With Android’s momentum growing, there are already signs that geeks are starting to switch. For example, the Lifehacker blog has just published a guide, Jumping Ship from iPhone to Android: A Switcher's Guide. This is less useful than it sounds, but it’s still a sign of the times.
Influential Silicon Valley blogger and 'long-time Apple believer' Louis Gray has also posted about Why I Turned In My iPhone and Went Android.
Gray’s four reasons for switching are choice, momentum, 'the cloud' and capability.
Gray says: "If I want a small screen, I can do that. If I want a physical keyboard, I can find a device that does that. But for iPhone, I simply would have to take whatever Apple offers and believe that their choices are right for me. I've chosen Apple many times and will again in the future, but I don't think I should buy into a system that restricts my choices when another one is out there that enables my choices."
The cloud, he adds, is "the idea that I don't need to be tied to my desktop computer to manage data on the phone, but instead, the phone is built to tap into data stored on the Web…. I do believe the Web to be my future hub, and Google is preparing for that world, while Apple is not."
Of course, we don’t know what Apple is preparing behind its famously closed doors. However, downloading and synchronising things via a specific PC program, the way Apple does today, is clearly different from working with the Web.
Android may also start to benefit from Apple’s apparent missteps. Some of these include: restrictions on Adobe Flash and on how iPhone apps can be developed, which are attracting the interest of governments concerned about competition; problems with the AppStore, with 'app farms' apparently being used to steal from users; and Apple’s response to the problem with the iPhone 4’s antenna.
Long-time Apple user and software developer Dave Winer thinks this is a symptom rather than a cause. He says: "I don't think the problem is with the iPhone 4. I think what we're seeing is Apple's charm wearing off. The Reality Distortion Field bubble is about to burst. Their run as the Exceptional Company is about to end."
None of this implies that Android phones are better than iPhones, or vice versa. As an individual, you should buy whichever you like -- or a Nokia, or a BlackBerry, or whatever -- and you should respect other people’s freedom to choose something different.
In any case, there’s never one best choice, because users have to think about hardware and software features, battery life, applications, choice of carrier, network performance, availability, price, and any number of personal preferences. But the likelihood is that, in the long run, a greater diversity of choices in a greater number of markets will lead to a larger number of users. That’s what happened with Microsoft Windows. It could happen again.