In a post heard around the world, Gizmodo blogger, Sam Biddle, argues Android only gets to play with the big boys because it’s for poor people, and poor people (ergo minorities) buy Android devices. In other words, Apple is for wealthy whites (and sometimes minorities), so get over it.
Biddle goes on to argue, essentially, that the reason iPhone is better is because Apple has worked hard at price-fixing, while manufacturers (and carriers) can release Android-based devices for pennies, even free. Since Android is free for all, manufacturers can use (and abuse) the OS as they desire. Thus, manufacturers, wrongly in Biddle’s eyes, release devices geared towards the lower incomes of the society – “Forget prestige. Just get people signed up.”
In principle, there’s truth in some of Biddle’s arguments. Some consumers, regardless of socio-economic and racial factors, are driven to purchase Android phones to be like the crowd. While others simply can’t afford to spend money on an iPhone. Since their whole desire is to own a smartphone, they’ll fork over cash for whatever works, looks good, and is cheapest. I know of several colleagues who stepped into the Android realm because they needed a smartphone, but didn’t want to spend the money for an iPhone.
However, I know an equally greater number of people, myself included, who purchase Android devices (including higher-end devices) because of the operating system and the technical specs.
For instance, my Motorola Droid Bionic (purchased in November 2011) ran on a 4G LTE connection long before the iPhone. My current phone, the HTC Droid DNA, has hardware specifications that will make an iPhone 5 user drool, and that’s just in the screen. Samsung, Motorola, and LG make comparable phones.
Combine some powerful devices with an awesome Android 4.1+ operating system, and you’ll get an iOS lover like Lawyerist’s, Sam Glover admitting Android phones match the iPhone, tit for tat. Even one of my devout iPhone-loving friends told me that Mrs. The Droid Lawyer’s Samsung Galaxy S III and my HTC Droid DNA were easier to use and “seemed more intuitive” than her iPhone 5.
Sure, you can argue “iOS is more secure”; “has more apps”; “has a different feel”, or whatever other rhetoric you want to use to justify your iOS admiration, but that wasn’t Biddle’s point. Biddle argues that pricing not product makes Android inferior.
While Android device makers certainly do offer cheap (meaning quality) devices, you can also find cheap (meaning price) Android devices (e.g., Best Buy’s Samsung Galaxy S III offer) from almost any retailer. Sometimes, as is many cases with electronics sales, manufacturers and retails will take loses to promote sales.
Cheap might not be the best way to describe Android’s marketshare dominance. How about value, performance, customization, or works?
Certainly, there are a small percentage of consumers who shop on price alone. However, as Android becomes more popular, and more stable, the sophisticated purchaser knows the devices and is willing the grab the better value. In essence, consumers are saying, “give me a reason not to buy an iPhone, and I’ll take it.” Google introduced its Nexus phones, and it can’t keep them stocked. Google showed that Android users will, if given the opportunity, purchase more costly devices if there’s a perceived value in doing so. Unfortunately for Apple, the iPhone is no longer the status symbol.
Say what you want about the type of consumer buying the more costly Android phones, but Apple is seeing that consumers want reasonably priced electronics, as evidenced by its iPad Mini introduction and rumors of a cheaper iPhone.
No Mr. Biddle, Android isn’t dominating because it’s cheap, Android wins because it’s the better value.