October 6, 2010, 5:39 PM

It’s iPhone vs. Android in the battle for longevity

I am a happy new iPhone owner but lately I've been wondering about the Droid.

Well ladies and gentleman, it’s official. I’m a Mac-head. Until last week I could be considered a mere Apple owner with my 15-inch MacBook Pro (which I fondly refer to as the Silver Fox.). But a few weeks ago I took a deeper bite into the Apple world with my gleaming pride and joy, an iPhone 4.

I now commute to work with a certain swagger, and walk among the hip. This self-esteem boost is itself completely worth the $199 in my eyes. A bonus, however, is that I can do more stuff while in transit. Stuff that might have cost money, such as read the New York Times while away from my computer on the train. That would have cost me a paper subscription before.  I can also save money while shopping. I can download a bar code scanning app, scan a product bar code in a store and search the web for a better price. And I can save my behind too, for example, by ordering flowers in seconds for my mom on Mother’s Day via an iPhone app.

Beyond Internet access slowing (sometimes to a crawl) during prime 3G network times such as commuting hours—and I would venture most smartphones on 3G experience this—I’m content.

Until my job started making me think. It made me think about the Android.

Just today I wrote a story on recent research from mobile web measurement firm comScore Inc.  showing Google Inc.’s Android operating system taking market share from its rivals. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry subscriber base fell 4.1 percentage points for the three months ending in August compared with the previous three-month period. Apple fell 0.2 percentage points, Microsoft 2.4 and Palm 0.2. Google’s Android operating system however rose 6.6 percentage points to hit 19.6% of smartphone subscriber market share.

Then this news hit my inbox. Nearly three-quarters—72%—of  application developers feel that the Android operating system is best positioned to power web-enabled mobile devices in the future. Just 25% of developers said the same for Apple’s iOS operating system, according to a survey of 2,400 app developers conducted in September by Appcelerator Inc., an app developer, and research firm International Data Corp.

Developers also favor Android for the future. 59% favor Android’s long-term outlook versus 35% choosing Apple’s iOS. The findings from the September survey widen the margin favoring Google’s Android from June survey results that had Android favored by 54% and Apple by 40%.  And when it comes to capabilities, 57% of app developers think the Android operating system has more capabilities than the Apple iOS (36%).

But perhaps more importantly, is the overwhelming feeling that the Android operating system is the more open platform for development (85%) than Apple’s iOS (6%).

I can’t help but wonder: Will Apple’s exclusivity hinder its progress?

Perhaps I made the wrong choice in going with an iPhone operating system that can only be embedded in Apple devices rather than choosing Google’s Android, which can work with many equipment manufacturers. Are smartphone shoppers starting to choose Android because it offers them choices in both mobile carrier and device? Will developers gravitate to Android where they can innovate on a more open, flexible and widely available platform? Even scarier to me, is this already starting to happen?

As for right now, I’m extremely content with my Apple pick. But the recent research worries me. Anyone out there care to take a stab at predicting the future? Or, even better, put my worries to rest?

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