The Return of...Tech Beever Rant! Today: Fanboyism -

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Return of...Tech Beever Rant! Today: Fanboyism

Why is there so much fanboyism surrounding our beloved tech?

The argument spreads way back to the age old argument "my dads bigger than your dad". Which may be true, but can your dad drink his weight in alcohol, but still complete a crossword or extensive maths question with little or no effort?

Today's more 'modern' fanboyism, revolves around Apple - Android, and Playstation 3 - Xbox 360. But why is there such a ridiculous amount of hate toward the opposition from it's fans? I'm not going to beat around the bush; I wont answer this question, and I dare say it'll never be resolved, so if that's why you're here; then you'll be sadly displeased with this article. I will, however, try to get my damned head around the whole ordeal.

Without going into too much detail, the majority of Apple vs Android arguments run from the single sentence "...iPhone's are sh*t".

Now, in my eyes, if you're going to say such a strong statement, then you better have good reasons to back it up. I've owned an iPhone 4 since launch day, and I don't regret dropping half a grand on the thing, and I understand completely that it was/is an awful lot of money to spend on a device, but why is that any different to people spending the same money on a high-end Android device? Other than OS and places to get apps & games, the majority of Smartphones are the same (save for all the guts and processing power), so why are so many people adamant that "my phone is better than yours"?

Among many things that were discussed, the App Store vs Google Play (Android Market) was raised, the argument being "Google Play is better because it has more free apps". Not really an argument.

Let's take a look at some figures:

Android (Google Play)
Current number of Android apps in the market: 450,000
Downloads to date: 10 billion

iOS (App Store)
Current number of iOS apps: 725,000+
Downloads to date: Over 25 billion

However, what many people don't realise, is that both Nokia's Ovi Store and BlackBerry's App World (both of which have only 26 percent free apps), also pull in higher revenues than Google Play despite having much lower downloading volumes.

In 2011, it was revealed that the iOS App store has 121,845 free apps and the Marketplace (now Google Play) has 134,342 (obviously both numbers have changed since then), but whereas Android fanboys will rejoice that Google Play has 'beaten' the iOS App Store, further statistics show that the percentage of low quality apps on Android is 29%, with users ratings of apps with less than 3 stars at a pretty high 226,012 (50.8 %).

Now, as I couldn't get any information on how the iOS App Store fared in the same circumstances, it kind of leaves the above paragraph rather redundant. Instead, users had to take into account that whilst Apple is far more strict in terms of what developers can/cannot put onto the App Store, Google is much more relaxed. This comes at a price, however, for there is a high count of malware on Google Play, something which isn't found on iOS.

Leaving the world of apps behind, many could argue one of the biggest strengths of Android is it's vast customisation. iOS is extremely limited to how users can customise it's OS, ranging from the simple change of the background to the message/ringtone alert. Whereas Android users can change all the icons, live wallpapers, themes, keyboards and many more. The look of a phones OS may not be all that much to some, but to others, it can reflect in a very personal way.

Sure, iOS users can 'jailbreak' their devices to gain the extent of customisation features Android lords over iOS, but why should they go to such measures?
Apple locks users into having the same experience as other iOS devices, which can be both a brilliant experience, or a dull, almost lifeless one, depending on how you use your device.

iOS is also the most open OS in terms of its audience, as its so simple to use, anybody can get to grips with it in a matter of hours, whilst Android differs greatly in its allure, but once you do get accustomed to it, it can be a very rewarding experience.

I am both an iOS and Android user, and whilst I enjoy both, they do house their advantages over each device.

For games, I cannot fault iOS. All top end developers are pushing brilliant and cutting edge games into the App Store. The likes of Infinty Blade II, GTA III, Max Payne, N.O.V.A III, Mirrors Edge, Shadow Guardian, Dead Space and many, many more, are all exceptional games. Sure, titles like N.O.V.A and Dead Space are available on Android, but the vast amount of handsets running different Android firmware means that many users miss out because their device "isn't supported". Of course, there is a percentage of games that only work on iPad and iPhone 4/4S, but those numbers are pale in comparison to the number of unsupported Android handsets.

There are, however, great gems on Google Play, and they go by the name of Emulators. Many free emulators allow you to play your favourite GB, GBA, N64 and PSX games on your phone/tablet (providing you LEGALLY have the bios/ROMS, Tech Beever does not condone the use of illegally obtaining bios/ROMS) and it's something that really adds to the users gaming experience on the go. I have many emulators on my Sony S Tablet, and paired with my PS3 controller, it makes playing the likes of Goldeneye 007 and Donkey Kong Country all that more fun. And there lies another win for Android; the support of USB. It's so simple to pair a controller (Xbox, PS3, Wii) to my tablet, making gaming easier, and even plugging in a mouse and keyboard to help write articles for Tech Beever; I've done many posts on the Sony S Tablet, but, I've also done posts from my iPhone 4 (on the move).

Other than the keyboard, my experience doing write ups from devices other than a PC or laptop is no different, so why should users experience on any phone, whatever the make, be any different to those with the opposite format?

Anybody who is a regular on Tech Beever will know that Tech Beevers Contributing Editor, Dan is a solid Blackberry fanboy, and hates (yes, hates) Apple and every iOS device. Why? Well, his reasons usually contain most expletives known to man, but in reality, RIM and its Blackberry devices are far behind Apple and Android, and now, even Windows Phone 7. However, the Blackberry World Keynote we featured earlier this month did impress even myself. RIM seem to have actually listened and paid attention to the world around Apple and Android, and crafted a very, very impressive device and updated OS. Will it make a difference though? Only time will tell, but if it rocks the smartphone world just a little, it may just be the incentive that the top dogs need to put some new ideas out there.

The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 argument can be held in the same light, with really, only platform exclusives holding their own. Personally, I much more enjoy the likes of Uncharted and Heavy Rain to Halo and Alan Wake, but I do prefer Gears of War to God of War. It's a merry-go-round, and one that I can't see stopping anytime soon.

Myself and Tech Beevers Contributing Editor, Dan, have had this argument many times. I do, overall, prefer my Playstation 3 to my Xbox 360, whereas Dan feels the same to his Xbox 360. Are either of us wrong? No, but an argument that grinds my gears, is that "X game looks much better on X platform". Let's get this straight, no multiplatform games utilizes the cell processor, only the gpu. It's also about memory allocation, the PS3's gpu is still a 256mb gpu and developers working with the 360 as the lead platform will work around that. Xbox 360 can utilize a little more memory, so they have the texture and gpu advantage. However, with the PS3, developers are given the luxery of putting all the data onto one Blu-Ray disk, whilst the 360 (if the game is large enough) has to take multiple disks to complete the game. This is where the textures fall flat on 360, and improve on PS3.

Rockstar (GTA, Red Dead Redemption) was one of the first to appoint the PS3 as its lead platform, and in doing so, made the likes of L.A Noire 'for' the PS3, then ported to Xbox 360. But in the end, it will always be platform exclusives that deliver the best eyecandy, with possibly (and I mean very, very minor points), the PS3 outshining the 360 by a fraction, but in reality, it takes some extremely good eyes to tell the difference.

So why all the fanboyism? Is there a real need to defend our tech? Or is it a case of "I brought this one, so I'm going to go to any length to protect my decision", whether or not you believe in your choice?

Personally, I'm just glad I'm in a position to try all types of tech/games, and take away my favourite features of all, in the hope that one day, they'll be something that truly deserves the title as "the best there is".

But for now, can't we all just get along?

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