I hold no grudge against any brand and I'm also not a fanboy of one, not even mine. I use a Windows Phone and although I enjoy using it I'm realistic enough to realize that it's hardly the best. However, I do worry a little about the market and the dominance on the market. Not from Apple, but from Google. Maybe unfounded, each to his own, but Google's intrusion into our everyday live worries me a little. Especially because they're doing everything they can to expand on that field as best as possible.
Sure; they're being open about it mostly, but the parts which they like to hide are also those which worry me. Especially because all the courtesy which Google seems to show us stops the very moment when someone has the nerve to pry on, discovers something weird and then asks them about it. Put differently: when you disagree with Google and speak your mind then will you discover just how cooperative Google is. Like those Android developers who didn't got paid and didn't got any responses from Google by e-mail. Resulting in their forum thread to get locked "Please send us an e-mail instead" and eventually it got purged from history alltogether.
As said I don't hold a grudge. Because in general Google does play a fair game. Control needs 2 sides afterall: controllers and people allowing themselves to be controlled. Which is exactly what is happening, and it's understandable too: I mean you'd be a fool if you didn't recognize Google's huge potential and the tremendous ease of use which they provide. I most certainly am not questioning that.
What I do question is the price we pay for all those goodies. Because if there's one thing which us geeks should know: digital freedom doesn't really exist. Most often there's some kind of price attached. A free download? Cool, but they "only" want your e-mail address. That's not free. A free to build and hosted website? Cool! Of course you will get banners and the domain name you get to use isn't yours either. That's not free.
To me the phone market is no different. Cool: when my phone gets stolen then Microsoft provides me with the option to remote-fry it (I prefer the term ghost-burn, from GiTS). But that comes with a price; they're into contact with my device the whole time and can get all sorts of info from it. Most of that is opt-in (so I'm led to believe) but how sure can you be?
And that's where I'm getting worried. Less players on the field means less competitiveness which means that the options for market dominance are much easier. Players simply agree to apply $unpopular_feature together and all the consumers can do is to accept it. Its not fully related but still comparable: XBox vs. Playstation. Playing multiplayer games on the Playstation was always free or charge, on XBox you always had to pay a fee. And so we've reached a point where none of them are free anymore. Microsoft and Sony dominate the market and thus they dictate the rules. All the more reason for me to postpone the idea of getting a PS4: instead I'm considering to get a gaming PC and then hooking that up to my TV.
Phone of the year? I'd say brand of the year and it can only be Android. I'm still using my Windows Phone and if the time comes then I'll definitely try to find something else which isn't Android. Not because I think Android is bad, quite the opposite, but because I think Google is way too intrusive.
Heck... My browser of choice right now is Opera, I know it's build upon Chromium which is basically the "Google Chrome do it yourself kit". And already some Opera users have noticed a few times that "weird connections" were made with Google's network. It never got confirmation but of course it does. I mean: you get to use the browser for free, but freedom in the digital world? Yeah right!