Posts tagged ‘Android’
Apple should bring iMessage to Android phones.
At first glance this seems like the worst idea: Take a signature portion of the iOS experience (and soon to be OS X experience) and bring it to your direct competitor, thus reducing the differentiation between your product and your competitor’s product, which ultimately reduces the attractiveness of your product.
But iMessage as a product isn’t competing with Android. No, its competing directly with Blackberry Messenger, but indirectly with carrier’s SMS and MMS offerings. AT&T knew this when in advance of iMessage’s release they switched their SMS/MMS package offerings to two options: $20 for unlimited messages, or $0.20 per SMS or $0.30 per MMS. This means that anyone who wants to send more than 100 SMS message should just pay the $20 per month.
iMessage isn’t competing with Android directly, but why would Apple spend resources on bringing a product to their competitor’s platform? Simple, the same reason Apple brought iTunes to Windows: Bring their design aesthetic to a competitors platform to support one of their product, the iPod. iMessage is stronger when it has more users.
But bringing iMessage to Android also supports Apple’s existing customers, because right now iMessage brings only a few benefits: Syncing messages between multiple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod, and OS X Laptop), and delivery receipts. This is nice, snazzy and cool in and of itself, but it still leaves people saddled with SMS and MMS messages being delivered only on their iPhone. For a customer is great benefit to cancel that $20 per month SMS plan and pay individually for the few text messages that come from feature phones and other sources.
When Apple brings iMessage to Android they open up a platform that has the potential to reach 82% of the smartphone market. But in bringing iMessage to Android it places it as a formidable competitor to SMS and MMS messages, which also forces RIM and Windows Mobile into a market corner. We’ve seen this play out with computer modems, fax machines, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. These connectivity innovations gained their dominance not because each manufacturer had their own proprietary method of connecting, but because they made and generally stuck to an agreed upon standard.
Finally, bringing iMessage continues to push network providers into the role that Apple wants them to be: Providers of dumb pipes. Steve Jobs spent quite a bit of time trying to think through building the iPhone into a platform to synthetically create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. iMessage doesn’t get Apple all the way there, but it chips of a small piece of the wireless carrier’s differentiation from being a dumb pipe, and that brings us a wee bit closer to the future.
I purposefully kept my late entry, Apple should bring iMessage to Android, on a general level, without bringing my personal specifics into it.
I’m one of those guys who enjoys tracking things. I do this for fun and to answer the questions that’d just pop up in my head if I didn’t. I track my ORCA Card usage, my telecom bills, and just my general spending. (Unlike I a crazy AOL customer, and many other customers I don’t suffer from decision fatigue in that way, quite the opposite, it’ll bug me if I don’t track this stuff.)
I have a spreadsheet summarizing every month I’ve been with AT&T which calculates exactly what I spent, and what my expenses would be on some other choices. (For simplicity I leave out the discounts I receive after the line items.)
This has served me well. For instance when AT&T started offering 2GB of data for $25 a month, I jumped for it, instead of sticking with my grandfathered plan of unlimited data for $30 a month. Since June 2010 this has saved me $115. Not exactly huge, but not exactly pocket change. My data usage has continued to go up. In the six months before I switched in June 2010 my average monthly data usage was 453 megabytes per month, in the past six months it roughly doubled to 834 megabytes per month, still less than half of my cap, and I use whatever data I want and can manage to grab.
My SMS/MMS usage dramatically dropped for my bills ending in March and April to an average of 120 messages per month. (Why this doesn’t clearly correlate with the release of iOS 5 I don’t know, thats a question that I need to do more analysis to answer.) For various reasons too arcane to get into here, I’m on the $20 unlimited SMS plan, which means for March and April I’m just twenty or so messages shy from hitting break even on a metered billing plan, and after that its all savings.
So being an analysis addict, I pulled the detailed SMS level data and found out that if I converted my top two texting recipients easily accounted for over twenty messages a month, but I also knew that they weren’t going to be hopping onto an iPhone. After much searching I’ve moved them over to TextFree from Pinger, but its a wee bit of a pain. So it’d be excellent if this problem took care of itself by those Android phone users getting onto iMessages.. Thats the thought at least..
About two months my friend Casey wrote a blog entry on Why he fell out of love with Apple. I found his blog entry to munge the details and to extrapolate out to a worst possible future, instead of just hemming to what Apple has stated.
I wrote the bulk of this blog entry back then, but I decided to work on a rewrite of it before posting it, then promptly procrastinated on rewriting it. I’ve come back and decided that the bones of what I wrote work, so that is here, but I’ve reworked some bits.
To be 110% clear, I think Casey is a great guy, and I respect his opinion in many areas, but I strongly disagree with him here. It also is a bit odd contracting his Apple blog entry with his Facebook Timeline entry.
Apple has long been moving toward user friendliness. Some of this has been taking what they’ve learned on iOS and porting it over to OS X. For me one of the best features of this has been porting over gestures. Don’t like gestures? You can turn them off.
Gatekeeper provides authentication of the source of applications that helps those who don’t know how to validate the source of the applications they’ve downloaded to ensure that its a safe location. For the rest of us it provides a protection against randomly running things that were drive by downloads. Don’t like Gatekeeper? You can turn it off.
iCloud is a simple and free way to keep your contacts and calendar synced at all times. I don’t have to think about “Oh did I sync my Palm Pilot after I updated that meeting location”? Its done. It also provides options to store files that you can access on all of your devices. Don’t like iCloud? You can turn it or pieces of it off.
Want to use someone else’s sync service? Apple natively supports those, including those of its competitors. It also supports standards such as CalDav, IMAP and more so you can use other options as well.
Dashboard it is yet another way to launch applications. I don’t use it. Sadly you can’t turn it off, but it is pretty silent and you don’t see if if you don’t want to.
Automator while not a new feature is there to support the not-quite power user, but someone who wants to automate and customize common actions. I don’t remember having that on Windows (although, I’ve been away from that OS for a while) and the various *nixes have their own set of tools as well, although they’re less user friendly. Apple has also continued to support Applescript, which allows automating GUI applications, and there is a whole *nix underpinning to OS X that brings that whole suite of tools onboard as well. Don’t want to automate tasks, or want to automate all of them? You’ve got a choice in which tools are available.
Get the theme here? Apple has added lots of features that are aimed at both new and average users, but there is no requirement that you use them, and those features stay in the background.
This entry initially started with a point by point discussion of Casey’s blog entry. I’ve decided to keep that, and so here it is!
- iMessage. Casey and I tested this together, it is not iMessage that causes “…a mass of confusion if you’re not using it (like the oddball text messages I receive from friends who all have iMessage)” It’s those who are on iOS 5. It supports Text MMS messages to multiple people more fully than iOS 4 did. If anything, Apple better supports the MMS standard in iOS 5, and that is what is causing Casey’s grief. iOS only sends a multiple person iMessage if all the receivers of the message support iMessage.
As for iMessage being a proprietary solution. Yup, at the moment it is, but it is built upon XMPP. But there aren’t any other phone level services that provide SMS-like messaging. I’d also like to see Apple interoperate with other providers, but what provider would it interoperate with? The only one that offers anything near to iMessage is Blackberry Messenger. Microsoft doesn’t offer it for Windows Phone, Google doesn’t offer that for Android. (Google Voice kinda provides this service, but bifurcates your messaging into two different telephone numbers.) Apple has not removed SMS or MMS support, iMessage is simply a superset of SMS and MMS.
As I said in my blog entry that Apple should bring iMessage to Android its exceptionally transparent in usage. The iPhone will “seamlessly will select iMessage if it is available, but fall over to SMS/MMS if its not available or your recipient doesn’t have it.”
Given that it costs more per bit to send a message via SMS than it costs to send receive it from the Hubble space telescope, I’m happy someone is disrupting the carriers’ monopoly. If anything iMessage provides extra options as I’ve been able to message people from an airplane over Wifi and from the mountains of Colorado where I don’t have reliable cell service, but do have reliable internet service.
- iCloud. “I’m sure the tight integration of iCloud with iOS and OS X is great if you want to use Apple’s cloud, but they sure don’t make it easy to use someone else’s.”
Really? My iPhone lists iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, GMail, Yahoo, Aol, Hotmail, MobileMe and “Other” (e.g. POP and IMAP) and its about as easy as it can be given the circumstances. OS X will also supports that same list. So for me I see iCloud as providing another cloud option, but it isn’t the only option. If Apple removed Exchange, GMail, or the others it’d be a point, but why is adding one option an issue?
I use iCloud, mostly for contact and calendar syncing which iOS and OS X does support via other sync services.
- App Stores. Casey wrote:
OS X App Store is nothing but a blatant money grab and offers nothing to developers except less money in their pockets. And all app stores offer are the illusion of security but give only censorship — and there’s no other way to install iOS apps except through Apple’s gates. I expect it’s only a matter of time before they make it more and more challenging to install apps on OS X outside of the App Store.
I’ll admit some of the OS X App store does feel like a money grab, but Apple hasn’t forced developers into this. If anything this helps non-tech savvy folks install and upgrade applications. (I know its insanely easy for a technically acquainted person to install and upgrade OS X apps, but for some people its a big hurdle.) Developers do sell the same software inside and outside of the OS X App store. Apple has stated their upgrade path for application level security in OS X in Gatekeeper. The default setting for Gatekeeper will “allow initial launching of apps either downloaded from the Mac App Store or which are digitally signed under Apple’s identified developer program“. The key will require a $99 per year membership to Apple’s Mac Developer Program. This is a cost for developers, but it isn’t unreasonable in my opinion.
As for iOS only allowing apps to be installed via the App store, this is a reasonable tradeoff for the ability to ensure that my phone works right. Fact of the matter is iOS has never supported consumer apps to be installed through any method other than the through the app store. This has always been the case. Given that the only commensurable app store, Google’s Play, has had malware issues, I think Apple has gotten this right. Besides, firmware level jailbreaks are still possible on iOS.
On the iOSification of OS X, Casey wrote:
efforts to move OS X closer to iOS (something Microsoft is copying) … They have different purposes and usage patterns and their interfaces should reflect that. I don’t want my address book to look like a book (hello Microsoft Bob) or my email client to resemble the iPad’s client.
I agree with Casey on the address book in OS X Lion. That annoys me and I’ve stared using Cobook instead. The calendar in OS X Lion looks a bit more like a calendar, which I think is cheesy, but doesn’t diminish the usability of the calendar for me. They’ve also backed off on some of this in Mountain Lion making Contacts (f/k/a Address Book) more usable, as well as cleaning up Calendar (f/k/a/ iCal) a bit.
The default view of OS X Mail in Lion and Mountain Lion does look like the iPad, but it took me about three minutes to get it Lion’s Mail like and working similarly to OS X Mail in Snow Leopard, and it only took me about 30 seconds in Mountain Lion.
The last few iOSification bits of OS X is hiding scrollbars by default and the scrolling direction with gestures, both of which can be changed in settings. Finally is the inclusion of Launchpad, which well, I never see, because I don’t use.
If anything Apple has cleanly added features to OS X from iOS, whereas Microsoft’s Windows 8 basically shoehorns a complete second UI language into a different side of Windows. (Admittedly, this is what Apple did with Classic in OS X, but this was part of a stated transition plan, nothing more.)
I find the conclusion of John Siracusa’s ARS Technica review of Mountain Lion to be clearest in elaborate where OS X is going:
Mountain Lion is not the Mac OS of the past, but it also sets a course to a destination that is quite distinct from iOS. Despite the oft-cited prediction that the Mac will eventually be subsumed by iOS, that’s not what’s happening here. Apple is determined to bring the benefits of iOS to the Mac, but it’s equally determined to do so in a way that preserves the strengths of the Mac platform.
OS X is stronger because of the lessons learned from iOS, and that is to be embraced by both Power Users and N00bs.