Loyalty with a tinge of betrayal

Did you hear ‘em talkin’ ‘bout it on the radio

Did you try to read the writing on the wall

Did that voice inside you say I’ve heard it all before

It’s like Deja Vu all over again

- John Fogerty

I am emotionally attached to Android’s success. It’s the same loyalty I displayed when I campaigned for Apple in the mid-90s. But with a tinge of betrayal.

I reminisce about spending hours sifting through Zapf dingbats to transform PC Word files into usable Mac documents; choosing from a threadbare gaming library comprising three titles: Bungie’s Marathon series, SimCity and Civ; and waiting years for updates to Quicken and the Office Suite.

It’s like deja vu all over again. Android’s software offering is smaller, inferior, and slower to market than iOS.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. In the late 90s, Apple’s market share hovered around 5%. Unlike Apple, Android doesn’t suffer from a marketshare disadvantage. On the contrary, Android is used by a 51% of American smart phone users. Instead, Android suffers from a mindshare disadvantage: the savviest technologists prefer Apple products.

And for good reason. It’s fair to fault Android’s device and OS fragmentation challenges, second-rate hardware and software integration, content availability.

But Android has strokes of brilliance: the intelligent notifications bar, Google Now, fully functional navigation, true multi-tasking and my favorite: the Intents system which enables applications to send data to each other.

Most importantly, I love Android’s dream. Android’s vision is to be the developer’s platform. Google uses the word hacker at its developer conferences. Hugo Barra, the head PM for Android called on developers to “Hack the Nexus,” a phrase never to be uttered about an iPhone at WWDC. This message should resonate with the developer community, but successful app development is still too challenging on Android for the reasons listed above.

My passion for Android is every bit as irrational as my loyalty to Apple in the late 90s. I’d never thought I’d root against Apple. I guess I just have a thing for the underdog.

Published 2012-07-14 in


Tomasz Tunguz is partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.


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