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Why Android Desperately Needs The Next iPhone

Eric McBride
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In just 5 days, the eyes of the tech world will be glued to an event that will surely send shockwaves around the globe: Apple’s unveiling of the next iPhone. Lately, there have been unusually high amounts of tension between Android and iPhone users, as Apple’s shocking “win” over Samsung has raised concerns over the current state of the US patent system, Apple’s attitude towards competitors, Samsung’s ability to innovate, and Android’s originality. With all that being said, and with all the mixed feelings towards Apple within the Android community, one fact remains that most Android fans fail to consider: The iPhone 5 will play a critical role in Android’s growth. To put it simply, Android needs the next iPhone a lot more than you might think. But why?

Dominant Market Share vs. Popularity

It’s no secret that sales, activations, and overall popularity of Android is at an all time high. Just yesterday, we learned that the Galaxy S3 surpassed the iPhone 4S as best selling US smartphone, and that Android activations have grown to 1.3 million activations per day. In the last quarter, Android worldwide market share surged to a staggering 68%, which is significantly more than the less than 20% worldwide share that Apple currently holds.

While Android’s numbers/marketshare certainly are impressive, the fact of the matter is that the iPhone is still without a doubt the worlds most popular smartphone. But this year, Android may actually have a chance to slowly curve the attitudes of consumers slowly away from the iPhone 5. Why this year? For two reasons:

  1. The iPhone finally has a true competitor in the Galaxy S3, and...
  2. Because consumers (many of them iOS users) are beginning to feel that the iPhone’s design and software are outdated.

The iPhone Has Never Been As Threatened As It is Today

Apple has never been in a position where they were forced to be seriously concerned about one specific Android device. Up until now, Android has gained traction with sheer numbers, not with a dominant flagship device. Samsung however, has now leveled the playing field. The Galaxy S2 demonstrated that Android could successfully have a “flagship device” that consumers would also notice before purchasing an iPhone. The Galaxy S3 demonstrated that Android could deliver a flagship that consumers could actually prefer over the iPhone.

Sheer number of Android devices + two successful flagships + one record smashing Android device (GS3) = a tricky situation for Apple. Not only is Apple currently being outpaced in regards to market share, they now have a competitor that is gaining something with consumers that Apple is very uncomfortable with: popularity. 

So why exactly does Android need the iPhone so badly?

The shift

When the iPhone 5 (aka next/new iPhone) arrives next week, many speculate that it might not be enough of an upgrade from the iPhone 4S to keep all of Apple’s customers loyal to the brand. Sure, it will sell like hotcakes, but it is in desperate need of a design/software overhaul. If the next iPhone closely resembles the iPhone 4S in the way that the iPhone 4 resembled the 4S, consumers will most likely take notice that the iPhone hasn’t evolved that much in the past 3 years (as shown in the picture above). As the years go by, iPhone users will want something truly different, either in terms of design and/or software. What they won’t want is a phone that has generally worn the same outfit for the past 3 years. It needs to evolve. 

The evolution that many iPhone fans are hoping for is currently taking place within the Android ecosystem, and it’s happening a lot faster than Apple anticipated. Consumers are intrigued by the larger screens of Android devices, from the customization options, from the hardware, and by the constant improvements to the UI. If you compare Android phones from 3 years with an Android device that's currently running ICS or JB, it’s very easy to see how much it has changed in terms of software, hardware, and design. Android has a chance here to initiate a shift within the industry. It has a chance to demonstrate that Android is more focused on improvement, design, variety of choice (screen size, price, UI, ect) than Apple currently is, and has the flagship device in its arsenal to accomplish that shift.

In other words, if the next iPhone looks/feels in any way too similar to the iPhone 4 or 4S, even its most loyal consumers will start having a look at that big bright Galaxy S3 display that accomplished the impossible (dethroning the iPhone 4S). In previous years, Apple could get away with this strategy, as there wasn’t one specific Android phone that was getting so much consumer attention.

Unfortunately for Apple, things have changed. 

Conclusion

Android needs the iPhone 5. They need for it to have a slightly bigger screen, slightly improved hardware, and slightly improved features. They need it to demonstrate that “slightly improved” is not what Android is all about. They need it to prove that if you want a bigger screen, bigger hardware, more customization options, and something truly different every year, that you can now find it in an Android device that has quickly gained a reputation as being a legitimate competitor to the iPhone. They need it to demonstrate that Android devices, unlike the iPhone, greatly evolve at an amazing pace, and that when you purchase a new Android flagship device, you aren’t simply purchasing an upgraded version of the device you bought last year.

Once consumers realize and see that (assuming the iPhone isn’t something completely different than its previous model), then and only then can the shift towards popularity slowly begin to shift away from Apple and towards Android. In order for that to happen, the iPhone must exist and do what it always does. Android will naturally continue to grow, but in order to reach it’s next evolution, consumers need to see that the next iPhone is simply a lot more of the same old thing.

Picture credits: techmog.com and technobuffalo.com

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Comments

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  • Dvoraak Sep 7, 2012 Link

    Well said Eric. I have a feeling iOS hasn't changed much since '07 but my experience only goes back to the 3G. Since then, notifications, folders and Siri have been the only improvements that were substantial enough to change the way I use my phone. Most of the innovations that Android fostered weren't enough to pull me away from iOS when I compared usability, stability and performance but Samsung has changed that by developing phones that offer much more than just the Android OS. There's little chance that iOS6 will offer anything that'll keep me from jumping ship.

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  • Eric McBride Sep 7, 2012 Link

    I totally agree. IOS 6 most likely wont be a major upgrade, which is what Apple desperately needs. The iPhone itself will most likely look pretty sharp, but again, it won't be that much of a step up (most likely) from the iPhone 4S.

    Guess we'll see soon if Apple has any tricks up their sleeves.

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  • Patrick R. Sep 7, 2012 Link

    Interesting article Eric. I think the new iPhone will simply validate what we already know as Android users. Android is customizable and iOS is not. Android is better suited to performance and visuals tweaks. Android completely owns iOS notifications, hell even eclair had a better notification system than what iOS has. And the most important, Android lets you choose your phone from entry level USD100 handsets to you better take out a second mortgage on your house utter foolishness gold plated phones running gingerbread. At the end of the day, I know my phone, its tech and its OS are on the razor's edge of mobile computing development and I do not need the iPhone to validate that.

    I just love picking up a friend's Android not knowing what to expect. and how he made it his own. Good luck doing that on a wall of icons!

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  • Eric McBride Sep 7, 2012 Link

    @Patrick - Exactly this bro. The thing is, even though we know it, iPhone users are just starting to realize it. If the iPhone 5 really ends up more of the same old thing, it could hopefully trigger a revolution!

    And you make a great point about how people make Android your own. Simply not possible to do with an iPhone. Everyone who has an Android device in my office has made it so much "theirs" that it really makes it interesting to see the ideas of others in terms of customization.

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  • bits Sep 7, 2012 Link

    U should see mine too Eric :-) lol so long live to mister Droid

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  • Glostermeteor Sep 7, 2012 Link

    I own Android phones, a budget android tablet and an iPad 2 for work and I can honestly say that the only thing the iPad beats them on is the screen, I can do so much more in the OS with my creaking Galaxy 1 and budget tablet than I can with my iPad.

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  • Josh jackson Sep 7, 2012 Link

    This article makes some really good comments About what android has done in comparison to Apples ios, but let's not forget people that Apple has proved then selves time and time again. And I think bloggers get too caught up in the whole 4 to 4s thing thinking that apple just lays back and only gives internal hardware. Because last time I checked apple was still the king of designs,still the king of giving users the best user experience, etc. Coming from owning a iPhone 4s and now owning a evo lte I can honestly say apple has got allot right but they need things like widgets, live wallpapers, etc, but Apple knows this. It is nothing like God competition to get then to take it to the next level. And @ Patrick maybe you haven'tusediPhone lately but there notification system honestly kills the notification system on android no questions!

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  • Eric McBride Sep 7, 2012 Link

    @Glostermeteor - Oh yeah...in terms of customization and options, Android tablets win hands down.

    @Josh - I have owned an iPhone 4 and an iPad, and they were both fantastic products...no doubt about it. And you're right when you say that Apple knows they need more. But the problem is, they haven't delivered THAT much more over a 3 year period, and this is due to the fact that they simply didn't have to. Now that they do have to, it seems that the only thing they have up their sleeves for the new iPhone is a slightly bigger screen and LTE. Sure that's a change, but it's also a quite expected one.

    I'm glad you like the IOS notification system, but in all honesty, it's very easy to see that they forked it from Android (and for me, it's in no way better, but that's just my opinion :-D). Apple is great when it comes to design, and we see that on the iPhone, iMac, and Macbooks...but their phones need an overhaul....badly...in design and user interface. They are seriously starting to feel dated, and I'm sure that's part of the reason that the Galaxy S3 was able to outsell the famous iPhone 4S.

    That being said, I have no doubts that the new iPhone will sell like crazy.

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  • Josh jackson Sep 7, 2012 Link

    And let's also not forget that the hardware leaks that will prove to be true shows this year will not be a 4 to 4s year, It's a over haul on making there design that Mich better. That coupled with some ui tweaks and some new killer features are enough to make allot of android users switch to ios.

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  • Eric McBride Sep 7, 2012 Link

    Oh I'm pretty confident that there are plenty of Android users that would switch for the iPhone 5. But I also know (from Samsung's current sales figures) that more people are switching from IOS to Android now than ever before.

    It's war I tell you! :-D

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  • Patrick R. Sep 7, 2012 Link

    @Josh, Hi, yup, I use an iPhone 4s and iPad 2 on a regular basis. My girlfriend is an Apple user, and yes, a couple of past and present idevices she owns are a gift from an Android fan (me). Again, yes, i update the os and restore from icloud and set it up when necessary. All I cannot tell you about the iDevices is how to jailbreak because I refuse to study how to as I don't need the head ache and aggravation of providing tech support over the phone for an acting up device for when I am not around.

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  • Patrick R. Sep 7, 2012 Link

    Haha weirdly enough, I just realized that you have a valid point. I might not be familiar with the notification system of stock ANDROID. I have been on MIUI JB for my SGS and MIUI ICS for my SGNote. It might be different from stock. So maybe, stock ICS and JB notifications might have been beaten my iOS. Although, I am not ready to concede the "king of design" and "king of providing the best user experience." points you made as i think you failed to substantiate it in your post. If you explain further, I am willing to rethink my position.

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  • red Sep 7, 2012 Link

    I agree, it is a war, and IMO, it's the consumer who wins. With competition better prices, better product, better services to be gained. I'm glad I have good options to choose from.

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  • Eric McBride Sep 7, 2012 Link

    Which is exactly what competition should do :-D

    LEARN THAT APPLE.

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  • Josh jackson Sep 7, 2012 Link

    @Eric, Your right they havent been forced to deliver more and and completely revamp there UI, and now with the competition of the sg3, and android getting better and better I beleive they have to in order to remain dominant. Now i wouldnt say all apple has up their sleeves is a larger screen and lte, because those should be a given, lets not also forget that apple isnt like the android OEMS who just do design and specs, they also control there own software, and they have proven to be a software first kind of company when it comes to mobile OS. The software is what got them where they are and if they keep it up its what will continue to drive them to the top. So knowing apple at there announcement next week look for a big software feature to be there selling point rather than the hardware updates, ie with siri last year. I respect your opinion, but can you elaborate on how its better or why you perfer it? And your right about apple stealing the notification center from android no doubt, but lets be honest here what does androids STOCK notification system do better than ios? Because on ios they way they handle there notifications on the lockscreen is 10 times better than ICS, the way they handle the notifications in apps are superior etc. The only thing I can say that is better on android in terms of notifications are the way they show you the notification icon on the status bar so you can see what apps you have notifications from rather than pull down the screen. And I can understand what you mean by saying the feel outdated, On android your hardware changes alomst every year so i can see why you say it feels outdated. And it does at times. Last thing is that Yes the the SG3 outsold the iphone 4s but lets keep in mind that that device is a year old, as well as no one is buying iphone because they know the new iphone is coming so its expected. Now if the SG3 outsells the iPhone 5 when it drops then that will be the true test.

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  • Josh jackson Sep 7, 2012 Link

    @ Patrick the jailbreak process is so easy and simple it makes you wonder why more people dont try it. I rooted my EVO thru the RegaMod tool on XDA and in compariosn between root and jailbreak its much easier to jailbreak then root, the tool i used in the past to jailbreak was greenp0ison, Absentine, and Red Snow, Red Snow by far was the hardest and even that wasnt complicated. I havent had a chance to try out the MIUI yet so im not familiar with the way they handle notifications, but I know stock could use alot of work on android. And what I mean by King of designs are that they usually when compared to there competitiors have superior designs, IE why samsung copied them etc. I mean even look at there designs on macbooks, ipads, macs etc, they realized that simplicity is the best way and thats a large part of their success. Now I am a fan of technology tho, im not just a apple fan so I do give each company there fare chance. And while i may perfer apples products when it comes to certain technlologies Its no doubt companies like samsung and HTC are a major threat and do bring alot to the table.

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  • David H. Sep 8, 2012 Link

    It's already done! Where does Apple get its memory chips? Where does it get its processors? Where does it get its glass? From the champion it must overthrow.
    Apple deosn't make any of its own stuff, so nothing new and fabulous is going to emerge.
    It will have the same processors available in every other competitor, same camera board and lens, memory chip etc, that the competitors are using (and making)
    Which one will make a better processor, not use it in their own device but sell it to Apple? Or glass, or camera lens, or camera sensor... you see where I'm going?
    Apple doesn't innovate, they take others innovations and wrap them up, then have a huge hype party to sell it.
    Sure the devices have been good, but it not only shows Apple is good at buying and putting together good stuff; it also shows its competitors are good at designing and making that stuff.

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  • David H. Sep 8, 2012 Link

    You guys know what would make the iPhone 5 really great... if it ran Android OS!
    Yeah baby! ICS on the IP5!

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  • Dvoraak Sep 8, 2012 Link

    @David - You've somehow missed the point that Apple designs all the parts that go in an iDevice. They don't go shopping for parts and then slap it all together. That's why they've been able to take Samsung out of the supply chain as much as they have already. They can take their designs to any other manufacturer they see fit. Quality control and logistics are another matter of course. Samsung has done well for Apple. Only time will tell if other manufacturers will keep up with the demand and quality needed.

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  • baari gaffar Sep 12, 2012 Link

    My only fear is that without this competition from apple we would see that manufacturers would stop pushing so much to improve on their android devices as there would be no real external competition. The only competition we would now have is amongst other android devices. Time will tell because it's obvious that the S3 has the iPhone 5 beat and apple's demise has started.

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  • alaska99801 Sep 12, 2012 Link

    I have a galaxy note, wife has an iPhone. She is typical consumer, I am a bit more tech savvy. I make decisions not based on OS, company, etc., for me is practicality.
    I traded my galaxy 4G Touch, for the galaxy note for the large screen only. It is easy on my eyes. I was waiting for the iPhone 5 but I realized that I wanted a 5"+ screen. The iPhone was not going to provide that. So a couple weeks ago I made my change.
    Now, owners of iPhones and phones in general do not care to have a new model that look different every year. That is what the android fans and bloggers think. The research is on my side. BMW has done very well not changing their models radically every year. A BMW looks like a BMW, an iPhone looks like an iPhone. Consumers like that. They want innovation inside more than outside aesthetics.
    Regarding activation and numbers. I travel around the world. Most activation worldwide are either feature phones or cheap phones, running android. That is why the web facts are so sloped toward Apple. You just can't deny the fact.
    I went to cricket the other day, and that store was packed, why? They were running a promotion of a free phone with activation.
    Do you think the customers care whether was iOS, android, windows 8, etc.? Not on your life. Point here is that most android customers worldwide, most, buy phones not android. But iPhone buyers buy iPhone because of it.
    Only the fans say, I want an android phone. Consumers usually think, I want an iPhone. Like I do, but I didn't for the personal reasons expressed above.
    I have no issues with android, but neither with Apple.
    And like another blogger said here, people, these are just phones. Imagine if we could channel everyone rage into something real positive, like elections reforms. We would be way ahead of the game.

    Android manufacturers need to change their game. I don't like it at all that my android phone can be made obsolete after one year for lack of upgrades. No, I don't want to jailbreak. Take Samsung, how many phones and tablets do they put out between August 2011 and august 2012? Let's see how many they will still support by August 2013.
    Here Apple has android beat. Look, the iPhone 3GS is getting iOS 6. It's Google that need to take ownership of their OS and ecosystem.

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  • CJ Brown Sep 12, 2012 Link

    Another thought provoking Article, Eric ...

    In order for Apple's iPhone to evolve?

    1) It's going to have to be strictly 4G
    2) it's going to need a display screen @ least 4.3"
    3) it's going to need to be a lil' wider
    4) it's going to need a new menu to navigate
    5) it's going to need to accept widgets
    6) it's going to have to accept "No Contract" consumers

    What will APPLE succeed at the least this week? Providing their Cult (aka Fan Base) something to brag about. What will it mean for Android Users? Eventually, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc will unleash something new to compete (supply and demand for Consumers) ....

    I will gladly applaud APPLE if they do offer an iPhone better then what they've ever offered the public in over 4 years (but I'll stick with Android) ...

    p.s.

    BOOST MOBILE - now offering the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G - 4.52 screen - 8 megapixel camera - 2 megapixel front cam - for $370 (watch that price drop during the Holiday rush) no contract just got better ...

    http://www.boostmobile.com/shop/phones/samsung-galaxy-sii-4g/

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  • Ruben Ayala Sep 13, 2012 Link

    Patrick R's final sentence of his Sept 7, 2012 7:06:45 AM post is why i am such a big fan of the Android world. Everyone has something different. i really cant wait to get my hands on the new Samsung Note 2.....

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  • omario Sep 13, 2012 Link

    Someone posted a link on xda about a well written article and I do have to,say this is a very well written article good job Eric! @Eric the thing that bothers me about the apple fan base is I would say a large percent of them are tech illiterate and it really bugs me...it's a lot of rich families that see this simple phone and they get it for like the whole family and same with girls all of them get it cuz it's the thing to have an iPhone...4.3 screen size would be a big step up for apple but hell that's the same size of my two year old desire hd.. what also bothers me is how locked down and how much apple controls what goes on n your device..even with jailbreaking you can't do much with it...I mean woohoo you can install cydia and install a home screen that looks like sense 2.1.... I just recently upgraded to the one x ...rooted and unlocked it within the first two hours when I hadi got it...currently on a sense 4.1 Rom and can say my friends with iPhones are actually jealous now . but apple really needs to make big adjustments...

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  • D Hoyland Sep 13, 2012 Link

    Hi, If you don't know what is better,Android or Apple's OS then your on the wrong www.site.
    Next, I win the competition at the start of this article ?,
    The android phones are totally different, and the IPhone's they changed the wall paper.

    No one can ever win the argument what's better,Android or IPhone, as the IPhone people Know there all wrong,
    Q: Who would buy a phone were you cannot take the back of to change the battery ?.
    Answer : the screens on the back of a IPhone, and you never need to take the front of a phone.

    Apple should drop the Phone bit from IPhone, as the last thing you would do is buy one of these devices is just to make phone call's, and every one cracked phone side of things years ago when you had to press the A or B button to make a Phone call in the UK.

    Sorry
    Dave

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  • Gordon Gibson Sep 13, 2012 Link

    hmm, a lot of valid points there, Eric. I agree Android phones are on the increase and more so than the iPhone but lets not forget what Apple have achieved. They will respond to competitors to ensure they stay at the top of phone technology/innovation.

    As for your comments on Apple's interface and looks not changing - why do they need to? The current layout of the software and the physical phone design itself works very very well so why does it HAVE to change loads to be competitive? Why fix it if it ain't broken? Apple users like familiarity and the iphone has a very strong and instantly recognisable design.

    I currently own an HTC running on android and it is a very good phone but to be honest my choice was driven by cost and I plan to buy an iphone 4s once the new iphone5 pushes down the price in a few months. There is also the just the thrill of having and iPhone and owning an apple product.

    In my view samsung have found a phone to rival the iPhone commercially but after trying a samsung s3 in a high street shop I still think apple's UI works better with its notification and very smooth performance. And if apple's new maps system works out well it could be a huge set back for google and possibly android.

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