The fact is, Android's openness does not make it to the end user. Its openness is exploited for the benefit of the carriers to load branded crapware onto the device, disable specific features and other nonsense. Don't like this? Too bad. Android's openness isn't for you, now that carriers and manufacturers are getting wise to your hackery tricks. They're going to make it as hard as possible to root your Android phone. So you'd better get used to that awesome Blockbuster app.
In the end, iOS and Android devices are on even footing in terms of big companies trying to control the final experience.
Which leaves us with one thing: motivations.
Carrier motivations are to fuck you out of as much money as humanly possible in the short term. In the past that meant disabling device features to force you into their ecosystem – I'm sure this will continue one way or another. They'll load branded garbage onto your device. They'll put specific marketplaces on your device, and maybe even remove Google's if they want to. Their manufacturing partners will happily conspire with them on this, including the firmware fuse that prevents rooting your device so you can make it somewhat clean again.
Apple is no less ruthless with its control, but it exercises it for a different purpose: To deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible. (edit: and so, Apple's play is the converse: to maximize your cheerful purchases of Apple gear in the long term – thanks, matwood)
If you're a carrier, Android's openness makes it much more valuable than iOS in the short term. In that, Google's piety will ring true. If you're an end user, the net gain of that openness is zero, and at times it's even a loss.
I trust Apple infinitely more than I trust the carriers to make something I'll enjoy using. And that's the key to understand. With Apple, what I buy will always be clean. I'll always instantly understand the tradeoffs. With Android, it's going to be a gamble. How hard has my carrier boned this device? I'll have to research if I'm a nerd or be surprised if I'm everyone else. And there goes the power of Android as a brand.
Android is no longer Google. Android is the carriers.
When was the last time you heard someone write those guys a love letter?
Apple is no less ruthless with its control, but it exercises it for a different purpose: To deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible.
While this is true, never forget that Apples end goal is also to make money. What Apple has figured out though is that by making great products that for the most part work, people will buy and buy and buy. It's almost like the carriers have decided that they suck and will always suck so their goal is to milk every customer as quickly as possible before they leave.
Apples goal seems to be to get a customer for life, and they do a pretty good job at accomplishing just that.
Definitely true. My preference for Apple comes from exactly this fact. They take the long view for making money. Making money by making things people love is something that's a fine deal for me – everyone gets a great value. Apple turns down many short term opportunities to goose their revenues because they refuse to ship something they can't be proud of.
Carriers take the short term view, at the expense of their product and their users. This is so frustrating to me.
But they don't design products to make money. That's what separates them from other companies. They design products that people will love.
Apple's goal isn't to make money. Our goal is to design
and develop and bring to market good products. We trust
as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as
another consequence we'll make some money. But we're
really clear about what our goals are.*
Senior VP Industrial Design, Apple
* quote via http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/next/archives/2009/07/j...)
But we're really clear about what our goals are.
This is no less true for Apple, though it is less often pointed out.
As a money-making scheme, making good products seems a pretty good plan. However, if and when enough consumers differ with Apple as to what constitutes "good", Apple will be in the same position as every other publicly-held company: they will be required, under penalty of a stockholder lawsuit, to adjust.
Apple's bread and butter is the end-to-end UX. Android is the carrier's attempt to get their own enhanced UX arsenal so they can answer Apple. They won't win that way. In the WWII pacific theater, the Japanese started out with more manuverable planes. The US answered not by playing Japan's game, but countering with their own strategy. (Planes with better armor and enhanced performance and more of them.)
Android won't win by playing Apple's game. It will definitely lose if it plays the carrier's game. Android needs to leverage its openness advantage in a way that is understandable to the customer. Perhaps this will be a replay of Apple vs. Wintel?
First and foremost, I don't have to jailbreak my phone to install apps not "approved" by Google/the carrier/whoever. I can download an APK from anywhere.
Secondly, the code is open. This does matter in practice, because there are people who can and do take advantage of this to create modified versions (e.g. Cyanogen). If Google decides not to take a particular direction, but enough people want it, it can happen.
Thirdly, it's not tied to one hardware manufacturer. Apple may make great hardware, but they attack a certain target market, which not everyone fits into.
Finally, although your argument about carriers has some truth, it misses a couple of points. It's not like iPhone users are exempt from all carrier restrictions - why can I tether via my Android phone yet iPhone-owning friends cannot? And there is nothing about Android that forces you to use a certain carrier (ironically, in the US, it's iPhone users that have no choice of carrier). I purchased my phone on T-Mobile in the UK, now I use it on another carrier in Australia, no problem.
Out of curiosity, do you (or any Android users reading this) find yourself doing this with any frequency?
Last example: Angry Birds
It wasn't in the Market at first. And many seem to do it since getjar.com was down some hours after Rovio announced via twitter that you could get it there.
I host pre-beta versions of my Apps on my own servers and give friends (and their friends) access to it. This would be impossible with iOS. I would have to know and register the hardware IDs of all devices in advance.
If you think this doesn't matter in practice, consider Apple vs Google Voice on the iPhone. Apple rejected (or "didn't approve") voice, leaving iPhone users with no way to access it. Users would be better off if Google could have hosted a Google Voice package external to the app market.
Swype keyboard is an example of an app that's not in the market but can be installed via APK. For most users, it's not a big deal, but I think that's mostly because the Market has far fewer rules than the AppStore, so even apps that require root access can be uploaded to the Market.
"Open" isn't very useful PR - which is what it basically feels like with Google at the moment - and I think it's fine Jobs is trying to highlight the advantages of the iOS platform.
37signals should move on from Political Communication 101 and avoid getting caught up in spin vs. content.
I've been actually shocked by the number of people nowadays who have told me that they use Linux at home, let alone the number of people who have heard of it. Ask these people whether they use Gnome or KDE and they won't know. Ask them what Linux they use, and they will: Ubuntu, almost exclusively.
The Android repo will not contain all the platforms, I think usually Google are only interested in putting the source for their GEDs there. But the above is probably a good start.
Android's openness has made it to those who want the openness. The fact that my phone OS is open is the thing I care about.
(I'm running SkyRaider 3.3 on my HTC Incredible on Verizon.)
(Not that people won't figure out ways around them, but if Android were truly open to users you wouldn't need exploits to get around limitations...)
The blame should rest entirely with the carriers.
This isn't "Apple vs Android" this is "Apple vs Carriers".
That's an academic distinction, though, wouldn't you agree? Android as software is perhaps "truly open" but what about Android as a user experience?
Android, from the perspective of the vast majority of people who will interact with it, is what the carriers say it is.
The fact that there are multiple suppliers give the user choice. They can include how locked down a phone is in their criteria for making that choice, and buy one direct if they wish to have a phone that's not locked down by a middleman.
That phone is not publicly available unless you're a dev.
I do know a lot more people that have extended both iOS and Android using the developer API's, so all the evidence I see is that even technical users don't care about RMS's "freedoms", except the one to extend the software running on their devices, and the market response indicates all many care about the "integrated system" Steve wants to focus on, even when AT&T service sucks ass (just today, I got two voicemails without the phone ringing (granted, this is in NYC)).
(disclaimer: everything stated is my own opinion, not representative of employers past or present, etc.)
I don't think you appreciate how restrictive that is. The only example of open hardware is the Yeelong, since that's what Stallman uses. The only open source distro is gNewsense, etc.
Apple is the only manufacturer that was able to convince carriers to sell their phones without any of that garbage. I don't know what is stopping HTC/Motorala/Samsung from trying to enforce similar conditions for its Android-based devices. I guess the carriers simply have too much control over what gets into the market and refuse to sell anything that they aren't allowed to tamper with.
However, I agree with you that the Android brand will suffer very badly from this.
If say HTC tried to enforce such conditions, they'd have little leverage because their devices are practically Android-running commodities. If HTC threatened to walk away from a carrier, it likely wouldn't hurt the carrier that much.
Since Apple's the only iOS device vendor, they have a bit more leverage over carriers.
Alternatively, they could team up with the other manufacturers and boycott carriers which refuse to sell their phones as-is. But they simply don't seem to care about their end-users as much as the carriers (and neither does Google apparently).
There's that, but it won't be too long before someone else releases The Hot New Android Phone. (Which might not live up to the hype, but it'll take the spotlight off the unavailable phone for a while.)
"This is exactly how Apple gained that leverage."
See above. The only company releasing Hot New Apple Phones is Apple.
Of course it is. Proof in the pudding: iOS has none of it.
> The same crapware has been on Symbian and other (closed) mobile operating systems for a long time.
because Symbian and WiMo were open to carriers and manufacturers.
> I don't know what is stopping HTC/Motorala/Samsung from trying to enforce similar conditions for its Android-based devices.
Because they don't care and because their client is the carrier, not the end-user. An aussie ISP put it quite succinctly a few days/weeks ago when they declared they didn't understand why Apple didn't bow to their demand when they were its biggest customer in Australia.
To Apple, carriers are not customers. They're generally hindrances and they might be partners, but Apple's customers are end-user.
Not so for HTC or moto.
You missed my point, which was that the crippling is not Android's fault but that of the carriers and phone manufacturers. Its also not due to some inherent property of iOS that it doesn't have any crapware, but thanks to Apple caring about their customers more than about the carriers.
Exactly. But again, this has nothing to do with Android or its openness.
It also has a Sprint replacement for the wifi hotspot tethering so the user is required to pay $30/mo for that feature that is normally native to Android even when they're already paying for an unlimited data plan.
It has sprint logos and music that plays on startup and shutdown that cannot be removed without rooting the phone.
A recent update added a media portal where the user can purchase movies and tv shows from Sprint partners. Also a "system app" that cannot be uninstalled.
There was a case earlier this year where Vodafone issued an update which added some crap like this to peoples phones, but enough people complained that they removed it in their next update which upgraded people to Froyo:
Maybe people in the US just don't complain enough ;)
It's really a shame. But maybe Google is taking a longer-term view than many here give them credit for. I still believe that their goal is to commoditize carriers. They tried to push too fast with the Nexus One and google.com/phone and got burned, but that doesn't mean they've given up.
I have about 15 home screen widgets, an alternative dialer, alternative browser and a bunch of other programs that would never be allowed on iOS that beg to differ.
Pick the platform you like, by all means, but what you mentioned is more about design decisions than true "openness."
Quite a few rules have changed on iOS, so both the examples you gave are allowed and available.
But this does not make iOS "closed". You can get whatever widgets you want built using web technologies, and they run like apps.
And if you're a developer, you can put whatever programs you want on your device.
Since all the open advocates should be advocating open source as well, why complain about iOS? IF you want to put open source software on your device, you can just compile it. Apple gives you the development tools for free (the core of which is itself open source) and charges $99 for handling the certificates an authentication for apps.
But you can put any app you want on your iPhone if you're a developer.
IF you're a consumer, you're not capable of compiling apps for your android phone either anyway.
(For some values of "developer" here I'm including enthusiasts who may not really be able to program but are find with compiling code.)
You must not know what a widget actually is. Unless there's been some startling update to iOS what you are referring to is nothing like an Android widget.
That's a tangent to the main point which is that people will still crack the "locked-down" carrier phones and you'll be able to flash over the default image with your own. Once this happens, Android being open makes all the difference. With a jailbroken iPhone you can do a few new things, with a rooted Android you can do whatever you want and it's pretty easy to change things because the source is right there.
Drop by xda-developers sometime. There are lots of different kernels out there for Android phones and lots of different ROMs that wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Android's openness. Can you run something like compcache on your iPhone?
GPLv3 would fix that, incidentally.
But so far, I haven't found any compelling reason to give up on the integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible provided by Apple.
If you play their ball game and buy subsidised through their retail outlets and thus subject yourself to their twisted rules. That's a far call from the Apple side of the equation where regardless of how you acquire the device, short of exploiting security holes, you play by their rules.
I have a Nexus One, I bought it unsubsidised up front, it is a truly open device, I didn't have to hack it to get it this way. The fact that Joe Public can be conned by carrier retail sales to buy a different device and be subjected to a different experience is more his problem than Google's. The "unbreakable tying" between the carriers and Google does not exist.
Except that Google discontinued the Nexus One.
There just aren't sufficient financial incentives for an unlocked, un-fucked-with Android phone, bundled with rainbows and puppy dogs, to come to market. So if even Google won't stand behind that approach, who will?
The fact remains that 99% of Android devices will ship because a carrier decrees it – especially in the United States. Academically, your approach is fine but it doesn't really apply to the reality of how people can actually buy the Android experience.
One doesn't require "ruthless control" to "deliver the most integrated, user-friendly, clean experience possible". Apple could relax its control a little and let people who want to use their hardware for other purposes, and void the warranty, do so easily. This wouldn't take away at all from the experience that Apple wants to provide out of the box.
Apple uses ruthless control to control its branding.
Would it be possible for you to provide a counter-example that demonstrates your point? You may have a point, but it seems completely unsupported by available facts and I am hoping there is an example out there of what you think would be the "proper" degree of control to hit those goals.
I'll use Apple itself as an example. I can install Linux without issue on my MacBook Pro, and despite that Apple still provides an integrated, user-friendly, clean experience in the use of MacBook Pro. Apple doesn't advertise anything other than their own branding and experience with their laptops and desktops, so their message of integrated, user-friendly, clean experience when using their software on their hardware stands, even though it's not locked down.
This is a red herring anyway. I don't believe I'd be able to list anything other than Apple as an example of something integrated, user-friendly, clean experience without someone pointing out that whatever it is isn't as good as a random Apple product and thus doesn't qualify as a counterexample. It's really easy for someone to say "I don't think X provides an experience on par with Apple products, even though it isn't ruthlessly controlled" for any X.
The only material improvement I see in the last five years is the market power that Apple has managed to steal from them, which it's put to mostly-good use.
Until Google is willing to start throwing its weight around with the user experience, Android represents no net gain to my thinking. But Google can't even enforce minimal backward compatibility or timely updates to its hardware partners, and is now running actively in reverse, painting a smiley-face on the carriers' opening up their own balkanized app stores. How does that serve Android developers or users?
That Apple was able to do it was marvelous, but it was also stupendously unlikely: a combination of the willingness to enter an unpromising market, the ability to pull it off, and the timing to convince a weakened Cingular to let them produce a phone without undue interference. It had never happened before, and Android doesn't make it more likely to happen again -- quite the opposite, really.
There are very few carriers in the US and they all have the same motivation for locking the phones. The number of phone models don't matter.
Heck, why is there so little competition between ISPs and carriers in the US? Cheap 100 Mbit internet connection, anyone?
Of the millions who are buying smartphones from any company, I tend to think only a small percentage care about the types of things we love to debate here.
I would say that the main reasons for a consumer (and they vastly outnumber us nerds) to buy a smartphone are:
* make a call
* send/receive texts
* send/receive e-mails
* surf the web
* take pictures
* look pretty
* do the facebook
* have some sort of mapping/gps
* have some sort of handsfree
* have decent battery life
And guess what, just about --every-- smartphone out there will satisfy that wish list, and do a pretty damned good job of it.
Openness? Number of Apps? Closed environment? Jailbreaking? Rooting? Nitpicky UI details?
Only nerds care about that stuff.
"What is best for the customer" (and also what is best for app developers) is imo a much better argument for Apple and so it isn't surprising that Apple would prefer to fight on this turf.
As an app developer, I develop for the iPhone/iPad (even though I wrote an Android app with their beta SDK long before Apple launched the app store and Google launched their first Android device). So I personally agree with the case made by Apple.
In this context, it is also worth noting that Rovio (which earned >$1M/month with their $0.99 iPhone app) recently released an Android app, but made it free. They seem to be using the "ad-supported" model for the same reason that many developers don't develop paid Android apps (and I hope I haven't offended too many Android users by pointing out that Android users download very few paid apps). Rovio has also mentioned the difficulties with Android fragmentation. Overall, I'd say that Apple's argument does resonate in the market.Google's argument (and the fact that it is available on all major US carriers) is also very effective. Overall, this is a great time for mobile devices/apps
Apple allowed an Android toe-hold in the market and they're going to continue to pay dearly for it. Google has steadily improved the OS, and the phones reflect that. The hardware has gotten better and the overall user experience has continued to improve. Not to mention that that quality of the third party apps has continued to improve as well.
We are likely to see at least one more major OS revision for Android before Apple finally brings something over to Verizon. Remember, Google has brought some serious talent to bear here with the likes of Matias Duarte (user experience for WebOS) now on the Android front.
Fragmentation is a developer issue. The app-store issues are by and large developer issues (particularly since Google has finally opened up the paid app options). Get outside of the echo chamber and you'll see lots of folks happily using their Android phones and feeling pretty good about it.
Jobs is getting agitated because, in my opinion, he knows this is a battle he's going to lose. Customization is right at the top of features most important to cell phone users (I can't post the citation, it's an internal study I was given access to). Android's open philosophy certainly filters down to the end user when it comes to customizing the phones. Be it with new launchers, keyboards (my iPhone toting friends are intensely jealous of Swype), or just about anything else on the phone.
Remember ringtones and wall-paper after all. That was an incredibly huge market driven by the folks wanting to customize their phone. Cases are another expression of that. Android eventually wins, because for most folks, that is the driving factor. Apps are going to be a wash in the end... both platforms already have enormous breadth and precious little in the way of high quality. They won't influence the outcome. Apple will lose, simply because they insist on being Apple.
If I were to buy a phone, I don't want to have to worry about whether the apps on my friend's Android phone will work on mine. It's one more thing for me to worry about, and it may be just the thing to stop me from buying it.
Steve Jobs talked a lot about fragmentation and brushed openness aside. Why then did Andy Rubin not talk about fragmentation but emphasize openness? Because he is not stupid, that’s why.
That’s what makes many of those public fights very frustrating to watch. In a perfect world humans wouldn’t get distracted by frames. They would be able to recognize that there is nearly always more than one aspect to a story.
It absolutely drives me crazy when, for example, so many advocates of nuclear power can only ever talk about CO2 and so many adversaries of nuclear power can only ever talk about safety and waste.
On my iPod Touch, I can get to the corporate email perfectly fine, through all of the iOS updates I've gotten.
Apple can test all of their base features and their apps and know that they work on every device they ship. It just works and it is integrated.
George Lakoff's (left) Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate - is a fascinating read regardless of your political beliefs. http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Think-Elephant-Debate-Progressive...
The Frank Luntz (right) example of death tax vs. estate tax is pretty well known. What he put together for the GOP about how to frame the bailouts/Wall St/financial reform/Obama admin this year is also a fascinating political document: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23808095/Language-of-Financial-R...
When Steve did it, he clearly stated what he was doing and justified reframing the argument in that way. In that case, reframing a debate using more appropriate terms to really approach the core of what is different is an honest tactic that is often necessary to really compare two things objectively.
Secondly, the terms fragmented vs. integrated appear to have less intrinsic value than open (good) and closed (bad).
As such, you can argue with which is the most relevant framework to compare the two systems (and actually, this is going to be different for different user groups- manufacturers care about different things than developers, or end users), but I don't like the implicit characterization of his reframing the argument as somehow dishonest. That seems close-minded.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
We could have a dynamic marketplace where devices, users, networks could buy spectrum in advance or real time and even resell it.
We need incentives for making the most use of spectrum, for making more spectrum with faster clocks. Seems we have incentives for controlling and inhibiting innovation.
Instead we've sold spectrum to the highest bidder who can then control access to it and have no real open competition. Maybe Google's bid last year will change that a bit (http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9910932-7.html).
You ought to be able to create your own network by buying spectrum in a fluid marketplace. Or just be one guy buying spectrum as you need it for some device you made yourself.
Don't if that all makes sense, but I think you may at least see what I mean by the problem behind the problem.
"I gave him a job, and his skills and abilities are helping my business do well."
"I am profitably exploiting his skills and abilities."
the meaning is essentially the same, but don't say the second one in public. (in my teenage years I tried that, too.. it ended badly.)
Anyhow, I don't spend as much effort on it as I did, but I still think being aware of this sort of thing is an important part of everyone's mental self-defense.
Healthy Forest Initiative - opens up more parks to the timber industry
Patriot Act - Who would dare say they are against Patriotism?
When I am criticizing Apple for iOS not being open I mean it is not open to run any application that works on the device.
The Problem with iOS is that only Apple-Signed applications are allowed. Because of that, Apple has the power to keep the competition and the content they do not approve of out.
Sounds awfully familiar. Didn't they learn anything from the desktop wars in the 90's?
What does that even mean anyway?
That is, the Android phone you buy may be a very different experience than the Android phone I buy, and that creates a lot of opportunity for dissatisfaction internal to the platform which simply would not be there with a strong first-party stance on how things ought to be done.
I believe that is what the Tweetdeck quote was about, anyway.
Both sides of any argument do this. Google by calling it "open" which means more than it really does. Apple doesn't debate it's not open, it just debates that the results aren't any good because of the confusion of choices. "Open" is supposed to be a good thing, Apple doesn't believe it is.
But the fact is that Apple is crying about it, they're explaining why they made the decisions they made. They need to justify this to their investors. Google needs PR to make Android look good.
That's why people are "Pro Life" not anti-abortion. Do these guys read the news, maybe they just started?
That's a pretty touchy example. Honestly, I've always thought that "pro-choice" was stretching the truth more than "pro-life".
Well, it's a legal debate. The argument is about the legal issue shorthanded as "abortion", no? In which case I can understand why someone would call "pro-choice" the pro-abortion side.
I'd be perfectly happy calling both 'pro-life' and 'pro-abortion' (if they exist?) both 'anti-choice'.
There's another term: "propaganda"
I could probably rephrase the matter endlessly if I really wanted to.
Just a little later the CEO of TweetDeck (@iaindodsworth) tweets this: "Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't."
Help me out, is this a typical case of 'FUD'?