All things considered, if you chuck out everything else regarding hardware, which can go back and forth all day, and simply focus on software, it’s pretty clear that Apple has a distinct advantage over Android. The Android OS is marketed on devices that are not only manufactured by multiple companies (Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola, LG, and Huawei to name a few), but those companies put out a complete line of phones from low end to high. Samsung alone has 30 some odd handsets to choose from.
Even if the overall average is about 15 different models per manufacturer, do the math with major players out there who make handsets and it’s clear to see that there’s easily 90-100 different phones (currently manufactured, excluding discontinued models) out there. When Google releases a new version of Android, a miniscule percentage of the Android population can upgrade to the new OS. A paltry 3 or 4 percent. Meanwhile, well over 1/3rd of all active handsets out there are still running Android 2.3 Froyo. I think the yogurt has melted by now. Newer versions of Android take advantage of newer hardware, and bring features that just aren’t there on Android 2.3, yet phones to this day are still sold, brand new, running 2.3! This makes for a bad buying experience when you buy a brand new phone only to find out 1/2 the games you saw on your buddy’s phone won’t work on your brand new phone running a 3 year old operating system. Many will argue that you can simply root the phone in many cases, and upgrade to the vanilla Android release Google put out, which is true, but it’s hardly a simply task. First off, 99 and 44/100 percent of people who root the phone are script kiddies who install other people’s work. So unless you’re lucky enough to have people out there working on a root for your particular device, rooting is hardly a choice. Besides, even a successful root will most certainly mean a handful of functions aren’t going to work, and you’re not upgrading the day that the latest Android release hits the servers either.
So, it goes sort of like this in most cases: Day 1: New Android is released by Google. The wait begins… about 2 months later, pressure from the community causes the manufacturer to announce that they are diligently working day and night to bring Android version x.y to your handset. A couple of months later, the release is made, so you call up your carrier to ask when you can download that sweet goodness to your phone… Whoa Turbo… the carrier needs to take a few months to decide just exactly how much bloatware they’re going to cram down your throat, and lucky you get to wait for that too. After all that, if you’re incredibly lucky to be in that sweet 3 or 4 percent, you actually get your upgrade, 6 to 8 months after Google released it… 3 or 4 months before the next one is due, you wind up with a phone that’s lacking the experience you get from the device. Apple has always been about the experience, and they have never swayed from that vision. It’s all about the experience from Apple’s point of view. That’s the driving force that’s made clear to the teams that create the iPhone. The experience above all else. Even if that means that the iPhone won’t get a feature that’s expected, or even ubiquitous on other phones. For example, it wasn’t until the iPhone 3Gs, the 3rd generation iPhone that the phone had MMS messaging. Cut and Paste as well as multitasking are other examples of features held back by Apple because the experience wasn’t good enough to add to the OS yet. There are just too many entities out there creating an “Android phone”. Google makes the OS, the manufacturer makes the phone and the carrier rearranges the furniture. On the other hand there’s Apple, and that’s it. The hardware guys work with the software guys, and no one before, during, or even after mucking up the works. No other entities are making changes that they feel need to be made (in their best interest), which, in fact, has the opposite effect by creating an Abomination at the end product.
Meanwhile, Apple is the sole manufacturer of their products, there’s not 100 other models of phones out there running iOS. Just a handful. All together, there have only been 6 phones called “iPhone”, and when iOS 7 is released along with the iPhone 5s(?) or whatever they call it, come this mid-September or so, the last 4 models iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and 5S will support iOS 7. Last year, within a month of it’s release iOS 6 was on more than 60% of iOS devices (iPads and iPod Touches included). Nine months later, Apple was reporting nearly 94% adoption stats for the iPhone on iOS 6. The level of fragmentation on an Android device goes further when you consider application development. As a developer, your goal is to sell as many copies (ad supported free or paid) because the wider the audience is, the greater chance your application will be downloaded. Well, if I’m going to develop an Android app, I’m going to draw the line where I’m going to get the biggest audience. With Android, since more than 1/3rd of the users are on 2.3, that’s where I’ll draw the line. So, despite the fact that you may have the latest, greatest Android phone with the latest release of Android, you’re still most likely to see an application that doesn’t take advantage of the newer bells & whistles your phone offers because me, John Q Developer, has a choice. Make two (or more) versions of the application so I can both satisfy the majority running 2.3, and add the extra functionality that the newer phone has. Most developers will choose the former over the latter, and even with your new phone, you have an app that runs on 2.3. :p
I’m always open to comments, if you feel I’m missing something, feel free to comment. Just be sure to back up your comment with reason, and not just bashing me.