Just before Google I/O 2012, The Street reckons that “Android users don’t know enough to matter. This is interesting, especially as it comes along just before I/O and it’s bound to get a strong reaction from Android fans. The article has many references, but they’re all from a skewed point of view.
Eric Jackson of The Street aims for the 80-7 ratio – the percentage of users on iOS compared to Android. The minority is supposed to be bad, but is it?
Android’s fragmentation isn’t Google’s OR Android’s fault. We all know that all Android phones (except for the Nexus line) are updated by manufacturers when they want, then the network passes the update on to users (or not). The Nexus range is the only line that keeps Android stock, like Google wants, but do all people want this Google experience?
Fragmentation doesn’t matter
Jackson calls it fragmentation but I call it choice. HTC, LG, Samsung and others customise stock Android so they can offer extra features or connect to clouds. This means each phone offers a different experience. Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense are very different from the Google stock launchers. Change is always better, according to Android. Personalise it….if you take away this choice, you have millions of identical devices, just like the iPhone.
Comparing Android phones to iPhones is a mistake from the start because there’s not as much choice. Apple has to update just three devices, the iPhone 3GS, the 4 and the 4S, and not all devices support all features. There’s fragmentation here as well, but iPhone fans (or phans) choose to ignore this. Siri is only on iPhone 4S, for example, and this disparity will widen further with iOS 6.
Most Android users have Gingerbread. Sony has just released the amazing Xperia Ion 4G LTE which runs Android 2.3, not 4.0. As long as a lot of apps work on different phones, and people have lots of Androids to pick from, no-one’s going to care about fragmentation. It’s cool.
The other way to see fragmentation is as cloud services. Earlier in June, during its developer conference, Apple said that cumulative iOS device sales topped 365 million, but that there are only 125 million iCloud users. 80% of iOS device users have the latest version, but only around 30% connect to Apple’s cloud. In contrast, Google account sign in or creation is part and parcel of the Android set-up process, and this syncs the same kinds of info as iCloud does. So, most of the 300 million-plus Android devices are connected to Google cloud, which is integrated into iOS by search and maps.
Too Dumb to Go Online?
Jackson also claims that “Apple users out-browse Google Android users by a 3.3x margin”; but he uses NetApplications data from SlashGear for Feb 2012. This latest NetApplications data is easy to find and says Android’s usage share is at 19% and Apple’s mobile browser is at 64%. Other well-respected firms disagree; the February citation ignores StatCounter, which puts Androids data usage share in front of Mobile Safari in Feb, and still did throughout May.
According to ComScore data, Jackson says that “70 percent of American Android users can’t seem to figure out how to use WiFi on their devices”. This is based on over two thirds of these users getting online via mobile networks, while just 29% of iPhone users do this, preferring Wi-Fi. Is this dumb, or smart-thinking?
In the US, most iPhone users are on AT&T, which has an appalling reputation for dropping calls and data connections. Most Android users are on other carriers. Verizon has a great reputation, and T-Mobile and Sprint offer unlimited (or at least nigh-on unlimited) data plans. Do Android users go cellular because they can? They don’t have to switch to Wi-Fi to get online.
Android fans also have faster mobile Internet options. Verizon offers over a dozen Androids with LTE, and T-Mobile offers models supporting HSPA+ at speeds of up to 42MBPS. There’s no LTE iPhone, and HSPA+ maxes out at 14MBPS if you can manage to squeeze that speed out of AT&T’s busy network.
There are so many flaws in Jackson’s article – as well as a few valid points – and it repeats the invalid points a bit too much, while missing the real point.
Are you Android or iOS? What do you think? Do Android users matter less than iOS users?