Posts Tagged ‘ios’

On Bias

26 July 2011

Dear J-

Cory Doctorow reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Tab a few days ago and it’s interesting to note his laments — namely that despite the slick hardware, the proprietary connector (replacement cable, $70) and limited expansion (no microSD slot on the Wi-Fi models) mean that it’s really no better than the segment leader iPad (inasmuch as there can be considered a “tablet market” and not an “iPad market”) and often far less useable. Doctorow famously eschews the use of proprietary, “closed” systems in favor of Linux and Android. John Gruber of Daring Fireball commented to the effect of TANSTAAFL: no matter what happens, you’re not going to get Apple-level products without Apple-levels of sweating the details. Elsewhere there’s a story about how the editor of Windows Magazine became a Mac fan and one of the salient points of that article is that Apple as a company provide the appearance, at least, that they back their products and care about the user experience instead of trying to squeeze profits out by spec’ing the cheapest parts and allowing adware and spyware to be built-in to the initial software load.

There are a lot of people who are anti-Apple and will not buy their products to prove a point but I’ll tell you my concluson first: if there is a lower-cost iPhone coming out this September for my carrier (Virgin Mobile) I’m dropping this Samsung Android phone like the piece of foistware crap that it is and bolting back to iOS. The school of thought that everyone should root their phones and make all the electrons inside free from enslavement is laughable: I want to be a computer user, not a system administrator. If the USER experience out of the box is so bad that you have to root the phone to remove bloatware and speed up functions then there’s something wrong with the phone, not me. It’s sort of like slathering hot sauce on your food as soon as it’s out of the kitchen or sticking a lime in your beer as soon as it’s opened: why do you need to modify the default? Is the defalt that bad, or is your modification that much better, and why shouldn’t it come that way to begin with?

I know all the cool kids run rooted phones and Linux on their laptops. Neal Stephenson famously compared Linux to free tanks that go anywhere and get great mileage, but has since switched to OSX five years after that article dating back to 1999. In the course of writing this post I got a “low memory” warning because Samsung was too cheap to double the RAM and ROM at an additional manufacturing cost of maybe fifty cents. That infuriates me: they’re telling me oops, we don’t care enough about your experience to provide the best hardware we can, we didn’t user test sufficiently, and we didn’t pick an OS that might actually have sufficient memory management schemes to keep you from overrunning your allotment (if you have less than 20MB or so of free space in the flash ROM under Android the system gets pretty pissy at you). In the end Android’s success is going to kill it: no one wants to feel unloved but that’s precisely what the user experience is about.


P.S. it’s funny how Ubuntu has gotten excoriated for trying to grow its market by moving to a Windows-like skin: which has a higher potential userbase, Windows converts or Linux diehards? Rooting Android has the same feel to me, a vocal minority acting like exclusive hipsters: why use the phone if you can’t root it?