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October 3, 2011
paper mail: What's wrong with Android


In the recent months, I have spent a lot of time using an HTC ThunderBolt after selling my iPhone 4 because AT&T’s service was terrible where I lived. It’s been nice having 4G LTE and all, but the actual Android OS is a joke. Don’t get me wrong here, I do like Google when it comes to some…

This is also my impression approaching my second year owning a Samsung Moment: Android is de facto user-hostile. This is a result of the business model for how Android gets deployed, with Google, devicemakers, and carriers all playing their own narrow roles. My Moment (named for how long is would be supported and how long users would like it) was effectively an orphan from the day I bought it because Samsung (who would need to do the heavy lift on OS updates) had nothing to gain from putting out updates beyond avoiding consumer fraud lawsuits. So they only ever got the phone to Android 2.1 and never fully fixed some deep flaws. On top of that, the “open” OS was intentionally hobbled by Samsung’s hardware design to make the loading of an Android image other than their own enough of a nuisance that only ubergeeks would try it. This makes sense because Samsung doesn’t want people maintaining their own OS on this phone and hence extending its useful life, they want people to dump this phone as swiftly as possible after buying it to get the next newer Samsung phone. Similarly, Sprint (the exclusive carrier for the Moment) has no incentive to help people extend the useful life of their phones. They have created a symbiosis with manufacturers whereby they lock in users for long enough to assure that when we get a chance to be free agents as consumers again, we have phones that we want to replace rather than unlock and take to a different provider.  And look, here’s our old provider with discounts on phones tied to contracts… 

Apple’s business ecosystem is different. Apple wants a world with a lot of iPhones all running the latest iOS so that they can run the App Store and iTunes without much complexity and take their cut of every little 99¢ purchase iPhone users make. Sure, they like people swapping out old hardware for new, but they are not solely focused on that for revenues.

Speaking as a sysadmin who has to support smartphone users connecting to email, I can testify to the fact that while Android may have the overall highest market share, that metric is deceptive because there really isn’t one system under the Android umbrella. There are enough variations between manufacturers, models, and OS versions that I can’t offer “Android” support: that isn’t one thing. Making it all worse, the base Android OS has a design flaw in its X.509 certificate trust model that makes it unsupportable in some workplace environments (particularly ones with stringent security needs.)  Apple has avoided the problem by not just supporting older models with newer iOS versions, but by making it inconvenient for users not to upgrade when possible. 

It is extremely hard at this point to make a general case for Android over iOS as a mobile device OS. It may make sense if you are absolutely committed to having an “open” system because you intend to take advantage of the ability to customize the system, but even then you have to be very careful about which device you pick because most Android devices to date have had some form of lock-down in them, making customization difficult and in some cases impossible. As for a device that works well and doesn’t routinely mystify and frustrate the user, an iPhone is probably better for most people. 

(Source: penderworth)

  1. mobileordering reblogged this from grumpybozo
  2. marieznicholsq reblogged this from dinnerwithandroid
  3. tgadget reblogged this from grumpybozo
  4. stage-pilotage-auto reblogged this from grumpybozo
  5. mauvaisehaleine reblogged this from grumpybozo and added:
    “open”...contracts… Apple’s
  6. carolynnweintz reblogged this from dinnerwithandroid
  7. knightconvoy reblogged this from penderworth and added:
    I’ve been feeling the same way about Android lately…
  8. zdpeacock reblogged this from penderworth and added:
    complete control over, source product
  9. penderworth posted this
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