Is Android Only for Computer Geeks? No, but…

In yet another potential entry in the “Big Book of Dumb Things Steve Ballmer Said”, the CEO of Microsoft took a potshot at Android claiming you need to be a computer scientist to use it. Definitely sounds dumb, yet recent examples indicate there may be a kernel of truth to that.

When asked about the Windows Phone competition recently, Ballmer showed some respect towards iPhone, but when it came to Android he said: “You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone, but I think you do to use an Android phone.” (Via

Of course, you absolutely do not need to be a computer scientist to use an Android phone. A lot of folks I’ve seen with Android phones aren’t particularly tech-savvy. No computer degree needed. Pretty dumb thing to say. Yet over at ZDNet, a trio of posts about the iPhone 4S indicates that Ballmer may have been on to something.

James Kendrick, zen master of mobile tech, kicked things off with a post entitled “After the iPhone 4S, Android just feels wrong“. After years of using Android devices, he’s finally made the jump to iPhone. (If you’ve followed him since his jkOnTheRun days, you know he’s practically married to the Verizon network, which meant no iPhone for him until this year.) He loves the smooth, fluid interaction and now Android “just feels wrong” to him.

That post kicked off a couple of counterpoint responses. Matt Miller was first with “After the iPhone 4S, Windows Phone 7.5 still feels right.” Matt’s been enjoying his iPhone 4S, but still prefers the Windows Phone platform, though he’s hoping for better hardware. He will continue to use both for now.


Closing out the trio is Jason Perlow who claims “If Android “Feels Wrong” then I don’t want to be right“. He concedes that Android has its rough spots and understands James’ point on fluidity. His defense of the Android platform is valid, but it’s peppered with mentions of ROMs, APIs, computer languages, and a whole lot of stuff no one without computer knowledge can understand. Guess which of these guys is the computer scientist.

James and Matt are mobile tech experts by way of real world experience. In their respective professions (“Big Oil Co” geologist and naval architect, I think), they used mobile computers and smartphones on the go and in the field to get their non-computer work done. They love computer technology, but it’s a tool in their professions. It wasn’t the focus of their professions. Jason Perlow’s profession, however, was computer technology.

Again, there are plenty of non-techies who use Android and these three guys aren’t representative of all the smartphone users in the world. But we’ve seen situations like this before where hardcore Android enthusiasts go on about rooting and sideloading and customizing and stuff that makes normal people’s eyes glaze over. Yeah, Ballmer said a dumb thing, but it’s based on a stereotype that Android fanboys, a disproportionately vocal sliver of the Android user base, often reinforce. By all means, keep supporting your platform, but seriously consider the picture you paint when you head into super-geek territory.