6 months ago when I traded my iPhone for a Droid, I told people that this was the beginning of Android taking over the smartphone world. I don’t think one Android phone will ever outsell the iPhone, but I don’t see how the entire Android world won’t dominate with Google’s power and so many manufacturers behind it. I was generally scoffed for this statement, but I didn’t see how it couldn’t be true. With an iPhone, you have a very locked down device that only has one size/featureset and is only on one carrier. Compare that to Android that is on many devices, from 3″ to 5″ screens, has a variety of keyboard options (both physical keyboards and software keyboards), is on all carriers, and has many manufacturers using and building on it. In another month, there will even be an Android phone on Sprint that is both faster than the iPhone 3GS and uses Sprint’s WiMAX 4G connection for speeds as fast as home broadband.
The one advantage that the iPhone has that I don’t know how Android will successfully compete with is all of the 3rd party devices that use the iPhone’s dock connector. From alarm clocks, to cars, to stereos, to the Nike+, to TVs, and a whole host of other types of devices, 3rd party manufacturers explore addons for the iPhone. The Android phones all have a micro-USB connector which theoretically could support devices like this, but it’s going to require a well-developed SDK on Google’s side and a lot of encouragement with 3rd party manufacturers. On top of that, Android devices could have their micro-USB connector anywhere so it wouldn’t work to have the simple drop-in docks that the iPhone has. So that either has to be standardized or the device will have to include a cable.
Today it was announced that Android holds 28% of the USA smartphone market to the iPhone’s 21%. This actually surprised me. I really didn’t think that Android would outsell the iPhone this fast… I thought it would be another year or two before this happened. Just 6 months ago, Android market share was about 4%.
Now it is important to add that this is only comparing to the iPhone and ignores the 30 million or so iPod Touches that are out there. So it might be another 6 months before the Android ecosystem passes the Apple ecosystem. But that day is coming rapidly.
For you iPhone users out there, here are some reasons to switch:
- Get the device you want. Maybe you want a physical keyboard, a bigger or better screen, expandable memory that can read cards from your digital camera, removable battery, or a cheaper device… you can find all of those things in the Android world.
- Get the carrier you want. Maybe you don’t want AT&T’s worst value plans (same price as Verizon with noticeably worse service — even Sprint has much better 3G coverage than ATT). If you’re going to have a device as powerful as the iPhone, why deal with so much 2G when traveling?
- Widgets and Multitasking. The iPhone 3GS is supposed to have multitasking soon and maybe some form of widgets. Android already has them both. There’s nothing like lightning fast switching between apps rather than opening one and going to another then having to wait for the first one to open again. And widgets are really cool… you don’t even have to open the app to see content you want to see (Chats/email/music control/etc)
- Take control of your device. Maybe you don’t like the home screen… switch it out. Maybe you want to try the new Swype style of keyboard — Android will let you. There’s no reason your phone has to frustrate you when you decide you quickly need to be able to turn on/off wifi in order to not have the “hey, I found an access point” box pop up all the time. Or if you regularly disable the screen timeout so you can read on the device without having to touch it every minute. There are apps/widgets to easily change those settings without having to wade through the iPhone’s screens and settings menus. Themes, backgrounds, etc, are also available.
- Gmail and Google Voice integration. This is just awesome. The Gmail Android app works just like Gmail on a web browser. The iPhone Mail app isn’t even playing the same game. Huge difference. And the Google Voice integration is excellent. You can set all your outbound calls to automatically go through your Google Voice account or you can choose on a call-by-call basis whenever you make a call. Google Voice now has notifications so whenever a new text or voicemail arrives in Google Voice, it notifies you within a few seconds just like a real text. So now you can get unlimited texting for free, and you can get all the other advantages of Google voice, such as voicemail transcription, and multi-number call routing, and handling calls differently based on the caller ID number. For instance, I have one friend’s number set to automatically ring to voicemail between 2am and 9am. He calls me too frequently in the morning and wakes me up so he gets my voicemail automatically. 🙂
And that doesn’t even consider the idea of rooting the device and installing ROMs which open up even more control of the device and then you won’t be limited to the carrier’s whims for updates, either.
There are many other reasons to switch (and of course, a few reasons not to), but all in all, I don’t miss the iPhone one bit.