Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Android 2.2 to do things we assumed it already did

Daniel Eran Dilger

Proponents of Android like to talk about the operating system as if its Windows 95: “almost as good as Apple, with some features that are actually superior!” What they don’t like to mention is that it has a number of serious flaws that nobody seems to acknowledge. Users may hope the upcoming Android 2.2 will fix some of those, but it won’t necessarily because in many ways it can’t. Here’s why.
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While Apple has taken a public beating for being slow to deliver some significant features of the iPhone OS, including last year’s copy and paste or this year’s multitasking, it’s less well known that Android is missing key features that everyone just assumes it must have.

Take Android’s copy and paste, please.

While its fans liked to suggest that Android supported copy and paste features first, the system isn’t nearly as well designed as Apple’s implementation. That’s why, even after Apple belatedly introduced copy and paste for iPhone 3.0, Android users were still confused about how to do copy and paste.

Because most early Android phones supplied a physical keyboard, the operating system initially relied on users selecting text using arrow key combinations. Newer Android models like the Google branded Nexus One can’t do that however. Like the iPhone, they have no physical keys to mash around on like a text-based DOS PC.

Not to worry! You can scroll through menus in Android with the trackball to set up a text selection operation, then touch a selection with your finger. Well, if the app you’re using supports copy and paste (and that excludes Google’s own Gmail). And you can’t edit your selection; it just automatically copies it to the clipboard, so make sure you touch your fingers over the selection perfectly the first time.

A year after they griped about the iPhone being late to the copy/paste party, Android users have to make do with clunky text selection and just hope that individual apps actually support copy and paste operations. Meanwhile, Apple is now introducing another level of text selection sophistication with text replacement features and spell correction, as premiered on iPad. Android has a rotten foundation to build upon. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s like Windows 95.

Multitasking the battery.

If Android users hadn’t made such a production about the importance of “multitasking,” by which they typically meant “listening to music while doing something else, but not using iTunes,” then it would be harder to turn around and beat up Android’s implementation of multitasking in the wake of iPhone 4.0.

Unlike Google, which simply gave users the ability to launch lots of apps without thinking about the consequences, Apple held up multitasking on the iPhone OS until it could first implement plans for a Push Notifications. This required iPhone 2.x apps to take advantage of centralized messaging, so apps weren’t just sitting in the background polling the server for updates.

It turns out that multiple apps each polling a server in parallel is a great way to wipe your battery dead. Just ask BlackBerry users. Or Windows Mobile users. Or Android users, who clutter up their forums with comments asking for help on how to manually kill background tasks that are wiping out their performance and memory resources and battery life. If only their platform had been designed by engineers and not marketing people!

Apple is now building multitasking features to support iTunes-alternatives like Pandora to play music in the background, leveraging the existing Push Notifications system to avoid unnecessary server polling by background apps. It also took the time to engineer custom solutions for location-aware apps depending on their circumstances.

And again, Android is stuck with being past tense first on last year’s bullet point features, which are now in need of fixing but can’t easily be scaled up to the next level. All that freedom and lack of engineering discipline reminds me of something… oh yes, Windows 95.

AppleInsider | Inside iPhone OS 4.0: Multitasking vs Mac OS X, Android

You manually update your apps one at a time, seriously?

Back in 2008 at the release of iPhone 2.0, Apple introduced its App Store model to dramatic yawns of early Android users, who had been able to load their own platform’s few available third party apps for months. Well not really, but let’s call iPhone jailbreakers “Android users” because a jailbroken iPhone is a bit like an Android device: no real security, but lots of freedom.

Anyway, once Android did get an app Marketplace of its own, everyone assumed all things were equal, except for its breadth of selection. And the lack of sophistication of Android apps, particularly games (remember that Marketplace apps can’t be very big and can’t be copied to SD Card RAM, which is where most storage is on Android phones; this greatly limits their potential). And the commercial interest of their developers (Android is a hobbyist development community servicing an audience of people who don’t like to pay for things, so the Android Marketplace is a lot like the software market for Linux: half baked with a side of DIY).

But everything else was pretty much the same right? I mean, apart from looking a little rough like a Linux project. Well it turns out no. Android apps have to be updated individually. If you have a lot of apps on your iPhone, you probably have several updates available every time you check, and you can update them all with the “update all” button in one step. Not so on Android.

In the next version, Android 2.2, the system still won’t provide an update all button (what, is it patented by Apple?) but will enable an “automatic update” option, so you can individually set your phone to update apps in the background, perhaps at inopportune times, just like Google’s “don’t move, we’re updating your desktop software!” thing that runs at all times by default when you install the company’s apps on a PC.

Worried about that automatic updating taxing your phone? Don’t be, Android 2.2 is apparently only going to be available for phones with at least 800MHz CPUs and 256MB of system RAM. Sorry Magic, sorry Hero, sorry Droid Eris. Oh come on, none of you have even got Android 2.0 yet, so quit your bawling. If you wanted regular firmware updates, you’d have gotten an iPhone. You’re not going to run Flash acceptably either, you know that, right?

On the operating system level, Android isn’t updated automatically nor even predictably. Google keeps coming out with new releases, but that doesn’t mean Android users can actually apply them. That’s because they’re delivered by the mobile carrier, not Google itself in an iTunes-like way as Apple does. And on Android, the hardware vendor also has to get involved, creating and distributing a custom firmware update for each model (if in fact, your model is deemed worth of being updated in the first place!)

Below: Google’s breakdown of Android users and the version of the Android OS they have installed. More than 69% are stuck on a version prior to 2.0, and only 27.3% are on the latest version. That’s a problem for software developers, and an annoyance for users. It’s not because they’re too lazy to upgrade; in most cases they can’t get a timely update for the reasons highlighted above.

Hmm, a system that doesn’t stay up to date very well, but does kick off its own automatic software update installations. That sounds like something that plagued my existence some time ago, and I think the name was.. oh yes, Windows 95.

Android versions in use

Android 2.2 Allows Automatic App Updates? | Android Phone Fans
Only 27.3% Of Android Phones Can Use The Official Twitter Client

Push comes to shove.

In iPhone 2.0, Apple released initial Exchange support and push messaging features that included remote ping, find, and wipe features for both corporate Exchange users and individuals with a MobileMe account. A year later, Apple introduced iPhone 3.0 along with the iPhone 3GS, which provided hardware encryption. This enabled both instant remote wipe and allowed corporations to support iPhone without relaxing the default Exchange Security policy.

A year later, Android still lacks system wide push messaging support, which is a prerequisite for remote find and wipe features (and Push Notifications) as well as being necessary for push updates from Exchange or a MobileMe-type service (which Google and its hardware partners do not provide).

Additionally, Android phones still don’t support hardware encryption, meaning that many corporations won’t support them at all. Add in missing support for Cisco VPNs and certificate-based security on corporate WiFi networks, and Android looks like it doesn’t belong at work at all, kind of like Windows 95.

Inside MobileMe: Secrets of the Cloud and Mobile Push

With Google or without Google.

Even at home, Android lacks a lot of basic features in its apps, particularly outside of the “with Google” adware apps that prop up the operating system’s core reason for being: to prevent Microsoft from muscling it out of mobile paid search and ads business.

Google has a limited amount of excitement for delivering top quality apps that don’t in any way support its ads or paid search revenues. Unlike Apple, Google doesn’t care much about things like music and media playback (it doesn’t sell anything like the iPod), nor camera/photo gallery apps (it doesn’t sell a desktop platform serving as an Digital Hub), nor really even contacts or calendars or email (yes, Google technically sells online accounts, but it doesn’t have a push messaging infrastructure to sell, and doesn’t really make any money from its free Gmail accounts). You get what you pay for. Android is free. Connect the dots.

Most importantly, Google doesn’t sell hardware as Apple does, so it’s putting itself in the position of Microsoft: creating a rough approximation of Apple’s software in order to skim the value from off the top of its hardware partners’ business. Just like Windows 95 did.

How Android is not like Windows 95.

There’s one important differentiation between Android and Widows 95 however. Back in the mid 90s, Microsoft had spent a decade and a half sapping Apple’s lifeblood as a vampire partner. It had developed its Office apps in the heart of Apple’s Macintosh for nearly a decade before ripping them out and transplanting them into its own Frankenstein of a platform. Well before Windows 95 shipped, Apple was bled, whipped and gutted, surviving only on sheer refusal to give up.

Google similarly partnered with Apple on the iPhone before changing its position from sidekick to backstabber. But this time Apple saw it coming, and didn’t allow Google or anyone else to own control of its platform’s software. Apple wrote all of the iPhone’s client apps, even those that connect to Google’s services such as YouTube and Maps and browser search. That enables Apple to shift the weighty leverage of its own platform to a new partner, such as diverting web search to Bing or building its own Maps services. There’s nothing for Google to yank from the iPhone as Microsoft did with Office. And so it is that the only bleeding, whipped, and gutted figure in mobile platforms is Microsoft, and all it offers for Google is a bunch of random hardware makers: HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG. The same people who did such a great job on the hardware end of Windows Mobile.

Despite nearly three years of coexistence, Android hasn’t achieved a meaningful fraction of Apple’s App Store’s success, hasn’t even sold half as many phones, and is also missing out on competing against Apple’s sibling iPhone OS platforms of the iPod touch and iPad, which contribute millions of users to the App Store to support the platform’s software market. Unlike fifteen years ago, it’s Apple that has the market share and the interest of developers, and its Google playing the role of the vendor of a niche platform that can’t manage to entice major developers to take its operating system and platform seriously.

44 comments

1 stormj { 05.01.10 at 12:54 pm }

android has one major thing that people care about that iPhone doesn’t : it’s on your carrier, whatever your carrier is (in the US). If Apple can keep the platform united, they need to overcome this.

(you should mention there is still no tethering for android)

2 Mike { 05.01.10 at 12:55 pm }

Great article Dan. Only thing is how does Windows 95 have a problem with multitasking? If anything, the Mac at the time was the one having problems w/ multitasking. You have to give credit to Microsoft that they at least had some engineers who knew what to do. Android doesn’t appear to have any.

Maybe you could explain why Android beat the iPhone in web statistics? Oh wait, I think I found the answer…. they didn’t.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/04/27/businessinsider-no-android-did-not-just-pass-iphone-web-traffic-in-the-us-2010-4.DTL

3 calebcar { 05.01.10 at 12:59 pm }

Hi. I’m and i phone. And I’m a driod

4 salvo.dan { 05.01.10 at 1:47 pm }

One way that Android-iPhone is unlike Win95-MacOS is market share.

Outside of the US, GSM networks are ubiquitous. Here in Australia, Telstra is pushing the HTC Desire because they can make better margins off of it than an iPhone or Nokia, but every other carrier is pushing the iPhone.

My siblings and I had a Lunch at a café yesterday. All three of use had iPhones, but every other person at the café, who had their phone on their table, also had an iPhone. One kid had a DS, but most of the other kids had iPod Touches.
The Wait Staff used Windows Mobile Devices, but were having trouble with the glare. It would have been quicker for them to use Pen and Paper.

All of my Sisters Colleagues have iPhones, All of my Colleagues have iPhones (except for one with a Samsung, and a few who’s Blackberrys are still under contract). My brother is the only person at his work with an iPhone however – they use Lotus Notes and their I.T. department are very conservative.

In our circles of friends, most people have iPhones. One has a HTC Touch HD because of his WiMP-only topographical mapping software – he doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he has to upgrade to a WP7 phone.

5 t0m { 05.01.10 at 3:57 pm }

I think that if anyone says the argument Apple gave about middleware, or people in the middle argument to refuse Flash is wrong, or to give them an example – Google & Android is a great example – look at how when the carriers are in the middle, the consumer suffers, as handsets aren’t updated to the latest OS version, with the new features that Google has released.

6 sprockkets { 05.01.10 at 4:07 pm }

Mike, I have an old computer you can put win9x on it just to see how badly it multi-tasked, how often it needed reboots due to how often it froze, and how often it needed to be reinstalled to even startup correctly :)

7 clochard42 { 05.01.10 at 4:11 pm }

@1stormj (question follows below, please answer)
Living in Germany I had to switch my provide too, from vodafone to t-mobile. Well you can easily buy unlocked iPhones in europe since some countries like Italy don’t allow it, but I went the very easy way. Was it easy? Well, my phone number changed. Apart from that no difference. Everything here in europe is GSM and UMTS, no CDMA here. 50 Euro per month for enough free calls (for me) and a flat data rate (lower download rate after plenty of MBs – which I never use up).
I really like to understand what’s the problem in US? Is AT&T really that bad?

8 Alan { 05.01.10 at 4:52 pm }

@ clochard42: Yes, AT&T is that bad. For 50 Euros what do you get? You say enough minutes for you, how many is that? I talk about 4,000 minutes a month for example. Many people on other carriers have far better coverage than AT&T and MUCH better plans. I pay $30 a month and have unlimited calls to any mobile phone number even other carriers like AT&T or Verizon, unlimited data (internet), unlimited text and picture messaging. To get that on AT&T I would pay around $120 for an unlimited plan with an iPhone. Granted, I have a very special discounted plan not available to the general public, but even the one open to everyone only cost $69 a month.

9 Alan { 05.01.10 at 4:56 pm }

P.S. I use about 4 GB of data a month, how much data is included for that 50 Euros?

10 beanie { 05.01.10 at 5:37 pm }

Daniel wrote:
“Unlike fifteen years ago, it’s Apple that has the market share”

Licensed model with many partners theoretically should win over one company. Android should surpass iPhone market share in a couple of years.

Admob latest March report says Android surpassed iPhone in the U.S. on their network of 18,000 mobile websites and apps. Android has about 46% versus 39% for the iPhone of the 7.7 billion ad requests. In the top 10 smartphones, iPhone was on top followed by 7 Android phones by Motorola, HTC, and Samsung.

Maybe AT&T’s 3G network really does suck. One thing that stands out from the Admob U.S. stats is Motorola Droid requests 17% of the ads versus iPhone at 39.4%. Droid is on Verizon. iPhone probably outnumbers Droid 4 to 1 or more, yet Droid generates so much ad requests.

11 clochard42 { 05.01.10 at 5:57 pm }

@Alan
Basically: Phone to same network/carrier (t-mobile): free. Phone into wired phones (called “Festnetz” / any carrier): free. Other (mobile) phone networks/carriers: 0.29€ per minute.
Coverage is no problem here in germany with every carrier. I’ve experienced calls drop only in my cellar and in long tunnels while driving with my car.

12 jinxjab { 05.01.10 at 6:01 pm }

Hi,
in France, 50€, you’ve got 2h to talk, 50 SMS, illimités data access, an access on hot-spots’s carrier, don’t how many MMS ( i never use that).
+ 2h to talk with friends who uses the same carrier
Thanks Daniel, great article.

13 clochard42 { 05.01.10 at 6:02 pm }

@Alan
Regarding “P.S. I use about 4 GB of data a month, how much data is included for that 50 Euros?”
1 GB is free, afterwards the download rate is limited to 64 kbit/s, upload is limited to 16 kbit/s but still there’s no extra charge.

14 jinxjab { 05.01.10 at 6:05 pm }

Sorry for my poor english. +My iPhone auto corrects in french. drives me crazy.

15 clochard42 { 05.01.10 at 6:10 pm }

P.S: Regarding SMS and MMS:
Free to same network/carrier (t-mobile), 0.19€ per SMS and 0.39€ per MMS to other mobile network.

16 scottkrk { 05.01.10 at 6:14 pm }

From a user perspective, Android feels like it is in perpetual beta, just like any other Linux distribution and be in perpetual. From a business perspective, Android will probably end up being a high volume low margin product.

What will be interesting to see is what Android owners will do with their next purchase.

I think the real interesting news items this week in the Apple/Google/M$ battle for the mobile space. Apple acquisition of Siri, which will innovate beyond and commodify search, and M$ extorting android licence fees from HTC and other handset manufactures.

It certainly demonstrates the values of the different companies Apple innovates and jealously hordes its innovations. M$ only concern is making $$$$, they will tax you for using open source and they will entice you to WP7, the sense of entitlement to impose a M$ tax on the tech industry is breath taking!

17 studentrights { 05.01.10 at 6:50 pm }

Awesome work Dan.

I laughed every time I read “Windows 95″!

18 Stephen { 05.01.10 at 8:15 pm }

Seems to me that Android users are going to be buying new handsets much more frequently than iPhone users – there’s just no business case for an Android manufacturer to support an existing phone when they’ve got a new one in the market.

Consequently, the price of an android phone needs to drop a great deal, otherwise buyers won’t be able to afford such a frequent purchase.

19 AdamC { 05.01.10 at 9:15 pm }

@beanie

Who recently bought admob and android phone with much lower marketshare yet commands a higher search for ads on line is that credible?

20 snookie { 05.01.10 at 9:28 pm }

I’m a long time Apple fan. Bought my first Mac in 1984. Have had all three iPhones. Owned or was issued pretty much every handheld device you can think of. Friday I bought an HTC Incredible from Verizon. Now I can actually make and receive cell calls from my house in Phoenix. Amazing. Couldn’t do that with AT&T. Voice calls are loud and clear and they haven’t dropped yet which is much more than I can say for AT&T. My wife and son who are on Verizon have always gotten signals all sorts of places where I get nothing. I’m tired of it. The Incredible is the first Android phone worth having in my opinion. Yes its rough around the edges but it’s still an excellent phone. Android market is improving. Many of my favorite apps area available on Android. The ability to install apps on SD cards was just announced as coming very shortly which most take to mean within a few weeks. Nothing wrong with the screen accuracy or sensitivity on the Incredible which uses a different screen from the Nexus One. Verizon does offer tethering btw for whoever said you can’t tether with Android and they are not the only ones. I would not compare Android to Windows 95 at all. Windows 95 was saddled with legacy underpinnings and the desire to make it backwards compatible. Android does not have those issue. I buy a new phone every year anyway so what difference does that make? I bought a new iPhone every year after all. I have no issues with copy and paste. The HTC improvements to Android are actually quite good even though I expected them to be tacked on. So I would not be so dismissive of Android. The longer it takes Apple to offer iPhone on Verizon and other carriers the more growth Android will experience and the more it will improve. Oh and btw the next time I travel to NYC for work I look forward to actually being able to make a receive calls from my phone. Kind of an important feature. For a phone.

21 FreeRange { 05.01.10 at 9:58 pm }

@clochard42 – AT&T does NOT suck. Yes it has had problems in two key cities, but other than that they have great service in most areas (just like Verizon).

@Beanie – dude, you really need to try to keep up. The AdMob stats saying that Android is out-pulling the iPhone on the web has already been disproven. Further, get real about Android’s “marketshare”. There is no single flavor of this product, and as Daniel clearly points out, Android will remain a very fragmented platform with a zillion different flavors based on inconsistent implementations on various handset model, handset maker whim, as well as the suppressive control of the carriers. This is a much much different scenario from the iPhone, and will most certainly have a negative impact on customer satisfaction and adoption over time.

22 scotty321 { 05.01.10 at 10:22 pm }

Wonderful article, Dan!! I have to add even more stuff to my iPhone vs. Android Comparison Chart after reading this! Thank you!

23 studiodave { 05.01.10 at 11:46 pm }

@Alan: my experience with Verizon was exactly the opposite as yours, every month I would get no service at my house for 24 hours. I could walk up the street 7 houses and get service, I can also stand on the roof of my house and see 4 different cell towers all less than 1,000 ft away. Verizon always tried to get me a new phone with a new contract since mine was running down. This was every month without fail for 1 full year. Since switching to AT&T almost two years ago I have not had one day without service. Yes I do get the occasional dropped call but not as many as with Verizon. I am in Los Angeles area and you would think everyone would have good coverage here, but I even had great coverage on a trip to Lake Tahoe, NV last year on AT&T. Verizon will never get any of my money again. The only thing AT&T sucks is the wind out of Verizon.

24 Berend Schotanus { 05.02.10 at 2:29 am }

Yes, you are right, Apple is measured against different standards than the competition. The competitions marketing machine is blowing full circles for sheer survival. They have an interest in exaggerating every shortcoming on Apples side while Apple only markets its own products and doesn’t spend much attention to the competition at all.

The same will doubtlessly happen for the to be iPad competitor. Where it will be interesting to see who can claim the title of iPad competitor in the first place. It seems Microsoft is knock-out before the match even started. Maybe HP + WebOS can play an interesting role (don’t sneer at me !!!)

25 Per { 05.02.10 at 7:19 am }

It’s funny how the laughable US mobile infrastructure has become such a factor in phone choice. I don’t see why Apple would offer iPhone on CDMA as the rest of the world has excellent GSM coverage and most carriers including Verizon are going to LTE sooner or later. Another problem is that Apple would have to advertise different functionality depending on carrier, as CDMA doesn’t allow voice and data simultaneously. I really hope this carrier debate goes away soon, it’s getting tiresome from a European perspective.

26 berult { 05.02.10 at 8:07 am }

The Google Show is modeled on ‘The Truman Show’ with Jim Carrey. Or is it the other way around?

It gives you a seamless world of bounty and, without you even being aware of it, milks you right out of your individuality. Free eye pleasing proprietery apps and search apparatus as core processor of your every whim and habit, the Producer of the Show will eventually know more about you than friends and family put together. In fact, if I wish to know more about you I won’t even bother querying you about it, I’ll ask the Producer; he’ll know because you’re part of his ‘Dairy Show’.

But I’m afraid he won’t tell… because your predictability has become forever proprietary. After all, they feed and bleed on being one step ahead of your fingertips. Ouch…!

But then, is there something money can’t buy? Talk about a show-stopper.

As for myself, I’ll go for Apple’s upfront control. A walled garden with spacious openings for me to let it all hang out, props and stage set included if I so desire. I’m the sole Producer of my one-man Show and Apple is my gracious host. That’s the way I wish it to be and so far so good I must say.

Google’s Android is an ‘oil well’ platform. It probes and bores through human’s natural trust Instinct and pumps out every last drop of singular identity for large scale exploitation. A legacy neuronal coding from Brylin’s genetic ‘Alma mater’ I suppose.

Apple’s OS is a ‘diving’ platform. It lets you get a jump on your creative instinct. Thrown off by the initial impact with the interface, you henceforth swim ‘free-style’ above and below your resistance threshold; like the creative artistic geniuses that we all are, in our own personal and unobstructed way.

A Canary or an Albatross for a Canard. A Plum for an Orchard.

27 daryl3d { 05.02.10 at 11:14 am }

Per said “I don’t see why Apple would offer iPhone on CDMA….”

I live in Canada, where the incumbent provincial service providers went with the betamax of cellphone service (CDMA) when they set up shop years ago. Of course there is now a national GSM provider (Rogers) but if you work in remote or northern regions of Canada, all you will find is CDMA (if you’re lucky). I purchased an iPod Touch and put a skype subscription on it just to be able to make phone calls when I travel north in certain remote locations, cause my old Samsung M620 can’t find a signal, but wifi is available (thru hotels/rec centres, etc). When I called my phone company rep (in Manitoba..MTS), she said they were moving to HSPA in the fall, and told me that HSPA was a combination of GSM and CDMA (Dan, is this true? When I googled HSPA I read an article that said “HSPA+ is an upgrade to GSM technology and paves the path for a 4G network using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology” I have feeling everyone is just simplifying the answer….Dan, do you have any articles on CDMA vs GSM that clarifies how each is evolving and your feeling on that?). Btw, my 3 year (ugh!) contract is up in the fall, and this rep claimed there was a rumor that they would be getting the iPhone by then :)

Daniel, I can’t wait for you to comment on the HP/Palm buyout, this is great reading….

28 Alan { 05.02.10 at 11:17 am }

@Per It is not just the USA that uses CDMA, there are about 520 million CDMA users worldwide. 160 million of those are in North America. That might be far smaller than GSM, but that is still a huge market. Even when LTE gets deployed, all the current CDMA carriers will still need CDMA radios for many years to come, probably at least 5 years or more. CDMA coverage is far superior in the USA that is why so many of us refuse to get an iPhone because after all a phone that drops calls constantly is of little use. Apple’s decision to not yet offer a CDMA version has little to do with technological reasons and far more to do with the subsidies it receives. If CDMA were not a profitable sector then why do you see so many impressive phones from the likes of HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and many others. Blackberry is far smaller than Apple but they are able to offer their phones in CDMA versions. Apple will eventually make a CDMA version bit my guess is that they are just waiting for a hybrid GSM/CDMA radio that meets that power saving requirements or some other technical reason.

http://www.cdg.org/worldwide/cdma_world_subscriber.asp

29 Silver { 05.02.10 at 1:25 pm }

@Alan:
Let me guess, you have Sprint employee plan.
Do you think it’s fair to compare employee plans with regular plans?

30 liamh { 05.02.10 at 1:48 pm }

I had a play with a nexus one the other day. The good:

- lovely hi-res screen, which makes the phone look a little more sparkly than the iPhone;
- robust and chunky feeling; and
- great camera.

Intuitive? Not a chance. It is a classic case of far eastern design: too much crapola spoiling a good product.

Also my friend who is one of those “knowing” linux types (you know the type that humours us Mac users as if we are completely clueless) could not wait to get the phone off me to make sure I had not got too many apps running at once.

31 cadillac88 { 05.02.10 at 4:56 pm }

The Android hype machine is still in high gear so Any drawbacks the platform has is being effectively suppressed. Android is simply being presented as the latest and greatest without any details to support. I remember well all the negative talking points about iPhone parroted by even people without the foggiest notion of the underlying technology. The tech bloggers did a great job pointing out all iPhones flaws and drilling them into our collective minds. But hardly a mention of some of the same things still missing or poorly implemented in android! Weird. Supposed show stoppers for iPhone are unmentioned for android. I think Apple had a pretty good plan when Blackberry was the one to beat but with Andriod I’m not sure they know how exactly to best present iPhone. With blackberry it was great exchange and security features. But with android whatever apple has is good enough on Android and what’s not there is just avoided. Maybe get-an-iPhone marketing blitz. Maybe Justin Long will introduce us to “Hi, I’m an iPhone”. Maybe start the ads showing CPU lag on andriod running flash. Who will be the Android actor?

32 shadash { 05.02.10 at 7:36 pm }

beanie wrote:

Licensed model with many partners theoretically should win over one company. Android should surpass iPhone market share in a couple of years.

This didn’t happen with the iPod, even though (as I remember it) everybody in 2004 thought it would.

The big problem with the iPhone, as others have already mentioned, isn’t the phone hardware or software. Most consumers are okay with the onscreen keyboard, don’t care about specs, and don’t care that the iPhone doesn’t let you run every app from every dark corner of the Internet. Dvorak, gizmodo, and the rest whine about that stuff, but consumers don’t.

What consumers do want is a phone that gives you a decent signal. Almost everyone wants an iPhone, but most are not willing to put up with AT&T. Even the last quarter’s results show this – international growth was off the charts but was stagnant in the US. What will either help or hinder the iPhone in the next few years is whether it continues to be tied to one carrier here. This includes releasing either one phone that runs on both types of networks or a separate CDMA version. If not, you are right, Android will overtake the iPhone and probably “win” the war.

33 gus2000 { 05.03.10 at 7:47 am }

No one doubts that the CDMA market is large. But historically, Apple has eschewed legacy (such as the Floppy Drive) while promoting advanced features like USB. Apple takes the long view, which in this case is that “we don’t need to go to CDMA; all the CDMA users will eventually come to us.”

Of course that only my supposition, but you can just hear that phrase in Steve’s voice, can’t you?

34 Stephen { 05.03.10 at 6:02 pm }

Does anyone have a handle on how long a company like HTC would manufacturer a particular model smartphone before replacing it with the next design? For instance, for how long was the Hero rolling of the production line before being replaced by whatever came next?

35 clochard42 { 05.04.10 at 12:35 am }

A little off topic, but worth to read: Is Android really open?
http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/2010/04/is-android-evil/

36 dougbo { 05.04.10 at 9:10 pm }

As one of the few respondents, probably, who’s owned 2 iphones (2g, 3g), used them for a year, then used an Android (n1) for six months, I can probably speak with a leeeetle more authority than most of the other commenters (I’ll assume the author knows what he’s talking about).

Advantage Iphone:
. seamless integration of movies/music
. prettiness
. kindle app
. used it less so easier on the battery
. weather apps way better
. guitar tuning apps are better

Advantage Android
. feels way faster
. all things google integration is awesome;
.. maybe mac mail people like the apple mail experience… gmail either in a browser or in an app work much better on android IMO
.. contacts persistently sync’d with “cloud”
.. shared calendar that’s awesome
. lack of itunes binding for apps is great
. location aware app integration
. fast task switching makes the phone more useful (call it multi-tasking or what you like… it’s not so much that they need to be running in parallel)
. battery works well enough that I turned on wifi (left off on iPhone to save battery)
. notification interface
. free turn by turn navigation app that’s *good* (I bought tom-tom for my wife’s iphone which *sucked*)
. speech-to-sms, speech-to-search are weird, weird things
. google voice emails me transcriptions (sometimes hilarious, but usually understandable) of my voicemails

I’m guessing they have ultra-cool barcode apps on both, and I hope google sky is available on both.

I don’t use cut/paste, so I can’t say I miss it. I’m not sure if I like the Android keyboard better or if I’m just more used to it. Single update apps is a pain… although, you don’t update them that often. There’s definitely a linux-y partial-do-it-yourself feel to some corners of the phone, but it’s *not* like running linux on a desktop. I’m sure all of the points about enterprise needs are good ones. As a phone, they both work OK… I don’t use the phone much.

I’m trying to be very objective, but full disclosure, I work for google (not on android or apps…)

[Well if you don't use basic OS features, don't care about apps other than the few you can run on Android, don't care about fit and finish, don't care about update availability or any of the points in the article, then Android can be acceptable. By the way, is it Android that "feels faster," or that you're comparing your brand new NxOne phone against iPhone models from a year or two ago? Sounds like Windows PC users who would compare their brand new PC against their memory of Macs from using them in high school long ago - Dan]

37 JohnWatkins { 05.04.10 at 9:43 pm }

clochard42,
Thanks. Very interesting article. It makes me think Android will be less of Balkanized platform than I originally thought, but less attractive also.

38 duckie { 05.05.10 at 2:34 am }

Something that doesn’t get mentioned much is what poor quality hardware HTC churn out. Where I work we’ve bought a fair number of different HTC smartphone handsets over the last few years in the name of R&D and there is only one that has not so far developed a fault. Of the others, only one failed within the warranty period – the rest were not economic to repair.

Experience of their support service with the one warranty failure wasn’t too hot either. It took many weeks to get the phone back, and in the interim they sent me somebody else’s phone by mistake. This was never collected by them despite making arrangements to do so twice, so if you’ve ever sent your phone in to HTC to have it fixed and they claim to not know where it is, maybe I’ve got it.

39 edster { 05.05.10 at 9:55 am }

Just to clarify @salvo.dan’s comment…

I currently use my iPhone with secure IMAP to a notes/domino server for a couple of years and it works great. It doesn’t work for calandering, but the email experience is great. Better than the gmail integration in the mail app in my opinion.

40 FightTheFuture { 05.07.10 at 9:30 am }

thanks for the article dan – i would really like to see the features you highlighted side by side, maybe on your YouTube channel.

being a happy iPhone 2G owner since 2007 (and hopefully an iPad owner soon,) i cringe whenever someone mentions how android simply “does” the same things as an iPhone – but cannot really provide any real examples of what it does better besides a supplementary feature such as text-to-speech for SMS. and as for the app store? there really is no equivalent. on any platform.

41 greyhodge { 05.08.10 at 2:46 am }

I’m surprisingly disappointed with you, Dan. Normally your articles are highly factual, but here you’re simply stating things that aren’t true.

I own a Nexus One. In front of my long-time iPhone owning friend I just copied, pasted, and edited the selection in the GMail app, among other apps. Worked fine.

[I didn't say Android copy and paste didn't work; I described it as clumsy and inconsistent among apps. If you look at Apple's adding spellcheck to copy/paste in 3.2/4.0, it shows some strategy going on. Android just covered a feature: first, but quick and dirty and without thought to how it might scale in the future. Like Windows 95. - Dan ]

The lack of update all is annoying, but the lack of updates for the OS is the fault of the phone vendors. If you wanted the latest OS, buy from a vendor that cares about delivering a better experience, like Google’s own Nexus One.

[Google's premise for Android is that variety of vendors is a feature. Sounds like you are agreeing with me that it is a source of problems]

Random hardware makers? Are they any less random than FoxConn, Quanta, or Asustek? They’re all giants in their industries.

[It's not the manufacturer that matters, it's the company making and servicing the sale. Apple doesn't defer its iPhone users to follow up with FoxConn or Quanta, or even Mac builder Asustek.]

And all the Windows 95 references? Really? Shall we also rip into all the pathetic choices Apple made with OS 8 and 9? No preemptive multitasking at all, all the robustness of a wicker basket thanks to no memory protection (something Windows had LONG before Mac OS).

[If you bring up the past, strive to find some relevance for doing so. Android is doing a lot of things like Windows 95; what relevance does the Classic Mac OS have in this discussion, other than to distract away from the issues and muddy the water with unrelated subjects? Perhaps that was your point?]

And lastly, I’ve never seen you so apologetic for Apple’s lackadaisical method of bringing basic features to the iPhone. It feels like the whole article was written buy a fanboy, not Dan.

[I'm not making excuses for flaws, I'm pointing out why things happened they way they have and describing how those engineering choices affect users. Android is becoming a mess, while iPhone OS is consistently improving in a managed fashion. Whether Android 2.2 can solve some of the fragmentation issues remains to be seen, but it's pretty clear most of the existing Android users are not benefitting from updates Google releases, and that's having a tremendous impact on the installed base developers can target, which is why Android has such a small selection of apps.

You can dismiss me with names like "fanboy," or you can recognize that I'm arguing logically using facts while you're bluffing through devoted idealism as a platform advocate, without really using facts or reasoning to support your position. You should also be more hesitant to call me a liar until you have laid out some evidence that I'm saying anything that isn't true. -Dan ]

42 ObamaPacman { 05.20.10 at 12:50 pm }

@greyhodge,

Try to copy something from the Android browser to Google’s own Gmail app.

Described here:
http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=7691&can=1&q=gmail%20status%3DFutureRelease&colspec=ID%20Type%20Status%20Owner%20Summary%20Stars#c1

43 uthne { 05.26.10 at 4:31 am }

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmO1cPp9QZg

Do you actually have to swipeswipe the homescreen titlebartitlebar (All/Frequent/Favorites) to go to next screen? And what a crappy homescreen “pull-up” solution!
How many apps do yo accidentally have to open to get it to swipe?
Looks really fiddly and useless.

44 pjc90 { 06.06.11 at 3:47 pm }

So I know that this article was forever ago, but Dan you must feel like a fool now seeing as Andriod OS is the top mobile OS.

[Top mobile OS? You mean, the idea that Google is giving away code to the most companies is better than having a superior platform capable of supporting real devices, progressive software development, third party software, capable of driving desirable tablets, and generating (BY FAR) the vast majority of the revenues of the industry?

I guess if we define success your way, having 50 kids out of wedlock and leaving them to grow up in the gutter is better than raising a family that will be around in 40 years to take care of you. But proliferation of garbage isn't really the definition of "top" in most people's minds.

Also, speaking of top, it's been a year and a half and the majority of Android users are still stuck on this release. How sad! They're so far behind with no upgrade potential. : ( - Dan]

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