It’s very simple. I have a Samsung Galaxy III, a BlackBerry Z10 , an iPhone 5, an HTC Windows 8x and an LG Nexus 4. More or less the smartest soldiers in the smartphone army.
There’s a fire in my flat/hotel-room/bordello/ski-chalet. I have only enough time to take ONE. Which do I choose? This is the question I have to ask myself.
If you want to punish yourself press this link which will take you through all the tech blogs I’ve written, since before the arrival of the iPhone and its transformation, not to say invention of the smartphone and subsidiary app market. You will find that I have relentlessly hammered home my desire for this field to be wide and rich in its biodiversity. I do not want only Apple, or only Samsung, or only Nokia or only BlackBerry to dominate. The more variation and choice in form factors, operating systems, the more innovation in terms of your device and its response to the environment, the better. The more open hardware and software APIs that allow for medical, military, charitable, mercantile, individual, artistic and social interaction for pleasure, gain, reward and the furthering of mankind’s destiny, the better. Boo to monopolies. Hurrah for competition and innovation.
I’ve written about most of the iPhones as they’ve come out and 5 has had perhaps the most “meh” reaction from the trades and the tech journos. Financially it has I think been Apple’s biggest and best seller, so commercially only a moron could call it a flop. But there is no doubt that the words “ageing” and “venerable” are beginning to be used about the OS and its look and feel. No NFC? Still the same old keyboard, still the same old look? Time moves so fast in the digital world, never forget that. The speed with which Palm, AOL and BlackBerry headed from the cloudiest heights to the muddiest depths shows the truth of this. Of BlackBerry more later. So many have such short memories in this sphere. I wrote that a single human year is really three digital years. I first had a working iPhone in my hands in June 2007, that’s 5.5 years ago, which is 16 and half digital years. It certainly seems like that. The G1, the first Android phone, emerged in late 2008. It feels like an age ago indeed.
Those first Google phones were made by HTC and did the best they could to counter the astonishing achievement of that first iPhone. By the time it was available Apple had already outmanoeuvred them with their second iPhone and the introduction of an App Store allowing third party developers to come up with their own little programmes. But Google knew that its might, capital wealth and power could allow it to be patient. Soon the virtues of an open system, different in style and fundamental outlook to the “walled garden” of Apple’s severely marshalled Software Development Kit, would (Google believed) allow cheaper options from the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers – Google not being one of those) to flower in an ever greater, if wilder, garden. Sorry for that somewhat tangled sentence. Google were proved right: besides, while they were waiting for Android to “gain traction” they were making hundreds of millions from Apple users and their heavy iPhone use. Every Google map or search on the millions of iPhones was making Google stacks and stacks of cash.
Apple had also shown the value of Apps, free apps like Evernote, one of the first I ever installed, and famously successful commercial apps like Angry Birds. Android users had to tap their toes and wait in frustration for a few months because developers usually prefer to start an app for iPhone. They know the exact nature of an iPhone. It has a home button and it has a screen yay big by yay big and a resolution of x3 by y3. Some Android phones have hard back and home buttons (ie actual physical buttons) some have soft ones (ie areas of screen hi-lit for you to touch). The actions of all iPhones are consistent across the range however and, maddening for developers as it might be, if your app isn’t properly written and doesn’t obey the coding and API rules, Apple won’t allow it on their store. Converting your iPhone app for Android is then the next step. Your coders have done the maths, you now have to make sure your cunning world-beater will work on an HTC thismodel x and an LG thatmodel z as well as a Samsung allthesemodels xyz, all of which have different buttons and knobs and screen sizes and resolutions and what have you. It’s like the problems the first web browsers had. How to make them work on all platforms.