When Google last year unveiled Android, its open-source mobile phone platform, I published an article titled, Android vs. iPhone: Will the Google Phone Be an iPhone Killer?
At the time, before iPhone 2.0, it looked like Android had a good shot at taking down the iPhone, for several reasons:
- Android phones were set to be priced around $200, while the iPhone at the time was priced at a minimum of $400 (for the 4GB model).
- Because Android is open-source, developers can freely create applications for the phones. When I wrote my article last November, Apple had not yet released a software development kit for the iPhone, so any third-party applications on iPhone were unauthorized.
- Apple signed a contract with AT&T binding the iPhone in the United States to the wireless company for five years, while Google’s Android phones will be built by various manufacturers and supported by many carriers.
Add to that the fact that when I wrote the article, there was still no mention of 3G data speeds or GPS being on the iPhone.
iPhone 2.0: A lot’s changed in half a year
Apple is not oblivious to Android’s potential, so it looks like they’ve stepped up their game to take on Google with iPhone 2.0.
The 2nd-generation iPhone will cost $200-$300 — discounted by an AT&T iPhone subsidy that will lose the wireless company money.
The App Store on iPhone 2.0 will let third-party developers distribute their own apps. Plus the new iPhone will have 3G and GPS features.
Still some obstacles remain:
1. iPhone is bound to AT&T for another four years
What was Apple thinking signing a five-year contract in such a fast-moving industry? While Google dominates the subscriber bases of T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint, iPhone will be stuck in a cage with AT&T.
2. iPhone is not open source
Open-source means greater flexibility. A 100% open-source handset powered by Android will have large communities behind it, working to improve every aspect of the phone.
iPhone, on the other hand, will have only Apple behind it. Of course, there will be the upcoming App Store, which gives developers some freedom to distribute their applications. But such a setup is far from open source. That’s why I think that to compete with Google, Apple will have to work to make the future of iPhone as open as possible.
3. iPhone has only one look
It may come a time when the iPhone will become so trendy that people won’t want to buy one and fit into the crowd. Would you feel funny if you were sitting at a dinner table, and all six people in your party had iPhones?
The handset hardware that will carry the Android platform will be built by several companies in Google’s Open Handset Alliance. So people will be able to have their own unique phones, but all powered by Android software.
On the other hand, it might work out in Apple’s favor for the iPhone to maintain a consistent design. That could give it a more memorable brand identity than Google’s Android, which will not have one iconic look like that of the iPhone.
Android vs. iPhone: Which is the better phone?
Hai of Mobile Madness points out a few things Android developers can do to dominate the iPhone:
- Make software distribution decentralized, but organized so that application distribution can become viral.
- Improve and encourage consistency of design among Android applications.
- Target third-world countries.
All of these are good strategies that either company could follow, and they show the expanse of opportunities that have arisen in this now-revolutionized mobile phone industry.
I think at this point, considering Google’s history of successful products, it’s anyone’s game.
But iPhone 2.0 is without-a-doubt much better equipped to handle Android than the old iPhone was.
iPhone or Android? What do you think?
Which is the better phone? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.