Apple, and switching to Android

Apple is supposedly working on a tool to make it easier to switch from an iPhone to an Android phone. And I’m really curious as to why.

In this article, The Telegraph has heard that Apple is agreeing to develop a tool to make it easier for iOS users to “hift data such as contacts, music and photos if they move to Android”.

Major European telecoms operators are concerned that only a tiny fraction of customers ever move off the iPhone, in part because of the technical hassle of transferring data. The operators fear that the lack of switching weakens their hand in commercial negotiations with Apple, which holds the mobile industry’s strongest card in the iPhone. Its popularity among more affluent consumers means operators are dependent on supplies for most of their profits.

Well, sure it does (weaken their hand); that was why Steve wanted to lock the consumer in to the Apple experience in the first place. And why he wanted to make the iOS experience so consumer-friendly from the get-go. (Remember, Apple didn’t allow anybody else to write apps for the iPhone until v3 came out, and even then those apps had to be almost near-pixel-perfect in their UI compared to the other Apple apps, with the sole exception of games.)

So why the switch?

I suspect that much of the reason lies in the opening paragraph of the article:

Apple is under pressure from mobile operators to make it easier for customers to switch between the iPhone and smartphones that use Google’s Android software, amid mounting fears over its dominance.

See, I think this is a case of “We are not going to let you be the big, bad bully”, coupled with the lack of Jobs-ian leadership. Back in the day, just a few years ago, a threat like this likely would have met with fierce resistance on Jobs' part, and more than likely a quiet deal with one of the carriers behind the backs of the other two.

But the Europeans play the game of business a little differently than the Americans do.

Now I wonder if Apple will make this tool available in the US, and if not, what mechanisms they will use to keep it from working on US phones.

And how long it will take the DOJ to get involved in this whole thing.

Should be an interesting 2016, no?