Posted by: Mobile Kugel on Apr 27, 2011
I was talking to my sister the other day, the one that resembles a kichel. She was asking me what the difference is between all the phones that are on the market.
In particular, she asked me about this “Androg” thing she had read about.
“Androg”, I repeated.
“Ya man, that little green robot thing. What’s up with that?”
“Oh, you mean Android”, I giggled.
I tried to explain to her that Android was just another operating system like iOS, BlackBerry and Symbian.
“Oy Babes, I have no idea what you are talking about”, she replies.
So I decided to make a comparison between Android and iOS using a rather heavy politicized metaphor.
Android is socialist and Apple is capitalist. While a lot of the smaller detail of the metaphor did not make sense, the overall principle was a solid one.
I went on to explain that Android is an open source system which is open to the masses. The Open Handset Alliance has allowed for some of the biggest mobile companies in the world like Motorola, Samsung, HTC, Dell and Sony-Ericson to create devices in all shapes and sizes. In other words, the system is built independently from the mobile vendor.
For developers, Android is open source, so one can develop an app with a lot of freedom. Furthermore, it is based on Java which is one of the more popular programming languages which makes the prospect of developing an application more accessible.
BlackBerry and iOS, I explained is more capitalist because it is closed, benefits the elitist, is more expensive and caters mainly to the middle and upper classes.
Regarding developers, with Apple, one has to sign up to a developer program which is roughly R670 ($99) a year. The developer then has to develop in Xcode and once the app is ready to distribute, Apple rigorously takes the app through an approval process for the App Store. This is the only way to distribute an iOS app.
Like, capitalism, iOS is good as it separates the wheat from the chaff and makes the product a more rigid but more consistent one.
Google Android App Inventor is an online based development tool for android applications. Anyone who has access to the net is able to build an application for an android enabled smartphone without any fees.
Android is socialist because it allows for ordinary people and developers from all over the world to participate in creating applications without having to spend too much money doing so.
The Android space allows for multiple players to compete in creating a superior Android device while with Apple, there is only one company who creates and develops the iOS phones and tablets, and the product is by and large the same bar one or two new or improved features with every new version.
While I was explaining this to my sister, I was aware that it was a rather ridiculous comparison to make but it made more sense than comparing Android to running tackies and Apple to stilettos.
I was rather impressed that she seemed to understand this metaphor.
Then she asked me another question.
“Do you think one day, eventually everyone in South Africa will be using a BlackBerry?”
This made me think. Maybe BlackBerry’s will continue to be popular in urban areas because of BlackBerry Messenger which allows for BlackBerry users to chat for free, but Android is a winner for the masses and the more rural areas because of the potential to compete for a good, cheap Android smartphone.
I know that Google have launched a new smartphone in some parts of Africa called the Google IDEOS which is a compact smartphone with all the features of any other phone but is sold for as little as R750 in Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries.
The Google IDEOS is a touch screen device, runs on the latest 2.2 version of the Android operating system and comes in a number of colours, and Google seems to be winning over the hearts of the masses with this phone.
It is all very well saying iOS is better than Android or visa versa. It seems the war is not between socialism and capitalism but rather a war between the geeks on platforms like this to prove who is better.
There will always be a cyber battle, but the point is that in South Africa and Africa, the challenge isn’t so much about the hardware, but the bandwidth.
Bandwidth is stupidly expensive on this continent and for all these smartphones to actually work, we need data to run the apps and access the internet.