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.
1 related blog entries
- Must Have Android Apps (July 8, 2010)