Google has posed the first viable threat to Facebook's monopoly on our digital social lives. Skimming through my news feed, it's clear that a threat to the current system is appealing to my generation'a small revolution against the Zuckerberg regime. As Facebook has grown to ubiquity over the past several years, there's been a simultaneous feeling of dependence upon and resistance against the network. However, I'm pretty confident that there will not be a mass migration of the nearly seven hundred million Facebook users tomorrow. Fresh out of school, I've been taught how to quickly and easily predict the fate of Google+. (And you can too: a lesson from Wikipedia on Rogers Five Factors.) I've amassed enough debt; here's what I've learned. Google+ has several valuable relative advantages over Facebook. Most notably, the developers try to mimic real world social organization by allowing users to categorize people: Good Looking Friends, People I Shouldn't Over-Share With, Bad Dates, etc.* Google+ also allows you to own and download your data. For those who have collected several years' worth of content on Facebook, a data back-up seems comforting. There's also an improvement on privacy settings, a constant issue for some Facebook users. (You may recall they failed miserably at securing user privacy the first time around.) Facebook may own half of my digital content, but Google conveniently owns the other half. The integration of Google+ with all the other Google applications that I use daily makes the new technology compatible. Another check off Rogers' list. As for the element of complexity, the Google+ interface seems intuitive if you have familiarity with any of Google's other products. The only exceptions are a couple of buggy interactions, which we can't criticize'this is Google+ Beta, after all. Many of my friends are already experimenting with the platform's trialability. It's easy to try, if you have at least one nerdy friend to invite you. And lastly, Google+ is sparking conversation and reactions, not surprisingly, all over the established social networks. (Rogers called this observability.) According to this scholar, Google+ appears to be a strong Facebook rival on paper. What does your intuition tell you? In my opinion, people could make room for a third social network. A friend of mine segmented the networks nicely: Facebook is a large arena to keep in touch with past acquaintances, Twitter is a platform to form potential relationships, and Google+ is, perhaps, a more intimate environment to regularly communicate with current friends and contacts. On the other hand, six million Americans deleted their Facebook accounts in May. Maybe, rather than a Facebook supplement, there's a desire for an alternative. And if you don't want to have to choose, check out this plug-in. *I think Google has 'borrowed'? this idea from Diaspora.
There seems to be a million definitions of 'digital marketing'? floating around, but at the core, this term simply means the use of technology in marketing. Contemporarily, this refers to applications that exist on our laptops, tablets, desktops, televisions, or mobile devices. However, the breadth of technology that this term, 'digital marketing'?, applies to has started to drastically expand. Increasingly, communication can occur on extraordinary platforms, including physical objects. Futurists call this phenomenon, of translating real world objects to the Web, the Internet of Things. Internet-connected devices can now publish data that are measurable by censors or RFID tags. This data could provide better product recommendations, reveal patterns in everyday activities, or be integrated into our social networks. There are so many possibilities'each one creepier than the last! By the year 2020, forecasters expect there to be 22 billion Internet-connect devices. Here's a list of my favorite applications and concepts that are being developed. Acting on your road rage. Bump.com allows fellow drivers, as well as businesses, to connect with a driver through license plate recognition. The technology uses a camera, attached to your own license plate, which is able to very quickly read surrounding plates. Next time you get cut off'or want to ask for the girl's number that you've been trailing in rush hour traffic'you can simply scan their license plate with your smartphone and message them directly, or post a negative rating. This kind of technology could have several other applications (besides just alleviating your road rage) like automated check-ins, or the ability to associate a vehicle with an in-store purchase. Texting with your dishwasher. Although still a concept, innovators have been throwing around ideas about a future kitchen where all your appliances can be communicated with via SMS. One idea takes inventory of your refrigerator, crafting your next grocery list or letting you know when an item's about to expire. Another allows you to bake cookies, remotely. Some suggestions are as simple as allowing for SMS messaging when your coffee is done brewing. Futurists are saying these kinds of functions are actually closer than we think; and predict they will be integrated into our own home appliances in the near future. Remote-controlling your car with your iPhone. A new innovation (by AutoBot) does more than unlock your car doors'it allows you to find your lost car in a parking lot, performs diagnostic checks, and messages family when you've been in an accident. As a data nerd, I think being able to log data about your driving patterns or the health of your car has huge potential. Of course, Google has taken this idea one step further and has begun producing cars that drive themselves. Giving your heart its own IP address. As trust builds, consumers will increasingly start using apps for medical purposes. My favorite example allows you to receive text messages from your own organs. Researchers (at IMEC) have developed something called a BAN (that is, a Body Area Network) which is able to communicate with a user's cell phone, while also updating their doctor. This technology can work with sensors that monitor your heart, your brain, or your muscles, and could be marketed to fitness enthusiasts'?¦ or hypochondriacs? This new kind of healthcare doesn't stop there. Other applications are being testing: like pills (by Novartis) that have censors directly in them that can text you with dosage and timing information. These are just a few of the applications that are being dreamt up by technologists. It's becoming inevitable that objects will start to have identities of their own, be able to tell their own history and be connected to the Web. Devices (such as GPS unites or Internet-connected TVs) have even begun to outpace human subscriptions on both ATT and Verizon networks. It won't be long until status updates from more unexpected objects, like your microwave, start appearing in your News Feed. Entrepreneurs have begun to catch on and are capitalizing on this opportunity. For more information, check out some of these key start-ups in the space. Pachube.com: a platform for tracking real-time data of censored-objects Thingd.com: a 'database of stuff'? Stickybits.com: allows you to form user-generated clouds (threaded conversations of video, photos and text) around physical objects, especially CPGs Itsmyurls.com: generates identifying QR codes (used for resumes, social profiles, etc) Itizen.com: allows you to tag a product or a gift with 'a story'?
Decentralized, borderless, and international by nature, the Internet has been hard to mediate. Without beating around the bush: we're Americans, we're egocentric, and we forget to consider how other countries are handling this exact same problem. So, what's the precedent being set around the globe--and how do we measure up? The Totalitarian: China China's a good starting point, as they've decided a totalitarian approach is the best way to protect their citizens. They've successfully managed to control the Internet through government-owned routers and strictly regulated ISPS. It doesn't need to be said that this would never fly here, but it's a good extreme to observe. Imagine an absolutist society where news is filtered and social networks are blocked. It's called the Great Firewall of China, and citizens (even the elders) are petitioning for free dissemination. We've probably all heard something about the saga between Google and China. But it doesn't stop there. China has a huge collection of websites they censor. Check out this infographic of banned keywords. Yes, the word 'democracy'? is banned. The Military Dictator: Russia Russia refers to their censorship as 'information security'?'which does sound a lot more socially acceptable. Russia has been standing on a soapbox trying to deter cyber threats, which they define as the use of the Internet 'to spread ideas that might undermine a country'?. They've been pitching this idea to the UN for twelve years now and are hoping to make these threats (sic) illegal. And, a whole lot of countries are onboard with them. (Note: one of these country's officials did suggest that Twitter is purely an American scheme to subvert foreign governments). Basically, this is a good initiative if used to combat terrorism. Where this gets shady is when it's used to combat citizens who speak out in opposition to their government. There are plenty of other countries where censorship is the norm. Take a look at OpenNet Initiative's interactive map to see how different countries censor different types of web content. It might surprise you how prevalent it is. Are we the Democracy? When it comes down to it, even the most cynical of Americans would claim that our country is far from implementing information controls like these, and that our issues of net neutrality and online privacy appear minimal after peering into some of these other nations' policies. With a transnational space, like the Internet, governments want to ensure sovereignty; they want to carve out a place in the Internet where they can police. At first glance, it seems like we can't relate, but what would losing net neutrality entail for American citizens? It would mean a segmented Internet where some web citizens are treated differently from others. And, what about our favorite tech company: Apple? As a ubiquitous platform for consumption in our country, they've successfully filtered web content based on their own (or one man's) ideals. And, did you hear about the proposed legislation on wire-tapping? It would build a back door online for law enforcement, allowing them to intercept our digital communications. We're lucky to have a government which promotes freedom, both online and off, but this remains an issue that we need to be cognizant of and proactive about. The atmosphere in which we do business as both consumers and marketers, both within our own country and abroad, could be altered depending on how online authority is resolved. This is the conclusion of a three part series on Internet authority. Preceding blog posts on online privacy and net neutrality can be found at these links.
There has been an ongoing conversation on how to police a decentralized, borderless territory'the internet. Both our industry, and the public, has begun to question: who has the authority to govern the web? This week, we are continuing the discussion. Part II: Cable-ization The general public strives to avoid the cable-ization of the internet. Cable-ization? It's a term for following the traditional model for cable TV: offering premium content for a cost which creates tiers of viewers. Instead, most web users hope for net neutrality'an open and democratic Internet. (If you're looking for a more eloquent, yet slightly off-colored, definition, Jon Stewart should be consulted.) The battle to secure this utopia wages on. So, why does the public care so much about internet freedom? a) People are worried about stifling innovation. A large company with a large budget can more easily compromise the success of smaller competitors. For instance, you're a web user with a small budget who believes you're the next Mark Zuckerberg. But, you're discouraged in your entrepreneurial pursuits as your competitors fly by you in the internet express lane. b) People are worried about the effect on their daily lives. Some web users prophesize of applications slowing to a crawl, or of outrageous 'pay for speed'? schemes. Others talk about an internet where content is moderated by the whims of network providers. And still others hypothesize a time where bloggers are silenced, and web access becomes political. Despite this (sometimes eccentric) fear, no one can seem to agree on where the FCC holds jurisdiction and at what point legislators should step in. Recently, Google and Verizon decided that, being such behemoths on the web, they should intervene. Googizon's joint proposal promotes a 'healthy and growing internet that can continue to be a laboratory for innovation'?. They believe that the FCC should be the main enforcer and disciplinarian when it comes to net neutrality transgressions. In the past, the FCC has been outspoken about their desire to regulate broadband providers and has searched long and hard for legal standing. Many people have argued that their suggestions are out of self-interest and are a step in the wrong direction. The dispute revolves around mobile, a topic which the duo conveniently avoided while crafting this proposal. But the issue of mobile is still imperative, since, as we all know, the majority of people will be accessing the internet from their phones in the foreseeable future. Consumers have looked to the FCC to help put some of the fears to rest. The House has also recently become involved (ominously, they fell flat on their faces this week). So, what's the solution? A Point of View I fall somewhere in between the spectrum of crazies'a free-market could eventually have some severe consequences on our online experience, but so could full government involvement. Regardless of the outcome, the marketing industry should be made aware of the potential cost of losing net neutrality. Most apparently, what's the effect on SEO? If providers are free to moderate content, and you frequently advertise rich media, you are vulnerable to slowing load times, sinking SEO rankings, and increasing PPCs. On a macro level, competition is a prerequisite to advertising. The exception is if you are a well-established brand, than competition just demands more advertising dollars. A partitioned internet would be in your favor, deterring competition from easily entering your space. But, for everyone else, preserving this competition should be sacred. Ignoring our egoism for a moment, have we considered what precedents are being set by other countries; globally, how are we dealing with authority online? As the internet increasingly becomes a truly international space, we need to look beyond solving digital problems in a vacuum. Continue to follow our series on online authority over the next few weeks to tackle more of these issue and to participate in the conversation.
Should the Internet be governed? This is a very contemporary, and pivotal, choice that will guide the future of the Web. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing the issues that are inspiring the industry to answer this question: who has the authority? Part 1: Online Privacy Recently, the FTC resurfaced an online privacy proposal which would establish a Do Not Track list. This legislation (think: telemarketers' Do Not Call list, but for digital) would allow online shoppers to opt-out of behavioral advertisements which 'follow'? them around the Web'storing cookies with information about their shopping and browsing habits. Ultimately, this list would be exhaustive, saving consumers from then having to make website-to-website opt-out decisions. Although, currently, there are many tools available to prevent sites from storing cookies (through plug-ins or browser settings), some sites'mainly Google'continue to log IP addresses which link consumers to their search queries. Despite this, a lack of privacy has become mainstream and acceptable. Consistently, now, users are making the choice to concede some of their privacy to public domain. A recent study proves this decreasing concern in digital security (only 54% of consumers are concerned with online privacy, versus 65% in 2008). From this changing consumer sentiment, open source intelligence is possible. 'Hackers'? have begun to compile publicly available information on a large scale. Most notably, a Boston-based start-up has begun an initiative to compile public information in order to predict future events. Predicting crimes that have yet to happen seems like something right out of 1984'and Google and the CIA are both investors in this web-monitoring company. My conspiracy theories aside, the bottom line is that, counter to intuition, many marketers are actually for the implementation of this protective legislation. They see the Do Not Track list as a concession of some control over to consumers'as well as a catalyst for best practices within the industry. Others however see a risk of hindering online experiences by limiting the way product recommendations and behavioral ads are crafted. Could this devolve internet advertising back a decade or could this be a method for instilling consumer confidence in a commercial Internet? A Point of View Recognizing all these factors, I actively choose to give up some of my privacy for convenience. When looking through web history information Google had stored from my account, I can see every product I searched for over the past year, what sponsored links I clicked on, and accompanying trending charts of my activity. Undoubtedly intrusive, but 100% transparent. The advantages of targeted advertising are apparent (the advert provider knows what I'm looking for and continually improves upon their recommendation), and for me, and a growing number of consumers, this benefit of relevancy outweighs the cost of privacy. Being a relatively digitally savvy consumer, I know that with a few clicks I could make myself mostly untrackable online (and avoid exposure to Internet advertisements altogether) without the intervention of government regulation. However, it cannot be assumed that this is a task that the majority of consumers are capable of. It should be an industry-wide best practice to consider the consumer naivety that still remains and to pursue full disclosure within a digital strategy. As this dialogue continues, it is important that we remain educated as the Internet morphs into an increasingly intelligent entity. Need a suggestion on where to start? Check out the graphical exposure index the Wall Street Journal recently built which allows you to see how popular sites are actively monitoring their viewers.
Google has historically been pegged as an enemy to the publishing industry for distributing articles free of charge. Despite this, publishers remain stuck in a relationship with search engines who act as facilitators'connecting readers to appropriate content. On the one hand, Google and other engines are a critical source of promotion. On the other, a lot of the time, Google (rather than the publisher's website) is the final destination for consumption. Last year, News Corp's Rupert Murdoch became so annoyed with search engines (majorly Google) 'stealing'? articles that he threatened to ban The Wall Street Journal from Google's syndication. However, the WSJ derives around 25% of their traffic from Google search, making Rupert's threat apparently empty. Rupert Murdoch has been proactive in his efforts to monetize digital news. Murdoch's The Times of London has recently, and unexpectedly, put all their content behind a pay wall. After implementing the wall, traffic fell 58% in five weeks. The jury's still out on whether going all-in was a good strategy for The Times, but now the industry has a test case to study. The Times has created a baseline from which to measure how quickly (or slowly) paid subscription can grow. Already we know that the remaining 33% of their loyal readers have a much higher engagement rate with the digital content, inducing higher conversion and a reason to raise ad rates. Alternatively, Time is also attempting to 're-train'? readers to pay for news, but by gradually weaning them off free material. Right now, we are seeing a lot of experimentation with different models (e.g.: subscriptions, pay per document, membership portals, etc). Even though consumers have shown to be willing to pay for other types of digital content (music, video, etc), it has yet to be seen whether they will open their wallets for digital news. Unfortunately, despite the 53% of Americans who consume their news online, only 7% of them claim to be willing to pay for it. Enter Google. While publications are failing to convert readers on their own, the company sees an opportunity to step in as the facilitator with their newest project, Newspass : a payment system which would allow content creators to charge their readers. The initiative would organize Google News search results by paid and unpaid material. Users would then provide one-click micropayments (through Google Checkout technology) for articles. Logistically, publishers would be able to use a single infrastructure for all channels (Web, mobile, tablet) and consumers would have a single log-in across all platforms. This model would allow both parties flexibility in terms of types of payment (long-term versus one-time). There, of course, will be revenue sharing between Google and the publisher'probably somewhere around 30%. As long as payment is a friction-less experience (meaning: a quick, single-click process where my payment information can be safely stored), I could imagine using Newspass to purchase online articles. Do you see Newspass as a viable solution to convert readers into paying customers? Would you use this Google service? Leave your response as a comment.
Google imitates Facebook. Rumors have been flying about Google's Facebook copycat product: Google Me . The company has already tried and failed to foray into social networking by their own means (e.g. Google Buzz, Okrut). But I, personally, wouldn't mind a Facebook clone ' encouraging fragmentation in the market and a check on Facebook's power. Because of Facebook's privacy negligence, consumers are now looking for an open alternative. It's feasible that Google Me could be the right solution, at the right time - capturing Facebook drop outs who are fed up with the network's omnipotence. Google can now attempt to persuade their 900M loyal users to follow them to a more secure and democratic social scene. I see this resulting in one of two scenarios. Facebook is approaching saturation. Consumers may become sick of Facebook and try Google's clone out of rebellion'?¦ or Facebook may listen to our complaints, adapt, and maybe even expand their search functionality as an added crack at Google. And, Google should feel threatened. In March, for the first time ever, Facebook had a larger weekly market share than Google, making them the most popular website in the country (at least for that week). Facebook is increasingly web users' portal of choice. From a consumer's perspective, I want to see competition in this space. Facebook, right now, doesn't need to fight for my loyalty (with clear and simple privacy settings, for example). If I want to socialize online, they're the easiest option; I'm stuck with them. In the end, though, we only want to participate on a single social portal. Would you make the switch? Google challenges Microsoft. This week, Google acquired major travel search company ITA Software ' as well as revised their business strategy. The search engine giant now aims to focus on vertical search, which is (not coincidently) their rival Bing's main differentiating feature. For those who know the information they're searching for, and want to find it fast, Google is their go-to engine. Alternatively, Bing is promoted as a discovery tool. It's the difference between needing neutral results or filtered, customized outputs. Many consumers rely on the Internet to make their travel plans (about 90M Americans in the past year), making travel search a huge opportunity with a huge audience. Google obviously wants to remain king of this vertical and sees Bing as a contender. But, Bing's 3% travel search market share seems very insignificant next to Google's 30%. The buy makes strategic sense. Purchase-orientated search is just another opportunity for Google to monetize ' potentially charging airlines and travel aggregators on a cost-per-action basis. And ITA Software, the company they've chosen to partner with, powers a part of Bing's search.
I know I'm not the only one seeing these spreads in seemingly every magazine I pick up; the 'Magazines, the Power of Print'? campaign is aimed to reach over 110M readers a month. Leaders of five major publishing companies (CondÃ© Nast, Hearst, Meredith Corp., Time, Inc., and Wenner Media) have united to 'promote the vitality of magazines as a medium'?. And I can't help but question them. The print industry has chosen to approach this predicament with a very defensive message. Copy from one of the pieces, in particular, has rubbed me the wrong way: ''?¦a new medium doesn't necessarily displace an existing one. Just as movies didn't kill radio. Just as TV didn't kill movies'?. I understand what they're getting at (digital is just the next phase in the evolution of media), but is this comparison even relevant? Television, film and radio didn't 'kill'? each other because each innovation broadcasted a new type of media. Alternatively, digital seeks to enhance and enliven existing, static print content. The two mediums can and should coexist'since users choose to consume digital and print in different contexts'but this aggressive approach to convince users to consume print is futile. I'm frustrated by the many un-truths rampant throughout this project. Cathie Black, president of Heart Magazines, states that 'this campaign supports the fact that there really is no better medium to advertise in than magazines. Magazines are the most cost effective and consistent medium at both ends of the purchase funnel'?. The adverts also claim that print media consumption has increased over the last five years and that the appeal of magazines is growing. I'm not going to try and argue these points since many already have. My main contention is that this is not the best way to encourage readership. Instead, offline publishers need to prove the value in print. For me, compared to digital, print is focused. It allows for a more relaxed, immersive experience; I'm able to soak in specific content and really let it saturate. Magazine editors are presenting detailed stories to the reader. We all know that an online experience is much different'the simultaneous skimming of copy, seeking of information, and searching for dynamic content. Both ironically and appropriately, these publishers do have a supporting digital component to the campaign in the works. Instead of speaking to the people who already have a magazine in their hands, they should be conversing with those who don't. Isn't the point to remind their ex-readers what they're missing? Beyond this campaign, the industry needs to research and recognize what mediums their audience is using'and start considering how they can truly transform and flex with them. Experimentation with new digital technologies, most notably the iPad, has the potential to reinvigorate failing publications. There's an apparent need to reinvent print content for new channels like these. From a brand's perspective, this should not be a print versus interactive decision. How can you cater to your consumers' desire for both specialized, developed print material and engaging, reciprocative digital content?
June 14th-18th Apple and Google are at it again. Apple has publicized an addendum to their licensing agreement which bans any ad provider that is affiliated with a mobile hardware or operating system company (most notably, Google's recently acquired Admob) from gathering user data on their platform. Data collection is such a vital component of digital advertising; without it, we are unable to evolve our marketing strategy to adopt to and serve consumer preferences. Although Apple now seems to have an unfair advertising advantage, can we really blame them for not wanting to facilitate and benefit their competitor? This interaction epitomizes the companies' differing strategies: closed versus open. Interest in 3-D technology continues to heighten. From 3-D World Cup coverage to 3-D gaming, digital headlines this past week were swarming with mention of 3-D innovation. Unfortunately, this technology appears to have a fatal flaw. Thinking back to the basics of product diffusion, will our desire to adopt outweigh the complexity of integrating 3-D tech into our lifestyle? Does 3-D offer a significant relative advantage to good ol' fashion 2-D? The possibility for consumer rejection is high'but the potential for adoption could have huge implications for the future of advertising. Three brave advertisers (Sony, Gillette, and Disney-Pixar) are attempting to target these early adopters'while paying a 30-40% premium for a 3-D spot. ESPN's 3-D channel premiered the first ads which were designed specifically for live 3-D programming on June 11th. Their experiment with 3-D ads is just the beginning. The television networks, the cable providers, the hardware producers, the ad producers, and the consumers must all be on board in order for this technology to take off. Consumers love iPad advertisements. The average user's interaction time with an iPad ad is 30 seconds and click-through rates have run between .9% and 1.5% (6x the traditional web benchmark for click-to-expand ads). Currently, we can only speak for the early adopters who are enamored with the device's functionality: including the interactive ads it serves them. But as publishers begin to experiment with the iPad and discover new methods to engage their user (see: Time's already evolving iPad application), mainstream participation could be in sight. Despite this success, similar to what was discovered during the early days of the Internet, an improved method for measuring participation must be established: click-through rates are no longer relevant. A new tool from comScore, for example, tracks what happens after a customer views an ad (do they do a product search? do they visit a B&M store?) by cross-referencing their metrics with offline data. If we continue to measure ad success based soley on CTRs, what will happen when the iPad becomes mainstream? CTRs will seem to deflate while that might not be a true indicator of a decrease in engagement.
Not uncommonly, Steve Jobs initiated the loudest buzz this week. The much anticipated Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address, which took place this past Monday, presented many of Apple's incremental updates'most notably, the iPhone 4 and its associated OS. iPhone 4 Even though many audience members had already previewed the new generation iPhone (thanks to our sneaky friends at Gizmodo), the device still induced plenty of oohs and ahhs from the crowd. The most significant new software features include: Multi-tasking, Wifi-only video calling (termed 'FaceTime'?), iMovie software, iTunes 9.2 with folder support, iBooks and the resulting ability to read PDFs. The reinvented body is also worth noting, with dimensions measuring 24% thinner than your current iPhone 3GS. Jobs also highlights the device's Retina display which features 4x as many on-screen pixels as the previous generation'that's 78% of the pixels on your entire iPad. The iPhone 4 will be available June 24 th for $199 or $299 (for 16 and 32GB, respectively) with a two year contract. Furthermore, a limited version of the iOS4 will be provided as a free upgrade to 3GS users. iAd Apple's recent foray into the advertising world was also mentioned and promoted at the WWDC. Major brands have already begun signing up for the HTML5-based iAds, including Citi, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, Geico and Best Buy, to name a few. I see a major disconnect here: on the one hand, Apple implements iAds to ensure the creation of interactive and compelling advertisements for its devices, on the other, Apple builds Safari 5. Safari 5 is the first browser to feature a built-in ad blocker'of course, iAds being the exception. What do you think? Is Steve Jobs a friend or foe to the advertising community? AT&T The actions of Apple's service provider are also of interest. AT&T has recently capped data usage which could act as a de-motivator to app developers. (Will limiting data usage affect users' desire for innovative applications?) Also rumored, the company may be expediting upgrade eligibility for most of its current customers. Now almost everyone can have the iPhone 4 for its upgrade rate'oh yeah, and another two years of less-than-reliable service. Apple's Competition Sprint's recently released phone, the EVO 4G, is a solid competitor to the iPhone (see this graphic for feature comparison). The Android phone is part of the 4G network - a differentiator where Sprint is taking the lead against all other carriers. I think it's safe to say that 4G coverage isn't even on Apple's radar, while securing 3G coverage remains a constant struggle.