Tinker vs. Tailor

Apple is bloody good at branding; its hardware sells fast amidst faintly religious super-hype, it has positioned itself extremely effectively at the forefront of the mainstream premium device market, and its stores are frequently packed out with people served by Jobs’ very own Apple disciples. But Apple is set to start losing its shiny slice of the pie if it doesn’t invest in some serious game-changing, as Android eats into the iPhone’s previous reign at the head of the smartphone market, like a voracious termite. If we’re looking purely at operating systems, Android leads the market by a mile these days, with around 79% of the Australian smartphone market in the second quarter of this year (2013). It remains to be seen whether the iPhone can gobble back a truly substantial amount of the smartphone market, although with its recent characteristic cyclical release it almost certainly has managed to do just that. However, despite the fact that Apple products are known for their quality, design and performance, Apple itself may have given them a quality which could prove their ultimate downfall; their closed system.

Source: http://www.picstopin.com/1478/apple-wallpaper-mac-%3E-wallpapers-/http:%7C%7Cwww*roboimages*com%7Cimage%7Cri59612%7Cwallpaper-hd-mac-apple-by-the-catlover*jpg/

The best systems are those that are adaptable, efficient, accepting and aware of change. This is why the print newspaper industry is ailing so severely compared with other industries like online media, social media, television and radio; because it just isn’t able to adapt. Newspapers are now situated in an industry where the feedback loop is more important than ever before, and the efficiency, immediacy and interactivity of Twitter and online news sites are steadily starting to trump the credibility and trust associated with legacy media e.g. newspapers, television, radio.

When we bring this same case for new media back to how we think of the smartphone market and its future, the same can be seen in Android’s meteoric success. iPhone truly was the first successful intuitive and technologically progressive smartphone, the product that poisoned Blackberry and Motorola futures. As we watch these companies die slow, painful deaths (at least in the mobile market), we have see Android’s market share shoot up to surpass the iPhone. The fundamental difference between Apple and Android could not be more stark. Apple is obsessed with a closed, controlled Operating System and developers for mobile software are solely employed by Apple. Conversely, the Android software is on its most basic level developed by Google employees, and once released into the market the system is open, uncontrolled, adaptable and always part of a consistent feedback loop between Google and the Android mod community, who are a very highly valued part of the Android machine.

There are benefits to a controlled and closed system where hardware and software are tightly integrated and developed concurrently, such as the fact that app developers can optimize the development of their applications based on the abilities of the current Apple hardware (e.g. accelerator, camera quality), whereas hardware changes on Android according to the technology company e.g. HTC, Sony Ericsson. However the creative limits placed upon Apple app developers are not present when developing for Android, enabling developers to use their imaginations and push the possibilities of mobile.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12905355@N05/4129780521/

Will customization trump design? Some may argue that the future of mobile, and indeed even computing, will operate on a closed, tightly controlled system, however the history of the Internet and the losses that legacy media are sustaining from online news sites, content sites like Netflix and Hulu (at least in the U.S…), social media and such, indicate that open systems which are part of the feedback loop, and therefore constantly adaptable, flexible and current in response to consumer needs, new technology and market trends, will be the most successful in the long-term.

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9 thoughts on “Tinker vs. Tailor

  1. jthornton96 says:

    I am so surprised that Android has 79% of the Australian market!! Out of everyone that I know I would say that about 80% of them have iPhones. Apple certainly does need to step up it’s game though. Participative developmental strategies like the one used by Google are extremely fast, cheap and effective. The Apple system is all well and good provided that those designers can stay one step ahead of every other innovator in the world. Needless to say, I feel like they will run out of breath soon. Living in an increasingly technological world, more and more people are becoming knowledgeable in customisation and coding, thus the air-tight, ultra-secretive design methods of Apple may soon become too slow to provide for consumers who desire versatility and personalisation from their phone software.

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  2. sineadryan13 says:

    I’m not surprised that Android has 79% of the Australian market and I believe that this number will only continue to climb. Like you said, products need to be able to adapt with the change that is continuously happening around us and a closed operating system doesn’t really offer that to consumers. I think that people are slowly realising just how much control Apple has over them and they want out- hence the changing market share. Apple definitely needs to come up with something quickly as the open nature of the Android operating system just has too much to offer to its consumers and too many benefits over the iPhone. This article runs through ten different benefits that an open source operating system offers- http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-reasons-why-open-source-makes-sense-on-smart-phones/.

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  3. jonathyo says:

    I like the question you leave at the end on whether customization will trump design. I think most of us love looking at something beautifully designed. The image is what most often strikes us first. It is this distinct design that Apple has developed which has allowed them to attract its customers. For me personally, the design will always win. As long as the phone is functional and simple to use I will never think of wanting to customize it. It is true that open source Android phones allow much greater flexibility, but I think it the image and exclusivity that Apple offers to its customers will be irresistible for some. Some people buy brands and not the phone itself. Apple has established itself as an exclusive product different from all the rest of the Android phones out in the market. This is one of Apple’s strong points helping it to sell millions of the product which has not been changed much every time a new version is released. This article (http://gma.yahoo.com/seriously-why-people-waiting-line-iphones-104648823–abc-news-topstories.html) sheds some light into why people are so eager to buy Apple products.

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  4. amyuow says:

    I don’t know whether to be surprised or not that Android has 79% of the Australian market!. On one hand I look around or think of everyone I know and about 90% of them have iPhones, but then I also concentrate and realised that quite a few people I know have a phone that runs Android. I agree with you when you say that products need to be able to adapt with the change that is continuously happening around us, but I don’t know whether to think that a closed operating system is the most significant think that affects consumer choice. There are of course plently of benefits to open source operating, but is that the only thing Anroid has going for it? Could it be that people only prefer Android because it’s cheap, not because it’s good? Check this out: http://gizmodo.com/5977625/android-is-popular-because-its-cheap-not-because-its-good

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  5. chjvu says:

    I’m not surprised that Android has 79% of the Australian market, despite seeing Iphones everywhere. I think this has to do with the multiple identities (Samsung, Nokia, etc) that Android has in contrast with the monolithic identity that Apple’s branding scheme has imposed upon all their products. This monolithic scheme gives the impression that Apple is the dominant force, which is also a PR advantage they have in highlighting the benefits of uniformity and popularity.

    I like how you have expanded and elaborated on the idea of creative limitation by Apple, and how Android is the solution to this. However,I think creative freedom sometimes presents the overwhelming number of options or overflowing amount of content, from which the users have to select. This has caused the confusion to users and has also posed a major weakness of discomfort for Andrioid

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  6. brienneconnor says:

    I too, really like the question you pose at the end, and am very surprised that Android holds 79% of the industry in Australia. I however, don’t believe that Apple’s closed system will possibly end up being their ultimate downfall. I think the open system of the Android has many issues, especially with security, and this could also be their downfall. As we continue to share more online, particularly bank details and internet shopping, i believe the Apple system is much safer and free of viruses.

    I think in terms of the smartphone war, Apple will come out on top. Bray said it perfectly in his article on the smartphone war, “Android is fine, but Apple is finer”.
    http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/09/25/smartphone-wars-apple-beats-android-again/khR5i5AtcpMokR0IOBaVoL/story.html

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  7. paulieecic92 says:

    Similarly, I’m of the view that Apples closed system is at the moment at least a major reason for their dramatic loses in market share. It’s important to remember the dynamic of this market was so well pioneered by Apple in the past, and that it seems that current consumers are looking for more than Apples ‘like it or leave it approach.’ Personally I love Apple Computing products, but would steer well clear of the iPhone, and rather head towards anything Android based.

    The battle between the two really highlights the conflicting ideas of media models.

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  8. James Swanson says:

    Those statistics definitely showed a new light to the Android market for me, and have helped me open my eyes to the whole closed system/vs open system between the two companies. I’ve always just accepted having an iPhone without thinking to much about the closed system that it runs on, and I can appreciate the reasons people chose Android phones much more now in terms of limitless creativity for development. Very well written.

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