Apple, Google, it’s time to step it up! – Opinion

Apple, Google, its time to step it up!   Opinion

So that’s it, the last of the “big” players to reveal their hand has now done so and BlackBerry 10 has been launched with a big fanfare and a promise from all the major carriers to stock the handsets.

BB10 devices are out there and ready to take the world by storm.

That is of course if they can bundle Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android out of the way first.

Let’s be fair, RIM BlackBerry have given themselves a fair chance and launched what looks like a solid platform.  The big deals are still to be done regarding apps but launching with a catalogue of some 100,000 titles is no mean feat.  They are still in the game and not dead and buried as some have predicted.

Windows Phone is growing, Nokia is shifting handsets, HTC have a great little number in the form of both the 8X and the 8S whilst the Samsung Ativ S is quite simply a work of art.  Once again, the apps catalogue for the Windows platform is growing steadily.

Which leaves the heavily established big hitters, Android and iOS.

The Apple figures are massive. iPads, iPhones and iPods sell by the bucketload, the premium price only adds to the desirability factor and it could never be said that Apple design a bad mobile device.

However it has been said by many that iOS is showing its age.  With a design that has changed little since its inception in 2007 there have been many calls for change.  Yes, changes have been made such as addition of the multitasking bar, folders and notifications but the overall visual style and concepts have remained the same.

Despite launching after the iPhone, Android has gone on to become the majorly dominant player.  Although Android has seen somewhat more change visually than iOS in the last few iterations, the differences between 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and 4.2 Jellybean are not that major being smaller and more subtle.  As a platform it has reached a level of maturity but there is still some way to go before it is anywhere near the finished article.

The gulf between the two big players in mobile OS and the two smaller is massive.  Android has something approaching 70% of the smartphone market whilst iOS has 22%. This of course leaves only 8% for everyone else and there really isn’t any way for the big two to go but down.

This is where the two companies simply cannot afford to rest upon their laurels and think that what they have is good enough.

With the shiny Windows Phone 8 growing in stature and perhaps beginning to achieve recognition as a decent OS and with BlackBerry going all out to promote BB10, peoples heads may well be turned.

The apps catalogues for both platforms are only going to grow as developers recognise the potential of the OS’s and as this happens, people will begin to see more and more what they have to offer and so the circle will widen.

This leaves the question of whether the small changes that Apple and Google are making to their mobile offerings are any longer enough to keep people satisfied.  The little tweaks here and there are all very well but people are fickle and easily bored and a spinning settings icon or a live wallpaper has a limited shelf life as far as entertainment value goes!

The talk around the patent wars has died down somewhat however the major buzzword throughout all of the trials was innovation.  BlackBerry and Microsoft have shown us what innovation can be, its now time for Google and Apple to step up to the plate and show us all what they can offer!!

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  • Martin

    Nice article Simon, my head has been turned by both BB and W8. I’m and Android user and will certainly be looking to upgrade sometime in the next 6 months. I have an Android tablet so will not lose access to my current apps, not fussed about losing them on my phone, I only really use a few on a regular basis. I’ll be giving these two OSes a good going over, knowing me I’ll then decide to stick with Android!

  • Steve

    I think you miss the point Simon. The reason that Android and iOS are dominant is precisely because of how they are now. Windows Phone 8 and BB10 may give something shiny and fun but they just aren’t up to snuff in hardware OR apps and until the install base gets to the level of iOS or Android developers aren’t going to develop there first. Apple and Google both have run away successes that customers are still buying in astronomical numbers, making large changes would be stupid. Look how much hassle Apple got over Maps, imagine how much they’d get if they changed the whole OS.

    You might be bored Simin, but as far as I can tell you’re still a rampant Android fanboi who hasn’t been swayed by these new products either.

  • Anonymous

    You know, these look fine and all, but what do they really offer for somebody who already has a fairly up-to-date smartphone? I mean, there are a few nice features, but none of them particularly appeal to me.

    Biggest thing for me is the fact that I have a lot invested in iOS/Android already. No matter how good a phone OS supposedly is, it doesn’t offer me enough extra to switch platform. I’d have to re-buy all my apps (some of which I use a lot), and I’d miss out on some. Also, I have quite a bit stored in iCloud, and a great many of my friends and family use iOS devices – so I’d lose the ease of contacting them via the likes of iMessage.

    It’s got to the stage where the OS isn’t the point – they all do a good job these days. They have to just to stay competitive. Thing is, if you’ve already moved to a smartphone and you’ve invested some money into it (by buying apps, media, etc), it’s going to take something amazing to make you swap.

    For example, I now subscribe to 6 publications through iOS. I know that I cannot get at least 3 of them via any other means. Sure, I can make alternative arrangements, but that takes time and effort (and probably expense), so I really can’t be bothered with it.

    iOS and Android (between them) do what I want, and none of the other platforms offer me what these do. I can’t see myself changing in the near future either. It would take one of them to royally piss me off in some way to force me to change. Apple is on the verge of this with their vendetta against jailbreakers, but that’s another matter.

    Also – I actually had a go of an 8X the other day. Nice phone, but there were at least 3 little niggles I had about it which I felt would annoy me. I don’t doubt the BB device will probably be the same. It’s not until you get a phone and use it for a long time you realise whether it’ll suit you or not.. so I think that’s another risk the newer platforms take.

    • Steve

      A fair more cohesive point than any of the ones made in this post. What is it with this site, particularly Simon, and the opinions on every thing that happens? If anyone so much as farts in the phone industry someone on this site has an opinion they feel the need to share.

    • Simpleton

      Your point is valid. When I made my move from windows mobile to Android it was because of its openness. I was very impressed with the HTC Hero review I read here but wanted a phone with a keyboard and got the Motorola Dext which didn’t turn out well for me. I did eventually get onto the HTC train and I’m now on my 5th Android phone (ironically a Motorola) but the reason I’ve stuck with Android is because of the ecosystem-I have over 200 apps. why would I want to change for the sake of changing at extra cost?
      These new OSs’ can only really attract new users and I can’t see them selling enough to make the projects viable. It’s a little to late IMO. Why does this Blackberry release remind me of the last days of Palm?
      Blackberry hasn’t shown anything I can’t do with my current phone. there’s no killer app and the device isn’t premium or cutting edge In design, it may look like an iPhone but it don’t feel like one. This is the reason I ended up with a Motorola again, I wanted a smartphone that was made of glass and aluminium and other materials (Kevlar in this case)-premium is not plastic or polycarbonate to the guy on the Street.
      Yes I miss Sense but you’d have to be a complete idiot to screw up ICS and above. To get people to jump ship all these factors need to be met and BlackBerry or WP hasn’t acheived this IMO.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah absolutely agreed. I think they really need to innovate to get people to switch. I think for me to switch, I’d be looking for a device encompassing a good number of the following:

        1. Super-fast charging batteries – full charge in less than 30 mins (quite a bit of forthcoming tech like this)
        2. Viable wireless charging using an open standard
        3. No proprietary adapters
        4. Water resistant (like the new Sony)
        5. Flexible tech – or very high damage resistance without compromising form factor
        6. Open OS standards (although Android is fine in this respect, despite not being completely open)
        7. A more open hardware platform – I realise this is asking a lot, but I can imagine a device that is unlocked and easily rooted would be exceedingly popular for a number of reasons. Who cares if the networks like it or not.
        8. NFC
        9. LTE support
        10. DC-HSDPA support
        11. A standard form factor, which other manufacturers could follow, meaning generic docks and cases could be produced for a wide range of smartphones.

        On that last one… This is one way that the likes of Apple (and Samsung to an extent) have a bit of an advantage over most other manufacturers. People know if they buy an i-product, they will have a whole host of docks, cases and accessories to choose from where others do not. I think the industry needs to address this – not force people to choose, because generally the most ubiquitous will win. Apple have done a pretty stupid thing changing their connector in the way they have, so this is a prime chance for others to catch up.

        The lightning connector, quite frankly, is dumb. Apple have made yet another proprietary thing which is extremely difficult for others to recreate, forcing you to buy the ‘official’ adapters and cables, which are so overpriced it’s unreal. Even the converter is so big you can’t use most of the existing docks available, and the standards don’t appear to be published, meaning manufacturers can’t even adapt that way. I can understand the need for a new connector, but this just seems the wrong way to go about it.

  • Anonymous

    Odd article when BB10 is totally unproven and WP7.5 or WP8 has next to no market share.

    Android 5.0 will be out in a few months and will likely be big. Android 1.6 to 2.1 was, Android 2.3 to 3.2 was and 3.2 to 4.0 was also big.

    4.1 and 4.2 are mid-week iterations :-|.

    iOS? Very dated indeed, hardware and software wise.