The comparison between Android and the iOS is an easy one to make. They’re both OSs that exist in the mobile market, and they seem to go head to head. Fans on both sides of the line come up with reasons why their platform is the better one. It’s easy to see where I fall in that conflict, but I’m not going to make a huge list. There will be no “100 Reasons Why” article from me.
One is all that matters. Apple’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness. Steve Jobs. I won’t argue that the man isn’t inspired, but he’s also overbearing and arrogant. Most importantly though, he’s ambitious. With the iOS, he’s made a play to control the whole of the Internet. The Internet is available to users of the iOS, but really, where Apple puts it’s focus is on the Apps.
All the applications on the iOS are for is to put up a barrier between the user of the device and the Internet. Instead of providing games and content on the Web, where that content can be accessed for free for the most part, Apple has constructed a walled garden where their users can play. Unfortunately for them, those users can’t go outside those walls. Apple forbids technologies, such as flash, that might allow the users of the phone to access content that may make the walled garden of apps Apple makes available obsolete.
Why pay Apple for content that’s available for free on the Internet?
The prevailing argument is that Apple creates a feeling, an experience, that just can’t be replicated anywhere else. This argument is total bunk, but it spreads like wild fire. People want to believe that they’re the ones driving the Porsche, while the rest of us must make due with our Ford Escorts. It’s not true, but makes for a fantastic fall back argument.
Steve Jobs puts a lot of effort into continuing this belief that people are buying the Porsche of phones. By doing so, he brings those people into his little walled up world, where he controls what they see, and what they have access to. Users and developers alike must bow before the great white Apple. Content is filtered to Apple’s standards, and by extension, the standards of Steve Jobs. Applications have to pass through Apple before they can be put on the device, and even after they receive the Apple stamp of approval, Apple still takes it’s pound of flesh.
The problem with this approach is that Apple must maintain control over the entire environment for it to work. They control the hardware. They control the software. But Apple is just one company, and they just don’t have the means to control everything all the time. This is why there’s only one iPhone (unless you count the mythical white one) to the hundreds of different Android phones out there.
While I won’t say that this will be the cause of Apple’s downfall, it does place limitations on the platform that Android just doesn’t have. The Woz recently said, “it can get greater marketshare and still be crappy.” This is absolutely true. I don’t think that the Android OS is crappy. In fact, I think it’s better than the iOS is, but it doesn’t need to be. Apple has made it that way. By trying to maintain absolute control over all aspects of the platform, Apple has limited itself and made it easy for Google and the Android platform to walk right past them into the market where they refuse to go. This philosophy has been passed down from on high by the great and powerful Steve.
If Apple licensed their OS out to multiple hardware vendors, it would make it much more difficult for Android. If Apple allowed for third party apps to be installed on their devices without needing the Apple seal of approval, it would make it much more difficult for Android.
Apple isn’t going to do either of those things, because Steve Jobs won’t allow it.
And so, Android will surpass iOS. Google will win the fight. It’s a forgone conclusion, and Google barely had to put any effort into it at all.
Are there dozens of reasons that the Android platform is better than the iOS?
Yes there are, but all that really matters is one.