How to confuse “Openness” with “Lack of Choice”

How to confuse “Openness” with “Lack of Choice”

In a post by MG Seigler this morning, he rants around a very narrow view of the “openness” of Android. Instead of looking at this from the perspective of “open OS”, I see Android as more about the “openness of choice”. He cites specific reasons to prefer iPhone over the Android, namely the bloatware installed by carriers, the restrictions placed on the OS, and basically everything the carrier does to remain unique and relevant in the Android ecosystem. Personally, I think this is a weak argument. Yes, this happens. Yes, carriers will continue to add their “2 cents” worth. But the beautiful thing about it is that you DON’T HAVE TO USE THESE PHONES!
There are phones which tout the unfettered “Google Experience” and work marvelously. Anyone who truly cares about their mobile experience will do their homework, weigh their options and put their money where their mouth is. Restrictions put in place is a painful side effect of this right-to-choose, but I will support the carrier’s right to do what they want with their phones as long as I get the right to do what I wish to my phone. Whether that be uninstall their bloatware, find a work-around for their issues, install my own version of Android on their hardware, or simply choose another carrier.
Compare this to the iPhone where none of these are options short of rooting your phone and voiding your warranty. (I can easily do and undo this on my Android phone at will all without the carrier being any the wiser.) You have one choice for hardware (unless you lie to yourself and count the iPhone 4 and 3GS as different models), you have one choice for carrier (which can’t keep their infrastructure usable to save their pocketbooks), and you have one choice with OS (which is likely the only redeeming part in this scenario). Given all of that, I’ll take Android every time.
I realize I’m more the exception than the rule. As a power user and developer who is more savvy than the average consumer, many of these aren’t realistic trade-offs. But all it would take is some clever developer to find a way to make these trade-offs less of a burden, package it into an APK and release it to the world. Don’t like iPhone’s lack of Facetime on 3G? Hope you don’t mind voiding your warranty.
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