Android: Too Much Choice

  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:07 PM #16

    I think that choice is a great deal. It is nice to have the Android phones. It helps push technology along. But choice isn’t the end all be all. This is the case in all aspects of our lives, whether we are trying to pick out a cereal or buy a pair of shoes. Too much choice can lead to counter-productivity.

    Sometimes simple can be good.

    The Androids strength is a somewhat more open architecture although I have heard that it is easier for developers to create software for the iPhone. The pseudo-open architecture has appeal mainly for people who don’t wish to feel like there are impediments to what they want to do. A jailbroken iPhone serves basically the same purpose as custom ROM or rooted Android…. a few people can satiate their special needs and proclivities. The Android architecture is not really wide open either. Because of multiple developers fragmentation can often develop as was pointed out on slashdot. (http://it.slashdot.org/story/11/01/13/2334213/Is-Samsung-Blocking-Updates-To-Froyo)

    Additionally, the Android is dependent upon tech evolution and software development like everyone else. There are no vast leaps happening which are allowing the Android platform to outstrip iOS. It is more of a game of leapfrog. There is just no real leaps in technology from either camp…more incremental updates to an already defined consumer product. I think Apple can mount more coherent responses to what the Android designers do. The Android designers will try to differentiate themselves to pick up market, but this could lead to more consumer confusion and eventually market fragmentation.

    The next great device which will define the markets probably won’t be much like either the iPhone or the Android. Then a new game will begin and the markets will be wide open again. iPhone or Android dominance will not even factor in really because a new paradigm will have been reached.

    One thing that has always stuck with me is a quote from Sinclair Lewis’ book Babbit:

    “Standardization is excellent per se…....I get a better tool for less money, and I know precisely what I’m getting, and that leaves me more time and energy to be an individual in.”

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:29 PM #17

    Bosco,
    Apple doesn’t just decide for everyone. Apple is not a monolith. They borrow widely from what people want to do and incorporate in future releases and current releases. Do they always get it right? No, but they are not some beast forcing the people into its gaping maw consuming the world.

    Ultimately consumers will decide what will stand or not. If functionality develops in the Android which is wildly popular, then you can be sure that within a matter of months the same functionality will be developed for the iPhone. Or if there is some big hardware advance, then it will be incorporated into the next iPhone. And vice-versa.

    It is not just a small Apple demographic which wants standardization. The greatest part of the Android market is comprised of such people as well. The demographics are largely the same. Most people are not choosing the Android from some overt need to hack it and install custom OS’s and such. Most are buying it because it is a great piece of hardware with a fine feature set. Most folks don’t even have a clue about all of the things it will or won’t do with Android OS. Both Android and iOS have a capacity to do much more than any one person will ever know about.

    Jailbroken Apple phones, rooted Androids, Custom Linux installs, Custom ROMs…. all exist and appeal to such a small demographic of iOS and Android users. Most everyone doesn’t want to mess with tech. They just want their Phones to work like a toaster. Press a button and makes toast every time.

    All the extra functionality most users need comes from the hundreds of thousands of apps out there. And, where there is a gap an app will soon appear!

         
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    Posted: 14 January 2011 02:30 PM #18

    paikinho - 14 January 2011 06:07 PM

    But choice isn’t the end all be all. This is the case in all aspects of our lives, whether we are trying to pick out a cereal or buy a pair of shoes. Too much choice can lead to counter-productivity.

    Wow! You need to immerse yourself in sneaker culture. Choice is everything there! It’s why Nike churns its colorways monthly. It’s why collector shows like Dunkxchange are very popular with young adults.

    You should talk to sneakerheads. They follow dozens of web sites and have different reactions to the constant flow of new shoes. You’d be hard pressed to find two of them who have the same favorite shoe, especially if you limit your search field to sneakerheads who’ve been in the game for more than 2 or 3 years.

    Fashion and style are about you being you, not an exact clone of someone else. You can mix and match and have your favorite things. Increasingly, technology is more like fashion and style. Yes, you want interoperability of course, but you want it tailored to how you work, not have to tailor your work to the technology. Anyway, that’s how pro-choice people think.

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:33 PM #19

    The cell phone industry has long been a prime example of the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) at its worst.  I’ll bet that there must be a thousand cell phones to choose from.  This wreaks havoc on manufacturing and sales, and is one of the reasons that profits are so lousy among cell phone manufacturers.

    In a past life I used to participate in divisional reviews.  One thing that sticks out in my memory is the tenacity of product managers in defending the proliferation of variants that sold little but cost a fortune to produce.  The mantra usually was ‘we need to have a full product line to meet the needs of the customer’.

    In a more recent incarnation (consulting, also long in my past) I did a cost analysis of short run products for one of my clients.  The equipment was designed (and its purchased justified) by the economics achieved in long runs.  Set-up, tear-down and clean-up time was in total 48 hours.  Marketing set a 10% extra charge, however.  The company discovered that they had cornered all the short run business and was losing its shirt.

    The proliferation of Android based phones makes it impossible to provide adequate service and support, and makes it impossible for a single phone manufacturer (Apple excepted)  to get the economy of scale needed for the lowest cost manufacturing.  It nullifies the advantages that go with high market share: rapid movement down the learning curve and the lowest cost manufacturing.

    BTW, for those who like to draw parallels between the computer Market of the 90’s and the cell phone market of today, the computer market was mature and had pretty much interchangeable components making it possible for all participants to make an equivalent product.  The cell phone market today is in a turmoil created by Apple who is causing rapid product change through technology; components are not interchangeable and Apple, because of their size, has a lot of control over their availability to others.

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  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:35 PM #20

    Bosco,
    That is fine for collecting where there is an obsession for the unusual. Choice is everything there. But it is not the end all be all for all aspects of life. I’m fairly sure that the market wouldn’t sustain a thousand smart phone choices or even ten thousand.

    Collectors are different. Obsession drives the markets to create an ever expanding number of choices so that money can continue to flow. I would find it hard to argue that a lot of productivity in life is generated from the obsessions of collectors.

         
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    Posted: 14 January 2011 02:37 PM #21

    paikinho - 14 January 2011 06:29 PM

    If functionality develops in the Android which is wildly popular, then you can be sure that within a matter of months the same functionality will be developed for the iPhone.

    Really. Where is your voice activated turn by turn navigation built into the phone? Where is your SMS reader that can run in the background and read your SMS messages through your Bluetooth while you drive or walk? Been using both on Android since early summer.

    And I suppose we’ll see real time English-Spanish voice translation on iPhone in a few months, right?

    Where was transcribed voicemail on iPhone while Apple was writing to the FCC saying that such a feature would confuse their users and subject them to privacy breaches?

    -Brad

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:37 PM #22

    Westech,
    Informative

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:38 PM #23

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 14 January 2011 06:30 PM
    paikinho - 14 January 2011 06:07 PM

    But choice isn’t the end all be all. This is the case in all aspects of our lives, whether we are trying to pick out a cereal or buy a pair of shoes. Too much choice can lead to counter-productivity.

    Wow! You need to immerse yourself in sneaker culture. Choice is everything there! It’s why Nike churns its colorways monthly. It’s why collector shows like Dunkxchange are very popular with young adults.

    You should talk to sneakerheads. They follow dozens of web sites and have different reactions to the constant flow of new shoes. You’d be hard pressed to find two of them who have the same favorite shoe, especially if you limit your search field to sneakerheads who’ve been in the game for more than 2 or 3 years.

    Fashion and style are about you being you, not an exact clone of someone else. You can mix and match and have your favorite things. Increasingly, technology is more like fashion and style. Yes, you want interoperability of course, but you want it tailored to how you work, not have to tailor your work to the technology. Anyway, that’s how pro-choice people think.

    Heh. Must nice. In this case vast choice is a hindrance to me for buying shoes because I have wide flat feet, and because of store’s needs to stock tons of different styles and makes to cater to choice, they never have the size I need because it is a low volume option. So I’m off to the internet ordering and returning shoes until I find something that isn’t terrible. I choose New Balance!

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    Posted: 14 January 2011 02:50 PM #24

    paikinho - 14 January 2011 06:35 PM

    Collectors are different. Obsession drives the markets to create an ever expanding number of choices so that money can continue to flow. I would find it hard to argue that a lot of productivity in life is generated from the obsessions of collectors.

    “Collectors” (more like “enthusiasts”) drive the shoe market for Nike, Adidas, etc. Basketball players get million dollar show contracts not because wearing them drives sales to athletes, but because wearing the shoes drives sales to fans.

    To put the difference between niche “collectors” and very mainstream “enthusiasts”, consider that nobody is paying Kobe Bryant to use Civil War era china.

    Another thing where people love choice… Have you been in a Sunglass Hut? Ever tried on several pairs of glasses to see what frame works best with your face, colors that match what you wear, lenses that are right for when you’re in the sun?

    I have to admit though… It is entertaining to see you guys try to form a mythology to explains why this ugly, foreign, tasteless Android thing has gone from 0 to 1.5 times market and sales share as iPhone in about 14 months. When do we get to the part where you sacrifice vegans in front of giant dessert statues in order to keep the evil Google at bay?

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 02:56 PM #25

    Your words betray a dark heart that recoils from the joy in others.

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 03:02 PM #26

    FlipFriddle - 14 January 2011 06:38 PM

    Heh. Must nice. In this case vast choice is a hindrance to me for buying shoes because I have wide flat feet, and because of store’s needs to stock tons of different styles and makes to cater to choice, they never have the size I need because it is a low volume option. So I’m off to the internet ordering and returning shoes until I find something that isn’t terrible. I choose New Balance!

    Have you tried Skechers?  Their extra wide selection is pretty good.  Never thought too much of their styling but ended up getting lot’s of compliments from 30something women.  If I wasn’t happily married…, wink 

    Just a couple of things.  Sears (not Wal-Mart) was the originator of good, better, best I believe.  Some of the posts imply that Apple avoids complexity for the sake of its customers.  I would argue that it embraces complexity but brings focus/clarity to it to achieve its ease of use.  I like the sneaker analogy.  I’d guess that the size of the market for sneaker aficionados is the same as those who care about the open/closed issue of iOS/android.  Tiny.

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  • Posted: 14 January 2011 03:07 PM #27

    I liked Sears for the Hush Puppies.

         
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    Posted: 14 January 2011 03:11 PM #28

    The “choice” in the Apple ecosystem is how you fill your device.  It is the apps and the software that make an individual statement; we Apple Kool Aid lovers like the simple elegance of a device that is clean and modern, using such elemental materials as glass and aluminum.  It is a form of understated elegance that shows good taste without flash (you can read that in two ways).  It is in all the stuff that fills the device that the personality of the individual shows through.

    As another example:  Amazon could make 100+ versions of the Kindle, each with different colors and surface treatments.  But to what purpose?  It is the content of the Kindle that people love; the device itself is simple, understated in design, and efficient.  Just as it should be.

    I’ll leave Android to the kids who want to customize their devices and show them off to friends.

         
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    Posted: 14 January 2011 03:14 PM #29

    danthemason - 14 January 2011 06:56 PM

    Your words betray a dark heart that recoils from the joy in others.

    Not at all. We just disagree. We value different things. But this “too much choice” meme is a stretch. In the late 90’s serious thinkers would latch onto No Logo (it’s direct ancestor) because Naomi Klein was kinda hot, not because she made any sense.

         
  • Posted: 14 January 2011 03:17 PM #30

    bosco,
    I don’t think the Android is any of the things you seemingly think I believe. I think the Android is awesome if you had ever paid attention to my previous postings. I just think that your posts seem to suggest that you enjoy a back and forth because you love rile up iphone lovers and apple enthusiasts. You seem to prognosticate that Apple will fail which is a gross generalization and unfounded. Such apparent beliefs or provocative commentary of Apples impending doom due to their closed system of hardware and software development would seem to fly in the face of economic realities or historical precedence.

    As I have said before, both platforms are awesome and far exceed what most people need. Functionality continues to expand for both. And even better. They are pushing each other for further development. But neither is destined to fail anytime in the near future as you have seemed to suggest Apple might.

    I don’t have a horse in the race yet. I don’t own an iPhone or Android, I currently use apple machines running windows and ubuntu. I like the choice. I even thought of giving the Android OS a partition so I can play with it.

    Thanks for the hints on turn-by-turn navigation and real time Spanish translation. Would you happen to know if there is also a Swedish or a Portuguese variant? I don’t have much use for Spanish.

    A simple google search for turn by turn navigation turns up a lot of apps. Not sure if any are useful, but someone else could speak better about that. Like I said…if a function is in big enough demand then the iPhone will have it eventually and vice-versa.

    One thing I do like for the iPhone is the cycling apps. I know of several folks who have those apps in our cycling club and they seem pretty great for what I need. I haven’t heard that the Android currently has anything close to what is available for the iPhone. Plus, I’m not sure that mounting a much bigger Android device would work on a bike anyhow.

    But of course just cause I don’t know doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. I am always amazed by what I don’t know about that 10’s of thousands of people do for their hobbies and about which I had never previously knew existed.

    [ Edited: 14 January 2011 03:22 PM by paikinho ]