back to article No winner in Android v iPhone 2011 marathon

The wheat is increasingly being separated from the chaff in mobile. Unfortunately, what's not clear yet is which is the wheat, and which is the chaff. In the ongoing war between Apple's iOS and Google's Android, both camps have plenty to cheer about - and to moan about. Just take a look at recent headlines. In my own news feed …


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  1. Armando 123

    Warning: car analogy

    Apple doesn't have market dominance, but they do VERY well in the key part of the market: the high end. In autos, computing, wine, etc etc etc, this is where you make your money. Owning most of a thin-to-no-to-negative profit segment of the market isn't the way to succeed long-term. So while Android may dominate in sheer numbers, Apple does better in the preferred part of the market.

    Also, Apple's key is that the provide a whole solution: they write the OS, design and oversee production of the hardware, provide a one-stop-shop for software and app purchase, have good brick-and-mortar stores, and their after-sale service is considered by some to be the best in the industry. That tight (some say seemless) integration is not something you can just slap together, it has to be part of who you are.

    So I'm not going to count them out yet, and their early and enthusiastic embracing of HTML5 gives them another ace in the hole.

  2. bojennett

    Oh, gawd... another "the web will win" article?

    Seriously? The web will win? How long have HTMLx (3/4/5) proponents been saying this? Give it up, man. There is no "one size fits all", no "write once, run everywhere". It doesn't work. Java was supposed to be the write once, run everywhere king... does that mean you can take an Android app and embed it on a web page? Of course not. Java on Android is no different from Microsoft's Visual C++ -> a syntax for a specific platform (just as Visual C++ is a syntax of C for programming on Windows).

    Heck, there isn't even really "Java on Android" - there are Android apps that look great on some Android handsets, but you change the screen resolution and they look like crap. So, to make the Java look good, even within Android, there are a bunch of hooks, if/thens, screen formats to check. Really, not much different than your "#define" on C programs to run on different Linux/BSD/Unix workstations.

    I'm supposed to get excited about HTML apps when one of the biggest "innovations" in the last couple of years is I can drag a document from my desktop into a Google Mail web page and it uploads? Really? Drag and drop in what, 2008/2009 when it's been on desktops since Mac OS in the early 80's (or Xerox PARC in the late 70's if you want to be technically accurate)?

    The biggest argument that was keeping the web from "winning" previously is all the "momentum" that existed on desktop apps, and so it was just going to have to take time to get people to move. Then, bam, along comes these new mobile platforms with NO LEGACY whatsoever, and the mobile players were even touting web technologies (iOS apps originally were supposed to be HTML5, Palm was HTML5, Android was Java, which of course is a web tech), and yet, within a year, native apps sprung up and have dominated.

    The web...will... GIVE...IT...UP.... HTML5 is LaTeX (a presentation language) with massive hacks to provide UI elements. The fact that it works at all is amazing and a testament to the programming genius of a lot of people. But look, I can probably turn Microsoft Word into a first person shooter platform if I work real hard in Visual Basic for Applications and convince Microsoft to tweak the language... but that would be a gigantic waste of time.

    1. Charles 9

      Think universal access.

      Think being able to make a document on one machine, going elsewhere (even thousands of miles away) and being able to retrieve that same document again. And then update it and send it back. From a computer, phone, tablet, whatever is handy. THIS is an access paradigm shift that hasn't happened until recently because two things held it back: ubiquitous data access at acceptable speeds (3G and up along with more WiFi hotspots and more mobile-capable devices satisfy these requirements for most documents and even the odd audio stream) and a ubiquitous conduit to transfer that information (cloud storage systems, especially user-friendly ones like Box, Dropbox, etc. that can work with these mobile devices).

      1. Zippy the Pinhead

        @ Charles 9

        I've been doing this since the early 90s. Its called email. If I have a document I want to keep.. I store it in my email. It's always there.. its always backed up.. My provider gives me unlimited storage for free and has for about 11 years or so... True cloud services and smart devices are making it easier to access my stuff... But I've never really been limited as long as I could access my email. If my document is to large for me to email then I zip it. If its still to large then I use a tool like winrar to break it into chunks. If it's something like a movie and its huge then I transfer the directly to my cell phone which I always have handy.

      2. ToddRundgren

        Isn't "Paradigm shift" banned

        Stop using that phrase, people will assume you are a marketeer.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's not the web nor HTML x. It's just TCP/IP. People who started to use a computer through a browser always mistake the transportation layer with the UI. Moreover HTTP is a protocol designed with a server/client paradigm in mind, not a real two-way communication. Up to the point it's being "hacked" to allow it (see WebSocket RFC, a silly "TCP/IP over HTTP"!).

        Sharing informations does not mean it should be done through HTTP/HTML/Javascript/CSS stack that always looks glued together with cellotape. Native apps are far more user friendly, faster, with more power, and even faster to code.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Totally Agree

      I sat down at a business meeting a few years back with a bunch of very senior people at HP. We were talking about mobile apps and I expressed my opinion that the reason mobile apps were so popular was the chubby finger problem. The only way to use a standard web page on a touch screen phone is to constantly zoom in and out to make hyperlinks really huge. People got around this by writing apps that use huge buttons.

      This is the fundamental thing about why user interfaces on different platforms are so very different. On a PC you have a super accurate pointing device - the mouse - but you also need 3 hands to drive keyboard and mouse. So you optimise the interface to make it easy to use things without a mouse (keyboard shortcuts etc.) but then use the advantages of the mouse when you need to. On a Console I don't have a super accurate pointing device, and my screen has a pretty crappy resolution, even though it is big, so I don't have lots of tiny writing, and I keep my interface buttons and the like big. My mobile phone is different again. It has a tiny screen so I can't really display much on it, and my key interface is a chubby finger, so I need big buttons to stab at.

      HTML (regardless of the version) has a very specific benefit. Any information or tasks that I only do occasionally, or are pretty simple, are ideally sourced through it because it is a simple ubiquitous format. But if I'm going to spend my whole day in Excel, I want a version that is highly optimised for the platform that I'm on. Thick client apps are here to stay, regardless of what happens in HTML land. HTML5 (or 4 for that matter) gives me an advantage in that I don't have to install hundreds of apps on my computer (or phone or whatever). But I'm still going to buy a native app for any even vaguely specialist function. I'm not going to replace Excel with a web-app (sorry Google - I've tried using your version and it isn't even close to the same functionality or usability as Excel). I'm still going to use Cubase to compose music. My CAD applications will still be locally installed. I'm still going to use a mail app to read my email on the go. Hell, even a basic text-editor, I've yet to find a web-app as good as TextPad, emacs or gvim.

      1. Arctic fox

        RE: "Totally agree"

        In the short to medium what you say is IMHO indisputable. A touch more difficult to call long term, though I suspect the need for locally installed native apps will never entirely disappear.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      "But look, I can probably turn Microsoft Word into a first person shooter platform if I work real hard in Visual Basic for Applications and convince Microsoft to tweak the language... but that would be a gigantic waste of time."

      Waste of time? As if there aren't thousands of Word users out there who'd rather play Doom than continue working on their document.. I think its brilliant. We probably don't have to get MS to change anything, we only need to port the open-source Doom code onto VBA!

      Then we get ourselves a /real/ Visual Basic Doom :-)

    4. DryBones

  3. Zippy the Pinhead

    @Armando 123

    However Apple continues to lose market share with its walled garden approach. This will continue its decline and has probably already helped to its loss as smartphone market leader. The future of the market for smartphones is Android. It's share right now is greater than Apple's at Apple's highest point and its iphone is no longer the highest selling smartphone model.

    And while it still holds the tablet leadership this will also probably fall to Android first and probably MS second as newer devices come to market. Android for home use and MS for the corp world.

    Past history shows that the company that is first to market with a product is more often than not, not the company that wins the market. (This is Apple's past history as well) Apple is having a shining moment at this time... but I wouldn't be expecting the same financial results in 5 years. The death of marketing genius Steve Jobs will have a larger impact than I believe most people realize. And while I personally found him way to smug and a liar with his misleading ads with products of the same quality as other companies but priced at a premium .. He was highly successful at leading people to believe his company's stuff was better than anyone else's... which I guess is the reason why he was a marketing genius.

    Also I think people are just getting tired of hearing about Apple sueing everyone plus their dog! I know I am!!!

    1. John I'm only dancing

      I've not been sued by Apple, and neither has my dog.

      Most people using iPhone's, iPads, Mac Pro's and Macbook's, couldn't give a flying fig about what Apple does, except make products which just work.

      1. Zippy the Pinhead

        "Most people using iPhone's, iPads, Mac Pro's and Macbook's, couldn't give a flying fig about what Apple does, except make products which just work."

        As do all my PCs.. in fact if they didn't work.. as advertized... then I wouldn't have bought them in the first place.

        And as a side note mine work faster, with better graphic cards, have higher capacity hard drives, just as much memory if not more, can play and burn Bluray, are more compatible with a wider range of other devices, software and games, look just as nice, and at the same time cost MUCH less! Oh and I've never.. not once in 25 years of using MS products and 32 years of PC experience been infected with a virus or trojan.

        1. ToddRundgren

          You are obviously not running a Windows OS on your PC then?

          "As do all my PCs.. in fact if they didn't work.. as advertized... then I wouldn't have bought them in the first place."

          You must be the one then?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just Works, @John I'm only dancing

        Ho Ho Ho. Thanks for a good laugh. Apple's products are a lot of things, but just working is not one of them. "Just working" is a marketing myth put out by Apple, which the fanbois just swallow down whole.

        Firstly you have the hardware problems (at various times on various products). Chipped corners of screens, antenna-gate, wi-fi problems, fragile screen glass that breaks, battery problems, poor sound quality, etc.

        Secondly you have the lack of functionality problems (at various times on various products). No MMS, no front-facing camera, no cut and paste, single button mouse, can't change battery, etc.

        Then you have the crap functionality issues (again, various times on various products). No consistency on interface (eg. unable to switch between portrait and landscape on a bunch of iPhone built-ins), iTunes (need I say more), unable to DTrace kernel (ok a personal bugbear), forcing use of MacOSX for iOS development, unable to easily transfer files between device and computer, no way to do recursive permissions changes from the interface in MacOSX (have to use chmod).

        What Apple has always done is targeted the problems it wants to solve. Often it can solve those problems very well - for example the wheel interface on the iPod is truly inspired. Pinch to zoom on iOS is also a great feature. If you can get away with only using the things on an Apple device that are well designed they can be fun to use. If on the other hand you ever have

        to do something just a little bit different, the devices are a complete nightmare.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Just working

          Of course with systems this complicated, each one is going to have its own pros and cons. But I wonder if you've spent any significant amount of time using OS X. I was a big Windows proponent for ~15 years to the point where I'd write similar posts on message boards like this ("anything your Mac can do, my [Windows] PC can do better/faster/cheaper" etc.). Then I started using a Mac for work ~3 years ago and decided it was so much better than I had almost all of my stuff switched over within a few months.

          While not everything "just works," OS X is still full of pleasant surprises for me. For example, I have a Win7 HTPC and despite trying 3 different sets of drivers, I can't set my refresh rate to 24Hz, so DVD playback is jerky. Sure, the settings window says it's going to set the refresh rate to 24Hz but it never does, and when I open it again, it's back to 60Hz. I just plugged a Mac into my TV last week to test an HDMI cable and I was able to set the refresh rate to 24Hz first try no problem, it just worked.

          It's a small thing and I could go on for hours about small things that you may or may not care about but ultimately these sorts of things give me the feeling that OS X is simply better engineered than Windows and I'm happy to pay more for what I consider to be a better product.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The fact is many power users don't use their PCs to watch DVDs. They use them to get real job done. And 75%, maybe more, of the software I use doesn't exist on Apples. So why should I buy a Mac and then a Windows license to run it in a VM? Far better to get an high-end PC and run Windows directly on it. When I need to watch a DVD I put in in my home cinema player and I have no problems.

    2. Renato

      Market Share

      Apple doesn't care if they don't have the biggest slice of smartphone/tablet market. They prefer to charge people 2x for their products instead of selling 2x more products. It's a simple question of economics.

      As a developer, I see that Apple's customers are more willing to pay for applications, as they have more disposable income than Android users.

      1. melts

        as a developer...

        you see apple customers used to paying for apps, while android customers are more accustomed to advert-supported free apps.

        or yes the semi savvy can easily enough pirate most android apps, while both platforms need rather a lot more savvy to root, the android platform's lack of walled garden makes copying easier.

        or i'm sure i could draw some tenuous link to more [young folk, IT folk, pirate folk] using android and therefore being more experienced pirates or something like that too.

        anyway my point is willing to pay isn't always related to disposable income, i'd wager its more often not when one of the other options is 'free', especially the guilt free advertised kind.

        i can only talk for myself but I've only bought one app on android and it's a decent music player for my on public transit or driving tractor moments, so i thought it was worth it. everything else so far i've found the advert copy is ok or another guy has an app doing the same thing for free. the unknown source app i've installed is one of my brothers games when he sent me a testing copy. I'm not poor, I just have a life to spend my money on that isn't based around my damn phone :)

    3. ThomH


      Your statistics, while mostly true, give a false picture.

      Apple's share has decreased but its overall sales continue to increase. The smart phone market is just nowhere near saturation. The huge disparity in profits between Apple's App Store and the Android Marketplace suggests Apple is still acquiring a large share of the customers it wants.

      The iPhone actually still is the single best selling handset worldwide. However Apple are no longer the largest single supplier of mobile phones.

      Based on El Reg's headlines, notable lawsuits in the last week have been those launched by Apple, Samsung and Microsoft.

  4. Zippy the Pinhead


    Yeah I wasn't even going to go into the nightmare of iTunes and it's constant needing to be updated.. it's slow and crap interface....

    Then how about using something as simple as dragging and dropping your music onto an iDevice through a file manager.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      iTunes only keeping a single backup point of your device.

      And as such if you don't notice a problem -next time you synch bang! your way back is gone.

  5. My New Handle

    Web rules Apps? Really?

    "... and others believe must ultimately crown the web victor on mobile devices, just as it on the desktop."

    The big flaw behind this is the constant rationing of miserly amounts of mobile data by all of the [UK] mobile network operators, bar one.

    There is plenty of life left in apps, so we shouldn't be writing them off for just a while yet.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android separates the chaff whilst Apple's chaffs at the bit.

    Android users always have a useful voice whilst the 'it just works iPhone' seems more and more like a pyramid scheme.

    That 'it just works' mantra song is darn costly.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chubby finger = fat APP sales.

    This is certainly a reason the iPhone stays small.

    The other one being that it helps keep up demand for the iPad.

    Think positive chaps. You get to have two devices!

  8. Webster Phreaky

    What CrApple Hack Media B S!

    Sorry Register Hacks, but Neilsen Research (a REAL market research company that does REAL "studies" based on FACTS) recently showed a chart based on REAL SALES and Android is Trouncing CrApple iOS in the Smart Phone Market 50% share for Android to CrApple's iOS 24% share for 2011!!

    Also on a one brand vs one brand total sales for 2 quarters, Samsung toppled CrApple by a healthy 6% MARGIN in the "Smart Phone" market!!

    We all know you bend over and spread for CrApple, the Payola is just too good, huh??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They've obviously let you out too soon...

      Thing is, when Nielsen extol the virtues of 'CrApple' idiots like you come on here and try to find some flaw reasoning as to why their data is inaccurate and/or biased.

      Let's look at that share from the hardware business point of view, shall we? After all, that seemingly where the real money is. Of that pitiful 24% that Apple has, who do they share it with? The ~50% Android has is shared between at least 6 manufacturers, who seem to trying to engage in a race to the bottom. So if we make an extremely rough estimate, we see that the biggest android fish is likely to have what, 12-15% share of the hardware marketplace? From over here in rational land, Apple look to be doing OK out of their meagre 24%. But you keep banging the "Register is pro Apple" drum. If nothing else, it make for entertaining reading.

    2. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Welcome back freaky!

      ...we've missed your unique brand of pointless, irrational, misguided Apple hatred.

    3. jai

      'ullo Webster, it's been a long time.

      I think the article does in fact state that Android has the market share, just not the profits. Apple, in fact, trounce (which I think is the word you were trying for) Android when it comes to REAL MONEY MAKING from the smart phone market. Then again, reading whole articles, and understanding the FACTS within them never was your strong point in the old days. It's nice to see that some things never change.

  9. Harris Upham

    Calling a winner is more obvious than you think!

    With this prolonged, intense competition between Apple, Google, Microsoft and the others, it's easy to spot the winner: Us users! We have lots of choices now, even more coming, and the intensity of the development war will serve to keep it interesting.

    I hope it stays like this for a good long while.

    1. APA

      That rather depends on the outcome of the lawsuits. The market will only get better if companies decide it's safe to invest and develop their products, which up until now, under the threat of mutually assured destruction, it had been. With Apple calling that bluff, manufacturer won't feel so safe, either to develop new technology worried that once done a) someone will "steal" it or b) it infringes on some stupidly vague patent that should never have been granted in the first place.

      Its ironic that while the market has never been so open to the consumer, the development side of it (by which I don't mean apps but rather handsets) is heading for a stalemate

  10. LarsG

    SO WHAT......

    I have better things to do than write reams on Apple v Android or Android v Apple.

    They are like two children fighting over a blue crayons.

    As for writing essays on the subject I have a life, there are more important thing.

    1. Silverburn

      Better things to write on a Apple vs Android thread about how you won't be writing on an Apple vs Android thread?

  11. Gil Grissum

    "Open and shut"?? for who??

    What is open and shut for me is that I needed to bail from Gingerbread. Froyo on the EVO 4G was great. Gingerbread was a nightmare. In October of this year, I had to decide between the iPhone 4S and another Gingerbread phone, since the Galaxy Nexus wasn't going to be available from Sprint at launch and ICS isn't going to show up on other phones until late summer of 2012. I needed a phone that works now and will work for the life of my two year contract. The iPhone 4S does that. It has the apps I need (I'm a musician) and the performance I need. Google lost me as a mobile customer, and I am not the only one. Many others bailed. Perhaps by the end of my current contract, Android will have matured and someone at Google will have paid attention to the issue of user experience. Maybe Google's Motorola unit will build a compelling phone that pulls me away by then. They have two years to try. I'm not holding my breath for that.

    1. Alan Denman

      Charge me more please?

      Europe seems to be abandoning the iPhone so only the UK is left helping Apple continue to overcharge.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Europe is tanking fast

        Excuse me, is not Europe the ones going down the toilet economically faster than a Japanese Bullet Train or bad Indian Curry all the while trying to desperately grab hold tightly onto the UK and drag it down too? Or are you all just cheap bastards?

      2. Silverburn

        @ Alan

        Europe is abandoning iPhone? You been there recently? They're freakin' everywhere. And it's all latest gen ones too.

  12. Mikel

    No winner yet.

    Plenty of losers though: RIM, Nokia, Palm, Microsoft.

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  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a gigantic Asshole

    As a gigantic Asshole I completely disagree with all of you in which ever way pisses you all off the most!

  16. Charles Manning

    The web doesn't link either

    This Dave dude that complains that apps are doomed doesn't get it either.

    Apart from sharing URLs the web doesn't link either. Do two web apps share data? No. Data in the cloud is as unlinked as data in apps.

    1. Chris 211

      @The web doesn't link either

      huh, Facebook anyone? has links between youtube, picassa, flickr and other services. You 'link' accounts and facebook 'pulls in the data'. If I 'like' a video on your tube my facebook status is updated, looks kinda linked to me. There are other services which offer to integrate your data online somehow.

      The FAT fingers reason why apps exist is very true. I personally would like to see less apps and more clever mobile web sites offering the fat finger linking. It pisses me off that for example; Natwest will pay money to have an iDevice only app made when the same money could make a cross device compatible fat fingered website that would work on Android, iDevice, Nokia, RIM etc etc. Much better for ALL there customers. MORE WEB LESS APPS PLEASE!

      1. P. Lee

        The web doesn't link either

        I think what was being expressed is that apart from very simple lists of data (contact/address books) or URLs there isn't much interaction. It is really very unlikely that vendor X's application will be able to re-use vendor Y's URLs to manipulate a database.

        You can use the web to get from one place to another, but the probability of re-using data is small.

        I think XML is supposed to help here, but it would be a really risky business to rely on a third-party database without some sort of agreement to ensure that the data (or the interface to the data) remains available. By the time you have got everything in place for a web app, its so fragile, you may as well have just written a native one and improved performance.

        The "like" button analogy doesn't really hold with more complicated apps. If tracking is broken I don't care (in fact, I like the idea) but if I clear my browser, I don't want important apps to stop working

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "LinkedIn, Netflix, and other technology giants"?

    If LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook and others are "technology" giants we have a very different meaning for "technology". Being a big user of technology developed elsewhere doesn't make you a "technology giant". Boeing is an aereospace giant. Delta is not an aerospace giant, is just a big airline. Building a big website doesn't make you a technology giant. Makes you just a big technology user.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FYI: It's Dave WINER, not "Winter"


  19. jai


    "They're not growing up with Microsoft Office. They're growing up with Facebook, with texting."

    What were you doing when you were a kid that you were a) using Office and b) could afford it?

    I know we didn't have Facebook when I was a nipper, but we found interesting and innovative things to do on our computers that didn't involve word processing for school work. MS Office is key for business. What you're saying is not that the future has to be all interconnected cloudy webbyness, but that most kids these days are going to be completely useless in front of a computer when they're faced with their first day of real work in a company when they go out to earn a wage. The future isn't all bright and shiny cloudy goodness, it's anarchy and dystopia as our companies collapsed because they're being run by idiots who spend their whole day on facebook posting lolcats pics. and commenting on El Reg articles ;)

  20. John 62

    Native Apps vs Web Apps

    Apple was the first to go for web apps with the original iPhone. There was no app store! Steve Jobs basically told people to learn javascript if they wanted to make apps for the iPhone. That flew in the face of the native app paradigm that ruled for Windows Mobile and Symbian, and developers were up in arms. Then the app store came, but remember, you can still pin Safari bookmarks to your Springboard and some sites seem magically able to make the Safari URL bar go away once the page has loaded (yes, by scrolling the page a bit, not by making it actually disappear).

    So Apple basically hedged its bets.

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