iPhone and Android are different, so stop trying to compare them

Another trends report. More rabble-rousing about which is better. The fanboys fighting the fanboys.

Can it be over already?

Since both devices stepped on the block, there has been endless comparisons between iPhone and Android. Researchers conduct countless “head-to-head” data analyses, polls and measurements to find out which is the better phone. But, especially within the last year, a clear (if unfavorable) result has emerged: iPhone and Android are different phones with different approaches. As such, comparing the two is fruitless.

A study by mobile company Flurry shows what months of studies have proven: iPhone and Android are inherently better in different ways. Android leads slightly in global device share, and Apple commands a stronger share of apps both in volume and time spent.  The company certainly points to valid reasons why these statistics are the way that they are, including the fragmented nature of Android app development, greater dissemination of Android phones in general, and the immense push that Apple has made in advertising premium apps. But it doesn’t tell  us anything new — it just casually avoids the idea that comparing the two is moot.

Android devices and iPhones aren’t in the same race, and it’s impossible to even tell if they’re on similar tracks. Android has achieved the great feat of widespread penetration all across the world, and its unique hardware options mean that low-cost devices can successfully navigate rising markets. Meanwhile, Apple has entered the rising global hunger for smartphones with little momentum, although its recent foray into financial subsidies has worked well in India.

Android’s diversified system and widespread market appeal simply cannot be compared against the more concentrated pockets of iPhone users, and sometimes these statistics don’t actually prove dominance in a particular market. Sure, Android may get more downloads overall, but Apple’s revenue from the App Store remains unmatched. Other times, they’re different depending on what time, place and particular region of the world.

In a lot of ways, it comes down to the semantics of how we view this debate: holding a head to head between two different phones with two different aims and environments is just impossible. It discounts the strengths and weaknesses both have, and it eliminates burgeoning competition from Windows Phone and Blackberry.

So let’s agree that this “head-to-head” nonsense just doesn’t work anymore.