Apples and Oranges


In life, it appears that there will always only be two choices. Left or Right. Holden or Ford. Playstation or Xbox. Capulet or Montague. Capitalism or Communism. But the greatest, most life-changing is iOS or Android.

To many, they are just a type of phone/tablet/computer and now even a watch.

Both systems boast sexy and sleek electronics. And the differences between the two is almost like comparing apples and oranges. But to the dedicated many, it is a way of life.

iOS can be considered as closed or proprietary software. The decision to limit Apple’s products under this style of software was made with the release of the iPhone. As Zittrain (2010) states, after 30 years of products with open-source software, the iPhone dropped this feature, not allowing outside programming. This means that modifying, redistributing and sharing the software is exclusive to the copyright holder.

Android, in comparison, can be considered as open-source software. Android, which was founded by Andy Rubin in cooperation with Google, lays its primary foundations in open-source software principles. As Roth claims, Rubin interpreted Android as “a free, open source mobile platform that any coder could write for and any handset maker could install” (2008).

The two styles have their individual benefits. Raymond compares the differences between closed and open source software to a Cathedral and a Bazaar (2001). Raymond likened the closed software to a cathedral “carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation” (2001, pp. 2). Although the overall design may be great, it has difficulty in becoming improved or developed outside of that ‘small band’. Whereas open-source software, such as android, is similar to “a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches” (Raymond 2001, pp. 2). Each user, likewise to a seller at a bazaar, is a co-developer.

Interestingly, in China, Google isn’t the primary app store on Android mobiles. I came to this shocking realisation after touching down in Shanghai. As Google is banned by the Great Firewall of China, this made accessing the app store, maps or even my Gmail impossible. In China there is over  700 million smartphone owners, of whom the majority use android devices such as Samsung and Xiaomi. As Google is blocked, the Android open-source software allows the use of several other systems, such as the Chinese google-equivalent, Baidu. The Baidu app store is the most accessed alternative for android users in China (Millward, 2014).


Bischoff, P 2014, ‘What you need to know about China’s 700 million smartphones and tablets’, Tech In Asia, viewed 14 September, <;.

Millward, S 2014, ’10 alternative Android app stores in China’, Tech in Asia, 3 June, viewed 14 September 2014, <;.

Raymond, E 2001, ‘The Cathedral and the Bazzar’, O’Reilly Media, viewed 14 September.

Roth, D 2008, ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’, Wired Magazine, 26 June, viewed 13 September 2014, <;.

Screen Genius, Image, Apples to Oranges, viewed 14 September 2014, <;.

Zittrain, J 2010, ‘A fight over freedom at Apple’s core’, Financial Times, 3 February, viewed 14 September 2014, <;.


12 thoughts on “Apples and Oranges

  1. Hello!

    A fascinating read for me! Your experience of visiting China and the resulting great firewall is a fantastic addition to this week’s topic. A unique and well thought out perspective for such a dense subject to try and unpack, so I appreciated your new approach.
    I had never heard of Baidu! And with 700M smartphone owners, I suddenly feel very small in this world of Phones!

    I think you have hit the nail on the head – phones for some are a way of life, wether it be work, gaming, social or net connectivity. For many users, the choice between iPhone and Android is not for the software, but for the brand. As you mentioned, we have some strict binary codes in Australia, Holden VS Ford and the great console debate are just the tip of this left/right iceberg.

    If you are interested, this is an interesting read from SBS on the psychology of the iPhone loyalists –


  2. Well written and easy to understand! Really good explanation of Raymond’s concept of open and close and the cathedral vs the bizaar! The example you used interests me so much.
    I know that events in Chinas history has blocked Google but I havent given a thought about the search engines and app stores they use in relation their smartphones. Baidu is in pretty hard competition with Googe. Devices and applications are being made by both companies. I did a little reseacrh on the devices made by both Google and Baidu and found this the most interesting.

  3. Applying this clash of philosophies within the different political culture of China is interesting, are you aware of whether or not this limiting of Google in China benefits Apple at all in terms of market share? I ask because if Apple don’t benefit from this and Chinese mobile users simply opt for Google alternatives on an Android OS then this really adds value to the philosophy of flexibility and innovation that open source platforms such as Andoid operate under. As you can probably tell this part of you blog really fascinated me and begged more questions about the applicability of these philosophies in a range of different real world scenarios. Remember that you don’t have to recap the readings, so you had a little bit more freedom to engage with this example of China if you had wanted to.

    Additionally I’m not sure the clash between iOS and Android is quite as “life-changing” as that between Capitalism and Communism haha. But you raised some interesting points here nevertheless.

    • Hey Angus. Thanks for you’re feedback. I agree, I should of expanded a little more on China mobile users and I’ll add a bit more since it seems to have interested a few other readers. I’ll have to do a bit more research, but as far as I know Apple is not heavily supported in China either. As previously stated, the Chinese mobile Xiaomi is one of the most popular smartphones in China currently, and it uses the Baidu app store on the Android platform. Like you stated, that is a good example an Android product that is both flexible and innovative.

      And I probably wasn’t very clear, but I wanted to address satirically how some consumers will argue to the death over their favoured system. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I like they way you linked in the idea of closed v open sources with your own personal experiences of visiting China. You also implement Raymond’s thesis in an effective way that helps deconstruct a wordy text. I think that there is actually major differences between these two devices. You can see this with the level of popularity of Apple products despite the restrictions of the interface. I agree that that phones to people are more about experience than the software that is depicted on them. Realistically the average consuming is not concerned whether the program they are using is open or a closed source. Well written.

  5. Well written article. Good opening paragraph and use of humour, always helps engagement. Good use of external links giving more depth to the post and design wise you have definitely made most of the platform with the use of images, hyperlinks and video which makes the post and blog in general more very professional. Also like the personal touch in reference to your experience in China which gives a unique twist on the topic.

  6. Nice post. Great use of links,videos and quotes to change it up and keep it interesting. Relating to a personal experience is great aswell because it humanizes the post.The use of google in china and Google’s relationship with china are both very interesting.

  7. Very fascinating read! Your inclusion of the Great Firewall of China was very intriguing as even though i knew that Google was banned in China, I had never given any thought to alternative programs and apps that they would have to use that were related to Google. I like the way you personalised the post by adding in these experiences as it offered an alternate perspective on the concept. It would have been great to possibly include why these sources are banned, although with the word count limit the exclusion of this is understandable! Great use of hyperlinks too.

  8. Interesting read, good to see the comparison to other drastically different things at the start, that are very much a for or against thing. The IOS/Android war is very much one where you pick a side and stick to it, and people get very, very defensive over their choice of phones.

    Also good to know that there is a different marketplace on Android in China, I knew Google was blocked in China but it never occurred to me that that would make accessing Android marketplaces difficult.

  9. Great post! Your sharing of the experience of you visiting China makes me understand more and think back of myself being there too. Really good explanation of the open vs closed sources with that experience. Undeniable, the Baidu is quite a hard competition with Google. Even in Malaysia, we do sometimes use Baidu as well. 

  10. Very interesting read! I did not know that about China! How crazy, 700 million smartphone owners!! How does iOS even compete with that!? Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us, as that certainly is an eye-opener. Your blog post contrasted iOS and Android in an interesting and succinct matter. And yes, it does seem to always come down to Apples or Oranges. You’re title alone, got 2 thumbs up from me.

  11. i had a hearty chuckle to that title. a superbly well written post, your post had some very interesting facts in it that i didn’t even realise as the comment above me said i dont know how ios is still here with 700 million android users in China. keep up the good work.

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