Oct 26 2010

Choice vs Suck It Up

On Apple’s fourth quarter earnings call, Steve Jobs took 5 minutes to try to argue against Android’s claim of being open.

We think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, “What’s best for the customer – fragmented versus integrated?” […] We think this a huge strength of our approach compared to Google’s: when selling the users who want their devices to just work, we believe that integrated will trump fragmented every time.

I agree that integration is a desirable thing to have in a product I buy. And certainly, Android is having fragmentation by some having various versions, different hardware, and the like. However, to a customer, that actually doesn’t mean much. What non-geek actually cares that their Android phone has a processor from a different hardware manufacturer than their friend? None. In fact, many of the hardware companies adopting Android are bothering with their own integrated solutions. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if an Incredible has Sense UI and the new Droid X has MotoBLUR. People don’t swap phones around.

What does matter, is that since Android is open1, and these manufacturers are integrating with it, is that customers can have a choice. Apple doesn’t like choice. OK, maybe they do. They like choice that involves “Do I get the iPod Touch or the iPhone?” They absolutely hate competition. Anyone that doesn’t see that is busy oggling Jobs’ black sweater collection whenever Apple does anything to fight or remove competition.

The choice is important. Not because all customers want to sit and compare and fret over what is better. It’s important because if one of the choices starts making decisions that conflict with how the user wants to use his own gadget, he has the ability to pick another. The choice and competition, in turn, help keep companies in check with becoming too strict and overlording of their junk.

  1. Granted, it’s not as open (transparent) as some projects. But it’s open in that you can download the source yourself and roll your own version if you so choose. For free. 

  • #android
  • #apple
  • #iphone
  • #opinion