What I Learned from Not Listening

Yo-Yo Fair Ride


It all started at the Tennessee State Fair, the third year in a row for this Nashville transplant. Each year, I’ve gone there with my daughter to enjoy the animals (baby lambs!), the arts (learning to weave!), the crops (giant pumpkins!), and of course, the rides.

As my daughter has grown, the rides have gone from cute to adrenalin boosters. Being a libertarian, I usually ignore the posted signs and the warnings of the operators, so I’m sure I missed the “Remove all valuables from your pockets” warning for the Yo-Yo ride. This situation and the corresponding result gave me a perfect opportunity to teach my daughter the consequences of not following the rules. Apparently, modern phones are not built to survive 30 foot falls onto asphalt.

I could have mourned my stupidity, but lucky for me I was already looking to replace my two year old Galaxy S3. I hopped on eBay, ordered a used S5, then popped my sim card into a spare iPhone 4 while I waited for the S5 to arrive. In the process of one week, I went from Android Ice Cream Sandwich to iOS7 to Android KitKat. This was an excellent opportunity for me to compare and contrast the operating systems. Unlike my compatriot’s review of her Android experience, mine was born out of necessity and as such, was much more time limited and unplanned. In the interest of science, I tried to stay consistent in my usage of the phones to keep it as comparable as possible. Here are my two main contrasts:

Apple’s integration of hardware and software is simply beautiful and efficient. I was amazed at the battery life I got out of an old iPhone 4, getting over 2 days of use between charges. One of the reasons I needed a new phone was insufficient battery life on my Galaxy S3. The impressive battery life combined with a slick user experience is why I see the integration of hardware and software as Apple’s primary competitive advantage going forward.

Samsung SPH-i500Android’s separation of hardware and software opens incredible opportunities. The most useful, valuable  part of my new S5, other than lasting a whole day without a charge, is the IR blaster. This “non-standard” hardware feature now allows me to control my whole home entertainment system from my phone, including my TV, Tivo, Apple TV, DVD, and Chromecast (input selection). No longer do I have to worry where my daughter last put any of the remotes. No longer do I have to figure out the latest hiding place of the way-too-small Apple TV remote. All I need is my phone. This open hardware ecosystem is more open to innovation and one of the reasons I use Android vs. Apple as my primary phone. I see hardware innovation as Android’s primary competitive advantage going forward.

I love this duopoly, and as an owner of smartphones since the days of the Samsung SPH-i500, I’m happy to have two very competitive yet unique offerings for mobile devices.

Now who can recommend a rugged case for my new Galaxy S5?

Other recent posts about the Apple/Android duopoly:

Steve Cheney on the future of both Apple and Android from a technology and business perspective

My favorite blogger is switching to iOS for a few months