Gadgets – Android Can’t Beat Apple

If there is just one thing I could make every Unix/Linux/Finux/Debian/whatever random distro users realize at once, it would be this: most people do not enjoy and do not want to fuck around with OSes. This is especially true as more people get computers and just as importantly, as more people deal with things going horribly wrong on their computers. This is why Windows is still around years after a more powerful OS, cheap as air, sits everywhere on the Internet.

Now we have Android, which combines two things geeks love: open-source and Google. Everybody dreams of having an open-source platform to build cell phones off of, since Apple proved the cell phone can become both status symbol and actually useful as a computer. Most people, in fact, think Android will replace the iPhone.

These people are wrong.

This isn’t to say Android won’t be successful as a cell phone OS. Quite the opposite. Three years from now, Android will probably have forced everybody else except Apple off the market (goodbye WinMo; you will be missed by no one). Or, rather, the thousands of different versions of Android that are on the market, each just subtly different from the other to make coding apps for Android utterly pointless.

Google seems to have forgotten cell-phone manufacturers sell products that last about two years max and then are tossed in a recycling bin. This suits handset-makers just fine. A constantly refreshing customer? Yes please!

But it’s shit news for app developers because the handset makers don’t care about their apps. So they’ll change the source code around any old way they please if they think it somehow makes the phone more appealing to their target segment, and it’s tough noogies for the developers. They can just recode their app to suit the handset maker’s platforms.

By the way, know how many handsets Nokia makes? No? Neither do I, but it’s a long-ass list. Ditto Motorola. And Sony. And Samsung. Imagine hundreds of smartphones on the market, each with an OS that’s Android-in-name-only, and you get an idea of how screwed most developers are.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be apps: Google has plenty of them. It does mean that each phone will be its own ecosystem and won’t have the variety of Apple’s app store. Which, in turn, means the creativity and usefulness of Android phones will only be tapped by homebrew.

In short, it’s like any open-source product: only nerds care and will use it to its full potential. Everybody else will buy it because either they don’t want or can’t get an iPhone.

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