Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Begining of the End for Apple's iPhone (Or, Why a Person Starts a Blog??)

Hi there,

Many things could lead a person to start a blog.
Mine was HTC Aria.

I'm not a big fan of blogs. Most of them are too long, not written well, or just not that interesting, and I don't see how mine would be much different.

Most chances are that the next post I'll upload would be around March 2012, but, that's not a good enough reason not to start one...

So, HTC Aria.
What's the story?

For those of you who don't know me (future HR personnel I may encounter, most probably...) here's a bit of a background:
Professionally-wise, I'm a product manager.
More specific - product manager of consumer products (that is - that real people interact with, as opposed to all those black-boxes that sit behind this site and make sure you are able to read these lines)
And to be precise - a product manager of consumer products on mobile devices.


That means, what I (currently) like doing most (at work) is to think, define and develop great apps for mobile phones. And, of course, the best platform to do that these days, is on Apple's iPhone.

Generally speaking, I have the greatest and utmost respect to the folks who created the iPhone platform. I can talk for ages about all the good (and not so good) things that Apple has done, and above all, about the importance of good leadership, which kept the focus of the entire company on providing the best experience for its target audience.

No doubt, the iPhone, as a product, is a milestone.
Yet, at the same level of certainty, something would eventually come along, and kick Apple from its throne. And, as all things point, this someone would be using Google's open source Android operating system.

Even our own small modu, which has spent lots of money on proprietary OS, has woken up, shook its head and shifted to Android.

My experience so far with Android, was far from enthusiastic. I had the "pleasure" of working with some of Samsung's earlier Android devices, mainly the Galaxy, which was a great example of how to make a calm and basically sane person, to smash their phone, regardless of the consequences.

Then came along Google's own Nexus One.
That's better... that actually shows we are heading somewhere.
That also shows the real power and true value of an open platform, and we are now just waiting for someone to actually make an "Apple pie" out of those Cupcake, Eclair and the likes.

Then came HTC Sense UI.
HTC Sense is a "design experience, an architecture that is all about how people use the device, making their content personal to how they use the device."


Not only they managed to make the sometimes over-powerful Android OS accessible, stable and user-friendly for non-techies, they also used the openness of the OS to add valuable and missing features from the native layer - e.g. true integration to Facebook and Tweeter directly from the contacts app (which, smartly, changed its prehistorical name from "Contacts" to "People") and introduced "Leap" - a way to access all the home screens at once (something even Apple has just recently tried to amend in the new iOS4 with the folders option).

Most of all, it's the first time I'm holding a phone (i.e. not iPhone) that feels just about RIGHT.
It's not an iPhone, but it behaves almost as good as - everything is smooth, everything flows and [almost] everything is just where you expect it to be...

Way to go HTC! :-)
(And, what can I say, to AT&T as well, on making a smart choice on their first Android device - and that's NOT because I'm working there... ;-) )

Now, how do I bridge between the previous paragraph and the somewhat extreme title of this post?
Well, I play Slay quite a lot on the iPhone. More than my wife would like me to admit.
For those of you who don't know this amazingly simple (yet addictive!) strategy game - it's basically you against 6 other players (AI) with fairly simple set of rules: you gain more grounds = you get more money. There are 3 levels of soldiers, each one is twice as strong as the lower one, but costs three times more to maintain.
That's it. (Chapeau Sean O'Connor!)

While playing it, I came to think about Apple.
They are one.
Strong one, successful one, but one.
And, they have basically one smartphone - the iPhone.
Couple of other mobile devices, few hardware modifications, but basically it's the iPhone against all others.
Furthermore, they base their iPhone roadmap on one device per year.

In the world of smartphones, that's just not going to cut it.

The basic rules of Slay, with the robustness and flexibility of Google's Android OS, shows quite clearly that the days of the iPhone are numbered.
I say, when it comes to sinking ships, be a rat. Especially if there's nothing you can do to ease the matter.

The only question left open now, is when Slay is going to be released on the Android?

Hope seeing you here again, before 2012...
Take care,


  1. As you know, I don't do iPhone, nor do I intend to. I grew up with Windows Mobile and have temporarily walked away, or so I keep telling myself. Will Android's lure continue to fascinate me as it does you? The answer, unfortunately, seems to be – yes, at least for now.
    Sense UI makes the transition easier - it feels familiar. And having the HTC logo on my phone makes me feel a bit less like the deserter I probably am. But, for now, WinMo, I have only walked away, not completely left.

    Great Post, Offir. Keep it up, I've just subscribed.

  2. welcome to the world of blogging, i like the blend of personal and professional. as for iPhone - Darwin's natural selection doesn't; always work on products systems and solutions, menaing - the smartest most rational choice isn't always the one that sticks. i'm afraid Apple's iPhone will remain popular and be one of those cases....

  3. (I'm not at all Rin, just using her account)


    Welcome to the Blogoshere,
    As someone owning an iPhone and searcing for simplicity I find it overhyped to begin with, and I am sure the android will beat it just because of its opennesss, (just like Windows dominated macOs since it was not platform dependant)

    personally, I still miss my old nokia, though. am I getting old?

    Ze Bear.

  4. Offirke,
    (the real me this time)
    Can't wait for the personal stuff :)


  5. Great post, I enjoyed the read, it almost felt like our daily coffee chats ;)
    The first impression I got from the 2 minute flash with the Aria is that HTC made a big step towards the iPhone experience, and yet, still remained different in its own way. As a savvy HTC user, I can feel the HTC footprint on the Aria both in its physical look and feel and in some of the user interfaces (e.g. people search and dialer).

    Congratulations mate, have fun with your new gadget and keep these blog posts coming up.
    Promise to follow up on them more than I tend to with some of your emails :D


  6. Nice to read your blog post. I will contribute a little food for thought...

    Our family was deciding between the HTC Evo and iPhone 4 to upgrade the whole family to (that's 4 units!). They are both great phones products, and I don't think you can go wrong with either, however after a month of consideration and deliberation and actually playing with the Droid and iPhone, we were about to get the Evo, but decided to go with the iPhone in the end.

    Sure, the logic and freedom of the open source Droid platform allows for many possibilities for the user, but ultimately using the iphone, felt right. It's an aesthetically beautiful product in hardware and software, the Droid was larger and clunkier, and after using a Macbook pro and iPod for over 4 years, the interface felt seamless to me and Apple probably has me on emotional attachment too :)

    In any case now you can even run Google's OS on the iPhone! http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2010/04/android_running_on_iphone.html

    I don't think Droid has knocked the Apple King off their throne quite yet, but let's see how this battle will go in the future. I think they have maybe a couple years to work out the Android's kink's and invent a more user-friendly, stylish hardware, so for us, for now, the iPhone won. We are getting ours today!

    Take care and hopefully see you and your family soon...


  7. I still prefer a hardware keyboard, no matter how wonderful the UI is.

  8. Open platform is great. MS Windows is open, right? Java is open, HTML is... should I continue?

    UX: Open platform gives power to the developers, but a lot is lost in the way. Applications do not comply to common UI rules, and the user suffers.

    Compatibility: Vendors build on top of the open platform, and many variations are created = compatibility issues.

    Stability: Developers push the platform to the edge, reducing the platform reliability.

    Having said that, I have a lot of respect for the Googlers, so I believe that in a few years they will have it up and running, and then they will be a fair competition to Apple. Even then, I would wait before sending invitation to iPhone's funeral....

  9. Hey all - thank you for all your comments!
    That feels like a really nice "welcome party"...

    Couple of issues and stuff I'd like to clarify:
    1. As the title of the post states, I just see the beginning of the end for the iPhone – no funeral is set to leave Cupertino just yet!

    2. The iPhone is still my beloved smartphone (funny, calling this companion a "smartphone" is somewhat like calling my cat a "food processor")

    3. I'm counting on iPhone 4's magnificent still and HD video camera as the ultimate all-in-one Swiss-army, Kong-Fu-fighting gadget, that I will carry with me everywhere

    Lior – I'm totally with you on that. Apple is not after the lowest common denominator and they will keep their niche and group of followers for a long time, I'm sure. Apple is not the ship that is going down – product management of apps on the iPhone – is, in my humble opinion.

    Maya – maybe you can order 5 iPhones and I'll grab the last one?? Can't wait till it finally come to Israel (though, most probably, I'll have my hands on it long before it's "officially" here. There are some benefits to be an AT&T employee, even across the ocean…)
    As for choosing between existing Android phones (including HTC Aria) and iPhone – you made the right decision! Let's wait a couple of years, and I guess iPhone 6 would not be THAT much different than Android 3.2 Brownie (or whatever they'll choose to name that one)
    (Ooh, and thanks for the clip – that was pretty awesome!)

    Miron – you're the father of all technical folks I know! Obviously you'll prefer Blackberries and the likes… :-) No worries, I love you just the same!

    Erez & Yuval – Let's continue that over a cup of coffee – coming?

    Thanks again for all of you who commented, emailed, called (!!!) and invested from your precious time to enlighten me!
    See you soon,

  10. I've finally upgraded my Nexus One to FroYo, which remided me to post this link for you: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2010/07/android-22-demolishes-ios4-in-javascript-benchmarks.ars

  11. Offir, nice to read your blog...
    htc never designed a UI system and didn't aim a cross device UI concept.
    the htc sense in more like a theme and a collection of widgets to make a
    differentiation between brands. i didn't found there any fundamental UI solution for what left behind by android.
    i guess that in a year google will close the gap at android UI, same as microsoft did with the mobile 7 UI system.
    btw - htc use "people" for contact from the TouchFLA WinMo phones (2007).

  12. Good news - Sean O'Connor, the creator of Slay wrote me:

    "Thanks for that Offir!

    I haven't had time to look into learning how to do Android programming yet but it's definitely something I want to do as I'm sure Android is going to be a big success. When I get all my iPhone projects finished and updated to iPad too I'll see if I've got spare time then.


    - Another [future] reason why we could move to Android...