With the recent iPhone 5 release we are seeing quite a few comparisons between Apple and Google, Samsung, Nokia among others. All the technical specs aside, there is one thing where Apple is literally blowing all the other competition out of the water. And that is, with their control over the cellphone providers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.). Let me explain what I mean.

I recently had to switch my cellphone providers to Verizon from Sprint. I brought along two other family members who wanted iPhones. Galaxy S3 with Google’s Android was a better fit for me so I went with that. As I was signing up and being presented my options for additional services (protection, voicemail, etc.) I noticed something that made it obvious how much control Apple had over the carriers and how much it dictated the product experience. I have to pay extra to get “visual voicemail” with Android while my other family members get that included because they are getting the iPhone.

As I thought about this a bit more I noticed another fact. Why is it that iOS devices get their updates exactly when Apple announces them? No matter which carrier or supported device you might have, you will get it on that day. On the other hand, none of the Android phones have this predictability. For the third-party phones, like Galaxy, most of the blame goes to the manufacturers, Samsung, HTC, etc., because they want the time to customize, but even after the manufacturers release the updates it generally takes additional few months before the updates are actually sent out to the customers (if ever!). Third-party devices aside, this is even more apparent with Google’s own “Nexus” branded devices. The Verizon Galaxy Nexus, which is the current Nexus device, finally got it’s Jelly Bean update on September 21st. Jelly Bean was officially announced by Google on June 27th, and Google rolled out its first Over-The-Air (OTA) on July 11th to the Nexus tablet (which isn’t tied to a carrier).

As a consumer, I am delighted to see that there is at least one cellphone manufacturer / software provider that can dictate this type of control over cellphone service providers. I do wish that Google and other cellphone/software providers would learn.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

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