Android guy on skateboard

I've been an Apple iPhone user since the first version was released in 2007. I upgraded to an iPhone 3GS when it was released and I've been immensely happy with the device for three years. But that's all about to change as I'm switching to Android.

I ordered an HTC Incredible nearly a month ago and have been patiently awaiting its arrival. With the Droid X announcement I decided to cancel my Incredible order and wait a little bit longer for a device with a 4.3 inch screen. While I continue to wait for July 15 - the date the Droid X becomes available on Verizon - I want to talk about why I'm switching to Android.

I just need a change

It's not easy for me to remember a time before iPhone and I'm not sure I want to. I had a Treo 700p on Verizon before switching to iPhone in June of 2007. Before getting the iPhone I had become a huge fan of Apple hardware having switched from Windows to OS X. I dreamed of the day Apple would release a phone and told others it was going to happen. People thought I was crazy. When the iPhone was released it was nothing for me to throw down 600$ cash to buy one off contract and switch to AT&T. AT&T didn't have much of a bad rep at the time and the promise of nice mobile hardware coupled with great mobile software became reality.

The iPhone has certainly been an amazing device over the years. No one can argue the impact Apple and the iPhone have had on the mobile software, hardware, and application space. Apple coined the term "there's an app for that," and now everyone uses it. In many ways other hardware manufacturers have played catchup while Apple enjoyed a significant lead. I believe this lead is being shortened every month as the Android operating system matures and hardware manufacturers produce additional Android-based devices.

My iPhone has played a significant role in my life over the years. It's helped me stay in touch with people, be more productive, learn more about software, and enjoy a different kind of gaming platform (though honestly, I don't play games much). I've taken it everywhere I've gone and use it for so many different things. But I'm bored with it.

I just need a change. I'm ready to try something new and with Android there's finally an operating system that competes with iPhone OS (now called iOS). Android has apps. It has a rich user experience available in several different flavors: Android vanilla, and HTC Sense, Motorola Blur. It has fantastic integration with Google services which I'm using much more heavily in 2010. Many Android devices also have (arguably) better cameras and in my opinion faster innovation.

I embrace openness

I embrace openness and I'm proud of it. I've been a Linux user for nearly 10 years and I'm a big fan of open-source software in general. Without spending too much time on this topic, I'll keep it short and say open-source software versus closed-source software is not about money or "free" to me. You can read hundreds of blog posts where people discuss the merits of free software versus paid software. I firmly believe the technology world is massively dependent on both but I tend to gravitate towards open-source whether it's free or not. The world needs choice and I choose to use software that gives me the best value, the best experience, the best features, and the greatest chance of succeeding as a software developer. If you peer over my shoulder during a normal day you'll see me using open-source software such as: Java, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Hadoop, the Flex SDK and more. You'll also see me using closed software such as: ColdFusion, Flash Builder 4, and Mac OS X.

When it comes to mobile device platforms Android is much more open than Apple iOS and that appeals to me. I will have the ability to install any application I want through just about any channel. I'm not limited to a single application store or the whims of an application review team that may not have my best interest at heart. In return for choosing an open platform I of course will be subject to apps that may work different, sometimes have confusing features, and maybe not look as good as some on the iOS platform. Apple certainly does UI well but choice is infinitely more attractive than UI polish.

It is also important for me to have the Flash Player on my mobile device. The ubiquity of Flash Player cannot be denied and I've waited years to have it on a mobile device. With Android 2.2 (FroYo) and Flash Player 10.1 this will finally be possible. Apple's choice to keep Flash Player off their mobile platform is one I cannot understand as a consumer. I believe it's a long-term mistake Apple will never admit to making, even years from now. I'm glad I'm not the one who has to make the decision though. On the one hand you have consumers who are in love with a fantastic platform but who, all things being equal, would like to have the Flash Player. On the other hand you stand to cannibalize one of your largest revenue streams (the app store) and product lock-ins should you allow Flash Player. Seeing how this plays out over the next few years will be interesting to say the least.

I need a better network

Finally, I need a better network. I originally typed up this point "I want a better network" and have since changed the sentence. My big beef with AT&T is simply dropped calls. For the most part I don't have signal issues and certainly nothing as bad as those in San Francisco and New York. But my iPhone 3GS drops calls all the time. It's incredibly frustrating and I'm tired of giving AT&T chances on fixing their network. Another point in Verizon's favor - since that's where I'm going - is coverage where I spend a lot of time. When not in the office or at home I spend quite a bit of time at a nearby lake. There's never been AT&T coverage there but Verizon works fantastic. In fact, I can be miles down the lake and away from any marina and still get a nice signal on Verizon. For someone who enjoys working remotely I need a device I can use any time, any where.

Thankfully, there are many Android-based devices on Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. So choice wins here too. For me, Big Red edges out everyone else. No they're not perfect but no wireless carrier is. It's really a choice about coverage, device availability, and the carrier the rest of my family use.

I'm excited to switch to Android and I can't wait to get my hands on my first device. I had ordered an HTC Incredible a month ago and have since cancelled the order in favor of getting a Droid X on July 15. While more waiting is the order of the day I'm hoping it will pay off with a phone that can shoot HD video with a 4.3 inch screen. I'll be sure and follow up this post with some thoughts on the Droid X and Android in general after I've received my device.

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This entry was posted by Aaron West on July 3, 2010 at 11:01 AM. It was filed in the following categories: Android, Personal, Mobile & Devices. It has been viewed 53617 times and has 7 comments.

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7 Responses to Why I'm Switching to Android

  1. Nice post. Makes logical sense to me. However, I have been using gmail, apps, analytics et al for several years and I feel uncomfortable putting every egg in the Google basket. If nothing else I want to spread things out a little. BTW What happens when the iPhone becomes available on Verizon on their "Pandora" network? Do you think you'll stick with Android? BTW I am not an Apple fanboi and I don't own a mac. I use linux on the desktop and server as well as windows when necessary/requested.

  2. @Ryan - Very good point about putting all your trust (and data) in Google's systems. It's a tough choice but as I said in my post I try and use the best software I can find. Google fits the bill in many cases. I use Gmail for personal e-mail and business e-mail, Google Calendar for personal and business scheduling, and more.

    While I've chosen to put many of my eggs in the Google basket, I'm also backing up my data in places other than Google. I'm using Backupify to backup Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail, as well as a local e-mail client for e-mail backup. In short you do need to be careful and cover all your vulnerabilities.

    I really can't answer the question about the iPhone and Verizon. I believe the iPhone will eventually be on Verizon and then even more choice will exist for consumers. Whether I'll still with Android when that time comes will depend on where I get the most value, the most choice, and the best experience.

  3. Let me preface my comments by saying I hate AT&T. Not because of their service, per se, but because of their customer service and business practices.

    That being said, I switched to AT&T a few years ago. Maybe it's the area I'm in (Sacramento, CA), but I rarely drop calls. I know quite a few AT&T users and only the iPhone users complain. I've been left with the impression that this is the fault of the iPhone radio, not AT&T. I had the same experiences with the Compaq IPAQ and it was so bad I fought AT&T for a year before they finally gave me a Blackberry (yes, gave it to me and let me keep the IPAQ), which I replaced a few years ago with an even crappier Windows Mobile phone.

    With the advent of Android, I've been getting more and more excited. Not only is it open, but it offers the usability, flexibility and customization I've come to expect from my technology platform. I've held onto my crappy phone for a long time because I haven't seen anything which motivated me enough to spend hundreds of dollars on a new device. Android has changed that, and I believe the Android OS is set to become the primary OS choice for the mobile computing platform for many years to come.

    Apple had a good run, but again their huge egos and their lack of foresight will prevent them from staying a market leader.

    Which brings up my next question: When will we see an Android-based iPod competitor? ;)

  4. james

    @TJ Downes, yeah, android is definitely here to stay since it is adopted by most manufacturer without the overhead licensing costs. I would applause them for accept a standard platform, by getting the app working across the handsets is important for developers so that they could just focus on hardware and we develop mobile apps. These are of becoming similarly to PC manufacturer, Linux/Windows and Software Developers analogy. More good years ahead!

  5. Love my Droid. Didn't want to switch from Verizon, and the Droid made great case to stay. You'll love it Bro.

  6. You won't regret it, had my Droid Incredible since it launched, love it! Thinking of getting the Droid X for myself and giving the Incredible to the wife. :)

  7. I wanted the get the Droid Incredible but since I was already on the Sprint network and I had heard of something called the "EVO" coming down the pike so I decided to wait. My wife in the meantime upgraded to the HTC Hero and at first I was incredibly jealous. I had a Palm Centro and it simply didn't compare to the Hero. The HTC Sense UI on the Hero was amazing.

    I bought the EVO on the first day it was released and I strongly believe they should have sold little capes for this thing. Wow what a huge screen, 8MP camera (plus a smaller front-facing camera), mobile WiFi hotspot ability, Android 2.1 (with Flash Player Lite)...I'm more like a small tablet than a phone but I love it. The Droid X is similar so you'll love it too.

    Side note: As far as open vs closed, I just switched my ColdFusion back-end (for my Flex front-end) to Railo which supports AMF3 remoting and I love it. Free, too ;)