Posts tagged iPhone
Posts tagged iPhone
Before Apple versus Android there was Sony versus everyone else. Decades prior to Apple suing Samsung for copyright infringement, Apple was the one learning everything they could from Sony, from design to factory uniforms… and beyond.
We are now used to the idea that Apple offers the best product design, app store and mobile gaming on touchscreen devices. While the Cupertino powerhouse might sometimes lag behind high-end Android phones in the specs department (hello 720p and NFC), we can’t deny Apple’s commanding presence in the marketplace, from its passionate fan base to seemingly unbeatable design and usability.
Just like Sony in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
The Walter Isaacson bio on Steve Jobs tells us that Jobs was a huge fan of Sony. He went as far as trying to implement the uniforms policy seen in Sony’s factories back at Apple. Jobs recognized Sony as an engineering and design leader, the company to beat in consumer electronics. And he knew as far back as the mid-1980s that Apple’s future was not in personal computers but on consumer electronics. That’s the principle that dictated the design of both Apple II and, later on, the Macintosh. They were made to look like appliances – which explains the presence of oversized handles on both the Mac and the iMac G3.
The colorful iMac G3
Apple also witnessed Sony’s rise as video gaming giant. They saw the value of being in control of a single, far-reaching platform welcoming developers from all corners of the world. Sony was a trusted brand with a pedigree in electronics, which allowed it to leverage disruptive technologies like 3D-accelerated graphics and CD-ROM drives to dominate console gaming for a decade. Gaming was the last thing in Steve Jobs mind (Wozniak was the gamer after all) but he would soon realize how powerful gaming would be for the iPhone and, later on, the iPad.
Founded in 1946, Sony revolutionized three industries in a row: home video (the ill-fated Betamax VCR), music (the Walkman) and gaming (the PlayStation). Much like today’s Apple, Sony was lean, fiercely competitive, nimble and home for the best engineering in the world. Sony was “Master of the Analogue,” according to Sea-Jin Chang in Sony vs Samsung: The Inside Story of the Electronics Giants’ Battle For Global Supremacy.
Sony was able to develop and successfully market three waves of consumer electronics:
Betamax: while they lost the from a consumer point-of-view (and despite inventing home video recording as we know it), Betamax was a winner with professional users. Beta SP was the most popular format among broadcasters and production companies for decades.
Walkman: it was created on a whim, at the request of one of Sony’s founders. He wanted to be able to listen to music during long transcontinental flights and didn’t care for a built-in speaker like the ones found in transistor radios. The rest is history – the Walkman was the iPod of its generation.
PlayStation: launched in 1994 in Japan and 1995 elsewhere, Sony’s first game console forever changed the industry. While not analog by any means, the PlayStation’s high-end DSPs and audiophile-grade components owe their existence to Sony’s experience in the home. Fast three-dimensional graphics, a CD-ROM drive and low media costs allowed it to take the industry by storm and severely cripple Sega in the process.
The first Sony Walkman, model name TPS-L2
Sony was Steve Jobs’ role model for what a successful consumer electronics firm should be like. They believed in “betting the farm” on new technologies, investing millions in R&D and even moving ahead of the market if necessary (with the failed MiniDisc format). At the same time, Sony’s penchant for sci-fi-looking VCRs with menacing LEDs and an assortment of functions were clearly an example of misguided creativity. Sony VCRs were anything but simple; they were designed to impress consumers and mock VHS decks, not be friendly to the touch – or welcoming. Jobs would learn from Sony’s mistaken understanding of the need for complexity to revolutionize personal computing and, later on, smartphones and tablets.
A “simple” SuperBeta deck
Samsung Electronics is part of a huge conglomerate; South Korea’s largest, in fact.
Founded in 1969, Samsung Electronics built black-&-white TVs (it didn’t have the expertise to build color TVs), microwave ovens, air conditioning systems, etc. No “halo” products, no design/engineering masterpieces like a Sony Trinitron TV set or Walkman-like personal media device. In 1984, as VHS manufacturers were about to deal a final blow to Betamax (and almost 10 years after the introduction of home VCRs), Samsung finally launched its first VCR in the United States. However, due to quality issues it was often used as a loss leader.
An ancient portable TV set built by Samsung
The Korean behemoth was VERY strong on semiconductors, however. In the 1980s, the company decided to move towards developing and manufacturing DRAM modules for PCs. This move completely changed the game for Samsung; it now had a footing in the semiconductor business, which would explode in the 1990s thanks to Windows 95 and the Internet.
The move to digital devices, where SoCs (system-on-a-chip) replace sophisticated analog boards, took out Sony’s main competitive advantage, expertise in analog engineering, allowing Samsung to finally defeat long-time rival Sony.
Samsung versus Apple
Sony is a company in trouble. The latest financial numbers point to a Q2 loss of $1.6 billion. The only bright spots are the PlayStation division and mobile – which might also lose money next quarter due to the Ericsson buyout.
Apple learned from Sony and overtook it. Samsung is attempting to do the same to Apple. The battleground is smartphones, where Android manufacturers are now on a fight to the death with Apple over intellectual property. Samsung learned about the value of marketing, premium products and advanced product design from Apple. It embraced Android. It builds the beautiful AMOLED screens that power Galaxy class devices along with the A5 SoC found in both iPhone 4S AND iPad 2. Finally, Samsung has now overtaken Apple as the world’s top seller of smartphones with almost 30 million units shipped last quarter.
Apple knows Samsung’s goal is to dethrone it as the world’s most valuable company. After all, that’s what Apple did to Sony, even before its long-awaited “smart TV” is unveiled to the public. The iPod replaced the Walkman. Macbooks replaced VAIO laptops. The iPhone replaced Sony’s smartphones, PSPs and digital cameras/camcorders.
Apple and Samsung learned from the best – Sony – and are now on relatively equal footing on key areas: technology, marketing, market penetration. 2010 was a warm-up year for Samsung with the original Galaxy S. 2011 saw the first real gains, with the Galaxy S II taking the world by storm. The real battle will take place in 2012.
The Galaxy Nexus, Samsung’s not-so-secret weapon against the iPhone
Stay tuned — and make sure to share your thoughts in the comments :)
I hate this game. I hate it so much. Every time I open it, I tense up. I dread touching for sunrise. I hate the night. It’s a fucking bastard, the night. And what about the sun? The sun is a lazy bitch who only helps you out in the beginning and then no matter how well you fly it just sits up…
Go Spacetime! Triple-mention FTW :)
Ok Apple, you win this one.
Amazing feat :)
With dual-core Android monsters like the Atrix going on sale right now, who would be crazy to get an iPhone 4 instead? Not to mention the near-certain existence of the iPhone 5, due in 2011 still.
According to CNET, the limitation on simultaneous data + voice on Verizon also plays a role in the (underwhelming) sales numbers.
Which one, Android or iPhone, do you think is the superior mobile platform and why?
Kurt Elster, Project Manager, EtherCycle:
“I believe iOS is the default winner on the basis that there are literally hundreds of Android devices. Each device has a different hardware configuration. The result is a wide disparity of capabilities across the market. CPU, camera, flash, internal memory, bluetooth, network, screen resolution, and wireless specifications can be vastly different on any two given handsets. To compensate for the diversity of these devices, developers must either abandon devices or develop for the lowest common denominator. The situation is illustrated by Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, who have been forced to officially ignore nearly twenty phones. That’s more than the total number of iOS devices.”
John deGlavina, Creator & Admin, CellPhoneForums.net:
“I’ve reviewed several cell phones over the years, including iPhones and several Android devices. Personally I think Android has the upper hand. Google has managed to get it on lots of devices, many in the past year, across almost every network. In my opinion Apple has suffered greatly by being only on AT&T for the past 5 years. In the meantime other companies have had time to catch up and make better devices powered by Android.”
Rebecca Flora, Idea Generator/Writer, The Art of Words:
“As a confessed Apple devotee, there is no choice but the iPhone 4. Like all things Apple, it performs beyond expectations. I can’t speak for all Android phones, but I had one friend tell me his Android worked just great after he dumped a lot of the manufacturer’s software. Personally, I don’t think dumping software I’ve paid for should be a prerequisite for a phone that functions as promised. Plus, I know that if anything does go wrong with my iPhone, a quick trip to the Genius Bar will likely provide a solution at no additional charge.”
Brad Waller, VP, Business & Affiliate Development, uBuildApp.com:
“The iPhone has to win out due to its uniformity across devices and systems. There are four versions of the iPhone and virtually all (95%) are on iOS3 and above.
As a developer for both, the iPhone is easier to develop for because we only have to plan for one screen size (and two resolutions of images) and I know anything I develop will work for 99% of the iPhone users out there. When we develop for the Android we need to worry about over 80 devices already out there with more than two dozen on the horizon, all having various screen sizes, 4 viable OS versions, and specific device options.
As a user of both, I find the iPhone more intuitive and uniform. Apple’s stringent guidelines make apps work very much the same and make for a better user experience. You can hand an iPhone to a small child or an older non-tech savvy adult and they get it right away. Not so with the Android.”
Rakkhi Samarasekera, Security Solutions Architect, Visa Europe:
“Depends on context. Best phone for hackers the Galaxy S. Best for everyone else still the iPhone 4. It just works enough said”
Alex Shapiro, Marketing Director, CarBuzz:
“A recent study found that women prefer iPhones, while men prefer Android cellphones. I’d argue that each one has it’s place. On a personal preference, I like Androids more. You’re not tied to Apple and iTunes, and the feel is more organic of a community type product.”
Bryant Harris, Founder & CEO, myRete:
“As an App developer, iOS remains the undisputed king.
In any market place you have supply and demand. Android provides plenty of demand, but the state of the development platform for Android is such that supply will continue to be weak, with most budge constrained app developers steering clear.
In particular here is a list of items Android lags on:
— No credible In App Purchase/micro payment strategy. Google checkout doesn’t count, no one uses it.
— No consistent DRM (Digital Rights Management) story. Why would I take the time to build something if anyone could easily decompile what I wrote, possibly change it or even re-release it under their own name with some minor tweaks
— Android will never be the quality gaming platform that iOS is. No console game is written in Java, forcing game developers who create the premium console titles to rewrite the games if the want to deliver them for Android. As such, no one does.
As far as I know no one is making any reasonable money on Android Apps, at least not compared to a similar iOS app. Until that changes Android is more or less a great ‘potential’ market, but not one currently with pursuing.
iOS on the other hand just has the annoying review process and associated restrictions. But there’s millions of eager and paying customers to help make developing for iOS worthwhile.”
DJ Skee, professional DJ & media personality, Skee.TV
“I think that although the iPhone is aesthetically more pleasing by using a closed platform, the advantages of Android and its openness are truly the future. As we are seeing in the controversy with Wikileaks, openness in this day and age will always beat closed systems. In addition, the ability for anyone to create apps without restrictions or worrying about approval will lead for far greater innovation. The current numbers are pointing to this fact, and I just picked up a new Nexus S that I love.”
James Pikover, Tech Journalist
“Android and iPhone (more specifically, iOS) are both great platforms, and both completely opposite. The superior platform is iOS, though not for long. The simplicity of the hardware and the limited number of devices (only a handful of nearly identical iPhones and iPod Touches, plus now the iPad) is so much simpler than the dozens of Android phones, each with a different processor, screen size, available memory, et al. Fragmentation is really Android’s Achilles heel.
Still, Android is growing faster than anything else. The latest Galaxy S phones are stunningly fast. If companies consolidate their Android models, they’ll easily overtake Apple. And because the updates to Android are so much faster, both with hardware and software, it’s only a matter of time, even if Apple starts making iPhones available on Verizon.”
Most will agree that there’s no stopping Android; the little green robot is now the sales leader in the U.S. and, according to ComScore, sits at 23.5 percent in market share (about 1 percent behind the iPhone). On the other hand, Apple’s prodigy is a formidable opponent — not only a pioneering product, but a mature one at that. Many of Android’s shortcomings (to be addressed in another post) are non-existent on iPhone.
According to a newly-released survey by Discover Financial, among holiday shoppers scoping out smartphones to give as gifts, 44 percent say they plan to purchase an iPhone for a loved one. Coming in a close second, 42 percent will buy a smartphone on the Android platform, and falling a little shorter behind, 34 percent say they’ll buy a BlackBerry.
Although the comments we received lean heavily towards the iPhone, this survey and others clearly show that Android has the momentum for now.
We freely admit the iPhone is a more mature platform. On the other hand, we’re fans of the flexibility of Android, of its many hardware iterations and enthusiast-friendly approach to mobile computing. In the end, both platforms will probably co-exist, even if Android ends up on top in absolute numbers.
Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!
The end of 2010 is nigh. Both Android and iPhone platforms duel relentlessly for current (and future) smartphone users.
Which one do you think is the superior mobile platform and why?
illustration credit: Gizmodo / Giz Explains: Ups And Downs Of Developing for Android and iPhone
If you’d like to contribute:
a) Please send your answer to leglevy AT gmail DOT com with the words “Holiday Face-off” on the subject line
b) I will publish ALL answers on the blog, as long as they don’t include swear words (!)
c) Make sure to include your name and title. No anonymous answers allowed
The post will be published about a week from now.
I noticed in June, but didn’t think about writing a post on it. Makes perfect sense — is there a more connected subway crowd in the U.S.? I don’t think so.