Google’s Android operating system is performing extremely well in the mobile market. In fact, the company’s market share continues to climb, as RIM, Apple, and Microsoft are forced to look up and hope to even come close to catching up at some point in the future.
That’s not good for those companies. It also speaks to how far Google has come at finally delivering a product that people really care about.
But that doesn’t mean that Android 2.2, the latest version of Google’s operating system, is the most desirable operating system on the market. Quite the contrary: The operating system falls short in many ways. When it’s compared with Apple’s iOS 4 platform, it’s hard for Google to even compete. Android 2.2 might be the best version of the operating system ever released, but it still has a long way to go to catch up to Apple’s offering.
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Google isn’t so big on software
Google’s real plan with Android is to dominate the mobile advertising space. It fully realizes that the best way to achieve that goal is by doing whatever it can to capitalize on the desire for touch-screen smartphones with the help of Android. That’s precisely why Google offers its operating system for free. But despite this focus on mobile-advertising dominance, Google falls short compared with Apple on software design.
2. Apple understands consumers
Apple understands what consumers want and how they will use a particular product. That comes through in all the products the company sells, including its iOS platform. Google, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to understand consumers as well as it could. It’s certainly doing a better job than most companies, but it still has a long way to go to match Apple. In fact, Google’s consumer understanding seems to be more Microsoft-like than Apple-like. And that could be a problem—especially for its operating system—down the line.
Multitasking on iOS is a key reason why Apple has enjoyed such success in the mobile market. For years, consumers were hoping for true multitasking; for years, the company made no promises. But in iOS 4, multitasking is running on the iPhone. Because of that, Google has a long way to go to match anything Apple is currently offering.
4. Folders make it all OK
Apple’s iOS platform is better than Android 2.2 for several major reasons. But one of the minor things that consumers should think about is Apple’s operating system’s folder support. With little effort, consumers can quickly create folders, lump similar programs together, and more. It provides a rewarding experience. And it’s a concept that Google has to play catch-up with.
5. Ease of use must come into play
In any evaluation between two operating systems, ease of use must play a role. After all, if a particular operating system is easier to use for the average consumer than is another, it should get the nod. In this case, iOS 4 easily gets the nod–Apple’s operating system is simply easier to use. What’s more, it doesn’t suffer from the strange quirks that arise on Android due to vendors trying to tailor the user experience to their own products.
One of the main issues with Android 2.2 is that the software doesn’t respond as effectively as it should when compared with iOS. Does that mean there is a responsiveness issue with Android 2.2? Absolutely not. In fact, compared with other operating systems, it holds up quite well. But Apple’s platform is different. It’s just that iOS simply provides more responsiveness when users interact with it. It could be extremely difficult for Google match that any time soon.
7. Too many variations
Because Android is an open platform, vendors that get their hands on the operating system can change it however they see fit. That openness creates an environment across the Android ecosystem that loses uniformity and provides variations of the Android operating system on different phones. The result is sometimes spotty performance that must be taken into account when evaluating differences between iOS and Android.
8. Apple’s App Store
Apple’s App Store is integral to the success of iOS 4. With hundreds of thousands of applications, Apple’s marketplace is the best place to find programs that appeal to both consumers and enterprise customers. Admittedly, Google’s Android Market has been growing at a rapid rate, but it has a long way to go to match Apple’s store.
9. iTunes integration
Whenever users pick up an iOS-based device, they can access iTunes from the product. That’s extremely important. It provides them with an end-to-end entertainment experience that isn’t so readily available on Android. After all, iTunes is the world’s top music store. If only Apple’s products have direct access to it, few could make the case that Google’s offering can best Apple’s.
10. The tablet issue
Google has said that Android 2.2 is not designed for tablets. Apple doesn’t have that issue with iOS 4. Currently, iOS 3 is running on the iPad. But this month, Apple plans to offer iOS 4 integration with its tablet. When that happens, the company will prove that its operating system is the best choice for just about anyone trying to go mobile. Then the onus will be on Google to respond.