OS tribalism has become a global phenomenon, lending credence to the notion that techno rivalry isn't so much a regional or cultural phenomenon as an inherent one.
"In Central Asia, it is commonly regarded as lower-class to have an Android phone. You aren't 'somebody' until you have an iPhone," Adams says. "And the Chinese are cloning iPhones, which are sold at regular iPhone markup! However, in the western world, Androids are becoming more popular among the 'techies' because of their entry-point cost and features, compared to the proprietary gear inherent to Apple. Android users see iPhone users as children who need simple interfaces comparable to a toy, and iPhone users see Android users as financially unable to properly enter the market."
While there are arguments for the legitimacy and utility of both platforms, the user tribalism that has arisen in connection with the business rivalry says far more about our species than it does about the platforms themselves. Where nationality, race, and creed were once the primary outlets of our tribal instincts, brand identity has replaced them in the digital age. As Dr. Adams puts it: "The Internet is a massive social and psychological experiment that we have unleashed upon ourselves."
Can't we all just get along?
Users of iOS devices have some reasons to feel special. Apple's early lead in phones, tablets, and apps means that its devices are often the first devices to get the hottest mobile apps. Apple's ecosystem attracts more developers, due to its lack of device fragmentation and an audience far more willing to shell out money for apps.
Android users have lots of reason to feel good, too. The Android user base continues to swell, in phones and tablets. Even with Apple's advantages, those sheer numbers will spur app development, and at Google I/O the company unveiled a slew of new developer features geared toward reducing fragmentation and generating more paid app revenue.
So there's plenty of good news for both tribes. If this disturbs you, and you feel the need to tweet your hatred toward millions of users because of the brand of smartphone they put in their pocket, you might want to ask yourself some hard questions. Where is that anger coming from?
iOS. Android. They're both fine systems. Add in Windows Phone and even BlackBerry, and you'll just drive yourself insane trying to spread the hate around.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.