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A or A?

Tim Bray Posted by Tim Bray | Thu, 21 Feb 2013
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When ordinary non-geek people find out Im in the biz, I often hear Im going to dump the dumbphone and get something slick. Should I get an Apple or an Android?

This question is getting harder and harder to answer. Here are some things I used to say.

Movies, Music, Media? Apple

This remains a little bit true; the worlds still playing catch-up with Apples media ecosystem. But it is catching up; Amazon and Google are both investing hugely in providing low-friction soup-to-nuts offerings, and really want to be your books/music/movie store.

And I dont see how Apple has a moat here, some special secret sauce that the competition wont be able to match.

Live in Gmail & Calendar & Docs? Android

Yeah, but becoming less true. The Googlers who build iOS apps are damn talented; Gmail is pretty great on iDevices and I assume those guys have their eyes on all the other pieces of that puzzle.

Love Games? Apple

Not any more, I dont think. I guess a few games ship on iOS first, but for most peoples purposes, theres rough platform parity.

Use Maps a Lot? Android

Well, that used to be true.

Industrial-design junkie? Apple

I suppose, and clearly the last couple of generations of iPhone are among the most beautiful pieces of electronics anyones ever built. But, um, Im sort of bored; I want Mr Ives to surprise the world again.

And some of the recent HTC handsets are to die for.

Stingy? Android

True in the tablet space, for sure. But if youre cash-challenged and still want an iPhone, you can get the previous generation for not very much at all, and theres a big used-iPhone ecosystem too.

Image-conscious? Apple

Fair enough: a high proportion of the worlds hippest people still carry iPhones.

Want more space? Android

Yep. When Ive handled an iPhone 5, Ive been wowed by the manufacturing quality and the extreme responsiveness. But if youre used to a recent top-end Android, the screen is just too small.

Having said that, the prognosticators seem to think that this is where Apple goes next.

And Your Point Is?

The ecosystem is leveling out. Its hard to find a slam-dunk argument, for any particular person, why they should go for A rather than A. Which is to say, handset competition is maybe becoming (dare I say it) sort of boring.

Want to Play Ingress?


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