is it worth it? How much of a game-changer in the cell phone industry will this be?
Thoughts from an IT Manager/gadget techie.
Let’s start first by making the all-important distinction between 4 key identifiable elements that will be referenced throughout this post:
- the “device” – the actual piece of physical hardware, in this case the phone itself.
- the “OS” (Operating System) – the software running on the device. In this case Android vs Blackberry vs Apple aka iOS (Palm and Windows aren’t worthy of mention in this discussion)
- the “apps” (applications) – Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, games (such as Angry Birds), Shazam, Google Maps, etc.
- the “network” – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint (T-Mobile and others aren’t worthy of mention in this discussion), 3G, 4G
Let’s cut right to the chace, shall we? Ever since the iPhone was first launched back in 2007, the entire cell phone game has changed. We were already in love with the iPod but to think of a device that is essentially an iPod, with a touch screen, AND we can use it to make phone calls was the coup de grace! Who needs a palm Pilot anymore? Who wants to be seen with a flip phone anymore? RIM (the makers of Blackberry) immediately went from being THE “IT” device to have to now being the “next best thing that you had to settle for” and the only reason why a lot of us continue to settle for a Blackberry is because Apple made a deal with AT&T for AT&T to be the exclusive carrier of the device for 4 years.
Now to the average consumer, it wasn’t all that obvious – or just a fact purposely ignored for the sake of have THE “IT” device at all costs – as to why the AT&T exclusivity would make you think twice: AT&T is quite simply running an inferior network service to Verizon. Period! From speed to coverage. Every person I knew that ran out to get an iPhone boasted of all the apps – and I admit I was envious. The iPhone can do things that a Blackberry could never dream of doing.
Plus it just looks better!
Even with some of its few limitations..
it just looks better!
Even though Apple products tend to cost significantly more than other peer products…
it just looks better!
But having been a Verizon customer for many years and knowing of its network superiority, I wasn’t going to bite the bullet. Even with the tech ability to “unlock” or “jailbreak” an iPhone, I wasn’t going to do it. I LOVE Apple…in fact I only use a Macbook at home and for DJing purposes. Just a better, cleaner, hassle-free end-user experience (a hassle for business integration but…eh).
The iPhone almost immediately became the cellular juggernaut. Developers started putting almost all of their application-building efforts into building stuff for the iPhone. Damn a trackball, we loved touch-screen! We loved the accelerometer (portait vs landscape screen orientation). Blackberry’s are only for work and emails..nothing fun about it anymore….
then Blackberry came with the Storm. Was supposed to be the “iPhone killer.” One of many…that came, and failed. Palm Pre. Fail. Nokia N97. Another fail. Blackberry finally realized it was in over its head trying to compete in the iPhone’s lane and stayed in theirs…they’re excellent devices for work, calendaring, BBMing (the best Instant Messenger/cellular SMS text engine I’ve ever used) and email. Windows now has a phone that boasts their new OS (Windows 7)…*nonchalant shrug*
HERE COMETH ANDROID!!!
Here comes the next “iPhone killer”….Google Android. Now we all pretty much use Google for web searches and their maps are pretty decent. But as a iPhone competitor? We were all skeptical. Many have come and many have failed. It was a slow going but good review after good review after good review kept coming in. Then the next thing we know, the Android OS was doing iPhone numbers….but of course the Apple supporters made this (fair and accurate) point…
“iPhone is only available on AT&T and only 1 device. Android is available on all the other networks (including AT&T) so that’s why the Android numbers are so good.”
I’ll compound that by saying that Android isn’t the PERFECT OS…but it is undoubtedly the closest competitor to iPhone. And since Android can be had on various networks and various devices, you’ll get a mixed response on user acceptance. I know some people who have Android but it’s running on subpar equipment. The best analogy for that experience is like having on-board navigation, CD/DVD changer, leather heated seats and chrome rims…on a Hyundai. No disrespect to Hyundai owners.
So with that being said, I’m an Adroidian fully! I have the Droid X (by Verizon) and I swear by it. Verizon has other great devices that run Android. Even Sprint with their inferior network has a great device or two that run Android and offer a great experience (i.e. the Evo – which offers the dual-camera system very comparable to the iPhone 4’s “Face Time”). I haven’t used the “Swype” technology yet (where you literally swipe your fingers across they letters you need to make for faster texting/typing) but many people seem to like it a lot. Google maps on an Android device? I hardly even use my expensive Garmin GPS in my truck anymore…my phone’s GPS and map system has it beat by far – with live traffic status!
We verizon customers boast the best network but still lacked the iPhone for all these years. The iPhone on Verizon..”PERFECT MATCH! I’ll switch when it happens.” Those were the words of my CIO – he and I have been debating gadgets for years. I felt the same way until I went Droid X a few months ago. Do I feel the same way now? No.
I do think AT&T will eventually lose a huge market share because people are now much more aware of how much better Verizon’s network is and are willing to jump ship. AT&T will offer their current customers many incentives to stay, and my guess is they will quickly find another killer device/OS combo to leverage their coming losses. It’ll all make for an interesting and fruitful win for us consumers – even if our monthly rates won’t be doing down anytime soon.
EPILOGUE: By no means do I advocate anyone going “above their means” just to be part of the cellular “in crowd.” I don’t work for any of these technologies and I wouldn’t hawk their high-end products on someone who merely needs their device to make and recieve calls and do an occassional SMS/text message or two – even if you need to press “2277722” to type out “BRB” because you don’t have a full keyboard. But for those of you who are into this stuff like I am and have the means, this was nothing more than my take on what will undoubtedly be THE chat-bout for the next couple of days – aside from the return of The Game on BET tonight (I’ll be watching the Knicks vs Trailblazers game myself!).