A couple of days ago, I read an article on Forbes.com by Gene Marks entitled 5 Reasons Not To Buy an iPhone as Your Business Phone. I normally appreciate reading the variety of perspectives, and gleaning valuable insights, from the experts who contribute to Forbes. But this time I was sorely disappointed.
Not because I’m a one-eyed Apple fan, but because of the logical fallacies and poorly researched ‘facts’. Bottom line – this article merely endeavours to justify Marks’ preference for an Android-based Samsung smartphone, rather than giving the reader solid reasoning to help them decide the best phone for their circumstances.
I responded immediately on the Forbes website, but I also promised a more comprehensive and considered response on our Aktiv Tactics website, so here are my direct rebuttals of Gene’s main points:
There are more choices with Android operating systems
Yes, there are numerous Android phones available in every conceivable size, colour, configuration, and customisation, to suit every budget and personal preference. But how does this in any way negate an iPhone for consideration? Perhaps because Marks’ underlying premise appears to be that you have to be in one camp or the other, your business can’t mix multiple platforms? But, as we will see later in this article, that’s an inherently flawed assumption.
The iPhone (in limited guises – 6, 6 Plus, or a cheaper 5C) can be the only platform within your business, or it can cooperate happily in a mixed environment. In reality, most businesses nowadays have to contend with BYO devices and so are likely to support an assortment of smartphones.
Marks’ sub-argument that iPhone “only accounts for about 14% of worldwide smartphone market share” is also too simplistic – the reality is that, within professional and executive circles the market share is much higher, and Android has grabbed a larger share of price-sensitive markets such as developing countries and teenagers. So if your business consists, for example, of well-heeled consultants, advisors, or other professionals, there is a strong likelihood they’ve already been exposed to Apple’s iOS operating system, either on an iPhone or an iPad.
Android Phones are Cheaper
This is the only argument where Marks is (partially) correct. Though it would be more accurate to say that there are cheaper options available in the Android market than in the Apple product range. There are also Android products which are in the same price bracket as the various iPhone models. If you want to equip your entire team with company-supplied smartphones at bargain-basement prices, there’ll always be an Android product to accommodate your budget. It may have very little memory, a lower resolution camera, slower processor, and so on, but at least they’ll have a smartphone. However, if you want to mix and match, you could still buy more expensive Androids for some of your staff you feel warrant them, or you could also buy an iPhone and throw that into the mix.
There is less learning curve
This is perhaps the most ludicrous claim by Gene Marks. “There’s less learning curve if you avoid Apple iPhone and instead buy Android”? Marks has no data to back up that claim, and it flies in the face of many usability studies and heaps of anecdotal evidence. The reality is, there’s so little to separate them that it pretty much comes down to personal preference. Apple are renowned for creating excellent user interfaces, and they get it right 99% of the time.
I do note that Marks, clutching at straws, seems to be talking not so much about the initial user experience (which surely is the most important) but rather the replacement experience – again based on the premise that you may want to replace your phone with a completely different brand and model. Android, due to it’s open architecture and high level of customisability, can look markedly different from one phone to the next – each Android-based manufacturer will ship their phones with different skins, utilities, and pre-installed apps so there’s frequently a much bigger change going from one Android to another than there would be if you just replaced your iPhone. Every iPhone is going to deliver a near-identical user experience – hence, using Marks’ flawed argument, Apple would definitely be the preferred vendor to stick with.
Google is more business oriented
Even if this were true, does it make any difference to our choice of mobile phone?
Marks waxs lyrical about the app(lication)s that Google offer – neglecting the whole while to acknowledge that everything he’s describing is available on iPhone as well. (Though if we wanted to adopt his line of reasoning, surely we’d buy a Windows Phone? After all, Microsoft still dominates the business world!)
Your choice of smartphone operating system will not in any way hamper your ability to use the amazing business applications and tools that are being put out by Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and even (dare I say it?) Apple! Mix and match to your heart’s content. And rest assured that you’ll be fully supported on both Apple iPhone and any Android phone.
Most of the CRM, HR, project management and ERP applications Marks refers to are desktop-first, and you can continue to use them on PC or Mac as you desire, irrespective of your phone choice. You can utilise the integration with Google Apps, Gmail, Google Drive. There’s also heaps of iOS support, both in the native capabilities like mail and calendar, and also with vendor-developed iOS apps. In fact, the first phrase that falls from the lips of most developers and businesses creating smartphone apps to support their line-of-business tools, is “iPhone app”.
If anybody receives advice to not consider iPhone because “Google is more business oriented”, get a new adviser.
Finally, Android is more customizable than iOS
This one is truly a double-edged sword. If we’re talking about flexibility for a business to develop their own apps, which Marks posits as a key motivation, I recommend you speak to a developer rather than Gene Marks.
Marks states that iPhone apps can only come “from” the Apple App Store as though this means you won’t be able to customise and create the apps your business needs. What he’s really talking about is the delivery channel, not the source of the intelligence and programming. Any developer can create an app for an iPhone and, as long as it doesn’t do naughty thing that you wouldn’t want it to do anyway, Apple will accept it in their store and you can distribute it to your phones.
But even better than that, they also have an Apple Developer Enterprise program that allows you to develop, host, and
Distribute proprietary, in-house iOS apps within your organization. Securely host and deploy apps to your employees’ iOS devices.
Marks does acknowledge that “for the typical business, particularly small businesses, none of this really matters and iPhones are perfectly fine” – but for some reason he believes there are unique features of potential benefit to a business, that a developer can only access on Android and would be unable to utilise on an iPhone. I’ve never yet encountered ANY business scenario which could be accommodated on an Android but not on an iPhone.
The fact that any app can be installed onto an Android without having to pass through the quality control measures of a facility like Apple’s App Store is a heightened security risk – not something I’d want to subject my business to. 97% of smartphone malware does its nasty business on Android smartphones – this is due to the lax approach to security and app distribution on the Android OS. And the advice to stay safe? Stick to apps from the Google Play Store… sounds a lot like getting iPhone apps from the Apple App Store, doesn’t it? The only difference is, it’s a lot harder to prevent your business employees from ‘experimenting’ and installing something they shouldn’t on an Android (don’t bite my head off – yes, I am aware that there are various security solutions you can purchase and deploy to restrict, protect, and lockdown your business smartphones – but that requires extra effort and cost, negating the afore-mentioned cost benefits of an Android).
If I was a small business owner or corporate CIO, I’d prefer to have all my users adopt Apple’s iPhone because I could anticipate less risks from exploits and vulnerabilities.
I’m not going to tell you that Apple’s iPhone is definitely the better smartphone for your business. But I certainly hope I’ve been unable to debunk the baseless notion that an iPhone shouldn’t even be considered. The reality is that it’s a very close battle between an iPhone and Android, and the right choice will come down to your circumstances and perhaps a little sprinkle of personal preference.
Do you agree or disagree with me? I welcome your comments and would be happy to continue with further passionate debate on this topic! 😉Tags: Android, business, iPhone, smartphone, usability