"But the iPhone is just easier..."

Is it? Or has the Apple marketing machine just created that image?
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

So says my realtor, explaining to me why he returned his Android phone and went back to a vanilla flip phone. While he hangs out in 2004 for a while with the little flippy, he's deciding if he wants to go back down the touch screen road and snag a Verizon iPhone. If he needs to have a touch screen smartphone, he might as well have an Apple, right?

Cringing inside, feeling my Droid Incredible warm inside my pocket (and I can feel it much more easily now that I upgraded the battery, sacrificing a little slice of HTC engineering for a day and a half unplugged), I could feel Apple's famous reality distortion field emanating from the man.

Really, is the iPhone actually any easier? Easier in general, easier for 60-something realtors who've spent the last 10 years attached to their flip phones, easier for Millennials, easier for whom? Apple has built a reputation on user interface design and ease of use, but I have yet to find an Android phone that hard to use.

The one thing Android needs to figure out is music. I guarantee this will have no impact on my realtor's decision or, in fact, the decision of anyone over 45 years old. Well, I shouldn't say guarantee, but easily getting music onto a phone is generally going to be far less important to the average middle-aged smartphone buyer than to the average teenager. Want to know why my kids want iPhones instead of Android phones? One word: iTunes.

Never once have they cited the ease of use of iOS versus Android and impressive user experience features in which Apple has obviously invested so much time and money. They want to plug in their iPhones and have their music automagically end up on their phones. They don't want to find just the right app or fiddle with file systems. They want tunes. Kind of like that perfect mix tape we could play on our Walkmen. Only different.

At first glance it seems that Amazon may have solved the problem with their Cloud Player, but the coming demise of unlimited data plans is going to hurt this one. I don't actually like iTunes. Lots of people aren't terribly fond of the way it manages music and displays content. But when it comes down to it, it gets the job done better and faster than anything Android has going for it right now.

So is the iPhone easier than its Android counterparts? If your phone is also your your music player and Linux file systems aren't your thing, then probably. If you browse the web and access email (or even call people once in a while), then reality is distinctly out of sync with perception. There's even that whole Flash thing that some people (myself included) would say helps put Android well ahead of the iPhone in terms of overall experience.

In fact, recent data from ComScore suggest that the Verizon iPhone has barely let Apple hold its own in the smartphone market while Android continues to gain market share rapidly. Maybe perception is shifting, maybe Android phones are cheap and plentiful. Maybe old people (except my realtor) are buying Android phones because they don't want to mess with iTunes. However, show me someone who struggles to use an Android phone and I probably won't have a tough time showing you someone who struggles with touch screens, virtual keyboards, and smartphones in general.

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