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David Anderson
Professor Lynn Taylor
English 1010
26 April 2015
Picking Your Tribe: the iOS/Android Debate
Smartphones are, without question, one of the defining characteristics of this time in
history. Most people in first world countries haveat any momentaccess to more
information than the builders of the Library of Alexandria could possibly have imagined, right in
their pockets! Ptolemy surely would have balked at the idea of the sum of human knowledge
being at ones fingertips all day, every day. Those of us blessed with access to this incredible
technology have only to choose: Android or iOS? This has become an extremely heated debate
among fans of the two platorms. Smartphones are a deeply personal technology, so it is only
natural that the argument about which platform is better tends to get pretty combative. Ive
been an iOS user for several years myself and enjoyed it thoroughly, but that new Moto X
Android phone is looking pretty sexy So! Is one platform truly superior? Because the market
doesnt really favor one over the other, the features of the two platforms are starting to mirror
each other, and the reasons people actually buy one or the other are undeniably subjective, Im
here to tell you no. Neither platform is truly better than the other.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), as reported by Business Wire
online, in the fourth quarter of 2014 iOS and Android together utterly dominated the

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smartphone market. As the article reports, Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of all
smartphone shipments, up slightly from 95.6% in 4Q13 and from 93.8% in CY13. In terms of
year-over-year shipment growth, Android outpaced the overall smartphone market for CY14
(32.0% vs 27.7%, respectively) while iOS beat the market in 4Q14 (46.1% vs 29.2%,
respectively). Simple popularity is often a great indicator of a products quality, or at least of
the product makers awareness of what needs must be met by their product. If one is trying to
pick out whether Android or iOS is actually more popular, theyre going to have a hard time
making a good argument. As the article states, Android was more popular overall in 2014 but
got muscled out by Apple in the 4th quarter. This doesnt show market dominance on one
companys part or the other so much as simple fluctuation. More relevant to my point, this
article barely seems to think of Android and iOS as separate forces, much less that one of them
could be considered the platform to beat. It reports on their shared dominance of the
marketplace, neither as an underdog. Obviously, neither can be said to be meaningfully more
popular than the other.
Another big problem with claiming that either iOS or Android can be declared a better
choice is their feature sets. Often key features that might make you pick one phone over the
other are not exclusive. Apple recently introduced Continuity, a feature that allows iOS
phones, tablets and Mac PCs to hand off apps and services like phone calls and web browsing
seamlessly in mid-session. This was hailed as very compelling reason to choose iOS phones. In
his article Understanding Apple's 'Continuity' Strategy" on Time.com, Tim Bajarin talks about
his long-held prediction that in an ideal digital world all of these screens would be
connected, work together seamlessly and, perhaps more importantly, would always be in sync

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with one another. He goes on to note that Android is already doing something similar to
Continuity between their phones and Googles Chromebook line. He also points out that
Microsoft has recently acquired Nokia (an Android phone manufacturer) which, by his
estimation, will inevitably lead to all three companies are working hard to deliver on this
continuity vision. He sees Continuity as the beginning of this prediction coming true, but that
doesnt mean that this idea is iOS-exclusive. While this article was written in reaction to Apples
Continuitys existence, the focus is on both platforms developing their own versions of the
same idea and growing it parallel to each other. Whats more, both platforms feature
competitive cameras, options for NFC payments, GPS, social media, and many, many music and
video services. You can even get fingerprint scanners on both platforms. Any truly important
advances adopted by one platform will probably eventually be replicated on the other.
Dont get me wrong, though. Im not saying that Android and iOS are totally equal in
every way, there are definitely things about them that make each the better choice for
individual people. What Im trying to say is those things most people actually use smartphones
for are present and robust on both platforms. Luke Westaway, in his CNET article Why iOS vs.
Android no longer matters, describes his experience transitioning from iOS to Android after
someone stole his iPhone. He was surprised to find that the process was remarkably easy. Each
application he used (mainly social media and subscription video and music apps) was just as
present on Android as on iOS, and his new phone was completely set to be used for the same
tasks as his old phone just one half-hour out of the box. Westaway concludes that, the
influence of an increasingly app-and-subscription-centric world has made the experience of
using (Android and iOS) broadly similar.

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But surely, there are some features unique to each platform that are great reasons to
choose one over the other right? Again, Im not contesting that. These platforms have some
unique and robust features that distinguish them from one-another and provide great reasons
to give either on of them your business. I just want to point out that the reasons people actually
pick one over the other are mostly subjective. In another couple of articles from CNET, two tech
journalists talk about their reasons for their brand loyalties; one describing why he moved back
to iOS after giving Android a try, and the other describing why he has never dropped Android
for iOS. One loves the consistency (and security) of iOS and the apps that run on it (Broida),
while the other finds that uniformity boring. He prefers Android for their willingness to
embrace more experimental or trendy tech on their phones, like OLED screens and waterproof
chassis. The list of the iPhone's shortcomings goes on and on -- just add wireless charging,
removable batteries, SD card slots, and you get the picture (Bennett). Its funny, both of these
articles actually point out battery life as a reason for their preference. One citing the iPhone
batterys consistency (the average iOS fans favorite word, apparently) and the other citing the
option to get an Android phone with a much bigger battery, or a battery you can switch out on
the fly; something no iPhone can do.
I think they both make great points for their respective platforms, but neither of them
are saying anything that could make a reasonable person find one platform to be undeniably
better than the other. How much battery life a person actually needs depends entirely on that
persons own lifestyle. Are you the type that needs your phone to last all day, but you have no
problem with charging your phone every night? iOS will suit you fine. Do you find yourself
traveling a lot and therefore needing a phone that, while maybe inconsistent at times, will hold

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a charge long enough that you dont need to feel too anxious about your next opportunity to
charge it? Then maybe Androids your bag. To tell you the truth, thanks to third party charging
accessories, either of these types of person could be just as happy with either platform. Battery
life is always a point of contention for smartphone enthusiasts but past a certain point it just
doesnt matter.
So there it is. The differences are few, and what differences there are dont objectively
matter. A lot of people love Android phones. Roughly the same amount of people love iPhones.
Unfortunately those people have a nasty habit of hating each other. Its sad, really, that such an
incredible technology is so mired up in one of the pettiest conflicts of which Im aware. To
anyone struggling to make a smartphone buying decision, I say this: dont listen to the
screaming masses. Theyre just trying to validate their own decisions. Pick the phone that feels
right to you and dont look back youre probably just going to get a different one in a couple
years anyway.

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Works Cited
"Android and iOS Squeeze the Competition, Swelling to 96.3% of the Smartphone Operating
System Market for Both 4Q14 and CY14, According to IDC." Business Wire
(English) Regional Business News. n.d. Web. 14 April 2015.
Bajarin, Tim. "Understanding Apple's 'Continuity' Strategy." Time.Com. Business Source
Premier. 14 July 2015. Web. 14 April 2015.
Bennett, Brian. Why Im glad I never abandoned Android for an iPhone. CNET. CBS Interactive
Inc. 28 March 2014. Web. 24 April 2015.
Broida, Rick. After two months with Android, I'm going back to iPhone. Here's why. CNET. CBS
Interactive Inc. 28 March 2014. Web. 24 April 2015.
Westaway, Luke. Why iOS vs. Android no longer matters CNET. CBS Interactive Inc. 7 May
2014. Web. 14 April 2015.