Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Droid, stop comparing it to iPhone

So, I have been using the Droid for about two weeks now, and every day makes me love my Droid more and, believe it or not, appreciate the iPhone more.

That’s right, it makes me appreciate the iPhone, there, I said it.

I am continually amazed at the Droid vs iPhone debates both on the ‘net and in advertising, it’s like comparing a pair of scissors to a screwdriver, you can’t. The Droid is an integral part of an holistic communications system. When I get a text message, or an email, or a voice mail I can respond to any of them from my Droid or from my desktop computer, there is no difference, they have the same capabilities and the same contacts. If you call my phone number it rings at my desk and my Droid. When there is an emergency I am instantly alerted; in the past 6 weeks I have received 6 emergency message, 2 from the National Weather Service and 4 encrypted VitalLock Messages. They all showed up on my handset, in the background, while I was doing other things, AND on my desktop.

I don’t own an iPhone, but from what I have seen and heard, it appears to target a different use case, its not MEANT to be a communicator. Is it meant to be a cell phone? Of course. And it does a very good job, sure you may have problems with the ATT network, but that will be resolved this year when the iPhone migrates to more carriers. So what do iPhone users love about their device? For starters 100,000 + applications. Well, its hard to argue with that. Yes some say “but of the 100,000, how many are QUALITY applications?” Lets say its 20%, that's 20,000 apps, and if the Droid Marketplace has 10,000 applications, then the same 20% will be quality, so that’s 2,000 applications. (yawn) Who cares?

But the iPhone is closed! Yes, yes it is. And it HAS to be or upgrades would be TRAGIC. Imagine that Apple updates the operating system or hardware and now 50% of the apps break! By keeping the system locked down Apple ensures that upgrades are as painless as possible AND that current apps behave. The same goes for locking down multitasking, if you have an application running in the background that YOU installed that slows your phone down the average user says “stupid phone” NOT “stupid application that I installed.” Apple is just protecting users from themselves.

The reason that iPhone users love their device is that it works for them. They will ask “Why do I need multitasking?” and “Why do I need open development?” These are valid questions that have to be approached from the users perspective, NOT as an outsider (non iPhone user.) Watch how iPhone users use their device. They use it as (get ready for it…) a phone! Why do you need multitasking or open development for that? They also use it as a distraction or a gaming platform. And in that use case, multitasking and open development are evil. When Apple updates the iPhone, they need the current apps to continue working, so you MUST use the standard API’s or risk not working, in fact, it is now rumored to be part of the app store approval process.

Compare this to the Droid users that I know (feel free to chime in Droid users). The Droid is not a gaming platform, its a communicator. I NEED multitasking so that I can glance at the device and see that I have 3 emails, 1 voicemail (transcribed), its going to snow tomorrow, the NWS is calling for flash floods, and Bob has sent me an encrypted message. All this and I didn’t have to wait 5-10 seconds for an application to run, I just glance at the phone. Do I run games on my Droid? I haven’t yet. When I have a spare few minutes I read my RSS feeds or practice conjugating Spanish verbs. COULD I run games? Sure. Are they as good as the iPhone games? In some context, yes. But if I wanted a gaming device I would get an iPhone, its more dependable and locked down.

Don’t get me wrong, I frakking HATE the iPhone and would never buy one. Really. Just like I would never buy a handheld gaming system, I don’t get the appeal. I have no need for a device that is a phone and can play games and I can run apps in the fore ground only, thus limiting its utility. But there are many people out there who have said “I wish that my Sony PSP had a phone”, and they probably love the iPhone.