I was already fed up with my lousy AT&T service, and was seriously considering switching to the HTC Incredible, an Android-powered phone that runs on the Verizon network. But then, after seeing Google's new mobile-phone software, I've made up my mind.
Goodbye, Apple. I'm ditching my iPhone. Seriously, I'm gone.
I don't even care if Apple does manage to get off the awful AT&T network and strike a deal with Verizon. That may or may not happen, depending on which blog you read on which day.
I used to think that would be enough, that if I could just run my iPhone on Verizon, I'd be happy. Well, no more.
The new version of Android—version 2.2, a.k.a. Froyo—blows the doors off the iPhone OS. It's faster, for one thing. It also will support Flash, something Apple refuses to do, mostly out of spite.
The new Android OS will support tethering, meaning you can use your phone as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, connecting your computer to the Internet. Apple and AT&T say they're going to offer tethering—someday. It's just not clear when. Which is why, just to be mean, Google showed an Android phone tethered to an Apple iPad at Google's developer conference this week. Big laughs all around.
Froyo also will let you buy songs over the air and download them directly to your phone. It will also stream songs from your music library to your phone. I don't really use my phone as a music player that much, but still, it's impressive that Google has this feature and Apple still doesn't.
I'm assuming that Apple could have done this already, but chose not to. Who knows why? Maybe they want to keep people locked into their old way of doing things. Or maybe because they were a market leader with no real competition and just got lazy.
And, yes, while Apple might one day match what Google just introduced, the point is this: Apple now is chasing Google.
The most telling thing to me was Google's tone toward Apple at its developer's conference. Instead of pretending to still be an Apple ally, Google has basically thrown down the gantlet and admitted that it's engaged in total war with Apple.
And unlike other Apple rivals, like Adobe, Google execs weren't huffing and puffing and wringing their hands about Apple's bad behavior. No, instead, Google was mocking Apple. Making fun of it. Laughing at it.
The Android OS is already outselling iPhone OS in the United States. Now it's blowing past Apple in terms of the technology it's delivering.
Yes, Apple still has a larger installed base. I was a little shocked recently when an Apple spokesbot responded to the news of Android's outselling iPhone OS by reciting the old chestnut about Apple's having more phones out there.
I was shocked because it's a familiar line, one that I've heard countless times in my 20-plus years covering technology. But I've only ever heard it from companies that are doomed and in total denial about it.
We've seen this movie before. In the 1980s, Apple jumped out to an early lead in personal computers, but then got selfish. Steve Jobs, a notorious control freak, just could not play well with others.
Along came Microsoft, with Windows, which was a knockoff of Apple's operating system. Microsoft partnered with everyone and today has 90 percent market share, while Apple's share lingers in the single digits.
Today the battlefield is mobile devices, and just as before, Apple jumped out to an early lead. And just as before, Jobs got selfish. He won't support Flash, or any cross-platform tools—because he wants developers locked into his platform, and his App Store, where he collects a 30 percent commission.
He's created his own advertising platform, and stacked the deck in his favor by refusing to share user data with other platforms. On that one he'll take a 40 percent slice, thank you very much.
He's even censoring content, ruling out material that he deems to be offensive. Not just porn, but anything that's racy or suggestive, or that "ridicules public figures."
What makes this even more insulting is that Jobs tries to dress up his selfishness as a kind of altruism. He says it's all about creating a beautiful experience, that while he may be selling you an intentionally crippled device, he's doing it for your own good.
Well, bull. The truth is, this is about Apple wringing every last dime out of its ecosystem and leaving nothing on the table for anyone else.
As sick as I am of my iPhone's dropped calls, I'm even more sick of Apple treating us all like a bunch of idiots, stonewalling and bullying and feeding us ridiculous explanations for the shortcomings of its products—expecting us to believe, basically, that its flaws are not flaws, but strengths.
Steve Jobs has created his own precious little walled garden. He's looking more and more like Howard Hughes, holed up in his penthouse, making sure he doesn't come in contact with any germs.
Now Google is saying, hey, nice garden, have fun sitting in it. By yourself.
As Google exec Vic Gundotra said when explaining why Google entered this market: "If we did not act, we faced a draconian future where one man, one company, one carrier would be our future."
Just this morning, fed up with constant dropped calls on my iPhone, I called Verizon to ask about the HTC Incredible. They told me that phone is back-ordered, and I can expect to wait about 30 days to get one.
I'm not surprised. And frankly, I think it will be worth the wait.