The new phone being developed at Essential.com looks interesting but the problem is that it’s running Android. And no matter how exciting it might be to use Titanium and have a 360° camera, your operating system is much much more important than your hardware. I’m with Gruber on this 100%: if given the choice of owning Samsung hardware running iOS versus iPhone hardware running Android, I’d take the former ten times out of ten.
I can’t help but wonder if this is a fundamental difference in how Android and iPhone users view smartphones. It seems like Android users put a greater emphasis on hardware than software, while iPhone users put a greater emphasis on software than hardware. You don’t see software being talked about anywhere on Essential.com other than the little blurb about it running Android. That’s a huge problem. A glaring hole. In my mind, a smartphone is defined by the software running on it. The hardware is just the facilitator. Not the end, but a means.
It would be much, much more interesting if Essential were to pick preexisting hardware and write a new operating system. Not one that’s based on Android, but a completely brand new operating system. That’s incredibly hard though. Nobody is going to compete, any time soon, with Android or iOS from a software standpoint. But new software is what it would take to create an actual competitor to Samsung and Apple. Anyone who switches from an iPhone to an Essential simply because they like the idea of having a titanium body is failing to appreciate just how important good software is. Stated another way, Essential’s target market is Android users who float from one hardware body to another, while running the same gross operating system. That’s their deal. I wish those people a very happy weekend.