and that human behaviour will suddenly NOT follow the path of least resistance. Sure there is.

  2. So where are all of those open source desktops and laptops? Oh yeah, they haven’t made even a small dent in those areas. The only place they’re popular is among IT techs and hidden away as servers.

    Similarly, where are all of these Android phones? Oh yeah, there aren’t any. Not even one. Right now they’re just vaporhardware. Nobody knows how any version of the Android–currently nothing more than a phantasy–will compare with the iPhone, Blackberry, or any other smart phone.

    Your entire article is nothing by a wild guess and FUD.

  3. Bullshit in EVERY way! I won’t even go into it, it’s just not worth my time to comment on such overrated bullshit speculation you have offered up… Get a clue, research some more then re-write the article based on SOME facts, then maybe you will understand… Just about every point you have mentioned is based on your speculation. While I respect the fact that you are entitled your opinions, they are just that… OPINIONS… NOTHING about this article is based on anything close to the truth… You are welcome to your opinions but frankly I think Android will be a complete failure… The concept behind Android will never be embraced by the CARRIERS because it will cause mass decent by the customer… Remember that old saying? Give someone an inch and they will expect a mile? Give anything away and guaranteed it won’t be free except to the companies who will leverage it to gain the MAXIMUM profit potential…
    Good luck Google getting the FREE android to the End-User… remember there is ALWAYS a middle man… the CARRIERS! If history has taught us ANYTHING it is that the carriers are the greedy bastards that they are… If Google insists to the carriers ANYTHING all the carriers have to do is refuse to offer a product based on it… Googles only chance to succeed is to create their own device and then create a network that it can leverage the devices on… Do you think they have hundreds of BILLIONS to start up their own Cell Network? Think again… the OWNERS (read Carriers) own the networks!
    You are clueless, and that is MY opinion!

  4. 1) The plumbing of OS X is open source. Many of its features are implementations of open standards. Anyone with a Mac can develop for it for free, and the libraries Apple supplies are tremendously powerful. There is no advantage a truly open OS would bring to the iPhone.

    2) Are you paying attention to yourself? What do buttons have to do with anything? If Apple wanted to make an iPhone with fixed buttons, they could do it today; they don’t need Android to do that. Or are you under the impression that Macs ship without keyboards?

    BTW, are you referring to the same “sheer innovative power of the masses” that managed to topple the iPod as the world’s best-selling DAP?

    3) Again, what does this have to do with Android? You’re talking about subsidized hardware, the economics of which apply equally to phones carrying Android.

    4) What makes you think handset manufacturers will not intentionally cripple their own implementations of Android in order to push their own services or their carrier’s services?

    5) Guesswork. We’ll see.

  5. You assume people even know what open source is. 99% of the general population do not know, or care about open source.. They want simplicity, function, and a coolness factor, all of which Apple offers for $199 now.

    Googles efforts will be in vain due to the same business model PC’s face. They are at the mercy of Microcrap, so their products are influenced by Microcrap’s crap. Google will be forced to load their software on poorly designed products that nobody will want. The other issue is profit. Why develop a free program when I can do the same for the iphone and get paid for it?

    The business model is flawed, since it does not give profit incentive to programers. Developers will be working hard on iphone apps, while the closet developer will make poor programs to run on Google’s platform with little incentive to do better.

  6. @Sean: Crap products like…I dunno, pretty much anything that can run windows mobile, or perhaps you are talking about Blackberry phones?

  7. Wow. Talk about getting it wrong. A lot. Let’s start from the top.

    The switch from PowerPC to Intel had nothing to do with “Intel chips were unquestionably better than the PowerPC chips.” Instead, it had everything to do with IBM & Motorola not being able to meet either demand or develop improvements on schedule. Neither architecture is “unquestionably better” than the other.

    1. “Open Source will win any programming battle, eventually.” I guess you’ll have to enlighten us on what “eventually” means. It would also be nice if you could provide us with major non-server software that’s open source and leading in the market. Office? Anything from Microsoft? Anything from Adobe? Anything from Apple? What exactly are you talking about? Even Google, your hero, doesn’t open source the keys to the kingdom.

    2. “The sheer innovative power of the masses will mean that Android phones will be doing things that will make Steve Jobs simultaneously cringe and salivate with jealousy.” Ah, yes, because the innovative power of the masses has performed so well over the last 7 years in trying to beat the iPod? That’s not to say that an Android-based phone won’t end up better than the iPhone – it’s to say that it’s never been the “power of the masses” that has driven innovation – it’s been individuals and small, focused groups.

    [I’ll also take this opportunity to point out that I find it interesting that you write as if the iPhone were the market leader. It’s not, of course, not even in the U.S., let alone worldwide. This whole post reads like the words of someone who desperately lusts for an iPhone, but doesn’t want to give in for ideological reasons. It smacks of the closeted kid being the most vitriolically homophobic.]

    3. I confess that I have no idea what you’re trying to say in point #3. “The iPhone is expensive if you don’t sign a contract”? Is that you’re point? The N95 lists for $749 unlocked. Maybe you were trying to make another point – something that actually applies to the vast majority of customers who are going to sign a contract anyway?

    4. “Android is not greedy.” Do you regularly smoke crack? Do you really think that billionaires Larry and Sergey aren’t slightly greedy? Do you really suppose that Google is pushing Android out of some sense of goodwill toward men, and not because they expect to make a whole sh!tload of money off of it on the back end? Please tell me you’re not really that naive and ignorant.

    5. “Google has a lot of money and they’re on a mission to change the world.” Actually, since they’re a publicly traded company, they’re on a mission to make a profit for their shareholders. If they weren’t they’d be criminally negligent. The only interest Google (or any other publicly traded company) has in changing the world is making it even more profitable for themselves.

    While it’s an open question what one (if there is only one) of the smartphones will dominate the market, that question ain’t gonna be answered by you or any of the ideas that you posit above.

  8. I disagree with your assessment.

    Point by point:

    1) While Open Source has its benefits, it is inherently “design by comittee”. Apple is not averse to using open source software where appropriate (some lower-level portions of OS X, for example), but if they want to differentiate their products and not become commodities, Apple can’t allow themselves to be limited to using technology that is freely available to all their competitors.

    2) Apple’s designs have focus — to do a limited number of things, but do them with excellence. They do not attempt to please everyone. That way lies madness. Despite all the limitations and unserved market niches, Apple has shown by its success that by and large they build products that many people find useful. Time and again when a particular feature is demanded by enough users, Apple has delivered it in a way that puts the competition to shame. While this may peeve some, it apparently is a successful business model.

    3) I’m not sure what your point is. The iPhone hardware has terrific processing performance and is price-competitive with other current smart phones in that regard. It remains to be seen if Android-based phones will be “iPhone-killers”. Apple has access to the same hardware and manufacturing capability as other phone companies. And they have an ace in the hole: Apple has recently purchased a chip design company, Palo Alto Semiconductor, with the intent of producing custom CPUs for use in the iPhone.

    4) Of course Android is not “greedy”. It’s an operating system!. But the companies who will sell Android-based cell phones ARE greedy (or at least they are in business to make money, just as Apple is). An Android phone is no guarantee that customers won’t continue to charged by carriers for additional features and services. Perhaps hackers will find it more extensible than an iPhone, but I doubt this will matter to average users who will find the available software for the iPhone to be more than adequate.

    5) Android definitely presents competition, however just because it is open source and will be offered on a variety of handsets does not mean that it will be better than the iPhone. If the inability of open-source operating systems (Linux variants) to significantly displace Macs and Windows on the desktop thus far is any indication, Apple is safe for the forseable future. Both Android and iPhone will displace the older style smart phones.

    Your prediction of the iPhone’s demise is just the wishful thinking of an open source idealist.

  9. I don’t predict the death of the iPhone anytime soon. The open API for iPhone, however, comes with one acchillies heel. I am Amazon, I want to build a client so that iPhone users can enjoy one touch pay and download of MP3s to their phone. I’m sorry Amazon, we can’t allow that application, thanks for playing. Who do you think Amazon will build for? And don’t discount Amazon, MP3 sales (cheaper) of DRM free there are better than Apples DRM free offerings.

    Now, let’s look at any other technology or application that Apple won’t approve. Apple will let GPS makers deliver their versions? Will Apple allow for FireFox lite? How about WMP lite? Sorry folks, these are detrimental to our bottom line. Simple fact is, Apple is the gatekeeper and people don’t like being TOLD what what/how/when and why they can do anything. This leaves other platforms as the obvious choice. Will it be Android or other platform (the new Ubuntu mini?) who knows, but eventually, it won’t be Apple. Now, that doesn’t mean that the iPhone won’t have a fierce following or go down, I just don’t see it being the biggest player on the block.

    Let’s look at the next segment. The road warrior. Asus predicts 5M UMPCs sold this year. I would be amazed if 20M UMPCs were not sold across all vendors next year. Guess what OS they run, Linux. Apple has no client for them, so that excludes what I think will be the new road warrior business tool. Which phone will they use? I think we will see an iTunes client for Linux about the same time as Apple sells OS-X for any platform.

    TripleII

  10. Don :

    So where are all of those open source desktops and laptops? Oh yeah, they haven’t made even a small dent in those areas. The only place they’re popular is among IT techs and hidden away as servers.
    Similarly, where are all of these Android phones? Oh yeah, there aren’t any. Not even one. Right now they’re just vaporhardware. Nobody knows how any version of the Android–currently nothing more than a phantasy–will compare with the iPhone, Blackberry, or any other smart phone.
    Your entire article is nothing by a wild guess and FUD.

    Someone should dig up their own comments to see whats become of whats been said

  11. ” You are welcome to your opinions but frankly I think Android will be a complete failure…”

    haha jeff butler 2008, FAIL

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