Reader Response: “Why Would Anyone Get an iPhone?”

Occasionally we receive very long, detailed reader comments that require quite a bit of thinking to answer. Here’s our response to one thoughtful reader. Leave your thoughts in a comment on this post, and we’ll happily respond.

Commenter, “TheSouljaKCR” Writes to us:

Doesn’t the lack of hardware choice bother you? Doesn’t the cost vs build quality/spec ratio bother you? Doesn’t the complete lack of customisation bother you? Doesn’t the lack of a proper file system bother you? Doesn’t the inability to easily share from one app to another bother you? Doesn’t the inability of using a native PC interface to move, add, delete, edit files (as opposed to iTunes) bother you? Doesn’t it bother you that your app choice is directly tied to what Apple do and do not allow, with no way to sideload apps? Doesn’t the inability to set default apps bother you? If iOS users could use Chrome as the default browser, I’m sure most would. Even though you can install Google Maps, when you click an address it will still open up the god-awful Apple Maps as default.

The trouble with Apple is that you are making a long term bet on a single company that has already faltered many times. By investing in Apple’s platform you are saying “This hardware company will -always- be the right company for me.”

And that’s a very strange commitment to make, when you look at it from a logical perspective. I would never commit to a hardware company, because people’s needs change. In 5 years of using Android (I was there from day 1 with the G1), I’ve purchased devices from HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Asus, LG and Sony. Because at each point, one of those OEM’s was innovating the most. Whichever OEM innovates the most will get my money at the time I make a purchase and that’s a fair system that doesn’t leave me invested in the fortunes of an OEM or vulnerable to their mis-steps.

I’m certainly not disparaging your decision to purchase a phone that is right for you at this moment in time. But will it always be? I know plenty of people that have switched from iOS to Android – both with and without my influence. They all wish they had done it sooner.

What i admire at Google is that they when they make a killer product, they generally have no qualms about making it available for competing platforms such as iOS. At one stage Apple were more like this (the iPod/iTunes would NEVER have been successful had it not been Windows-compatible, this much is obvious) but you cannot say the same about them now. And the truth is, it’s because their software is sub-par. Imagine if they had tried to release something as terrible as Apple Maps on Android, they would have been an absolute laughing stock. Safari is not even in the same league as Chrome. iMessage/Facetime pale in comparison to Hangouts (a truly integrated cross-platform chat/video experience).

 

I’ll address this generally, and then each choice individually. First of all, this isn’t a lifetime commitment. I’m making a 2-3 year commitment on a platform which I’m confident in for at least the next 5 years. You’re making that same commitment to Android. With hardware you’re more diversified, but with software, you’re still vulnerable. Android is just as likely to fail as iOS. I’d also like to remind you that Chrome and Hangouts are readily available on iOS. They’re not Android-specific. I use chrome all the time on my iPhone, though I honestly think that the new Safari for iOS 7 is superior. Now, to your individual questions.

“Doesn’t the lack of hardware choice bother you?”

The 5S was the right phone for me. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have bought it. I’m only buying one phone, so any further choices wouldn’t be to my benefit. Plus, smartphones aren’t PCs: We’ve already sacrificed configurability for convenience.

” Doesn’t the cost vs build quality/spec ratio bother you?”

No. Value is in the eye (and the wallet) of the beholder. The time-savings and benefits of this phone are easily worth more than I’ve paid for it, so it is a good enough value for me. And considering that iPhones also have dramatically higher resale values than other phones (look it up), if I resold it, I could end up saving money, versus if I had gone with a droid.

“Doesn’t the complete lack of customisation bother you?”

In what way does it lack customization? Boots? I can live without them. How often do you really change the interface of your phone? I might change the background, or the lock screen, but I rarely feel like changing how the phone functions. Beyond that, the iPhone is just as configurable as an Android phone (minus 3rd party keyboards). I had it on my Galaxy note, but it really wasn’t a concerning thing to lose.

“Doesn’t the lack of a proper file system bother you?”

What is this? Windows 98? File system? I use my iPhone precisely so I can avoid a file system. All of my documents and photos on both my laptops and my tablet and my phone are synced up to the cloud, so it’s never really challenging to find something. If I wanted a file system, I’d be using a Windows tablet, but I don’t. My phone is about fast access, which is not exactly related to a file system. On my laptop, it’s a necessity, but on my phone, not so much.

“Doesn’t the inability to easily share from one app to another bother you? Doesn’t the inability of using a native PC interface to move, add, delete, edit files (as opposed to iTunes) bother you?”

Once again, if I wanted a native PC interface, I’d use windows. I can edit any file on my iPhone that you can edit on your Android phone (minus root files). Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, video. What exactly am I missing out on editing? And I can delete just about anything.

” Doesn’t it bother you that your app choice is directly tied to what Apple does and does not allow, with no way to sideload apps? Doesn’t the inability to set default apps bother you?”

A little bit. I’ll admit that sideloading is valuable. Still, sideloading brings quality issues into account. I don’t ever want to worry about my phone crashing or bugging out. It doesn’t happen often on Android, but installing 3rd party software always does carry risks. I’m happy with the hundreds of thousands of apps available to me, and with not ever having to worry about any of them stealing my data.

And that’s about that.

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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