Phone wars

Mat Honan has a request: Please Stop Fighting About Your Smartphone. "The phone wars, the platform wars, should be left to people who work for Apple and Samsung and Google and Microsoft and Nokia and BlackBerry. Do you work for Apple? Do you work for Samsung? No? Then shut up." [Wired]


    1. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve had the “in real life” experience of mentioning the name of the WRONG cell phone variety, but.

      I suspect it will take YEARS AND YEARS for internet commenters to get over it, he said, ironically.

      1. I suspect it will take YEARS AND YEARS for internet commenters to get over it,

        That’s incredibly overoptimistic.  Try decades or more realistically… never. ;D

        1. I’ve lived in farm towns where the Ford/Chevy battle has raged for fifty years.  Makes just as much sense, really.

          EDIT: Oops, I see it made a cameo down below!

  1. I have no opinion on the relative strength of the Blackberry offering, having never even seen one.  But I’m glad they’re in the game – the market needs competition to make sure the leaders keep innovating.

  2. I think Matt fails to recognize an anthropological phenomenon in the phone wars.  People simply need to defend their religion, no matter what that religion is.  If you’re a Christian, your religion is the best religion and all other religions are lesser than your own.  Replace with “Christian” with whatever brand name of consumer product, including smart phones, and you have this whole mess.  It can’t be helped, it can’t be stopped, and it will only end when a more interesting new religion shows up in the horizon.

  3. I tend to agree with him and try to leave strangers alone and let them enjoy whatever they enjoy(with friends, though, all bets are off, I’ll make fun of whatever just because you like it).  What I find funny is that someone who used to write for *GIZMODO* wrote this.  I mean, if he felt this way when he was working there how did he ever deal with, well, working there?

  4. “The football wars, the team wars, should be left to people who work for the Packers and the Cowboys and the Bears and the Steelers and the Vikings and the Redskins. Do you work for the Packers? Do you work for the Cowboys? No? Then shut up.”

    1.  I think a football league where the teams (for each season? Game?) were composed of randomly selected players and had no home city and so on, might be pretty great.

      1.  That is genius. I am going to incorporate this into my ‘Nationalise stadium sports’ plan* if I may borrow your splendid notion that is.

        *to be enacted when I am finally (as is my due) gifted with the job of ‘President for Life’.

    2. Right. Except, though I love ’em, the Packers don’t affect the goings-on of my day-to-day life nearly as much as my iPhone. If anything, I feel a deep appreciation for the advantages of one phone over another is more appropriate than the same appreciation for one team over another.

      1. I agree, tré (including the iPhone), however, just because it’s best for me doesn’t mean it’s best for someone else, even for someone I know well and especially someone I don’t know well or at all.

      2. Ha, you went there anyway. The reality is that, like sports teams, phones these days can all pretty much do the same thing.

  5. I don’t really have anything great to say, but I do have sufficient credentials such that Mat Honan can’t tell me to shut up :)

    A Nexus 10 handles my mobile needs, plus I like to develop for it. I don’t carry a cell phone, but when I travel sometimes I’ll I get a one-off prepaid gsm card to use with my 1st-gen iPhone.

    I really want a smart-pocket-watch that is my cell phone and has minimal screen interface for contacts and whatnot, it would work with bluetooth headsets or even just hold it near your head in a pinch. I just don’t like having things in my pockets and cell phones don’t feel right. Feels nice not to check my pockets in a small panic every time I leave a place.

    1.  Chinese will sell you just such a device quite happily (Android wristwatch phone) for less than two hundred bucks.

  6. Truly – because there are no objective differences that are worthy of discussion between these systems which we entrust many aspects of organizing our lives.

    All talk of the characteristics of these should be left to the marketing arms of the corporations that own them.


    1. Au contraire! Take my Signature Cobra Vertu: it has no OS whatsoever, yet is far more clever than these piddling gadgets.

      Morning noon or night, a live human servant waits patiently by the phone, to take my call and fulfill my every need.

      Apps are for the little people.

    2. IMHO it’s good to talk about their differences, there are real differences, but what is needed is to strive for referring to objective differences so others can make their choices in the clear.  Pro-choice!

    3. Such objective differences are largely related to the price of the phone. If you buy a decent phone of any sort it will probably be able to organise your life fine. A look at the spec sheet will usually tell you more about a device than 20 pages of idiotic forum discussion.

  7. All these opinion wars should cease.  I mean, do you work for BoingBoing or the INTERNET?  No? Then stop talking about … stuff… that’s not related to you … directly… like… everything.

  8. Of the two major phone OSes, one is open source, open platform, the other is closed source, closed platform.  And yet, one of them is funded by advertising revenue (ick), while the other is funded through hardware sales.  These are important things to talk about; it’s not all about “look how big my screen is!” 

    1. Seriously. This is over so much more than hardware specs. It’s about software ecosystems with wildly different philosophies. Apple’s closed garden has a huge effect on anyone associated with tech. Android’s fragmentation and atrocious support show the difficulties of the alternative. This is relevant stuff!

      1. Not to mention the oft overlooked differences in manufacturing, which some companies do far more ethically and justly than others.

      2. The “wildly different philosophies” is marketing guff that is fooling you and many others into marketing apples/googles products FOR them. This is what Honan is getting at, and a point that you and all the other butthurt commenters here are missing. It actually doesn’t matter any more (if it even ever mattered).

        Please name a single significant issue caused by “fragmentation” (sounding a little like Schiller there) or a problem caused by Apple’s closed environment? None of these things are even talking points anymore… What is ANYTHING that cannot be done any phone platform now.

  9. At its core, this is tribalism.  Whether it’s sports, politics, religion or commerce, people tend to adopt an affinity for some organization and then turn off their critical thinking facility.  Consider how people who were “pro-life” signed onto the conservative agenda and supported the destruction of the environment, the the Mideast wars, and economic policies that forced millions into poverty.

  10. If you care enough about the brand your tech belongs to in order to get into an argument over it, you’ve already lost.

  11. It’s tribal behaviour and it is extremely deep in the human mind/buildup. Asking to stop it is pretty much asking the impossible. The object of tribalism (religion, phone, console, favourite author, genre, movie, OS, political party, camera manufacturer…) doesn’t really matter, but everyone of us has  it in him/her.

    1.  Unless we try to grow beyond it.  I really don’t care what choices other people make.  I don’t attach that level of brand loyalty to purchases I make or things I do.  I don’t pretend that the decisions I make for myself are the same decisions that other people should make for themselves.  People generally don’t ask me which something-or-other they should buy, because I always answer with, “It depends on your needs/wants.”  We can’t just say it’s ingrained in our nature to want to be better than others, and refuse to rise above it. 

  12. While he does have a point, there’s another point that usually gets missed: Metcalfe’s law.

    A smartphone is structurally equivalent in some ways to a communication environment, in that it’s level of proliferation makes it a more attractive platform to make software and accessories for. Therefore, when you argue in favour of your particular smartphone, (or any other thing that is a platform for something else that you want — like an operating system) and succeed in changing anybody’s mind in it’s favour even a little, you contribute towards the creation of more stuff for it, making it more useful to yourself.

    No matter how annoying it might be, it’s perfectly rational behaviour motivated by self-interest, even if unconscious. :)

    1. It’s only rational if it actually does change someone’s mind in favour of the proselytised platform. In the overwhelming majority of cases this sort of boosterism serves mainly to demonstrate that ownership of a particular product confers the ability to act like an uninformed asshole without any trace of embarrassment.

    2. That’s how I understood the OSWars– my childhood computer was an Apple //e, upgraded to a IIgs. 
      Nothing was standard, and it was important that developers didn’t standardize on something you didn’t have. The signs were there, though. Porters routinely ignored the Amiga style graphics in favor of ugly EGA style artwork; the sound chip was relegated to obscurity, and the GUI looked downright primitive compared to a Mac.

  13. Sure, every platform holy war goes farther than is helpful some of the time.

    But the idea that if you don’t work for a major company involved, you should butt out?  That’s ridiculous.

    As Stay_Sane points out, there are fundamental differences that you might care about, plenty of folks would say you should care about on a moral level.

    Even if there were no major differences, it’s essential to have lots of strong opinions from users pushing the development.  Without that, there wouldn’t be any reason for folks at Apple or Samsung to improve their products or make decent products to start with.

    Look at a few consumer products around you.  If you can’t find some people on the internet arguing about a specific mass produced product, chances are pretty good it sucks, all the similar products suck, and it’s obvious how they could be improved.  Suppliers will only care if consumers demand, and that’s why every overly enthusiastic self appointed evangelist and harshly detailed nerdy review is helping products improve.

  14. Is Matt Honan saying that, unless you work for one of the manufacturers of phones or phone software, you shouldn’t express an opinion?

    Hmm.. Too bad he didn’t heed his advice about expressing an opinion about computer security and passwords
    Of course, it’s possible that I’m not aware that he works for RSA, Microsoft, MIT, LastPass…take your pick.

    / Does he have the same idea about expressing political opinions if you’re not part of the Cabinet?

    // While people were protesting about the Vietnam War, the goverment kept telling the protestors to shut up, because they didn’t understand the subtle geo-political aspects of crossing the seas and killing people who never attacked or threatened the USA. Y’know, like Bush and Blair did in Iraq.

    1.  Conflating anti-war protests with fanboi phone brand squabbles is a bit of a stretch, though.

  15. I have the same request for Mat-with-one-t, shut up.  Complaining about people complaining is an attention seeking ploy at best. Congratulations  you’re on Boing Boing, now mind your own business. 

    1. Agreed.  Honan could almost start all his “insightful” essays with “I’m kind of a tool, and not all that smart, but please listen to my earnest plea…”

  16. I was tired of The Argument when I was 9 and it was Nintendo versus Sega.

    I’ve opted to go the Android route for a variety of reasons, but I think a rational person can find plenty to like AND plenty to dislike from both Apple AND Google.  …and MS and RIM, if you’ve actually used either product long enough to form an opinion.

    …and I can see my NES and my Genesis from here.

  17. This really reminds me of the desktop wars in the nineties. The Winders people were so happy they won, which gave their heroes Gates and Ballmer the ability to charge them quintuple the money for their product via the OEM channel. That really showed those Apple, IBM, and linux users! 

    Apple/Android fanbois are the Winvangelists of the oughts and teens, and just as dumb and manipulable.

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