I’ve been reading a lot about the Verizon’s new smartphone, the Motorola Droid. You’ve probably have seen the iDon’t commercials from Verizon about all the things the Droid does that the iPhone doesn’t do. And we’re seeing a small uptick in online flame wars on Droid versus iPhone. The fanboys have certainly been out in force so I want to take a look at things from a broader perspective because with the Droid, Motorola has shown that Android should be taken seriously.
iPhone Changes the Game
Lets start at the beginning, when the iPhone came out it drastically changed out the consumer market thought about phones, smartphones specifically. Before the iPhone, smartphones were the Treo, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. They weren’t really for the consumer market and general consumers largely ignored them in favor of phones like the Motorola RAZR and other small cell phones. The iPhone was a revolution. It made smartphones interesting to the average person. “You mean I can have my email, internet, and cool apps with my phone? Sweet!” is probably what normal people started to think and those RAZRs started to look less cool, even if they were thin.
So the iPhone changed the smartphone world. It turned it upside down. All of sudden it wasn’t just enough to be functional, it had to be at least a little flashy too, it had to be fairly easy to use, and it definitely couldn’t be bulky.
Google, never to be out of a market for very long released it’s Android mobile operating system soon after the iPhone’s release. One could argue that Google was planning this move long before the iPhone was announced. But it was everything the iPhone wasn’t with a little bit of what the iPhone was. It could have the flash and usability of the iPhone but with the openness of the Linux operating system.
That’s what Android represents. Openness. The ability to completely customize the user experience for the device, the ability to dig into the internals and make it work well with your hardware. It means that developers can develop applications for it regardless of platform. But there’s a downside. With Google releasing an OS it relinquishes the control on the hardware the operating system can go on. This is why the iPhone works as well as it does. Apple doesn’t just control the software, but the hardware too. Apple works to ensure that their software runs well on their hardware. They limit the points of failure because they control both elements completely. But that doesn’t mean Android is destined for failure.
Hello Moto.. I Mean Droid
Motorola has taken a different approach with Android that HTC and others haven’t yet. They’ve really worked to control the software on their hardware. They’ve proven (quite well I might add) that if you really work with Android on your hardware, you can bring a really nice device to the market. Does it beat the iPhone? No, it doesn’t but it does show that Android is a nice contender and that Apple and Microsoft need to worry.
What Motorola has done is something similar to Apple in that they’re releasing solid hardware and taking serious control of the software that goes on that hardware. Rather than spending money on R&D to write their own mobile OS, they are spending time ensuring that Android runs well on their hardware. This is going to save them money in the long run because Android is a complete OS that’s ready to go. Motorola just has to worry about tweaking it to run on their hardware. And because of the openness of Android, they can really control the software just like Apple does. Motorola proved with the RAZR that they can design nice, flashy, consumer friendly hardware, it was the software that was never perfect.
In the End
When it’s all said and done, the Droid doesn’t beat the iPhone. It’s a nice device though, regardless of what the iPhone fanboys say on the internet. Motorola has proven that Android is a force to be reckoned with. No, Android still isn’t all the way there, but with each successive release it comes with notable improvements and Google isn’t looking to put Android to rest. Motorola itself has bet the farm on Android, almost literally (there isn’t an ACTUAL farm). I would keep an eye on Android devices over the next few years, Apple’s got some competition and they would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t try to keep the iPhone relevant and moving forward. Yes Apple, you changed the game, but you can’t rest on that forever, you have to keep moving forward. Android’s getting there and Google has shown that they’re serious, and Motorola has shown Android can be a nice mobile operating system.