The iPhone 5 announcement has sparked a number of articles bashing Apple for the iPhone being behind Google’s Android on features.
These attacks fail on two levels. First, the extra features in Android are unimportant. Second, the iPhone beats Android on three key features.
Let’s start with the iPhone advantages:
1. Customer Service
Even the articles that give iPhone a fair hearing miss this, and it’s the biggest advantage. These devices are incredibly complex. Many users encounter problems with them. When you have a problem with your Android smart phone, where do you go for help?
For iPhone users, there’s an easy answer: The Genius Bar. Every Apple Store has one. You can make an appointment ahead of time or just show up. You will have to wait a little but usually it’s pretty quick. And the Genius Bar is staffed by real people who get paid more than minimum wage and actually know what they’re talking about.
Compare this to the typical experience of trying to get technical support from any other consumer electronics company. This includes long waits, frustratingly slow responses from a guy named Sean. Sean has an accent from India, gets paid about $2/hour, and is handling conversations with two or three other customers at the same time. He often has no solution to your problem. And if you’re not happy with Sean, just wait. They’re working on replacing him with a robot.
Apple’s customer service is far better than any other consumer electronics company. It’s not even close. And that may be the biggest reason why we customers love the iPhone.
Many of us are already invested in music on our iPhones, iPods, and other computers. Will this music work on an Android phone? Maybe. It is probably doable. Here’s an example of how one guy says you can do it: How to transfer your iTunes music to Android. If there’s a better method I’m not sure. In searching I came across an ad from Samsung that referenced the same software.
It may not be fair, but it’s reality. We have our stuff on iTunes because of our existing iPhones and iPods. If we switch to Android, getting music on there will be a major pain. The same thing is true, to a lesser extent, for apps. For those who have iPhones already, we’re invested in the apps we use and replacing them on Android may be mostly workable, but it’s a hassle.
This is the smallest of the three but still a big deal. When I take a picture on my iPhone, it is automatically in the cloud and shows up on my iMac at home. From Apple’s website: it lets you access your music, photos, calendars, contacts, documents, and more, from whatever device you’re on.
Android can use Google Drive or Microsoft (Mac users shudder) SkyDrive but they’re not even close to iCloud.
Update – After some comments, I realize I wasn’t clear about the iCloud advantage here. It works seamlessly for the user. I take a picture on my iPhone and it appears on my desktop at home. I buy a song on iTunes from my phone and -poof- it’s on my computer. Or I buy a song on my computer and -poof- it’s on my iPhone. Like magic. Yes, it’s true that there are features for Android that do something like this. But they do not work as well and are not as easy to use for non-techies.
iPhone’s Trivial Disadvantages
Looking at the latest and greatest Android phones, they do have some real advantages.
Screen size: Some Android phones do have larger screens. But they’re either not that much bigger, or so big that they make the phone’s size uncomfortable. Wrtant for any phone owner.
NFC: One of the big but wrongheaded criticisms is that iPhone 5 doesn’t support NFC – Near Field Communications. Sorry techies, but pay attention: NO ONE CARES!
NFC would make it easy for you to pay for things with your phone, and “share photos, contacts, videos and more, just by tapping their backs together.” But paying with your phone is not widely available in stores and few people want to pay with their phone. It’s not ready for prime time. As for sharing, I think the Palm PDAs had a feature like that. No one used it then either.
Most of the other advantages also fall into the No One Cares category. They appeal to engineers and other geeks who care about a visible file system or pen support – another feature that failed with Palm over five years ago.
In the end, few iPhone users will switch to Android. And for those who are already invested in and comfortable with Android, they’re not going to switch to iPhone either.
Unless they want quality customer service.