I’ve got a secret to reveal. I’ve been playing around with Android on my HD2. It’s really a game of knowing my enemy and I’ll have some posts on this coming up cause I’ve learned a lot. Anyway, Simmons and I have been going back and forth on the future of mobility and where Android and WP7 are headed. He loves his stats. But that’s pretty predictable. Just think about the choices that people have now. On Verizon they have Android or Blackberry…same on Sprint…same on TMo (except they have the HD2 which is not upgradeable to WP7). Of course AT&T is iPhone all day. OK so if you want a smartphone today it’s an Android powered ones o it’s not shocking that they’re selling. But the pressure is going to come from WP7 and a CDMA iPhone and that’s going to happen soon. And when it does the Android ‘dominance’ will be seriously hurt and here’s why Android will fail:
1. For all that Android is, it’s still not ‘mom’ ready. You need to remember the use of buttons and onscreen commands to get simple tasks done (like composing an email which requires a hardware press and then a screen press – there’s no one press solution). And don’t tell me to get an app to do everything that should be in the platform already. I don’t want 100 apps that are independent of each other. On top of this, if you don’t mind your apps manually then your battery dies. Hell I can’t get GPS to stop running in the background even though I stopped using it forever ago.
2. Developers still don’t love Android. The market is a race to the bottom still. Why invest time and money into an OS when most of the apps are free and the entire mentality is based on open source and freeware? And in the sea of apps that anyone can put into the market it’s difficult to get attention so it’s not exactly the best place to be if you’re looking to make money. at the same time, the tools MS is provided are noted as the best in class.
3. There’s no allegiance to Android. Unless you’re really into Google then there’s nothing so compelling about the platform that you have to stay there. Looking at it another way, if you have an iPhone then you’ve paid lots of money for lots of apps and content and you’re not going to give that up so fast. MS also has the Xbox and Zune ecosystems. If you leave Android you just have to find new apps to replace the ones you got for free but you’re not out of pocket anything and not tied to the platform.
4. Both the iPhone and WP7 have demonstrated gaming platforms that are far beyond what Android has shown. This gets both the hardcore gamers enthusiastic and also goes after the average user who just wants some good games optimized for a mobile device. Android is in third place here.
5. As a manufacturer you can make the same hardware and install either Android or WP7 on it. The specs are essentially the same, except of course that MS has minimums and will ensure that the hardware is optimized. But assuming you meet the minimum, manufacturers will be able to load either OS with ease so they’re not locked into Android. In fact MS has stated that they will work hand in hand with the manufacturers to ensure a good product and there’s no need to write a custom OS for WP7 (well you can’t even if you want to) so manufacturers can manufacture and not spend their time being developers.
6. Android isn’t sexy. The hardware may be (but as noted that’s fungible) but the software is pretty vanilla. In fact, the use of curved edges, two tones for shading…it’s almost a cheap iOS knockoff. But the reality is that you spend a lot of time going into and out of apps and for everything you want to do you need another app. If you’re someone who loves to tweak you may ‘love’ Android…but you also likely loved Windows Mobile and we know how that played out. There’s simply no wow factor to the Android OS.
7. Google is working hard at earning a bad name for itself. Between its questionable privacy stances on gathering wifi info and Buzz to its net non-neutrality stance, for a company as big as they are they’re entering some troubling waters and if people don’t trust them then they’re not going to love to hand over their data.
8. For all the emphasize on voice control and voice search you’d think that most people used it. Yes, it’s a nice feature if you’re driving but otherwise by the time the app figures out what you’re saying you may as well have just typed it. I tried searching for “Windows Phone 7” and I kept getting Usher songs…no idea why. And Vlingo already exists for the other platforms so it’s not like there’s a lock on these features.
9. It’s frustrating for the OS to get updated and your phone to not be. I know, you can root it but remember, most users don’t root their phones. They just want the thing to work. And when the OS gets an update that should be pushed to the phone automatically and it shouldn’t require the hardware manufacturer to update the OS. That’s the path WM went down and it was months until an update would come to the phone. Of course, we’d unlock our devices and constantly flash and then if the phone wasn’t perfect we’d blame the hacked together ROM. At this point, the iPhone and WP7 both will get pushed updates to the phones and the OS will be consistent regardless of the OEM. You can’t say that for Android and that’s both frustrating as an end user and adds a layer of complexity for developers who need to write for all versions of the OS since there are so many still active.
10. Everything Android is proud of is just WM 6.6. The OS multitasks by just loading apps until some need to be cleared and you’ve gone through your battery. Some apps close when closed, some minimize…sometimes you just don’t know. The UI is inconsistent throughout devices. The base is hackers who like to tweak their ROMs but as Android has shown, that group isn’t as loyal as they once seemed. They don’t get that a touchscreen device should rely on the screen primarily and hardware presses should be minimized. The settings don’t go as deep as you’d like so the answer is some tweak or some hack. There’s not a consistent experience throughout the OS with each app having it’s own feel and look. The top bar that contains information like battery life is just for show – tap it and nothing happens. Go into email and hit the ‘refresh’ button – noting happens. You need to go to the menus to do these things. In the end, the little things are just unpolished still.
So tell me how wrong I am…or how right I am. Does Android need to start gearing up big time for what’s coming? Are their stats inflated because there’s no competition or are they really leading the pack fr years to come?