Net-net: I love the Droid

People have said they can’t tell from my post yesterday whether I like the Droid or not. I re-read it and see what they mean.

So I thought I’d inaugurate this blog with a clear statement: I not only like it, I love it. It excites me in ways that computer products used to, years ago, but rarely do, these days. I see the Droid as the next step in bringing the web to life. The iPhone was pretty awesome when it shipped, but this goes so much further. Partially because it comes from Google, and I’ve built a fairly complex system around Google’s web tools. It’s exactly those tools that show up on the desktop of the Droid. And partly because, like the web itself, it’s open for anyone to play with, in any way they want.

Some people have asked if I like the Droid because I don’t like the iPhone, and yes — that’s true too. My early enthusiasm for the iPhone was dampened by the fact that it didn’t achieve what I felt was its basic promise, that it would be a Mac but in a small form factor. I wanted my Mac software to run in this environment. The iPhone did not even try to do this.

I never really saw the iPhone as more than three things: 1. A phone (and not very good at that because of AT&T). 2. A communicating camera (great!). 3. A dress rehearsal for what the web will look like in a hand-held form factor.

I didn’t use it for email or Twitter or really anything else. For that I used my Asus netbook because I could write software for it, it could be part of the system of tools I use on my Macintosh desktop computers, which is ironic because it runs Windows, and the iPhone, under all its layers of UI, runs Mac OS.

The Droid still doesn’t give me a way to run my software in a mobile format. For that I will still have to rely on the Asus. I’ve been developing for many many years. The idea of a platform that asks me to start over is not at all appealing. So the Droid doesn’t have my full attention. If I were younger I might try to transition my codebase to run here. But unless someone ports the OPML Editor to this environment, I don’t see that happening. 😦

I wrote in a tweet yesterday: “the big diff is developer freedom. i used listen to find my fave podcasts. no sul. no app store bs. google will prob screw up, but not yet.”

Droid has the potential to be a coral reef the same way Twitter is. It doesn’t have a suggested user list (or anything analogous to it). I was able to easily listen to all my favorite podcasts using their software. The app store isn’t the only way to get software onto the device. It doesn’t appear to be locked up. This is a huge difference.

People snicker that I’m being idealistic. Maybe so. But culture can’t develop without freedom. All the great platforms of the past were allowed to evolve in ways that were not anticipated by the people who started them. Platforms that have bottlenecks, are imho doomed. That’s why, once Apple’s strategy for the iPhone as a platform emerged, I knew I would find a way to get off the platform, as a user, and that I would never develop for it.

All this is part of putting my stake in the ground. I expect to learn a lot about this product in the coming months. I hope to share that here, and invite others to participate in the site. The only thing we share is the sentiment in the title of this post.

Update: Just got a call from Scoble on his Droid. We did an A-B comparison Droid-to-Droid and iPhone-to-iPhone. The Droid is much clearer. But get this — we were both able to put our phones on speaker, and then go use them for other things. Another big difference.

It’s more of a platform. It’s more of a personal computer. It’s also a better phone.

I did two podcasts yesterday that I want to get on the record, as part of my stake in the ground.

Final note before moving on to other things… another tweet from last night: “I dont think theres much doubt but i’m building a nest on the droid.” That was 22 hours ago and now I feel even more strongly about it.

Posted in Droid. 46 Comments »

46 Responses to “Net-net: I love the Droid”

  1. Tweets that mention Net-net: I love the Droid « DROIDIE -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Randy, Robert Lavigne. Robert Lavigne said: Net-net: I love the Droid. My stake-in-the-ground post and the inaugural post on a new blog. (via @davewiner) […]

  2. Lucretia M Pruitt Says:

    Congrats on the inaugural post over here!

    Thanks too, for the insight on the Droid. I was waiting for my contract with AT&T on my lost-in-NYC-in-July Treo to age out in December… at which point it was my intent to acquire an android phone.

    This just emphasizes my reasoning behind it.

    Fortunately, I just got Google Voice – so I can have both the iPhone and the Droid ring to it. Loving the way my technology is starting to shape itself around my needs instead of my life shaping itself around the tech.

  3. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by davewiner: Net-net: I love the Droid. My stake-in-the-ground post and the inaugural post on a new blog.

  4. Jim Roepcke Says:

    “Update: Just got a call from Scoble on his Droid. We did an A-B comparison Droid-to-Droid and iPhone-to-iPhone. The Droid is much clearer. But get this — we were both able to put our phones on speaker, and then go use them for other things. Another big difference.”

    You can do that on the iPhone too, whether or not you’re on speakerphone. Just hit the home button on the bottom of the phone while you’re on a call, you can do whatever you want after that.

    • Robert Scoble Says:

      Yeah, I knew that, not sure why Dave didn’t, but the affordance isn’t there on the iPhone while on the Android it’s a lot clearer. But, don’t miss the important point: the voice quality is much better on the Droid than on the iPhone. Also, in my home I can’t get 3G on the iPhone, but I can on the Droid. Verizon wins in Scoble’s house!

      • Lucretia Pruitt Says:

        I hate the phone on the iPhone. The quality is horrid. I use it mostly for the apps. I miss my Treo for voice quality.

        I’ll be happy to be able to hear voices again that don’t sound like the Wendy’s Drive-Thru.

      • Jack Naina Says:

        It is not the fault of the iPhone, it’s AT&T. I use my iPhone 3GS on the Singtel network in Singapore, and the audio quality on their UMTS network is awesome.

    • Chuck Shaw Says:

      Re: doing other things while talking. Since it’s a CDMA phone, you can’t talk and use your data connection at the same time. That would drive me nuts. I can’t tell you how many times I have used google maps while talking, to help my wife with directions.

  5. Sue Says:

    Hi Dave, great that you’re doing this site. I’m in the market for a new phone and am happy to think about a new technology. After using someone’s Blackberry Storm with the awful keyboard, I then used his new iPhone and love the keyboard, but can’t get an iPhone because I won’t pay AT&T and there’s no coverage where I live and work.

    The question is: is Droid what I want? Is the keyboard usable or will I hate it? Does it do all the typical things light users like me want to do without hassle? Will I hate the slide-out keyboard?

    I’d love to hear your comments for light users who are not programmers and don’t txt a lot but do send email, use calendar/appts, rely on contacts, Twitter and the like from their phones.

  6. the Droid « DROIDIE #droid « Theoblogical Says:

    […] Net-net: I love the Droid « DROIDIE Share the above post on: […]

  7. Robert Scoble Says:

    It’s interesting, this new product took me back to 1991-1995.

    In 1991 I was a died-in-the-wool Mac fan. No one could convince me it wouldn’t take over the world.

    In 1992 I met a small group of Windows enthusiasts who showed me Windows NT. It intrigued me enough that these enthusiasts were telling me that Windows would take over the world (and they showed me some cool demos) that I tried it out and wrote an article for San Jose State’s newspaper about it. But I was still a solid Mac fan.

    In 1993 we got Windows 3.1 and my boss forced me to use it on our corporate computer (I worked for the new BasicPro magazine and Jim Fawcette back then and since Visual Basic was a programming language for Windows that was just being released he wanted me to learn about Windows and that). I found I liked it, but hated the UI. I still thought the Mac would take over the world.

    But in 1994 I started seeing momentum shift. Visual Basic got white hot. Lots of developers were sensing that Windows was kicking ass over the Macintosh too. Plus I started getting early betas of Windows 95 and we knew that would be BIG.

    In 1995 the world just seemed to switch all at once, even though it was four years in the making, at least. Windows 95 shipped toward the end of the year and people waited in lines for that. After that I gave up my Mac for years, only to return in the mid-2000s after Steve Jobs came back and brought a new OS with him.

    The Motorola Droid and Google’s Android OS feels a lot like Windows 3.1/3.11. It has all the features. It has developer momentum. It isn’t sexy, though, and it hasn’t been packaged properly, but I can see the momentum changing.

    Already I see a ton of apps that are on the Droid but aren’t on the iPhone. And developers tell me more are coming every day.

    That’s a momentum shift and a sizeable one.

    Now all we need to see is the metaphorical equivilent of Windows 95 come out where they fix some of the UI mistakes they made (the Web browser doesn’t display Techmeme properly, for instance) and come out with a device that really grabs everyone’s attention (the Droid is close, but doesn’t quite deliver).

    It sure feels like we’re in 1994 to me. Will next year be Google’s big year? After an hour of playing with the Droid I say “sure looks like it.”

    • Sushant Anand Says:

      Where is Microsoft in this race? Do you think Microsoft can pull a Microsoft again and pull ahead of Google and Apple?

    • Jason H. Says:


      Just an FYI, that’s quite an old analogy. It’s been said for nearly a year that Android was analogous to Windows in the early 90s, and the iPhone/OS model is as it always was, closed.

      The idea that Apple would make the same business mistake they made 20 years ago and lose out to a modern day IBM PC + Windows has been around for a while now.

    • Rod K Says:

      One of the things that I think helped Windows take off back in the 90’s was VB and the way it allowed “non-programmers” to create software. Sometimes this led to really crappy software, and sometimes really weird software, but it also led to some really useful software that “traditional programmers” would never have thought of.

      I’ve always thought that Dave’s software was the kind of software that “traditional programmers” wouldn’t write.

      If the Android can create a development environment like VB that allows for easy application creation I think it has the opportunity to recreate that kind of 90’s popularity that helped Windows take off.

  8. Pete Warnock Says:

    Your enthusiasm is uplifting.

  9. Scott Says:

    Droid isn’t the platform, Android is the platform (and really, Google is the platform). Android will succeed and overtake iPhone. It is the PC-Mac war all over again: an good OS that will run on a multitude of hardware wins. iPhone will be a great niche product, like Macintosh.

  10. Sean Brady Says:

    Using the Droid Eris this weekend, and should get a chance to play with the Moto Droid next week. I could not agree more on the Google integration. I found there to be sufficient work arounds on the Blackberry but the native support on Android has been spectacular. Looking forward to further posts on this blog.

  11. psimac Says:

    I think the Droid is great, but for it to displace the iPhone it’s going to have to be a reliable solution. Phones are different than computers and when it comes down to it, the masses will choose the iPhone. We geeks like to get under the hood, but most people don’t. Someone mentioned Apple “making the same business mistake of 20 years ago” and I’d say that the public will not make the same mistake in believing in what the techies tell them to buy. They just want something that works, like another other consumer electronics product. Droid will sell and the Android platform will be huge, but people will look to Apple and Palm for solutions that are reliable, cohesive and inexpensive.

  12. Jack Naina Says:

    Sometimes, we as techies tend to forget that what turns us on (open platforms, open source, freedom to hack our phones to install SSH, mame, nano fusion reactor, etc) is not what the typical joe and jane user wants.

    The unwashed masses (you know the other 99.99999% out there) want a stable phone with a well thought out easy interface (and perhaps a choice of apps). The iPhone delivers that in full and then some. Sure it doesn’t offer the Stallman/Winer/Insert-your-current-digital-guerilla-with-a-religion level of freedom and openness, but the likes of Apple, Google and Motorola are here to make money, and not offer the insignificantly small geek userbase their next digital orgasm.

    As a reformed uber-geek, the iPhone offers me plenty. Freedom to write an app if I want to, choose a variety of 3rd party apps, surf the net, RDP back to my W2K server to access my desktop applications, do online trading while at a bar, jailbreak my iphone if I really have to have MySQL running on my iphone, etc. It also offers the ordinary-person side of me a hassle free, easy, simple phone that works instinctively the way I think.

    Android is not Win 3.11 in 1994. It is Linux (Slackware) in 1994. Yes, and we are still hoping (after over 15 years) that the next coming year will be the year of the Linux Desktop. And yes, the Droidsters will be doing same come 2010 (Breaking news ! 2011 will be the year of the Android! So tweets famous pundit-wannabe Scoble – TMZ Tech News)

    • Brian Flores Says:

      Finally a comment with a modicum of sense…maybe Android, it’s clunky UI, and it’s propensity to feature major errors (keyboard input as terminal commands, the 911 crashing/rebooting debacle) deliver on the promise of openness for a niche, DIY community. I’m not buying for a second that it’ll appeal to the vast majority of people who want a mobile device that makes calls (even if not well), plays media, takes pictures, and allows them to surf the web wherever they are.

      • Dave Winer Says:

        In case it wasn’t clear, nowhere in my piece did I say that it would appeal to anyone other than myself. You guys are arguing with someone else, or maybe arguing with no one.

        That said, the iPhone is kind of a debacle in the same way. It’s ridiculously slow, sometimes at even just entering an email address on a photo I want to the same place I send all my photos. Pretty ridiculous for software that’s been in the field for two years to have these kinds of performance bugs.

        In other words, everyone makes shitty software, Apple too. I haven’t hit too many bugs in Droid yet, but of course I expect to, and some of them will be deal-stoppers.

  13. GaryP Says:

    You say “they just want something that works”. I agree. That is why I canceled the 4 iPhone 3Gs’, paying the fine to AT&T, and bought 4 new Moto Droids for our office.
    The iTouch functions worked great, but I needed a phone. Other AT&T phones had no problems in the same area the iPhone could get no reception or would drop calls so frequently that I quit giving out my cell number for call backs.

    • Jack Naina Says:

      gary, agree that the iPhone’s currect achilles heal in the US market is that it is tied to AT&T.

      On a well designed and engineered UMTS network like Singtel’s or other international UMTS network, iPhone shines. The HSDPA speeds i’m getting on my iPhone 3GS in Singapore is insane!

      • Joseph Palmer Says:

        On the other hand, the Achilles heal of the Droid (at least for me) is that it’s a CDMA phone. Superb 3G coverage in the US, but of the travel destinations I’ve been in the last 10 years, only South Korea supports CDMA.

        Aside from keeping two phones activated, one for the 50 weeks I’m in the US, and one for the two weeks I’m elsewhere, does anyone have a way to get me past this obstacle? I’m wanting a Droid, but I’m most dependent on mobile data when I’m away from the CDMA network.

      • Josh Turmel Says:


        You should check with Verizon, you could pick up a used world phone (Blackberry?) that will run on their network and call and have it turned on for those weeks you’re out of town.

  14. ian Smith (@rolex922) Says:

    What is being expressed here is exactly what a lot of people are realising over a slower period; as opposed to the iPhone; and that’s a revelation that the evolution of mobile communication has just happened..again.

    Andrdoid upto now has been shadowed by the iPhone because you had the likes of the G1 and the HTC clunky designs, where not many tech writers wanted to shout about the platform. iPhone looked slick and was the darling of the mobile world. But, now that Apples tight grip and frankly now dated UI, is starting to bite then along comes shiny new toys which have quietly been developing in the background and bang! here they are. Android is a slow burner, the 1.6 OS is good but not perfect but it gives the user an experience in customisation and integration with Google that is becoming second to none – and that’s the killer. It doesn’t really matter which handset device you have, the integration is still there and can be pitched at whatever level suits the user. Apple won’t allow that.

    Those of us who were early adopters have seen the Android OS become so much better, upto iPhone levels in certain aspects (integrated search) in such a short time and now with more capable devices, we will see the game change even more.

    Long may it last and welcome to the light side!

  15. Tom Says:

    Interesting To see that Google’s approach of having the vertical integration (it’s own set of applications, a hand in the design of some Android phones).nproplr talk about cannibalisation a fair bit – the Android Market from different manufacturer might be a decent example. So is Microsoft IBM in the analogy?
    Sounds like Winer wants a better Netbook as well as a better phone – there are just some limitations – somethings got to give as the screen and UI gets smaller. Breakout the keyboard and mouse wirelessly, slap on a poco projector… An that’s what the larger form factors can start playing with. (Once Android/Apple get round to enabling them.)
    one more thing – it’s a beginner’s mistake to confuse call quality solely on the handset without looking at the effect of the carrier network. Also as others tests have done you’ve got to look at calls out, and calls in within an between networks (and maybe look at skype/other quality use a myfi to even the playing field). There are better ways to test a microphone and speaker. An Owle has shown that isn’t a limitation via an acessory. You can now do pretty much broadcast quality Audio and Visual using a phone.

  16. Ian Smith Says:

    As far as hardware designs go, let’s face it, Apple will be tough to compete with let alone overshadow. I own the G1 and have got to say HTC and Google haven’t really worried any other handset manufacturers, let alone Apple!

    The question here is: can Android beat Apple / RIM / Palm etc… in the OS stakes? This is possibly where Apple will become the victim of it’s own rules. Android is evolving before users eyes, look at the updates (OTA!) this year alone. Android has become a stable, functional, customisable piece of software that is every bit a modern OS.

    The iPhone OS is 3 years old; give or take; and in that time they have updated the UI only really once IMO. The lack of granting freeform customisation or background processing will make it a dinosaur in the market.

    I am no Apple fanboi; you may have guessed; but I do like the way iPhone does a lot of things and appreciate the subtle details and phenomenal functionality within the device. The appstore will never be equalled in the near future but imagine if they opened the device and market the way that Android is doing. That would be the milestone to iPhone retaining/recruiting users who might be tempted to switch, surely.

    Droid may not be the end-all of iPhone adoption [outside of AT&T] but those of us who use Android, love it and those who are prepared to live in Googles’ universe may not change back…

  17. mark zip Says:

    Re your issues with running your software in a mobile environment: Perhaps you might look at the forthcoming Nokia N900. The OS is Maemo (Linux) and it can run any program which can run on Linux.I don’t know if anyone ever responded to your idea (over 2 years ago) of sponsoring a port of OPML to Linux, but if they did, the N900 might well be your solution. Of course you’ll have to pay through the nose for the unlocked GSM version and you’ll probably only get to use T-Mobile’s 3G network in the USA…

  18. ankushnarula Says:

    Developers are techies. And developers typically lead the charge to most platforms. The success of Windows has always been about courting developers. Apple didn’t really do a good job of this with the Macintosh until OS X, XCode, and their participation in the open source community. And of course Linux/BSD are self-courting communities.

    As for the iPhone, Apple has definitely fanned the flames of animosity and anger towards their proprietary software platform. However, I doubt it will be their undoing. Native apps will certainly be successful on both the iPhone and Android – but these will be apps that require native performance or large/rich caches of content, such as games and multimedia apps.

    But just like with personal computers, mobile developers will eventually get fed up with porting or rewriting mobile applications between Windows Mobile, Symbian, J2ME, Palm OS, webOS, iPhone OS, and Android/Dalvik. So more and more, I think the future of mobile applications will be browser based. We’re already seeing really cool stuff with HTML5+CSS3 and geo-location in the mobile web browser.

    Oh yeah… Apple didn’t design the iPhone based on their nominal successes with the Mac. They designed the iPhone based on massively successful iPod and iTunes ecosystem. Closed, controlled, highly usable, consumer-oriented, service-oriented, content-oriented, and supporting an evolutionary and ever-expanding revenue model. Did I mention it’s consumer-oriented? 😉

  19. Liam Says:

    All this talk is interesting: to techies. Obviously, but will it have an effect on the market?

    The comparison between the iPhone now and Mac way back when is to miss the point. The iPhone came after the iPod and people bought the iPhone in droves not because Apple makes Mac’s but because they make iPods.

    For most people whether the iPhone is open or not makes not a jot of difference. They want ease of use, a certain amount of coolness and something they know will work well.

    As for the AT&T argument – stop being so parochial: the iPhone sells in other countries, a difficult concept for the California-centric tech navel gazers to grasp but it is a factor in the iPhone’s sales figures. For example there are 1 million in the UK already and a second network on board soon (that’s about 1 iPhone for every 60 people in the country).

    I’ve got a feeling that Android will gain share because: it will be adopted by so many of the companies following in Apple’s wake; and because techies and early adopters will flock to it. The Android based phones will attract plenty of Java programmers and so will have a rich app offering.

    So will Android blow the iPhone away? If I were betting: no. I’ve got a feeling that iPhone is the de facto standard now, it’s almost the Windows of the consumer smartphone market (with Apple as the Borg of that market). Android will ironically probably end up as a Macintosh analogue: cool, used by those who want to be different.

    One thing that I find odd is how short peoples’ memories are. Apple really did change things with the iPhone. It shook up a stale market full of useless phones made by lazy incumbents like Motorola. Now people look at Motorola as some kind of saviour company. I guarantee that if Motorola can establish some grip on the smartphone market it’ll revert to type.

  20. Mobile Technologies in Asia | Social Geekette Says:

    […] in) will be fucked, lol. The brand-new Droid was just released two days ago, and it’s already Dave Winer’s favorite phone. Uh-oh. (Honestly, no one should compete with Google anymore. The […]

  21. Ryan Says:

    Focusing on “Droid” is a mistake. Droid is a Verizon brand. There will be many Droid phones coming from different manufacturers (HTC, Motorola, etc) running on Verizon. Some good, some not so good. As people push the Droid, it only increases the power of the carrier, and this carrier is known to be hostile to openness and developers. I would argue more so than Apple.

    There are many Android users who do not own a Droid. Why exclude these people? The early Android adopters are probably the most important to include. Lets build a big tent for all. Less “Droid”, and more Android.

  22. Droid vs iPhone 3GS « John Tokash Says:

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  23. The holy grail in communicating cameras « DROIDIE Says:

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  24. Three Droidie pieces | dv8-designs Says:

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  25. mikecane Says:

    >>>The idea of a platform that asks me to start over is not at all appealing. So the Droid doesn’t have my full attention. If I were younger I might try to transition my codebase to run here. But unless someone ports the OPML Editor to this environment, I don’t see that happening.

    WTF? You’re lying to yourself. You’ve started this blog. That’s the first step to eventually saying, “Aw, eff it. I’ll have to DIY if no one else will.”

    And look beyond the Droid to all those minitablets that will rock next year:

    The Coming Android Mini-Tablet Flood

  26. Allan Says:

    Really liked “culture can’t develop without freedom.”

    It’s thought-provoking but also leads me to think about the exceptions. Apple itself has created a tremendous culture around its employees and customers without being very open at all.

    Thanks for the good post. I’m trying to decide whether to go with the iPhone or Droid being almost sure I want to abandon my Blackberry.

    • Dave Winer Says:

      I can resolve the apparent conflict — the culture they’ve developed is theirs not ours. Users hardly exist in the Apple culture, except to use Apple’s culture, to be part of it.

      • Liam Says:

        That’s not the best argument I have heard against Apple. Given that their products are sold worldwide just which – I assume user – culture is ‘ours’? Is that programmers’ culture; corporate users; gamers; bloggers; fanboys…??

        The reason why users don’t really figure in Apple culture is because a lot of us don’t want to. I run my business from a Mac. I do okay. I treat my Mac like my car: just as I don’t want to get under the hood to change the oil and spark plugs every weekend before I go on a long drive; so I don’t need to be too involved with Apple, nor do I want to be. Just like Google, Motorola, MS it’s a corporation, I have limited expectations from it.

        Not that that means I don’t keep an eye on what’s going on on other platforms. Believe me if somebody gets me something that’s easierand more pleasurable to use on than my Mac/iPhone I’ll switch in a moment.

  27. Brianna Gruenberg Says:

    Nice post.My dad loves his droid.Starting to think its better than my iPhone.Either way I’ll have to stay with my htc until a gsm carrier gets the Milestone (or ill just take out a loan to get one lol)

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