By Joe Procopio
Ian Meyer is an iOS architect and consultant. He is an expert in all things Apple and a former genius (currently just “clever”). Ian be reached on Twitter @frijole
JP: First of all, why don’t you tell the readers a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be a religious zealot at the altar of Microsoft. Sorry, I mean Apple, I’ve been getting them confused lately.
IM: I’ve been having fun with Apple gadgets since Android was just a Blackberry-killer. Since then, the iPad came out and Android morphed into a fullscreen platform, but still can’t get over those button-loving roots.
JP: So we’re looking at the iPad2 and the Xoom today, side by side. I’ll let you go first. What’s the main reason the iPad won’t lose as much market share to the Android tablet as the iPhone has lost to the Android phone?
IM: Nobody who wants to get an iPhone is happy with an Android, and nobody who wants to get an iPad is going to be happy with anything else. I mean, have you noticed how all the iPad competitors look like iPads? What does the Xoom look like?
JP: An iPad.
JP: But that’s on purpose.
IM: Right. Motorola knows people want the iPad, they’re just hoping they won’t notice they got something else instead.
JP: So you’re saying that when people notice that the Xoom outspecs the iPad2 in every entertainment aspect, including screen size, resolution, audio, and camera, they’ll weep with tears of sadness?
IM: Ultimately, what’s all that good for? How does it improve my life? I believe that if they spent less time worrying about hardware and more time worrying about software, the experience wouldn’t suck so much.
JP: So you’re saying it’s all about the apps. The device is immaterial? I guess the iPad could have just been the Newton 2 in that case.
IM: There are still things I can do on my Newton that you can’t do on your Xoom.
JP: You’re right. I didn’t get the model with the stylus. However, that kind of illustrates my point, if I have to have one. And that’s that Apple pretty much reinvented and thus saved the concept of the tablet by educating the user on what it was supposed to be used for.
IM: You’re welcome.
JP: But that’s done. Now the race is on to make the better product. And here it is. The Xoom is more than a warning shot, it blew a big hole in the boat. Is Apple going to re-do the 90s and keep everything closed to the point where they lose market share and have to fire Steve Jobs again?
IM: You mean it blew a hole like the holes those Android Market apps created in your personal information when they were stealing it? I saw a post for an Android app that will fight back against apps that steal your data. That’s awesome for you guys. I like not having to worry about that.
JP: I like being able install what I want, not what Steve tells me to.
IM: In that sense, the Android model just emulates the PC model. Anyone can create and upload apps for the Xoom. Great. Where’s the pressure to make a great piece of software? That approval process is a black cloud, yeah, but if developers create something that gets past that process, the chances are better that it will succeed.
JP: I’ve got three responses to that. 1) Yes. I totally agree that there’s never been a terrible app released to iTunes. 2) I’ve got firsthand experience that the almighty process is just slightly more than arbitrary. 3) I was actually going to say that the process is “capricious,” but that sounds like something an Apple guy would say.
IM: In that, Android is doomed to be the NC State to Apple’s UNC.
JP: Step back, Ian.
IM: Android’s customers aren’t users. Their customers are the carriers, the manufacturers and most of all, the advertisers. That’s what Google optimizes for. Let’s face it. Your phone comes from the world’s biggest advertising company.
JP: And my coffee comes from Starbucks. In the end, it comes down to the viability of the product and the experience. What happens when all these developers are creating perfect apps for a device that got left behind like Kirk Cameron?
IM: Kirk who?
JP: The 1980s. Growing Pains. Bad movies. It doesn’t matter.
IM: There’s no question that the Xoom is competition, and probably the first serious competition. But there was competition with the iPhone and the Android phone too. And ultimately it was a good thing. I mean, you guys try so hard. It’s hard to root against you. But what are you competing for? Is it the user or is it the ad dollars?
JP: Why can’t it be both? And also, are iAds just little friendly reminders for those things you might need but aren’t thinking about right now?
IM: Well, we’re not morons, there’s a whole industry being built around these apps and advertising, and the ad side came out of the competition with Android.
JP: So wait, you know I’m not a huge fan of the term “iPhone/iPad killer.”
IM: And I actually went to NC State!
JP: Yeah. Android is the underdog in this fight in an odd Goliath versus Goliath way. The Xoom, more specifically the Xoom as the first successful instantiation of Android’s Honeycomb on the market, is the alternative. The battle lines are drawn, but maybe this kind of bullheaded pigfighting could actually be good for both platforms?
IM: No! Wait. Maybe. It might just be a mirror of the battle around the Mac. The PC was never intended to be a Mac killer, but it was supposed to be more useful.
JP: But… you can’t deny that the Mac was set up to be a PC killer. 1984. Superbowl. Hammers. Lemmings.
JP: Yeah, and ultimately Apple lost that battle. But… it was lose/lose because the user also lost that battle some 15 or so years later. Exhibit A: Windows ME.
IM: (uncontrollable laughter)
JP: I’m not going to lie to you. That’s when I got off the bus. But the first battle didn’t force one company to innovate against the other, they wound up innovating in two totally different directions and were marketed to two totally segmented and opposite groups.
IM: I’m Justin Long. You’re John Hodgman.
JP: Step back, Ian! But couldn’t we learn from those mistakes?
IM: Yeah. I’ve been messing with the Xoom while we’ve been talking and there are a lot of things I like. Notifications are awesome. Search integration with the web. But it still feels like a 1.0 release. Honeycomb has some cool stuff, but it doesn’t feel… finished.
JP: I get that. And that’s what I want. I want openness and access, and frankly, that’s not hard to do and it was evident even with the first of the Samsung tablets. But I also want it to deliver the finished experience that Apple puts so much detail into. The Xoom feels like that.
JP: Morewhat. Look, as Android embraces the reinvention of the tablet, polishes it, adds sheer processing power, specs, app integration, and the open nature of the Android market, it raises the bar for Apple to innovate…
IM: And if that causes the iPad 3 to blow the doors off …
JP: The bar is RE-raised for Android. We, you and me, Apple and Android, Justin Long and… who could be the Google guy?
IM: Zach Galifianakis! He went to NC State!
JP: Long and Zach could be friends.
IM: We could stop all this mindless Android vs. iOS garbage.
JP: Everyone wins!
IM: We’re going to Disneyworld!
JP: Yes! Can I borrow your iPad?
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet . He also owns startup consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media . Joe and Ian just proved that any, ANY disagreement can be solved over good IPA. Joe can be reached via Twitter @jproco.
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