Reading the flourish of articles on the miraculous success of Apple products, the i-family (iPod, iPad, iPhone,iMac and soon to be iTV) one wonders why there aren’t more poeple using i-computers out there. I myself purchased a new laptop recently and got a Dell. I want to upgrade my phone soon, but after my recent encounter of the third kind with the iPad I am squarely in the Android camp… in fact I am now looking at ways to hack my iPad to get Android running on it. I liberated my iPad from its golden jail (appropriately known as jailbreak in the hacking community) but I still find it too restrictive in what this wonderful hardware could potentially achieve. In fact, I want to stress before I dive in that I am a real admirer of the Apple hardware, it is its soft component I abhor. All the iHardwares out there are simple beautifully crafted, no doubt, however, Apple’s extension of its hardware philosophy to the softer edges leaves me and I believe a lot of people out there a little hungry or angry at times.
There a number of articles out there that have compared the recent upgrades in the iWorld and Android (the iPhone 4S against the Android Ice Cream Sandwich platform). What comes out of the article is that while Apple gives you a beautiful experience, it still restricts what you can do with your device. Keeping the access to more complex operation tightly locked down in its pursuit of simplicity. That maybe fine for a horde of Apple fans and technology phobic people. However, Android has taken the other approach of diversity and openness. Indeed, there are a plethora of Android devices and manufacturers out there all vying for a share of the pie. This had led to many different approach to the user look and feel, further allowing the user to change, modify and adapt his device to his/her habits and taste.
So, while the Apple experience is pre-set for you, Android and more generally the Linux experience out there is striving for diversity in experience. I think it is this fundamental difference which is the reason why we will not have a world filled with Apple computers. Android variants (a flavour of Linux for mobile devices) and the open community are still searching for the right balance, for they still need to be economically sustainable, but it is the unity in that diversity that will bring about a revolution, and I do believe that mobile world is increasingly moving towards that diversity. For all the trumpeting of Apple legions, there are many more Android devices on the market than ‘I’s
Unity in diversity is the road to sustainability for it creates the ideal eco-system to promote diversity. Unity in diversity is quite straightforward in culture (as is exemplified in India or experimented with in the European Union), but what does it mean in the world of business and technology? The very ingredients that allow unity in the cultural world may give us some clues. Respect for someone’s beliefs, freedom in choice, justice, and most importantly choice! We have plenty of the last one in our cut-throat consumer society, but maybe a little more respect and freedom would not hurt. Freedom is quite obvious, and the very lack of it is what pushed the GPL licence and open source efforts in the computer world to take off…. but what about respect, what does it mean? I think that when Apple respects Google, and it in turns respects Microsoft, which in turns respect the open community and vice versa in the true sense of respect, then comes acceptance which leads to more doors being open such as compatible systems that can interact with each other instead of closing the door on each other. Can we still make money in such a world? I think so. Can we make rip-roaring and unsustainable profits? No, I don’t think so.