In the world of Smart Devices, non-PC computing devices, the current battle for the hearts and wallets of the world is down to Google and Apple. No offense to Microsoft but they blew this market off over 7 years ago and they are playing a desperate game of catch up with the recent release of Slate running the newly released Windows 8. So when you're looking for the latest and greatest SmartPhone and tablet devices, you're picking Apple or Google's Android operating systems. We've already seen Nokia give up on their phone operating system Symbian (they embraced Windows 8) and we're seeing Research in Motion dying on the vine with their proprietary operating system. HP has had the biggest debacle to date writing off billions in losses with its proprietary tablet operating system launch and fizzle. Why so many fighting for the space and risking so much? Because the market is replacing the PC for consumer spending and its worth hundreds of billions as a future market.
So which is better Droid or Apple? Many will disagree but they are basically the same in overall functions. The devices of both will do photos, videos, email, run apps and, oh, yeah make calls. The hardware is powerful for each but much more varied with Droid. The apps are all exactly the same or comparable and app choices are plentiful. Some may prefer the Apple way of the functions and some may prefer Droid. You really need to borrow a device and try them out. For general functions and use you should find the utility of these operating systems to be on par with each other. Some think Apple is easier to use. Some think you get a lot more "bang for the buck" with Droid devices. Your personal preference is the biggest factor in your decision.
There are a couple of philosophical differences that have a cascade of differentiation in the devices and the overall software running in either camp. Apple provides a completely "closed loop" in its iPhone and iPad products. They design and contract manufacture these devices directly and they control the release of changes with everything. Companies that write apps to run on them must go through Apple for approval and distribution. This is the "iron fist" rule of Apple and its products. So if you try one iPhone or iPad you have pretty much tried them all. The improvements and features touted by Apple's marketing machine really are minor improvements and nothing materially of consequence in each hardware release.
Droid is a different philosophy. Google provides its Droid operating system free of charge to the world. So dozens of phone manufacturers and thousands of big and tiny tablet manufacturers install and run Droid on their devices. On top of that Google allows others to custom the Droid operating system for their purposes. Amazon tailored Droid to feature and work with its cloud computing and digital products to directly compete with Apple. Samsung has introduced digital pen products that layer and work on the Droid operating system. These features are unique to Samsung products. That is not to say that others can't develop their own versions of pen features on Android but for now Samsung is the only major player doing this.
A simple example of choice difference is screen size. If you are buying an iPhone you can get a model with 4 inch or 4.5 inch displays. Droid phones go from 2 inches to 5.5 inches and everything in between.
What this means for consumers is there is product differentiation between Droid devices and pricing competitiveness. Hence the bang for the buck scenario for Droid kicks in. You will want try the different phones and tablets available as you'll find a great deal of differences in the price for features mix. Another difference in philosophies is Apple requires you download apps from their store but you can directly download apps from non-Google sites. This is good for flexibility but can be a security risk so be careful and practice "safe computing".
So Apple controls all of its products and Google works in partnership with multiple hardware manufacturers. As an example, Google recently spent billions to acquire Motorola Mobility to get its trove of patents and to design its own Droid hardware products. Despite the direct ownership the crew at Motorola Mobility don't get special access or treatment to the Droid operating system verses other manufacturing partners. This shows, that at least for the short term, Google is committed to its current business model. This is key to its partners. Samsung makes billions selling Droid based products. If Google denied them Droid they'd be sunk. The same goes for Amazon.
Droid has more market share than Apple and is gaining more share each year. This has created pressure on Apple. Apple filed several law suits for alleged patent infringements against Samsung specifically. This included a short lived injunction to prevent Samsung from releasing its newest Galaxy phones in the U.S. The alleged infringements include features liked curved corners and alleged operating system infringements of the Droid OS. Samsung has counter sued for alleged Apple infringements on Samsung's patents and it will get uglier before it gets resolved. It will get resolved though and Samsung isn't going away.
So how have these business models faired for the companies? It is estimated Google has made about $430 million in revenue from ads served via Droid since the launch of the operating system. Apple sells that much in iPhones in a week. In the short run, Apple is one the most valuable companies on the planet based on stock market value and Google's not to shabby either. A challenge for Apple is they have no margin for product error. In this modern day of tech, a product is obsolete as soon as its brought into the market. That means half the work is already done to replace a product that's just launched to market. Apple has to "get it right" with each iPhone, iPad and iPod release. A bad release and consummate drop in sales would hammer their stock and their reputation. Droid, on the other hand, is like a hundred little bets. Lots of manufacturers are releasing Droid products all the time. Some are hot (but never as big a win as the current iPhones) and many fizzle. Droid's reputation is not tied to any one manufacturer. From a risk - reward perspective Apple is betting big and winning big (for now) and Google is betting small and winning more hands than they're losing. No single hardware company has held a long term "winning streak" indefinitely in history. We'll see how Apple fairs over the long run.
So if you're looking for a new device. pick your poison. They both taste pretty good. Droid will have a more "complicated palette" given all the variations from manufacturers. Since the technology changes so fast don't get hung up on your choice. After all, your next device is just a two year cellular contract away.