Will the release of Ice Cream Sandwich phones impede iPhone sales?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: August 9, 2011

In case you haven't heard, Apple's next iPhone should be arriving sometime in the next month. It has been rumored what seems like a million different times over the past few months, most contradicting several previous rumors.

Our iOS-focused network site, Today's iPhone, has attempted to clear things up a bit (to no avail) by rounding up all of the iPhone 5 rumors. Sorting through all the muck, the general consensus at this point is that the iPhone 5 will be missing LTE connectivity, tote a larger display than its predecessor in a like-sized, rounded casing, an A5 chip and an 8-megapixel shooter.

Google, although they are not a manufacturer of hardware, have their own things in the works for this Fall. Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the supposed merging point of Android for phones and tablets is said to be releasing in the coming months. As per usual, Google is teaming up with hardware makers to create the next iteration of their Nexus line. It is still unclear which manufacturer will do the honors of making the actual Nexus 3 (or Nexus Prime as it is being called), but it is believed there will be Ice Cream Sandwich flagship devices released on every carrier around the same time.

Boy Genius Report “received some information from a source with knowledge of Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich plans,” stating Google is aiming for an October release to combat the iPhone 5 with a device (or two) or their own. As Jonathan Geller mentions, original DROID owners will soon be coming out of their two-year agreement and Google wants to make sure they have a worthy (stock) Android-based upgrade option available when the iPhone hits.

It definitely makes sense and I'm glad that – if the rumors are true – Google has decided to act swiftly and get their next software upgrade to the masses STAT, at least in the form of a Nexus device. But I'm left wondering if it will even matter.

In the past, Google has had trouble with its Nexus line, both in releasing them on multiple carriers simultaneously and in marketing them as “special” or “exclusive” Android phones. Of course most of us know that Nexus devices ship with a stock flavor of Android and will be the first to receive software updates. But most uneducated, average consumers would have no clue as to why they should purchase a Nexus phone over any other Android phone or an iPhone.

And that's really it. Apple has created a rather large foothold in the mobile space and one of the most desired products … ever. They need not explain to users why they want their proucts or compose a long, over the top specifications list for people to flock to their popular device. People will buy the iPhone regardless of the specifications or features because they know it will work exactly as intended and be a great device, across the board. Not only that, it is almost guaranteed that the hardware will again be unmatched. Apple is known for building quality hardware and the iPhone has never been an exception; I figure they won't disappoint with the iPhone 5 either.

On the software side of things, the two companies are on different ends of the spectrum, oddly enough. In terms of software, we know exactly what to expect on the pending iPhone. Apple revealed their upcoming firmware update in great detail and has released a beta version to developers. With the Nexus 3, however, we have no idea who will be the partner manufacturer and not a clue what the software will entail (bugs, a totally new UI, etc.). I don't expect ICS to be a total failure. But we know the original time frame for the ICS release was "before Christmas." If they're pushing for an October release, they will likely have to cut corners along the way. All we know is it will be a fusion of Gingerbread and Honeycomb – this leaves everything else up in the air.

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for Ice Cream Sandwich phones in all their beautiful, buttonless glory. But on the large scale, their timely release will likely have little to no effect on iPhone sales. Some Android lovers will stick to their favorite platform, but Apple has a reputation for selling devices like hotcakes, regardless of what competition (or lack thereof) they face. I've learned to expect no less from the Cupertino-based company, despite how things should be.

Tell me, readers. Which would you buy if they both released around the same time? iPhone 5 or Nexus 3 (Prime)?