Smartphone OS/device wars – user profiles & ±’s

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Every time I argue or troll about Android vs iPhone, I think that someone fitting in some profile is more adapted to a specific mobile phone OS.  However, the decision on which smartphone hardware, which specifications are more important are more related to the buyer preferences, how he is counselled, is the buyer verifying the informations he finds/hears/receives?  Of course, there’s the peer pressure as usual and the size of the wallet.

Let’s just assume the user knows what he wants, that he has no peer pressure, a good wallet, no monetary restrictions and that he’s verifying any received information and that those are exact.  What could be the technologic behavioral profile of the buyer of each type of smartphone OS?

Android

Android users would be curious, geeky, more technical and open minded.  They are willing to search for more information, try new things, which is typical of power usersHowever, there are people that want a geek toy… like “I want something I could do something different or unique I couldn’t do with other devices.”.  This gave a community…no, many communities of modders, developers (app or core), that are taking advantage of the opensourceness of Android.  One must keep in mind that the open-source model is a double-edged sword : yes, you can modify the system, a community is possible, lots of work can be acomplished, BUT, the architecture is exposed, which makes the development of malware easier for the baddies.  However, since there’s the community, a fix can be provided quickly…if someone updates!  The fact that some updates are manufacturer-dependant can be sometimes frustrating but well…you gotta assume!  The Android Market isn’t regulated, which means you can find applications containing malware.  Third party applications are also possible and unregulated so it’s up to you, usual security precautions apply there.

There is of course some system-based security that disallows most applications to run as root.  You can root your device to install system-level application such as new hardware/adapters (for VPN) or to literally mod your OS/device.

Some people believe that even if the mobile device OS is the same, applications aren’t compatible, FALSE.  Some applications may be optimized for some Android devices, some may have bugs with some devices…just gotta choose a well supported device, such at the official Google phones (Nexus One and Nexus S) or a device that is a member of the Droid family. Such device-specific bugs are uncommon on well-designed applications/games.

iPhone/iPod Touch (iOS)

In the back-to-school promos, Apple often gives an iPod Touch for free with the purchase of a Mac and that would explain why a lot of kids have them.  The fact that these devices are very user friendly helps a lot too.  It is probably the best device that can also play music…which combined with the fact that lots of kids have access to a Touch (theirs or thru their friends) and the fact they eventually want/need a phone to blah blah or to text.  how is that OS-related? Well…Apple plays the “if you bought one of our devices, it sure has our OS” card!  That means you are bound to their modifications and conditions.  you don’t like something?  In some rare cases there may be solutions or hacks, but most of the time you just should…assume.

I find these users are the ones that “don’t have the time”.  You know those that if they have a problem, they ask someone else to fix it because…of that time issue?  Lets think of computer infection issues.  You think iOS is safe?  WRONG! Anyway, even going by the fact that nothing is perfect…nothing is 100% safe.  However, due to the fact that iOS is closed-source, it may take more time to report/patch a vulnerability because only Apple can work on that.  Also, iOS tends to jail all executed applications, which means the apps are given specific privileges to the filesystem, has all privilege in its own memory space, but it cannot modify the core of the system, thus increasing the security…somewhat.  Security by obscurity isn’t necessarily the way to go and it doesn’t mean usual security precautions shouldn’t apply.  The App Store also “jails” the way the users can get applications, since every app there has to be approved by Apple before being publicly available.

The jailing is indeed a good security implementation, but lots of users are jailbreaking their device.  It removes the said security, which allows system-level (rather than filesystem) application interaction…something absolutely loved by malware developers!  It also allows the usage of unapproved applications, which may or may not host malware.  Most viruses on iOS-based devices affected jailbroken iPhones.

Oh…and don’t forget, these users must be serious iTunes lovers! *wink

Blackberry OS

Mostly used in businesses, since it was the first smartphone that allowed synchronization with a Microsoft Exchange server (and for a long time).  Why would someone buy something with BB OS rather than anything else?  Like Apple, RIM is playing the “if you bought one of our devices, it sure has our OS” game, which isn’t a bad combination.  However, it is being deprecated, didn’t have any major changes in a long time (BB OS6 isn’t a major change).  Maybe they had a BB OS-based device for a long time and they don’t like the change?  Maybe the convenience of BlackberryMessenger?  Maybe the fact it can be linked to a BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server (which allows enterprise sync with Exchange, remote device wiping and more)?  Maybe it’s the unique keyboard design?  As for the security, a BB linked to a BES if not configured properly can give access to the enterprise’s LAN.  The BB App Store is too new to be worth mentioning, anyone knows if there is some app approbation process?  Anyway, 3rd party applications are possible and trojan horses or keyloggers are indeed possible.  Otherwise, communications are encrypted and it has been proven to be safe.  Usual security precautions STILL apply!

Windows Mobile 7 & others

I have no idea except those buyers could be windows lovers, wanting to try something ‘new’ or wanting easy or cheap phones.  WM7 is too new to be judged.

Conclusion & addenda

I don’t know…I feel the iOS/Android battle is quite the same as the Windows/Linux battle on PCs.

Of course, that is just what came to my mind for now so it is preliminary.  I’m open to comments/critics; with those, the post content may (or may not) be updated.

Quotes:

<+_bowser> android people eat steak, iphone people are vegetarians

<+Ethos> android people eat rice because they’re poor, iPhone people eat the best steak imo ;)
<+scratchme> Ethos: Not on the boon-docks IT salaries, you showed us.

Interesting links :

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/02/25/6-ways-iphone-and-android-users-differ/
http://www.worldnewsco.com/2516/compared-iphone-android-easily-attacked-viruses/

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