Bryan Wall

Getting things done with mobile devices

As a follow-up to my last post, I find the same happening even more in the mobile arena than with traditional PC’s. In spite of the claims by some that the Android 4.0 Operating System has more features than the upcoming iOS 6, my experience is that iOS is a more productive platform for most people. For the record, I own both an iPhone & Android phone, and iPad & Android tablet. I’m also a software developer.

The graphs above are from Apple’s Developer Conference Keynote presentation which was held yesterday. This slide is highlighting that almost 80% of iPhone and iPad users are on the latest version of the Operating System while only 7% of Android users are on v4.0 (ICS). There are two real-world implications for this.

First, most Android phones do not support the latest Operating System (without hacking) and most new Android manufacturers are not consistently providing OS updates. The way the Android ecosystem has evolved provides an incentive for manufacturers to push new phones instead of supporting existing ones. Selling phones is their only revenue stream and providing long-term updates delays new purchases. Apple, on the other hand, just announced that iOS 6 is going to be supported on the iPhone 3GS. That means that it will have been supported with new OS versions for 3 years or more. Second, there are many more quality apps available on Apple’s platform which I find makes it easier to use the device to get things done. Let’s face it, the features of each OS aren’t what makes one more productive than the other; it’s whether Apps are available with the functionality that you need.

There are several reasons for iOS having the advantage when it comes to Apps. Most developers either develop for iOS only, or release iOS apps first. Analysts reported last week that “[f]or every $1.00 a developer earns on iOS, he can expect to earn about $0.24 on Android.” That’s in spite of Android having a much larger market share of phones. It’s no surprise that developers would invest more in the platform that has a 300% greater return – so iOS will continue to have a lead in Apps and App quality for the foreseeable future. Several high profile Android developers have announced that they’re discontinuing development for the platform because the costs of supporting an ever-increasing number of Operating System versions along with the lower revenue is an unsustainable business model. This is a big problem for Google, for which they’ve offered few solutions thus far.

As with the previous article, this post isn’t intended to suggest that one platform or the other is inherently superior. Either is likely to be the better choice depending on your particular requirements. For someone who uses their phone as a productivity tool, however, the greater availability of high-quality Apps makes iOS the better choice.

Doing work “with” your computer instead of working “on” your computer™

Many have heard the old adage which says that you should be “Working ‘On’ Your Business Instead of ‘In’ It.” For entrepreneurs, that saying is often used to mean that you should delegate the work that keeps the business going to someone else while you spend time finding new opportunities to make the business grow. If you are doing all the work, then no one is finding new customers and your business is likely to stagnate or worse.

I’ve recently experienced the technology version of this truth after switching from having used DOS and Windows for the past 30 years (yes I started using DOS v2.1 in 1982) to the Mac platform. Anyone who has used a Windows-based computer has probably spent a considerable amount of time working “on” their computer in one way or another, or have had to have someone else do so. From having to replace components to cleaning viruses, you’re never far from some kind of maintenance activity on a Windows PC. Then there are those like me, who wouldn’t have considerer owning a PC that wasn’t built by hand using carefully selected parts from every corner of the Internet. That adds another dimension to the time spent working “on” your computer.

After trying the Windows 8 Consumer Preview several months ago, I made the decision to switch to Mac OS (probably a whole other blog post there). Within a few weeks I found a good deal on a 2011 model and made the switch. Even trying to sell all the exotic parts from my old Windows PC took an inordinate amount of time. Perhaps it was the hours lost while eBaying that made me realize how much time I had been spending just keeping my PC updated and working, instead of using it to do something productive like finishing one of the books I’ve planned to write, or even starting this blog. It’s probably no coincidence that I shipped off the last piece of my old PC today, and later sat down and finished setting up this blog site (I didn’t consciously plan it that way).

It is not my intent to weigh the pros and cons of Mac versus Windows; that has certainly been done by others enough for multiple lifetimes. What I wanted to share is more about the philosophy, and implications for productivity, of considering how much time you are spending maintaining and tinkering with the technology devices you have, whether they be PCs, phones, or tablets. If you switched to a platform that didn’t require as much care and feeding, what could you accomplish? Have you thought about writing a book? Starting a blog? Learning to write mobiel apps? What have you wanted to do using technology, but couldn’t find the time?

 

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