I enjoyed reading Paul Stamatiou’s piece on why Android is Better (for him). I’m often fascinated on why people switch ecosystems and I like that he found something that works so well for him and that he provided a very in-depth, thorough review. It was a great read. The only thing I would like to comment on is his closing paragraph. Paul writes:
“The Android community lacks a champion. An evangelist that doesn’t obsess over hardware specs and has a broader appeal. Someone that vividly illustrates how Android can fit into the ebb and flow of your daily life as it has mine. And sure, even someone to encourage budding developers to take their next idea to Android. Where is the Marco Arment or John Gruber of Android? We’ll get there.”
The entire blog entry prior to that paragraph talks about how he changes almost everything about his phone’s stock Android experience and then wonders why there’s no champion who has a broader appeal to evangelize Android as a platform to what is presumably normal users (i.e. non-tinkerers). I would argue that the average smartphone user doesn’t really care about most of the use cases that comprise Paul’s post and the ones who do don’t need an evangelist. Anecdotally, I know geeks and normal people who use iOS and most of their use cases overlap. I know relatively few who even bother to jailbreak anymore. They live within the “constraints” of iOS quite comfortably and happily whether they’re power users or normal users. Both groups of folks buy apps and use the phone to its potential. With Android, all of the people I know who use it are either completely non-technical and would easily be fine with a phone lacking smartphone capabilities (i.e. they don’t use their phone to its potential and seldom buy apps) or are hardcore geeks who customize it to the most minute detail. The kicker is that most of the folks that I personally know that are hardcore geeks that use Android pirate apps, seldom buy any apps, and were drawn to the platform because it was easier to do that on Android than it was on iOS. That is, I don’t know any “normal” users on Android like I know on iOS. Data on the usage patterns of iOS and Android customers would suggest that my observations are not unique to me as more people buy apps on iOS than Android and more people on iOS than Android routinely surf the web on their mobile devices. How do you evangelize development on a platform where many users are indifferent to the platform’s capabilities or are only interested in what they can make the platform do for free?
Marco Arment has some insightful comments on Paul’s writeup too.