Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mobi Wars (android vs. iOS vs. RIM)

Today's Tech Gospel is on the on-going Mobi Wars.  I've been getting a lot of inquiries on which is the "best" phone to get... unfortunately, the answer is, like always, 'it depends'.

This is just my personal take on the mobile wars.  For the sake of simplicity, I'm just going to focus on the 3 most popular ones... iOS, Android, and RIM. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn't be able to recommend ONE of them for everyone. Simply because not everyone has the same needs.  I'm not including Symbian since they dropped UIQ.  Their Series 40/60 feels more like a feature-phone than a PDA-OS.  UIQ was my favorite (honestly, more than Android), and I used it exclusively for the last 7 years and I really liked it.  S^3 is still to new, and I have no personal experience with it yet.

The oldest of the 3 is RIM. The Blackberry has been around for a while. It has (had?) a great idea. A global messaging system... kinda like AIM/YM for phones. And the ever famous push e-mail. The problem with RIM was that they stuck to a proprietary system... locked to proprietary hardware (which isn't that great to begin with) the strengths of this system, however, shine in an enterprise setting. Where business people can communicate globally via the BBM service. It's great at what it was designed to do..keep business people connected... anytime...anywhere. Now, whether or not this is a good thing for your boss to be able to find you anywhere in the world, at anytime... that's entirely up to you to decide.


Next up... the loudest of the bunch... iOS (the iPhone) ... with people lining up at 3am in the rain to get one... Apple has done what it does best... SELL. Now, a lot of my friends are surprised that I never kept an iPhone. Tried the 1st and 3G one... was never impressed. I'm not against it. I just think it falls short as a phone and SMS device. Hence, I've owned and used an iPod Touch as my primary PDA since it first came out.   I love iOS.   The refinement of the execution is just ... well.. Apple. Simple, easy, sleek. Tons of apps for almost anything you need. "There's an app for that!".  And although the iPhone falls short as a phone. It is improving. A lot of basic functions (multi-tasking, MMS, cut and paste, and Bluetooth) were just recently introduced... so it is evolving.

I would recommend an iPhone for anyone has outgrown the functionality out of a regular phone, but doesn't really want to take the time to tweak and fiddle with the OS.

Enter the new kid in town... Android. Google's FREE mobile OS. Now how does this benefit the consumer? You can have branded (HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson) Android devices for about $200, SIM-free! No 2-year contract, no BS... with pretty much the same features as their larger, more expensive siblings. (I say pretty much because you still do get what you pay for in terms of hardware... even if Google is giving the software away)

Android... picked up where Symbian's UIQ dropped the ball. Because it syncs with Google's online services, it pretty much is compatible with any computer that can view Gmail. That is also Android weakness. Although cloud computing is the near-future, it's not quite here yet... so if you don't have an unlimited data plan, or don't intend to get one... I really wouldn't see the point of getting an Android device. It's still a great phone... but you feel like you're running the thing in 2nd gear if your not online 24/7.

Widgets also increase the over-all functionality of Android devices.  Something iOS doesn't have yet.  Not having to launch your calendar app just to see your appointments for the day is incredibly useful.  As is being able to have your phone automatically switch modes depending on the time of day, or day of the week.  Wireless iTunes syncing is also a nice feature to have...something iOS (oddly) doesn't have yet.

Even with no official app for something, a lot of Android apps can be strung together to do more complex tasks than they were designed to do.

Being the youngest of the 3, Android is still not as refined as iOS or BB.  Not quite ready for prime time, Android is still the weapon of choice for early adopters.

To sum it all up:
Blackberry: Great for corporate communications, specially the global BBM service.  Without BBM, it's kinda useless.  Best way to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family around the world.  Apps are limited.  Easiest to deploy and secure in a corporate fleet setting.

iPhone: Fun, sleek.  There's an app for almost anything you wanna do on it.  (Except download dive computer data straight from your dive computer... if someone from Suunto or Mac Dive Log is reading this... please make a dock that interfaces directly with an iPad or iPhone!)  Great games.  Mature and stable OS and Apps.  The inability to hide all icons from the desktop is still something that personally bugs me about iOS (iPhone, Touch or iPad)  Apps controlled by Apple, this minimizes security and virus risks, but also limits apps to developers that Apple wants.  Apple operates on a white-list system.  Only apps Apple wants get approved.

Android: Fully customizable.  True multi-tasking.  Tweakable.  Widgets.  Higher learning curve, but more advanced communication capabilities are possible.  Next best thing to having a phone OS built just for you (this is already custom Linux territory, people at this level do not bother reading my blog to get help on which phone to buy... hahahaha)  Google operates on a black-list system.  All apps are welcome until reported malicious or illegal by end-users.

**Personal note, ELSE looks like the most promising mobile OS... if backed properly, this is a new company that has the potential to overtake all 3 if they play things right... **

PS: I'm not mentioning Windows Mobile because that would just be sad (sorry MS, but you know it's true) ... hahahaha... let's see if they can raise the dead with Windows Phone...

This is far from over... with iOS 4, Android 2.2, and BB6 just coming out... this is only the beginning.

Past Tech Gospels

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