To appropriately disclose, I respect both MG Siegler and Joshua Topolsky. Siegler for his shrewd thoughts, strong positions, and exceptional foresight; Topolsky for his undying commitment to gadgetry, and role as a leader in independent media. But, this Galaxy Nexus, ICS, iOS, iPhone 4S, class-warfare, german automaker, occupational, bourgeois hoopla is just shit.
To contextualize, Topolsky took offense to this chunk of MG Siegler’s review of the Galaxy Nexus from an iPhone lover’s perspective
Unfortunately, the system still lacks much of the fine polish that iOS users enjoy. The majority of Android users will probably think such criticism is bullshit, but that has always been the case. I imagine it’s probably hard for a Mercedes owner to describe to a Honda owner how attention to detail makes their driving experience better when both machines get them from point A to point B. As a Honda owner myself, I’m not sure I would buy it — I’d have to experience it to understand it, I imagine. And most Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences.
He contests that Siegler’s metaphor generates a “pompous, privileged, insulting, and myopic viewpoint which reeks of class warfare — and it is indicative of a growing sentiment I see amongst people in the tech community.”
Siegler fired back on his personal blog where he brings up some good points, but it’s slightly irrelevant.
What Topolsky argues has nothing to do with phones, or software or anything to such a point—it has to do with the assumed entitlement packaged with purchases. In the Verge’s video podcast today, Josh tried to make the point clear that what he was trying to explicate upon is the concept that people couldn’t and shouldn’t be lumped into one of two categories. He cited republican vs. democrat, iOS vs Android, 99% vs 1%, etc. While these do pose excellent questions of political theory; sociology; economics; and, perhaps, anthropology, they hardly have to do with the issue at the foundation level: which phone, between the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus—at this point in time—is best.
So, let’s say Siegler’s metaphor is shit—I don’t believe it is, but metaphors only go so far, sometimes you have to address the issues on their own ground. If the metaphor is gone, then what’s left is his final statement from that exerpt of the text: “most Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences.”
This makes sense not because Android users are ignorant people who live in enclaved society scorning passersby, but because the general population of the electrically inclined world doesn’t switch phones more than once every two years. Simple. Precise.
The reason people don’t switch isn’t due to steadfast two-year contracts with iOS or Android (WIndows Phone, Blackberry, Symbian, etc.) but because that is how the carriers in the US operate. Why? Because they make money this way.
The importance of carrier debunks both of their points that one phone over the other could be a luxury item. Whether it’s $199 for a base iPhone 4S or $299 for a Galaxy Nexus, the mass quantity of currency is spent on the plan provided by the tele-giant. A $100 difference is nothing. It’s $4.17 per month over the life of the contract. That is not a luxury distinction.
What is so beautiful about the smartphone market today, is that, for a relatively affordable price, people can choose what type of experience they want. There is no better iPhone privileged people have access to—the president picks up the same iPhone that you, the regular ol’ consumer, do. Just because one might feel entitled walking into the über bauhaus Apple stores to chat with elitist “geniuses” doesn’t mean they are suddenly dealing in luxury goods inaccessible to “normal” people.
What I believe Siegler was trying to get at with his metaphor deals with the fluency of experience within the products. The vertical integration, from concept to product, that Apple has creates a seamless, tight, and closed product like the iPhone. Google’s role as a suave yet efficient software company interacting with hardware manufacturers creates a robust, but fragmented, product like the Galaxy Nexus.
When you address the products for what they are, all the background shit-flinging fades away. It’s a matter of comparing the continuum of experience—the fluency of use—between the phones. Right now, Apple provides a better experience.
Calling all computer geniuses, I love the idea of open. Many great technologies exist today because people had the wit and fervor to create what they wanted using the tools they had. I encourage more people to develop for android and show that in spite of fragmentation, they can embrace the platform’s strengths and create applications and APIs that make people’s lives more fluent. It’s just not the case not. ICS might entice devs, but those arguing that the open platform is better aren’t backing their yells up with exquisite products.
Android developers, buckle down and kick some ass. For now, viva la iPhone.