Why the Smartphone Wars Will End in a Stalemate
Have you ever wondered why some people like the Apple (NAS: AAPL) iPhone while other perfectly reasonable, productive members of society preferGoogle's (NAS: GOOG) Android platform?
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak just laid out the difference, clear as day: "The people I recommend the iPhone 4S for are the ones who are already in the Mac world, because it's so compatible, and people who are just scared of computers altogether and don't want to use them. The iPhone is the least frightening thing. For that kind of person who is scared of complexity, well, here's a phone that is simple to use and does what you need it to do."
Did Woz just call you a simpleton?
Right on, Woz. The iPhone is pretty to look at and very uncluttered. Every operation is stripped down to the simplest possible version of it; there's no confusion. For a lot of consumers, that's exactly the right solution.
But that design philosophy leaves you in the cold if you actually know what you want to do with a smartphone. The iPhone 4S is Wozniak's main phone, but he needs a nice Android to fill out Apple's missing features. "I wish it did all the things my Android does, I really do," he says.
For example, Woz is falling out of love with Apple's Siri voice assistant because it just isn't as helpful as the voice control on his . Coming from someone as enmeshed in the Apple story as Wozniak, that's harsh criticism. In fact, he says Siri was a better assistant before Apple bought the company behind it.
A report from the other side
I'm looking at the rivalry from the other side. Having used an Android phone for a couple of years, I was recently brought into the Apple fold when my wife asked for an iPod Touch for Christmas. What honey bunny wants, honey bunny gets (especially at a tremendous 37% Black Friday discount).
So there we go, and I have no desire to use her shiny new toy. I'm so used to having fine-grained control over everything a smartphone-style gadget does that I'm lost on the iPod. Nothing happens when I'm doing the long clicks that usually bring up some kind of menu in Android apps. I miss the "back" and "menu" buttons. This geek wants to do stuff that the iPod won't let me, even in cross-platform apps I've been happy with before. This thing is actually harder to use, not easier -- if you're used to being in control.
But the missus loves this simple model, and our cell-phone minutes last longer now that she has FaceTime in her hands. Not that Skype, Fring, or Google Talk couldn't have done the same thing, but all her friends were already caught in the Apple ecosystem, so it's FaceTime or nothing in this social circle. That's how Steve Jobs wanted his ecosystem to work, and it has clearly reached a critical mass. Shutting down iTunes, FaceTime, and all the other iStuff now would be like ripping the spine out of a living, breathing thing. Apple ain't going away anytime soon.
So I live in a house divided. The iPod Touch and iPhone aren't what I want, but they're perfect for my better half. That story plays out in millions of households every day, which is why both systems are likely to keep on trucking while lesser competitors rise and fall below them.
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At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundowns shares of Google but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check outAnders' holdings and bio, or follow him onTwitterandGoogle+. We have adisclosure policy.
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