If you’re part of the smartphone community you’re well aware of the Apple vs. Android debate. Some are loyal to one company while others have switched between the two. But the reason for this competition comes down to the type of platform each phone type works on.
An open platform is a program or software in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge (Beal 2008). With an open platform, programmers can improve and further develop a code in a collaborative effort with the community. As a result a more useful and bug-free product is established, as there is little or no concern with propriety ownership or financial gain. Android runs on this mobile platform, allowing anyone and everyone to modify Android codes, as well as creating apps with no limitations. According to Daniel Roth, they make their money by “selling support for the system — security services, say, or email management” (2008).
On the other hand is the closed platform. There are restrictions in the usage, modification, copying or distributing of software. It is exclusive property of the developers or publishers and is not shared with the public for people to look at or change (Beal 2008). Jonathan Zittrain describes Apples closed system as a way to maintain control. For example, Apple users can only purchase apps through the App store. While anyone can make an iPhone app, Apple must approve it before the app is added to the database. Apple creator Steve Jobs felt this system made the iPhone more reliable and trustworthy.
“We define everything that is on the phone. You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work any more.” – Steve Jobs
While I can see why many people are against a closed platform system, for some it is more beneficial. In my case, I like having a smartphone, as it is everything I need in one place. However, as I am not a tech genius, I have no desire to change or develop any of the software myself. I have been a proud owner of an iPhone since 2010 and have no plans to stray from Apple. I trust that the people who create Apple codes know what they’re doing and have the best interests of the company in mind, so they will create something that works and consumers like myself will like.
I believe that while there remains to be a choice between open and closed platforms the competition between the iPhone and Android will continue. We are not locked into a certain platform, and there are no rules against switching between Apple’s closed system or the Androids open system. Everyone has their own opinion on which is better, but ultimately, the two companies are catering for everyone. Therefore, unless another competitor joins the fight, people will continue to buy both iPhones and Androids. While the companies may disagree, I see this competition as a healthy one, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Beal, Vangie 2008, Proprietary Software, Webopedia, viewed 10 September 2014, <http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/P/proprietary_software.html>
Beal, Vangie 2008, What is Open Sourced Software?, Webopedia, viewed 10 September 2014, <http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Computer_Science/open_source.asp>.
Roth, Daniel 2008, Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web, Wired, viewed 12 September 2014, < http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android?currentPage=all>.
Zittrain, Jonathan 2010, A fight over freedom at Apple’s core, Financial Times, viewed 12 September 2014, < http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3DM3V7t2a>.