Today’s biggest battle in the technology world is Google’s Android vs. Apple’s iPhone. Anybody see a problem there? And can you see how it compares to the old Windows vs. Mac war? Android is an operating system; an OS. The iPhone is, well, a smartphone with an OS. They’re not the same and should not be compared the same way. Here’s a look at one secret weapon Apple has that Google’s Android sub-system does not have.
iPhone 7 was launched this week, and along with it came iOS 10, Apple’s mobile device OS. About a year ago Apple launched iOS 9 and it took about a year for hundreds of millions of customers to upgrade about 90-percent of their iPhones and iPads. How does that so-called penetration rate compare to Android?
About a year ago Google launched Android Marshmallow. Where does Marshmallow stand now? About 20-percent or so of all Android smartphones in the wild. And the vast majority of those got their version of Android Marshmallow the old fashioned way, and the preferred method to upgrade Android devices. Those customers just bought a new phone.
Guess what? That 20-percent or so is about the same percentage of Apple customers who upgraded their iPhones and iPads. This week. Apple’s secret weapon is one not easily copied by Google on Android.
Apple’s upgrades are painless (whereby, ‘painless’ means rather simple and straightforward for most iPhone and iPad owners). Android upgrades, if it can happen at all, are just not in the same league.
What’s the advantage to having a large percentage of current customers upgrade to the latest OS versions? It makes like much easier for developers who have less work to launch and maintain an app for iOS than for Android. It means customers get security updates and bug fixes quickly and with ease on iPhone and iPad. Customers often never see either one on most Android smartphones and tablets– until they buy a new one.
That kind of customer base upgrade penetration just isn’t easy for Android-based devices and the problem isn’t likely to be improved, let alone resolved.
Apple has another secret weapon that it bought back when the iPhone was new. A chip design company. Since then, Apple has rolled out proprietary chip designs to iPhone and iPad, and then to Watch, and now there’s a customized Apple-designed chip called W1 which removes the Bluetooth pairing problem and ensures a less flaky connection between wireless devices and iPhone, and another part of the company’s System on Chip and System in Package (SoC and SiP, respectively). The W1 is a small SoC used in the new wireless AirPods and a few Beats headphones.
That allows Apple to differentiate iPhone and Beats headphones from competitors by providing an improved user experience. While such proprietary in-house chip designs can be expensive, Apple sells so many products that costs are easily amortized over much larger numbers which reduces the per-unit expense that keeps the company’s products competitively priced, but a better value with better performance.
Just like the secret weapon of easy upgrades to new OS versions, Apple turns technology sore spots into friendly functions for customers.