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back to article US smartphones – Once you’ve had Android there’s no going back

Most people that we meet who are not in technology, wonder at how we keep up with the speed at which technology changes. But technology – and technology markets in particular – are sometimes glacial in the speed of change. Back in around 2002, when we first talked about 3G licences, and ooh-ed and ahh-ed at how much money they …

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People are waking up

to Apple's walled garden and control freakishness...

I know several iPhone owners that said enough is enough, sold their iPhone whilst they could still get a decent price for them on ebay, and picked up a high end HTC phone. They have never looked back.

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Are you sure? Do you have any proof of that.

Maybe it's just slack-jawed consumers gobbling up handsets that look as fancy as all the other bling phones but are a few dollars cheaper.

I've not seen any evidence that more than miniscule number of nerds actually give a toss about how their phones work, or where the software comes from. Any of Android, Win 7 or iPhone will do just fine for most people so long as they look good, have a few fancy gewgaws to demo, deliver idiot-proof access to MyFaceTube, and come for a low, low price on a $40/month two-year contract.

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Anonymous Coward

wow

Isn't that amazing.

I have friends who bought Android/MS/Blackberries and have all sold them to buy an iPhone.

The world isn't quite as simple as you make it out to be.

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Not true

*I* did what you're talking about, and now I'll never go back to iOS. I can flash custom ROMs, send text messages from my desktop PC, tether without the network operator knowing about it... but do you think any of my friends care about this? Of course they don't.

My mum mentioned that she'd like to get one of these smartphone thingies, and I recommended she get an iPhone. Android's UI still doesn't compare to Apple's- and she gets confused by Apple's, so lord know what would happen with Android. It's perfect for me, but then I've been using smartphones since UIQ Symbian handsets- I've learnt to cope with crappy UI.

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Anonymous Coward

Still keep going back to Blackberry

I have dozens of phones, it's part of my job to have many phones at my disposal, and so I try them all out to see how well they work. Invariably I always end up back using a Blackberry. There are many nicer, faster phones with better, bigger screens etc. but they don't actually work well for their primary purpose, which is being used as a phone.

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Jobs Horns

I'm one of them

Moved to a Samsung G-S. Mentally I actually fell free and as though I do own this phone - something I never felt with the iPhone.

The same feelings I had in the Mid '80s when I got hold of MS-DOS instead of the Apple or an IBM 9375 - which was all we had prior to that,

History repeating itself shocker.

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Phone?

"they don't actually work well for their primary purpose, which is being used as a phone"

The primary purpose of my handset is to connect me to the internet. Secondary purposes include playing MP3s, providing satnav, taking photographs, playing games and sending texts. Voice telephony also comes in handy once in a while.

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WTF?

@Trygve

Why are you reading the Register???

... sounds like heat magazine is more your thing!

(oh, and the uptake of Andriod by my friends is proof enough for me, "my friend")

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Linux

Android

Android is shaping up to be THE smartphone platform. I for one welcome it. It's a well designed and open platform that is going to usher in a new age of computing. Anything that's bad for Microsoft is good for everyone else!

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Gold badge

Sadly not

There is one major problem with the lack of a walled garden: practically any animal can walk in.

Especially from a corporate perspective there is still no phone that is actually trustworthy enough to give it access to the corporate infrastructure. Blackberries need a black box that has access to your resources but God knows what else it does, iPhones take screenshots without telling you - but both have at least *SOME* control if you lose it.

What I'd really like to see is an open phone I could trust. One that stores information encrypted a la Truecrypt, so that you can examine the design and indeed evaluate for yourself that it's relatively safe. This is what RIM and Apple offer to a small degree: stability.

Bring that sort of control, security and stability to Android and you will indeed have a winner.

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Coat

You almost had me...

... until the line about "the same way that there was no going back once everyone had a PC with Word, Powerpoint and Excel on it".

WTF??

Mine's the one with the Nexus Two prototype in the pocket.

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It was true for many years

It's still very nearly true, despite Microsoft's best efforts with rearranging the UI to be almost completely unusable.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

Okay, Word I understand, and Excel maybe (although the amount of bad 'management' spreadsheets I've seen written in VBA make me want to cry), but Powerpoint? Seriously, I work for a software company and AFAIK, NOBODY uses Powerpoint here, principally because we don't employ waste-of-protoplasm middle management types. If we want to demo our software, we demo our software; customers don't want to see a series of slides which a drone then proceeds to read out loud at them. As far as I can tell, this is all that Powerpoint is used for...

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Gates Halo

Wireframing tool?

.. seriously, i've lost count of the number of full website wireframes clients have sent me built in Powerpoint. it's just so versatile!

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Hotbed of change?

all I ever hear from US commenter is complaints lack of infrastructure and poor service.

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Anonymous Coward

god help us from the hotbed of change

realistically all that seems to mean is operators pre-loading Android handsets with their (uninstallable) crap and adding news fees if you want to tether or use "data" as opposed to the web (who knew email sync was so radically different to web browsing)

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I want to

Run Android on my iPhone 4. Then I will be happy.

I've not had good times with Android. It's frustrating to see operators and handset makers raping it for their own good. Keep it standard android and keep everything in line with each other. Stop being a bunch of nonces! THEN I might get an Android phone

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Bronze badge

Remember the nexus?

"It's frustrating to see operators and handset makers raping it for their own good"

One of the points about the Nexus one was preventing that. Maybe the rumours are true and we will see a nexus two next Monday.

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Anonymous Coward

Nexus

I'm satisfied with mine, I bought it a couple of months ago and it is an excellent device, unlike the horror stories one fellow around here keeps reiterating about his Motorola.

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Gates Halo

Makes me want to gleefully say....

"Suck it Apple!"

The Android growth line (if it holds) is appears to be worse than when Steve got pwned by Windows. Of course the Google twins aren't nearly as uber cool as Bill G was. Does anyone else ever ponder if Sergey and Larry tap fists and exlaim "Wonder Twin Powers Activate!"

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Android, a driver for change

Android also has a strong attraction compared with iPhone.

It's a fraction of the price.

I plan to get my eldest a fancy Android phone for his 12th birthday, on a low cost pay as you go deal I'm going to be walking out of the Orange shop with it for an outlay of £40, not about £500.

He's delighted, he likes it more.

Me I'm delighted it's not costing me an arm and a leg.

He's delighted coz his tight git parents will buy him a cool phone.

I expect the cost of Android phones will come down even more soon. They are already free on low end contracts, but not quite as low as I wanted for a kid.

Price pays a big part.

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Fancy?

Being picky I know, but you're not going to get much of a fancy Android phone for £40 are you.

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@Fancy

Sure, as someone else said, Orange San Francisco, but Orange will cough up for most of it if you agree to regular topup.

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Anonymous Coward

@Fancy

Lets see.. that kind of money over here will get you an HTC Desire, or a Motorola Milestone or Backflip.

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Anonymous Coward

Et Ceteris Paribus

Over there you have Sarah Palin.

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@Jason Hall

I don't know about that, sonny. Got me an HTC Desire for $79 CAD*. You can get a hell of an Android phone for not much in terms of initial outlay...

Bear in mind that's the cost for a 3-year contract. Also bear in mind that if you bought your own phone outright and then put it on a contract the price would be the same. (There are no discounts in Canada if you bring you own device.)

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WTF?

@Jason Hall

Really? I have an HTC Desire that cost me the grand sum of zero pounds and noughty-nought pence for the handset, for £25 a month, albeit on a 24 month contract (which seems the norm today). Maybe you should haggle more with your operator when getting a new contract - it can be hard work, but may well save you a large amount of money in the long run.

Now that the Desire HD and Z are out, I would imagine that you could even get a better deal on the 'older' Desire. Whilst it may not quite be as technically good as the iPhone 4 (which is probably a matter of opinion anyway), it certain kicks the shit out of the previous iPhone.

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Syd

Android = Poor Man's iPhone

This proves nothing except that some Android phones are much cheaper than an iPhone. The only Android phone which is making any traction in the real-world is the Sony X10 Mini, because it is small. Outside of that, I would be willing to bet at well over 90% of 'normal' Android users (i.e. not techies) would swap to an iPhone in a heartbeat if the price was the same. Basically, the Android is an iPhone for people who can't afford an iPhone.

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Must be that 10% then

Got a work iPhone4 and my personal Hero, I mainly use email, the gmail on the Android is far better than the apple client. Hell the java gmail app on my old nokia was better.

Hero is also pocketable, I wouldn't dare put the iPhone in my trouser pocket.

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Troll

Should rise to it, but...

I've just about had it up to here with this assertion.

Android != Poor Man's iPhone

I could equally well say iPhone = idiot's Android

Okay, I'm using an HTC Desire for the comparison, and HTC's Sense UI is particularly sweet; I know that it's been far more intuitive AND reliable AND given me a much better call quality than all of my colleagues who decided to go with the fashionable iPhone option.

If you've got people choosing the better option measured in several dimensions (including price) then it's a little disingenuous to focus on price as the only explanation. Why would one do that? Possibly because it's a remarkably effective way to catch peoples' subconscious snobbery...

(gah. Anyone got a pringles lid for this half-tin of troll food?)

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Poor mans iphone, i think not!

Maybe I also looked at other smart-phones before I just did what most others do and just get an iphone.

Maybe I researched the cost of owning the various smart-phones available.

Thats why I paid £165 pound upfront and £10 per month for a HTC Desire on t-mobile.

TCO over 2 years £405.

Can I afford an iphone, yes I can. Any one who makes any purchase based solely on whether they can afford it is foolish.

Could be the reason why when on holiday with a mate, I could afford extra data which my iphone carrying friend then had to use on the wi-fi hotspot I created for him from my Desire.

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Linux

@ Syd

Keep smoking that Crack and sipping the Cupertino Kool-Aid.

Do you know what you are talking about? Have you ever owned a high-end Android device? If you did, you would not spout out those lies. Those devices are superior to any iPhone to date. Android is gaining market share at an astounding rate for a reason - Android is good.

>>> iPhone is for people who can't afford an iPhone.

If you get the phone on a two or three year contract, most high-end Androids are the same price if not more than the iPhone 4 so there goes your theory genius.

The iPhone is a nice device but do you ever think that people *may not like the iPhone?*

Move along troll.

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FAIL

Nice unfounded assertion you have there

"I would be willing to bet..." == "I just made up..."

FYI, working as a software dev, I am reasonably well paid, as are the people around me. I know of one person in the office with an iPhone, and at least seven with teh HTC Desire (including myself), so maybe it isn't that Android is teh 'Poor Man's iPhone' but that the iPhone is Android for fashion victims who like wasting their money?

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@ Wrenchy

The high end Android is a nice device but do you ever think that people *may not like the high end Android?*

Move along troll.

...and cutting and pasting peoples absurd, closeted, hypocritical logic back at them is fun.

I mean, you could *literally* swap the words "iphone" and "Android" in your post, and it would sound exactly the same as an Apple fanboi post, and it would say exactly the same thing, while adding *nothing* to the discussion.

Google or Apple...fanboi-ism sucks.

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@Real Name

The problem with vanilla Android is that it isn't good enough in several key areas.

For instance, there is pretty much sod all support for streaming video from a home media server. Samsung did a great job of making this work with the Galaxy S (@2.1), but the HTC Desire (@2.2) can't do it out of the box (perhaps there are paid apps that will, but they're not exactly easy to find and the quality is a bit of an unknown).

Also, there was no wifi tethering until 2.2, but Samsung had it working in 2.1.

Nothing wrong with a bit of innovation provided that it doesn't break the core experience.

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In the UK you can get Android for £110 pay as you go

Orange is selling Android (San Francisco) 2.1 fro about £110. You could unlock in 3 months of purchase and put on a Sim only plan. It has a small RAM so will be stuck on 2.1 but is a good tester into the market.

Will do exchange email.

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err.. actually

you can unlock it instantly for less than a fiver and already there are several Froyo (2.2) ports available, cooked up by the open source community. 5 minutes on Google will reveal all. Ten minutes of reading for this Android noob and my phone was unlocked, rooted and all the Orange crap removed.

It also has a fantastic screen, which puts most phones at 2 or 3 times the price to shame.

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Thanks thesykes

Thanks I think I will have a go this weekend at 2.2. How do I get it unlocked for a fiver?

Orange said 3 months! 20 quid to unlock

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Go

Check the Modaco forums

Check the Modaco forums, the ZTE Blade section (which is what the phone's called when not being rebranded by Orange). They have a bunch of recommended unlocks with user reviews and pricing info.

They also have plenty of folk working on custom ROMs.

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Look up

modaco (assuming the mods let this through). the boards on there include one for the phone, all the help you'll ever need.

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Happy

It is done. Bought one at the weekend. Now on 2.2

It is done. Bought one at the weekend. Got an unlock code for 5 quid, installed the clockworkmod, put update.zip on the sd card and now Now on 2.2.

I played around with the modaco 2.1 and then used the 2.2. I just needed to change the screen density for my old eyes. Everything else is great. I am impressed with this little phone. knocks spots of my E61. I just have to make sure my data usage is not too big which NetSentry helps with.

Now have 2 Exchange accounts (microsoftonline.com) one pop3 and a gmail junk one.

Very happy with it. The battery may be a problem, so I'm keeping apps to a minimum especially GPS. The google navigation with satellite images adjusting to the orientation of the phone blew me away!

Cheers ( I'm well happy I got the San Francisco, beets paying out 300-400 on y first Android)

All I need now is a vieo play that can cope with full sized mpg /mp4.

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Video

Try RockPlayer.

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Jobs Halo

It's not all about units shipped

I suspect the outcome of the Android and iOS 'battle' will be similar to the Mac and PC world.

Android is cheap and good enough for most people. The numbers of people buying the top end Android phones is similar to the new GFX card every 6 weeks hard core gamers to the PC world. Frankly small and insignificant (in more ways than one on the gamer side!).

While Android devices soak up the mass market; those willing to spend a bit more for a better overall experience will continue to go with the iPhone. As a platform, OSX only has about 8-10% of the OS market, but in terms of computer makers, is third only to HP and Dell (http://www.idc.com/about/viewpressrelease.jsp?containerId=prUS22531110). More importantly, of purchases over $1000, Apple apparently takes 90% of the revenue according to research in June 2009 (since which Apple have seen a surge in Mac demand, but anyway, the link is here: http://www.betanews.com/joewilcox/article/Apple-has-91-of-market-for-1000-PCs-says-NPD/1248313624).

So, relatively low market share, yet pretty big profits. I'll take that over raw shipment figures any day.

And the same thing can be seen in mobile here:

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/09/21/pie-chart-apples-outrageous-share-of-the-mobile-industrys-profits/

and here:

http://www.asymco.com/2010/10/31/making-it-up-in-volume-how-to-view-unit-profitability-vs-volume-in-handsets/

and here:

http://www.asymco.com/2010/11/03/how-much-profit-did-vendors-capture-from-android-powered-phones/

So, there's no doubt Android is doing well; but I don't think Apple are too worried just yet.

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Don't you just love Apple owners?

Are they the only consumers in the world proud to point out that the company they love makes huge profits from a relatively small market share?

That the only way to do so is it to make huge profits on each item they sell?

That every time they buy the kit, they are being massively over-charged? Ripped-off?

Apple must laugh every time someone posts how fantastic they are for robbing their own customers blind.

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@thesykes

As an AAPL stockholder I'll take profit over market share any day thanks.

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You're right but yes, Apple aims at the "elite"

So indeed, Android help Apple : the more the Android handset will be cheap, the more the Apple products will rise in the sphere of the desir.

After all, the old "Think different" slogan only means "be different", as well as the slogan "I'm a Mac" cannot state the so obvious "I'm a PC". And yes, you have to pay for that in the same way you have to buy a Ferrari to appear somewhat different, even if you're not.

That's our life : a lot of fools.

Remember when you were young. If you didn't wear the brand x, you were mocked.

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@Blue Buddha

Indeed! I dislike much of what Apple does...but there's no denying the end result. For now at least, they are suceeding. For the sake of her shareholders, I hope the strategy of ignoring marketshare continues to provide profits. A repeat of the desktop PC fiasco would be bad.

It's early days yet. Ten years from now, we'll see if Job's strategy was crazy...or crazy like a fox.

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would that be

for the massive dividends you get? You know, like shareholders of every other profitable company... must be earning a fortune with those profits.

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Jobs Halo

@ thesykes

I think you'll find that dividend paying shares are in the minority these days, with many using the recession as an excuse to cancel them.

Not that I care - i bought into AAPL at < 200 just after xmas. Will sell at 350, I recon. Go Jobs!

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