Android Is The New Windows

For the past few days my rants against Windows Phone, and sometimes iPhone, have become sharper. A few weeks ago I got myself an iPhone 5 and the device has become my primary device, with the Lumia 920 still accompanying me everywhere. Using the iPhone 5 has made me change several conceived notions. Coupled with product news that keep coming in, my observations on Twitter have received a lot of criticism–which is understandable.

The Lumia 920 is a bulky phone compared to the iPhone 5, in fact the 920 feels uncomfortable to hold compared to the Nexus 4 for two reasons:

  • weight
  • width

You do get used to the two but the bulk (and extra weight in the upper half) keeps haunting you, especially when your second phone is half the weight. L920 owners have made arguments against the weight:

  1. Nokia couldn’t have done anything about it if they wanted to release a phone in time
  2. It’s not a big deal

The first one was rubbish, and I’ve maintained so. Nokia coming out with Lumia 928 within 6 months of 920 is proof that Nokia could in fact have released a less bulky phone. Here’s the annoying part: Nokia’s design team has gone a step back with each Lumia. Devices usually get lighter/thinner with every new model, but the flagship Lumia has gone the other way round:

  • Lumia 800: 140g
  • Lumia 900: 160g
  • Lumia 920: 185g

People defended it and Nokia is set to release a lighter/thinner phone within 6 months, that’s evidence that Nokia realizes their blunder with the L920.

This brings us to my statement, when I blame Nokia for launching a better phone within 6 months as a betrayal of trust, it’s argued that technology changes rapidly and I have to deal with it. Here’s the problem with that:

Flagship phones from Apple, Google and Samsung remain flag ship for a year. Given the economic situation where people really want value for money, like me, will consider this factor. (Apple got a lot of flak for releasing iPad 4 months after iPad 3.) It was the same people who blamed Apple for betraying the customer. A lighter phone is an expected evolution, it’s not a drastic product improvement worthy of a new flagship model–many criticized the iPhone 5 and 4S for being an incremental, not revolutionary upgrade, because one of the biggest feature of the phone was its light weight–and yet when I say Nokia fucked up by launching a bulky phone and fucked up more by showing intentions to launch a thinner/lighter phone in 6 months, I’m considered to be oblivious to technology developments–it wasn’t me who was oblivious; it was Nokia who is being short-sighted.

A better product >> several mediocre products

For Nokia, several mediocre products worked in the past, especially India, where the company launched one phone with a good camera, another with better storage, and another with a better screen–but not a phone with all the best possible specs. They’re using the same strategy again and hoping to spam the market with a lot of Nokia phones, unfortunately, the market is polluted with Android phones today.

That brings me to Android. And Google. Having spent quite a bit of time on iOS6, the OS has brought nothing new in terms of usability since the last time I used it. In fact having gone to iOS after WP8, made me realize that Windows Phone 8 is a well thought out OS that has been designed around improving usability.

If you talk (or have talked) to any Apple apologist, attention to detail is a concept you’ll definitely be schooled at. iOS is everything in the other direction:

  • When you’re not typing in capitals, the keyboard still shows you capital letters
  • Calendar is an auto-updating icon but Clock & Weather are not (it’s always 10:15 & 73deg in Apple-land. Always.) Attention to detail, my ass

iOS is a mediocre OS but a better platform compared to WP8

A few days ago I realized that I use more Google services on my iOS phone than Apple services. To name a few that I use every few minutes:

  • Chrome
  • Maps
  • Currents
  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • Search

Now, none of these are services that I can’t move on from. I am not “tied” to Google, if there was a better alternative to any of the services above I can easily switch. (I hardly use Gmail.) Google simply offers a better experience at all these. When Apple replaced Google Maps with a product that was 10 times worse, iOS users realized how reliant they are on Google services. Since all these services are available on Android, and my data can be moved by simply singing in with my Google id, switching to Android is a seamless process.

Why would one move to WP8 when:

  • I have most of the third-party iOS apps on Android
  • I have access to all my data by simply signing into Google
  • WP8 has no Google love and has sub-par alternatives

It’s simply a pain to switch to a new platform. Google and Android have eliminated a major barrier if people want to switch. And if they don’t switch to Android, Google is still a leading a app/service provider on iOS. They win either way. Microsoft does not have any can’t-live-without product on the iOS that would make one consider WP8 to switch.

Microsoft has given iOS users no tangible benefit to switch.

This brings me to apps, and usability. Over the past few weeks I’ve realized that I can live without Instagram and Path. They’re popular apps but add little value to me besides being able to post across platforms. Those with existing communities on both have a reason to stay, but for a light user, the absence of these apps is not a deal breaker. The absence of these apps coupled with factors like a bulky phone and the presence of mediocre alternatives to daily used services–that’s a deal breaker. (HERE Maps+HERE Transit offer nothing over Google Maps that everyone is used to. And they’re slow, give poor routes in some cases I’ve tested.)

Google isn’t releasing apps for WP8 for two reasons:

  1. There aren’t enough users, if there were, like in iOS’s case, Google would
  2. If they release apps, regular Google users can switch to WP8 sans the migration barrier, Google doesn’t want that. They want people to switch to Android from iOS

Google’s Android has become like Windows of the 1990s:

  • can be customized by OEMs
  • has all the apps people want
  • offers services that people use daily

Windows Phone 8 is none of the above. I see no reason to tell someone to move to WP8. Microsoft hasn’t been able to figure out which division WP8 is a part of. For a regular user, today the right mix of devices is:

  • Phone: An Android flagship device (Nexus 4/Galaxy)
  • Tablet: iPad Mini
  • Laptop/Ultrabook: A Windows 8 device