Unless you’ve been living under a server farm for the past few months — subsisting on Ethernet cables and waste heat — you’re probably aware that the iPhone 5 is likely to be released within the next month or so.
While many Android users likely wouldn’t buy an iPhone under any circumstances, plenty aren’t as wedded to that ecosystem. Here, then, are some possible ways Apple can draw users away from the Google platform.
1 – Latest and greatest syndrome
Regardless of the exact feature set the iPhone 5 launches with — will it have 4G LTE? What about an outsized battery? — there’s no denying that Apple rollouts generally have no small degree of “wow” factor about them. Even if the finished product isn’t substantially more technically impressive than, say, the Samsung Galaxy S III (arguably the current cream of the Android flagship phone crop), Apple’s smooth integration and eye-catching design could sway some less gung-ho Androidians.
2 – Sick of the upgrade grind
The now-common Android user predicament of having a modern, high-end device that nevertheless runs a badly outdated version of the operating system is a frustrating one. Thanks to the glacial pace at which wireless carriers approve updates to existing Android devices — Verizon has yet to update its Galaxy Nexus phones to the latest standard, which was the express design goal of those phones — means that you could be stuck with Gingerbread (Android Version 2.3) for a good long time, regardless of how cool Jelly Bean (Version 4.1) is. It’s entirely possible that some users could get frustrated enough to ditch the ecosystem entirely — particularly if the iPhone 5 lives up to its hype.
3 – Interface
All but the most partisan of Android fans will admit that, whatever else they can say about Apple, their interface design is tweaked and polished to within an inch of its life — almost every task you can do on an iPhone is handled in an intuitive, straightforward manner. If you don’t think that’s a big draw for the less technically savvy among us, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
Android is certainly capable of similar feats, and, in some cases, is arguably superior to the iPhone. (See: stock Jelly Bean, some of the better custom ROMs.) Sadly, however, most users aren’t running stock Android or a custom ROM — they’re running the version of Android their OEM and carrier have agreed is the best choice for them. This, almost without exception, means bloatware and a UI re-skin done more to differentiate the product from competitors than to improve the user experience.
4 – Clouds
Google’s done a lot of work on the Play Store of late, transforming it from the old “Android Market” for apps only into an iTunes-style general content hub, offering books, movies, TV shows and all sorts of other stuff in addition to software. It’s an important step on the road to cementing Android as a viable competitor to the Apple juggernaut.
Even with the gap closing quickly, however, it’s tough to argue that the combination of iTunes and the App Store isn’t still a bit more robust than the Play Store in terms of media content. If you’re serious about music, TV and movies on the go, the iPhone could be too tempting.
5 – Finally, an iPhone with 4G
For a company that prides itself on being at the leading edge of technological innovation, Apple’s sure taken its time coming up with a 4G-capable phone. It’s easy to cast the iPhone 4S’s lack of LTE connectivity as a sop to cellular partners like AT&T, who swear up and down that their poor networks are creaking under the strain of greedy smartphone data hogs, but 4G/LTE is now an expected feature at the high end. Releasing another 3G+Wi-Fi-only device would effectively cede the LTE segment of the market to its competitors — which, to my mind, makes it unlikely that Apple will do so.
So, in all likelihood, the iPhone 5 will be the first of its line to boast 4G connectivity — removing one of Android’s differentiators and (potentially) pulling some Android users into the Apple camp.