Are Apple's famous defectors going to have an impact on the popularity of iPhones?

What if someone famous switched from iPhone to Android? What about two famous people? Andy Ihnatko and Guy Kawasaki both have taken up residence with Android phones. What's the world coming to?
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

It's true that two of techdom's biggies, Andy Ihnatko and Guy Kawasaki, have dumped their Apple iPhones for Android ones. Guy famously made the switch late last year and Andy opted for Android near the first of 2013. You might be asking, "What up with that?" And you'd be in good company. Myself, for one. I can't imagine why anyone who could afford any available technology would dump the iPhone for an Android. I have both an iPhone 4 (personal) and a corporate-supplied Samsung Galaxy SII. I prefer the iPhone over the Android.

There are a few things that you can do on the Android that you can't do on the iPhone but those things are only relevant to me and a few other ultrageeks. The average user, which is greater than 99 percent of all users, wouldn't care to do those things. Of course you want an example, so I'll give you three.

On the Android, I can actually interact with the operating system by using commands in a terminal screen. You can't do that on iOS. Another example is that I can setup an SSH server on my Android phone and remotely connect to it — not so on the iPhone. The Android phone allows me to "tether" other devices through it so that I can actually connect to the Internet using the Android's cellular network or Wi-Fi connection. I could do that on the iPhone, if I wanted to pay $50 extra per month for tethering. I don't want to pay for what should be a free thing.

I can understand why those guys (Andy and Guy) might have switched if there were more compelling reasons for it. Andy gives the keyboard and larger screen as his favorite features. To me, there isn't much difference in the two for those things. Of course, about all I do on the Galaxy is make phone calls — crazy, I know. I just really don't like the look and feel of that particular phone.

For me, a larger screen means a larger phone. The whole point of a mobile phone is that it's unobtrusive and pocket-sized. I don't like to feel like I can't bend over and tie my shoelaces with the phone in my pocket. The iPhone is the perfect size. It's small enough for my pocket and not cumbersome. It's also very easy to use. I can do what I need to do on it without issue.

The Galaxy on the other hand is larger and more cumbersome. It's less convenient to navigate and I still can't get a good screenshot off the damn thing. I can't make it happen and I've read several posts on how to do it and it just never works for me.

Personally, I think that Guy switched not because of missing features from the iPhone but because he thought it would be the ultimate slap in the face to his former employer. I think he'll go back to the iPhone.

I think Andy will too.

It's cute to make the switch and fill the "airwaves" full of sound and fury over the switch but I'm afraid that, in my humble opinion, it's a lot of hot air. I think they've both gotten exactly what they wanted out of the deal — some ink from guys like me who tell you about their stunts.

That's OK. I'll give 'em some ink. In fact, here's a link to Andy Ihnatko's blog posts that chronicles his passage from awesome Appleton to snoozy Sighberville. And for your reading "enjoyment," here are two posts describing Guy's sour grapes, I mean, switch from Apple Evangelist to Android fanboy.

Now, to answer the lead question, "Are Apple's famous defectors going to have an impact on the popularity of iPhones?"


I'm wondering what's in it for Andy, since he's made a decent living off of writing about Apple stuff for several years. Has some Android phone company hired him? Will he be able to continue his "famed" and "revered" Apple-oriented columns now that he's made the great leap to enemy territory? Who knows? I'm not his editor. But if I were his editor, I would question his sincerity in maintaining an Apple column and using an Android phone. I suppose he could do it, but he'd probably have to come clean to his readers about it, especially when speaking about iPhones.

As for Guy, I think the Android camp sees his defection as a major victory. I think that making the switch public shows that it was for publicity purposes. Perhaps his flame was fading a bit on the speaking circuit because of his association with Apple so he decided to stoke the old fire with Android logs. That's probably been a good topic for interviews, podcasts, blog entries and social media buzz.

Frankly, I don't think the impact has been or will be significant. Now, maybe if Steve Jobs had defected, that would be really newsworthy. Watching Bill Gates use an iPhone would be fun. Or better yet, hand Richard Stallman an iPhone and watch/listen to the ensuing fireworks.

I don't believe that any one person has enough clout or influence to shift sales of the iPhone either way. Not these days. Sure, William Shatner's appearance on the VIC 20 commercials made me want one and made me buy one but today, you'd be hard-pressed to find another iconic personality that could drive sales like that.

I don't know either Andy or Guy personally. I have no idea what their personal motivations were in switching. I think to use things like keyboards, display size and network speed are pretty lame excuses, though. First, it's a phone. If you're using it for much more than a phone, you perhaps need to move to something larger, like an iPad. And the network speed? Really? What the heck are you downloading or uploading from a phone that you need a lot more speed?

It's a phone, folks. Don't get carried away here. Just because you've gathered a little bit of fame doesn't make your opinions worth any more than anyone else's. That's what you need to remember. That's the real takeaway here. Don't let your dog food eat you.

What do you think of Andy's and Guy's decisions to switch from iPhones to Android phones? Was it personal preference or something more? Talk back and let me know.

Editorial standards