September 27, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
T-Mobile, like any other carrier on the planet, would love to offer the iPhone. For whatever reason – money, network demands, or allergies to cutesy icons – T-Mobile USA has failed to secure a deal with Apple to officially deliver the iPhone to its customers. CMO Cole Brodman announced in a blog post yesterday that more than a million T-Mobile customers use the iPhone unofficially, and until his company can support them the proper way, the focus at magenta is to give “customers the best that Android has to offer.”
Our pal Phil at AndroidCentral says Brodman’s words won’t do much to appease the iPhone faithful and we’re inclined to agree. There is nothing you can say to convince an Apple diehard that Android is superior, and the iPhone has too much traction, brand recognition, and quality to convince most people interested in it to change course. However, it’s not impossible.
At my cousin’s wedding in August 2010, practically all the smartphone users had a BlackBerry or iPhone. At a wedding in September 2011, most were snapping pics with EVO 3D’s and Galaxy S’s. Based on data from various research companies and my own experience, “converting” iPhone fans is a tough sell. But convincing new smartphone buyers to forgo iOS for Android is more fruitful.
Having had the Android vs. iPhone debate with my family and friends several times, I’ve noticed a few talking points to always sprinkle in when it comes time to try to advocate for Android.
Mention choice. Over and over again.
The most effective thing that I’ve found in promoting Android is to point out how many different options are out there. An iPhone is an iPhone. An Android is an HTC, Motorola, or LG, etc., so you have plenty of choices to find the right phone. And once you do make that decision, there are thousands of ways to make it yours through apps, wallpapers, launchers, and the like. My phone can look and feel completely different on Thursday than it did on Tuesday. Brodman echoed that sentiment in his post.
Limit the full extent of Android’s features.
Yeah, I know I just told you to talk about choice over and over again, but don’t go overboard. Going too deep into Android’s power can sometimes have the unintended effect of making people feel overwhelmed. That can send folks running right back to the comfort of the iPhone, which is no slouch on the feature set either. Try to focus on a few key areas of features and promote them. If someone gets a glazed look when you bring up rooting, maybe CM 7 vs. MIUI is a debate you should save for later.
Don’t sugarcoat it. Be honest about downfalls.
Be open about Android’s shortcomings. If a device has terrible battery life, be upfront about it. Android has improved, but some devices still require reaching for a charger much sooner than others, so warn them about it. Say, “The battery life isn’t as good as the iPhone, but you can change settings to control it better. Plus the phone makes up for it with this feature here.”
Tailor your arguments to the person.
Talking to a younger sibling who’s constantly texting? Tell him/her about Swype and that the world record holder used it with great speed and accuracy. Your brother may be more interested in the awesome camera of the HTC Amaze 4G, and your sister may want to hear about the Galaxy S II’s faster download speeds. The worst thing you can do is go on about the stuff that you love about Android if you know that probably won’t impress them.
Pick a target and shoot.
While we’re on the subject of tailoring your argument, it might help to eventually steer the conversation towards a particular phone. It’s hard to express the benefits of iPhone vs. Android because it’s really iPhone – with a perfectly-executed message and focused path – versus Android and its many-things-for-many-people ecosystem. Pick one or two phones, like the Amaze and Galaxy S II, and compare that to the iPhone. It’s much easier to get your point across when you focus on something tangible.
Talk up the apps
Apps are what sells phones to a lot of people. So when you hear, “The iPhone has 500,000 apps while Android only has 250,000 apps,” people automatically think the one with the 2-to-1 ratio wins. Let them know Android has more apps than they’ll ever be able to test or use, and most of the top apps worth having are on it or coming soon. With few exceptions, important iPhone apps are on Android, too.
If you find yourself needing to explain to someone the merits of one or another, those are the ways I’ve found most effective in comparing Android and iPhone. The only problem is that my slow conversion has led to a rise in calls and texts asking me how to do certain things. Maybe that’s just more pronounced because people know that I’m into tech, but you should be prepared to be tech support if the person you convert needs help.