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? 

(image via)

26 COMMENTS

  1. I have to agree with you, especially on the point that Android is just WM 6.6.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love my TP2, and I love flashing new ROMs, and all that stuff.

    But it does get old after a while.
    Also, I don’t think I could ever go to an HTC Android phone, because Sense on Android is pretty damn weak compared to it’s WinMo counterpart.

  2. Also have to agree. Was strongly considering switching from big blue to get a HD2 but decided to wait for WM7. Have a TP2 but just too big as I have to carry a BB for work as well. Finally broke out the old trusty TP and flashed a WM 6.53 rom. Think I’ll just sit back and wait for the Christmas mahem and see what comes out. I believe you hit the nail on the head concerning Android……just not what I would call a professional operating system.

  3. I agree with everything stated. Too bad I couldn’t wait and see what MS was going to do but 1.5 years down the road I will have a pretty good idea and may be willing to switch.

  4. Verizon doesn’t have a WP7 device on this years road map acording to BGR. That being said they could be introuble. AT&T I have to disagree a little bit with that because the Captivate has had a fair bit of success making AT&T’s 2nd Android device by Samsung a pretty good start even if it is a late start. T-Mobile also having the Vibrant and just releasing the G2 announcement yesterday. So I guess my question is, is this article fair for all users or is it just a Windows Mobile expert view of problems? Where I do not doubt much of what David has to say, I just can’t help but wondering then, how the Hell is ndroid so popular where Windows Mobile has been horrible at the consumer level? I start reviewing a Droid X today (if it arrives) so this will be my first walk down Android lane too. I hope my experieince is better than David’s!

  5. @Doug Smith:

    In my opinion, it’s probably the fact that Android is a bit shinier than WM, and also it’s taking reigns right when Smartphones are really becoming popular.

    Also, as Marti said, Marketing. When the Droid was coming out, I heard a woman on the bus say “Oh yeah. It will let you run more than one app at a time.” And it kind of pissed me off, because WM and Palm OS both were able to do that, but because they weren’t marketed super heavily, the public doesn’t know any better.

  6. Well, we’ll know one way or another by the end of 2010. (Of course, that might be too early.)
    There’s a notion among the tech pundits and bloggers that WP7 needs to come in firing on all cylinders. While that may help Microsoft, Android had relatively humble beginnings. T-Mobile was initially the only carrier that was willing to offer Android phones. When you look at marketshare numbers today, the slow start doesn’t seem to have hurt Android in any way.

  7. 2010 is too early. Just think about it – WM was the king…then Treo was the king…then BB was the king…then iPhone was the king…now Android is the king. What makes anyone so certain that they are so unique that they won’t follow the path of the last 10 years? Innovate or die. Treo died, BB is dying and WM had to do a reset. Android is going down the WM path so I see them following that trajectory.

  8. @DougSmith: Marketing, marketing, marketing. (Or as Yogurt would say, “Moichendising!”)
    Both Apple and Android phone resellers have been playing up they hype and it Works. MS and WM phone resellers kept mum pretty much. It seems that MS has caught on to that, since we’re seeing a lot of WP7 ‘teasers’ this time. We’ll just have to see if the hype works, and if the phones live up to the hype.

  9. @DavidK:

    1. Yes…given. Android, however, is in fact mom ready. I’m not sure what’s difficult about it.
    3. & 5. As a consumer, do you really want to be married to a device or an ecosystem? That’s what I can’t stand about Apple…they make the Koolaid, you drink it, you’re suckered. Shouldn’t a manufacturer want to work with whatever system is best rather than lock OS makers and consumers into something they can’t get out of?
    6. Is this really a reason Android will die? The fact that you don’t have to hack the registry to make it do something but that you can download a free app to change your lockscreen is actually a good thing. Email support in 2.2 is great…shouldn’t need K9, but it’s there if you need/want it. Again, is that a bad thing?
    8. Not sure anyone is saying it’s the “end all”…pointing out a nice feature that you don’t see the point of should not equate to a reason why Android will die.
    10. What device, mobile or otherwise, allows you to send an email with one tap? Maybe I’m misunderstanding you. When i want to send an email I press on the Gmail icon, I enter an address from my contact list or otherwise, I type a subject with Swype or the h/w keyboard, I type the body the same way and then I press Send. Am I missing something here? I thought that’s how everyone sent email.

  10. @David: I disagree, Android will not be sunjected to MS or Apple Corperate mindsets, it’s open source, it will conquer (eventually) the issues you are having. I like the Idea of Android and it has had the Marketing Marketing Marketing that killed WM. But having said that, even if MS MArketed WM like Android is getting, I think it would have gotten them nowhere. The UI has always been too complicated for consumers. Sense saved WM, MS needs to send all praise and glory for their survival while they baby step towards a real, or more accurately a “current” OS and UI. IF MS pushes this Xbox and gaming thing and it works, I think that is how they get consumer excitement and seriously challenge iPhone. I just don’t think the MEtro UI is that much if at all better than the polished iPhone UI when it comes to retail consumers. I just don’t.

    @Marti: Hey! Where have you been?? No artcile suggestions lately? We need you!

    @Max: I agree, but I stil lthink that Androids success is largely due to hardware. I have the HD2 and it is a SERIOUSLY powerful device. It laughs at WM’s shortcomings and powers through them. I think the same thing is true with Android, it has got some serious horsepower to make up from OS and UI shortcomings. If WM would have had this horsepower early on I bet it would be viewed a lot differently. But because of the HORRIFIC drivers and slower processors, it brought everything before the Tilt 2 to it’s knees begging for mercy. Even the Tilt 2 struggles with current ROMS and application execution.

    I can’t wait to annoy people with the Droid X. I didn’t get it today. :( It at least gives Murani some time to finish our new Mobility Digest video lead in!!! Come on Murani!

  11. As someone who owned an 8125, 8525 and Fuze prior to jumping ship for the Droid, I must tell you, respectfully, that you are smoking dope. I don’t think that you can compare a hacked build on a HD2 to a stock ROM. I tried that with my Fuze and was not impressed by Android…too many bugs. A stock build of Android just plain works…I always felt like I HAD to flash my Fuze just to get it workable. Android works out of the box because it’s built on a coherent mobile back-end, something MS never had. I can give you a number of examples…I’m hoping that all of that is changed in WP7, as I tend to pull for MS. Too answer some of your points, though:

    1. To call Android not “mom” ready, and imply that WM6.x is, is ridiculous! To send an email I turn on my phone, press my Gmail or Email shortcut and I’m in my email. Hardware buttons? None needed. Apart from turning my phone on I can use the screen for the rest.

    2. Can’t really address this as I’m not a developer, but I don’t think the “sea” of apps is dissuading anyone. Good apps rise to the top, which is why sites like yours routinely post “what apps am I using” articles, etc.

    3. This is a straw man…people like Android because it works, really well, and it’s not Apple. It’s not about all of the apps, etc. It’s not a money investment. I just like the fact that I don’t have to try every new XDA ROM that comes out just to get something that functions…sortof.

    4. I concede this point…hoping some games come along, but iPhone whoops and it’s looking great for WP7.

    5. I don’t understand what your point is here…manufacturers can install whatever they want, so you’re assuming they’ll just go with WP7, given the choice? Kindof a silly assumption, as ingrained as Android already is.

    6. Sexiness…yeah, I can’t really say. It works for me. Needing to be a tweaker? I totally disagree. I needed to tweak to get my Fuze functional…not so with Android. Please cite an example of this: “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.” 1. How is this different from any other mobile ecosystem, 2. How is needing apps a bad thing?

    7. Again, Straw man. Has little bearing on the success of Android. MS and Apple both have worked to give themselves bad names in the past. This, too, shall pass.

    8. I blame a hacked install on an HD2 for your troubles. I just voice searched for Windows Phone 7 and had results back in moments. It works really well for a lot of different things and not just in the car. I send notes to myself as reminders, send text messages, etc. Necessity? No…but really nice and very functional.

    9. I’ll concede this one, as well. I don’t think it’s a huge hangup, though. On the other hand, I can’t stand how often iTunes gets an update…I think that, as much as I enjoy new and fresh, I would get tired of multiple updates to my phone. It would almost be like going back to my flashing days.

    10. A huge, catch-all gripefest. Still not sure what you’re talking about hardware buttons. That’s not an issue for my Droid. The UI may have some inconsistencies but is intuitive enough that someone can pick up any Android phone and have it figured out in no time. Please give an example of the settings not going as deep as they should? They’ve been fine for me. The top bar with information and notifications gives me the info I need…what are you missing? The refresh button on my Droid actually refreshes my email…maybe another hacked HD2 issue. Please tell me you didn’t base this whole article on your HD2 install…

    OK…I relinquish the floor. I like MS…I really do, and I’m very much hoping WP7 rocks. When it came down to it, though, I wanted to spend my time using a phone that worked rather than hacking it to work.

  12. @ D Smith: you said “I think the same thing is true with Android, it has got some serious horsepower to make up from OS and UI shortcomings” well WP7 has the same horsepower, as does the iPhone (well it’s a slower chip but very optimized).
    @ Bryan – I am commenting based on Android – not how it runs on my phone. I agree that on my Fuze it was garbage.It’s actualyl fast on the HD2 – i did a benchmark and it’s as fast as a NexusOne.
    To your points
    1. no 6.5 was not mom ready…that’s why it’s history
    2. devs have long complained of Android…we’ll see more of it as time goes on but that’s one of the reasons there aren’t a lot of games
    3. in the end you’re not married to Android. People with iTunes and Zune are at least engaged;)
    5. Similar. If a manufacturer can turn on Android in a dime then they’re not married to it. It’s so easy for them to stay or leave Android so in the long run they need to step up their game.
    6. I wanted the lockscreen off. I had to get an app. I asked about some emails things – I was told to get K9
    8. Maybe it was gprs in action (lower quality) but I tried it a few times and over wifi…anyway, in the end I don’t think voice moves 1m devices…it’s a fine feature but not the end all at all.
    10. I want everything on screen. I want to send an email with one tap…it doesn’t work that way. You need to drop down the keyboard or use hardware. multitasking is exactly in line with WM (not a great thing). Lack of OS updates is in line…remember, WM is done…Android may not have learned the lesson.

  13. @sm0k3ydaband1t:

    I have only used Android once, on a friend’s Hero, for about a minute.
    I’m not really chomping at the bit to use it.
    The best way around Android not looking good without Sense for me is just to not use Android.

  14. to the person who said sense on android isnt what its WM counterpart is… you may be right but have you tried android without sense? not cool at all.

  15. Of all your points, number 3 and part of number 2 represent real risks to Android IMO, with honorable mention going to points 1 and 9. Point 4 and part of point 9 are elaborations on point 2, while the rest are non-issues and WP7 slanted rants. The repeated UI complaints are rooted in the present, however, while they will remain a concern in the near term given the segmentation issue, Gingerbread should hopefully address many of these concerns. One point you missed is that in its current form, I’d have to say that Android is weak as an enterprise solution. I imagine this will improve over time, but MS has the enterprise down pat, and I expect it will come out strong in this regard.

  16. Seriously Microsoft should worry about iphone and not android. Android’s fate is dependent on hardware manufacturers using it. Currently it is the fastest growing mobile OS, both in terms of the number of models based on it and the numbers of phones selling in the market. Microsoft can hope to make an impact only if it beats iphone.. which is still the number “1”.

  17. @ Brian – I presume because the last thing you need is 20 apps installed when you could just change a few zeros to ones

  18. that’s some mighty fine exaggeration…20 apps? it all comes down to preference, i guess. my preference would be to download one or two apps that will automatically reinstall if I ever need to wipe my device rather than have a list of registry edits. to each his own, i guess.

  19. 20 apps? a bit of exaggeration, no? I guess it’s all just preference. I’d rather have an app or two that will automatically reinstall if I need to wipe my device for some reason than have a list of registry edits that I need to go through each time. To each his own, I guess.

  20. sorry for the repost…didn’t show up the first time around…you can pick one (or both :) ) to delete if you want.

  21. @Doug Smith: Played with a Droid X as my staff leader had one and let me seeit. It was col, and the UI felt snappy but then somebody asked her how to do something and she said she was still trying to figure it out. Of course I ended up showing her how to change a feature.

    That in a nutshell is what you deal with on an Android device. Wow you with the sheer size of the new devices but then some things are just completely unintuitive.

  22. @brian:

    I feel it gives me more control. Also, it allows me to know what I’m doing to my system. I mean, if I do a registry hack, and look at the values I’m changing, even if I don’t know what they are to begin with, I can usually figure out what they mean.

    If I install an App, especially a homebrewed fix from XDA, I’m trusting that developer’s app to do what it says to do.

    Also, I only need one app to do twenty registry hacks. But if each hack would otherwise need its own app, then I need to install 20 apps.

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