phone wars

You’ll find threads on reddit that seem to go on forever, arguing the all important question; ‘iOS or Android?’. If you’re here for that answer, sorry! I’d like to keep my cowardly neutral stance, thank you. But this won’t stop me from comparing.

The two are great examples of the ‘Cathedral’ and ‘Bazaar’ development models (terms coined by Eric Steven Raymond in his paper dissecting open-source projects); iOS is closed off from outward influence, controlled and produced by Apple, whereas Android is distributed by Google for free to many different hardware manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, LG etc.) and independent app/OS developers.

So what are the benefits of each? Well, Google’s open-source approach has a much smaller profit margin than Apple on a sale-by-sale basis, though at the same time the huge variety of hardware options and prices available can satisfy a broader consumer market.  Tough competition between different hardware manufacturers and developers also means Android may encourage faster innovation and technological progress, though Apple can also sometimes afford to pioneer features in their new releases (usually to much controversy, as many Apple users find  their phones’ familiarity comfortable and appealing.) iOS having tight control over devices and their software capabilities can also be a plus for some consumers, as it creates a clean, easy to understand, and familiar user experience. Either way, both have their pros and cons, and the correct choice depends on what suits your own user behaviours and needs.


iOS; ‘carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation’


Android; ‘a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches’


Eric Steven Raymond. (1998). The cathedral and the bazaar. First Monday.

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