Is it me or are there some strange things going on? Kodak will stop making cameras. Steve Jobs slept with a letter from Bill Gates on his nightstand. And the original members of Van Halen are back together. Just when you thought your figured it all out, right?
"Don't be obsessed with your desires Danny. The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish." Ty Webb
Speaking of figuring it all out, I've got one last tablet rock (slight pun there) that I should turn over; then I will find something else to wax about. I get this one asked to me all the time: For the love of all that is holy, please tell me the REAL difference between Google Android and Apple iOS. Give it to me straight so that I can really understand it. And can you tell me where Microsoft fits in too? Indeed I can. And you will totally dig the example cause it just makes sense. Here we go...
Running Down The Dream
Let's start with Google Android. Think of Android like owning a house. When you own a house, you are invested. You can do what you want, when you want, and pretty much how you want (unless there is an HOA involved). You want a purple house, start painting. You want to put your washing machine on the front lawn, have at it. You want to break the world record for most holiday lights on your house? Well besides starting to put them up in September, it's all up to you. Now then, with that glorious house comes responsibility. Cutting your grass, trash pickup, exterminator...you get the idea. You can do many of these things yourself. Or you can hire a professional to provide those services whenever you want. Need your A/C fixed? No problem. Schedule a service call and leave work to meet the man since you are the only one with house keys. You are the undisputed king of your castle.
My friends, this is Android. Yea, it starts with the little green Droid (his name is Lloyd by the way). As an aside, the name "Droid" is actually copyrighted by none other than George Lucas. Yup, every time you procure a Droid device, the Force grows stronger...financially. No, I'm not kidding. Each day, over 850,000 Android devices are activated. More that you thought, huh? And why is it so likable? Not because of R2D2. Because it is an open platform that can be customized and hacked (aka rooted) to a near endless level. It is backed by Google and has a massive (and I really mean it) development and user community. You can download apps from multiple places. You can move things around on screens, change backgrounds, tether to your laptop. You can open and edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. You can use Flash. The list goes on. And, you can do all of this without installing any overlord software or building a wall around yourself. So this, as they say, is bachelor #1.
Any Color You Want So Long As It Is Black
iOS is like renting an expensive apartment. Nothing wrong here as long as you know the difference. First, when you do an apples-to-apples comparison (I couldn't resist), renting comes up more expensive than owning. Second, ownership is never in the cards. But, as a renter, you seem to feel happier, more secure, and perhaps a bit less stressed. Why? Well, for started you live in a gated community (remember this) with beautiful landscaping. And while all the buildings look the same, they are clean and well maintained. Trash is never out in the open, the driveway is absent of cracks, and the pool is leaf-free. Need something? Just give the leasing office a call and they will handle it for you. Remember, they have a key to your place. All of this is done for a set monthly fee plus your commitment to follow the stated rules. There you have it. You have succumbed to being fenced in and have surrender control. Hmm, that sounds a bit oppressive. Let me put it another way: You are allowing someone else to handle all of your living arrangements with the understanding that it will be nicer and perhaps a more worry-free experience. No, you can't paint the outside the color you want. Nor can you walk naked to the pool at midnight (without getting fined or arrested). Want to watch a movie? You can so long as you rent it from the leasing office. Want gas cooking instead of electric? Not an option. Yes you can put your stuff all around you, so long as it is inside only. That means no lawn jockeys or grills on the balcony.
This is what iOS is all about. I know it sounds a bit big brother-ish. It kinda is. Doesn't mean it is wrong or bad. The Apple mantra is about delivering a high-quality, very polished experience. This begins with world class industrial design and a smooth interface...and a few catches and limitations. First, Apple will control everything you see and do. They limit your device choices to what they believe you will like. Sure, you can download apps onto your device...so long as it comes from Apple and Apple alone. Apple's belief is that by imposing these choices (or lack thereof) and limits, the opportunity for failure is greatly reduced, thereby providing a more consistent and seamless experience. I give you bachelor #2.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Which one is better? It really doesn't matter. Really, it doesn't. Can you like Star Wars and Star Trek? Well of course you can. And what of all those people with verbal diarrhea talking smack about one being better than the other? It's a bunch of overrated, overstated, hyper-emotional fan-boy dribble. Millions of people live in homes and apartments. And they live in each one for a variety of very good reasons. Ironically, from a pure feature and app perspective, the line between both systems is very, very blurry. Just take a look at the latest iterations of both and you will see example after example of mutual feature hijacking. Folks, it is much more about your needs and wants. It is possible that one platform will fiill all your needs. It is also entirely possible that you will use more than one. Take it from me, it is OK. You don't need therapy and your are not cheating if you use both.
"What? Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
So where is Microsoft in all this? Much of their success in the mobile space will depend on Windows 8. Yesterday, the Windows 8 Beta was released to millions of people like me. And it is quite different than the Developer Preview that has been floating around since last year. If the OS delivers as many expect, the market will have another big player. What's interesting here is what Windows 8 has become (or was intended to be all along) and the timing of the release. No, Microsoft hasn't accelerated the release due to the current conditions. Remember, the milestone dates and development track was pretty well established three years ago. What they did was pull a page from the Apple playbook. Now, go back to the top of this paragraph and re-read the quote in bold.
You need a few more ingredients here. So, allow me to pour some more thoughts into your mental crock pot. Let them simmer a bit and you will be eating the same stew as me in a few short minutes. Bear with me though. I need to switch gears ever so slightly because what I am about to tell you applies to both tablets and PCs.
First, as you know, Apple and Google have been bare-knuckle boxing with each other, sans Microsoft, thanks to Microsoft's lack of presence in the tablet market. They certainly weren't paying much attention to the Windows 8 OS timetable. After all, Windows 8 was going to be the successor to Windows 7...a PC operating system. Well...surprise! Windows 8 is a tablet and desktop OS, heavy on the tablet. And it looks really, really good. Microsoft now has a window (I know, I know...a real comedian I am). One of those rare times when, instead of being opportunistic, Microsoft has an opportunity. Apple and Google have succeeded in selling a boatload of devices, thereby creating economies of scale. For those of you less economically inclined (or who don't wish to be reminded of those high school and college economic classes) that means that due to so many people plunking down paper Franklins to buy tablets, the cost of making them continues to go down. This means that Microsoft can jump into the eye of the tablet hurricane instead of the turbulent eye-wall. Put another way, Microsoft gets into the very competitive tablet market, at a lower price point that is still profitable. Very appealing when you are the new guy. Grand plan? Not likely. Good timing and a bit of luck? Most definitely. But wait, there is more.
Microsoft has one advantage over everyone else: awareness. And this is really important, if played correctly. See, many people and businesses have been in a long-term relationship with Microsoft. And it has been quite a real one, filled with romance, memorable moments, dysfunctionality, and...well...Vista. Yet it's this level of comfort and familiarity that have kept something like 57% of people away from the Apple cart and the great Google machine, anxiously awaiting a Microsoft solution. I know these people all too well as they make up a large majority of customers and friends. Many of them coexist in multiple worlds. Windows PCs and iPADS, Android phones and Mac Books. And yes, still quite a few Blackberries. Microsoft knows that people yearn for seamless consistency between their smartphone, tablet and PC. Windows 8 is poised to do this. And Microsoft will really be the first to do it. A single platform that adapts to the device and the user, with a consistent look and feel regardless of how you use it. Unless Windows 8 completely misses the mark, I predict that legions of people will flock to it early on, with hopes of that seamless consistency. Believe me the Microsoft marketing engine will be blowing gaskets to get this message our the door. And from what I have already seen, they are going to deliver big time. Alas, bachelor #3
And Now For The Big Dating Game Kiss
Now then, I will be the first to tell anyone that the elegance and simplicity that Apple and Google deliver in their OS' is very appealing to people, including myself. And I will also freely admit there are a number of things they both do better than Microsoft. The same is true of many Microsoft features. In many ways, it is like knowing three different languages. You speak English each day but love the romantic elegance of Italian and the passion of Spanish. As each day goes by, words from each language seem to assimilate into the other. Funny how that happens.
We're about to experience a three-way (no not that kind). So sit back, listen, and enjoy the show. And be comforted in knowing that the winner will be you!