(This is a guest post by Dave D. from ThisGreenMachine.com the original article can be found at this link.)
As I scrolled through tech headlines the other day, one in particular caught my eye: ďIs Android Surging Because Apple is Letting It?Ē TechCrunch is a site notorious for blatant link baiting, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Popular TechCrunch writer MG Siegler penned the aforementioned article after reading David Beachís scathing editorial on the current development pitfalls of Android. As a developer for both Android and iOS, Beach provides a laundry list of complaints from a developerís perspective. Every point was valid, and I openly agree with his general view. While most of the article focused on how the user experience can be improved, it is prefaced with one strange statement. It is the belief of Beach that the primary reason for Androidís success is due to the fact that the iPhone is only offered on AT&T in the US.
Having read Beachís editorial, Siegler hits the ground running and continues the argument. For those that have not yet read Sieglerís article here is a condensed recap:
- The iPhone is a superior device in every aspect except the fact that it is only available on AT&T in the US.
- Taking the often abysmal AT&T service out of consideration, there is no objective reason to believe the overall user experience of an Android device is better than an iPhone.
- Die hard fans prefer Android for its openness, but this is something the common consumer does not care or know about.
- If the iPhone was available on Verizon it would sell double the amount it does currently.
- The success of Android is because the iPhone is not available on any other network other than AT&T (in the US), and not because any single Android device is better.
To be fair, Siegler does not give a tone of arrogance or Anti-Androidism in his writing. A hateful sentiment can be easily detected, and I didnít find a trace. He is honestly confused and curious as to why anyone would prefer an Android device.
Iíll start at the root, and work my way out. Is Android succeeding because the iPhone is only available in the US on AT&T? No. There is an easy logical answer for my belief. How can you explain the global growth of Android at the expense of the iPhone and just about every other platform? The notion that the US market is the only one that matters is naive and well, very American. According to the Financial Times Androidís global market share has leapt from 1.8% a year ago to 17.2% as of August. Carolina Milanesi, research vice-president at Gartner, originally estimated that Android would reach the second-largest global mobile OS mark by the end of 2012, but has revised the date to the end of this year. If Appleís contractual lock to AT&T truly is the only reason why Android growth is surging domestically, then the iPhone should still be able to dominate Android globally. Without AT&T to blame, I doubt you can still argue that Android is successful in spite of itself.
Letís for a moment disregard the global market and entertain Sieglerís point from a domestic view. If terrible service from AT&T is the only reason why a domestic user would choose an Android device over an iPhone, how does AT&T sell any Android devices? By my last count the Galaxy S sold one million US devices in 45 days. This includes only the AT&T and T-Mobile rendition of Samsungís top line Android device. With AT&T being the larger of the two carriers, it is easy to assume that over half the devices were most likely sold by AT&T. Perhaps itís not so objective after all.
At the end of the day, Apple is in control of its own destiny. Itís called business decisions and strategy. In this case, Apple made a poor decision to tie themselves up with AT&T for an extended amount of time. Coupled with the refusal to license iOS to manufacturers, and at most an annual refresh, it almost does not seem fair. Undoubtedly, if the iPhone were available on more carriers, they would sell more phones. But it is my belief that Android would be just as popular. Google has made it clear that they are going with the complete opposite strategy than that of Apple. Google chose a diverse strategy of openness, and not just in a software sense. Android is open to any carrier, manufacturer, and consumer.
Yes Mr. Siegler, you are correct. The advantage of Android is its openness. But you are completely incorrect about the consumer not caring. While the average consumer may not care that the source code is available for download, I guarantee they care about the variety of performance, form factor, price ranges for all demographics, and availability of carriers all stemming from Androids inherent openness. The only objective statement I can make is that Android is continuing to grow and itís because the consumers have decided they prefer Android to iOS.
References:  TechCrunch,  Itís Beach,  Financial Times,  Fortune