Last Wednesday I ran a piece about the Samsung Galaxy Tab which our man in Washington, Ralf Meier, had bought in a rash moment. Now, after four days, Ralf's patience has run out and the Tab is on its way back to the AT&T store tomorrow morning. As you know, Ralf is a big iPad fan but thought he would invest in a Galaxy particularly because it appeared to be a more handleable reading device than the 9.7in Apple pad.
Long term Apple fans, though, tend to take the Apple eco-system for granted and it's a big shock to find yourself back in the big bad world outside. Controlling Apple may be, but in the main that control works in the consumer's best interests. All those hundreds of millions of iOS devices work right out of the box and the last thing you need worry about is syncing problems or difficulties updating the OS. If ever there was an OS for Dummies, iOS is that system.
So to Ralf and his Galaxy. I'll let him take up the story:
"Off to samsungmobile.com where I found a list of all imaginable countries, except the US. So no luck there. Trying the US Samsung web site is also no good, since that Galaxy Tablet support site only offers the unit's manual for downloads. Being the smart cookie that I am, I thought I try the Samsung UK web site instead. Unfortunately that site will only send you into an 'internal error' loop.
"All in all, the Samsung web sites are among the worst I have ever seen. But how to get Kies? Getting a bit desperate I tried a web search on Kies and found a Galaxy Tab support site which offered a download site for the program. Interestingly enough it was a Samsung site, but not at all connected with the Galaxy. Now hopeful, I installed the program on my spare HP laptop and connected the Galaxy as per the manual only to be disappointed once again: 'Kies does not support your device' it said.
"After more time looking through various help forums, which suggested deleting and then reinstalling the program, I tried this. Unfortunately the result was the same. Thoroughly frustrated, I was by now harboring very dark thoughts about what to do with my Galaxy Tablet. In the end I decided it was just not worth the hassle anymore and deleted the Kies program from my HP. That's it I thought. Only if it were so! Now my HP laptop is sporting all sorts of error messages and refuses to work correctly. I don't know who to thank for this wonderful surprise: Microsoft, Samsung or Android. In any event I am at this point reloading the OS for my HP. Oh, and come Monday the Samsung Galaxy Tablet will be back at the AT&T store. I just cannot see any reason whatsoever to keep this tablet."
This allows me to segue into the whole question of the Android OS and its implementation on a wide range of disparate products. The open nature of Android is always touted as a supreme benefit to the consumer and it is contrasted favourably with Apple's closed and rigid system. As a result of this openness, individual hardware manufacturers and even cellular network providers, are encouraged to put their own stamp on the OS in an attempt to make their particular product stand out from the crowd.
All this is loved by the geeks of this world. They love fiddling and are not daunted by having to adjust and experiment in order to get exactly the user experience what they want. That's why they often hate Apple. Apple are always telling them what to do. Apple never let them fiddle. The fact is, though, that the vast majority of Apple users are content to let the mother-fruit take all the strain. They just want something that works out of the box and don't care a fig about open systems and certainly don't want the hassle that goes with them.
Only last month I was considering buying a Galaxy Tab because it is being discounted quite heavily and appeared to be quite a good device for reading my Kindle books. But after Ralf's experience I'll keep my money in my wallet and stick with my iPhone and my Kindle reader.