Fueled by Mobility: Android or iOS for the Energy Industry?

Digital Dispatcher

The energy industry is many things, chief among them, a source of technological innovation and mobile communications.Indeed, far from the cinematic depiction of roughnecks and oil-smeared men in assorted hard hats, as well as truck drivers and workers with frayed shirt collars hauling propane across vast stretches of the Interstate, these same individuals are champions of real-time intelligence and advocates on behalf of the benefits of smartphones and tablets.

And, in the ever-contentious battle (by critics and consumers alike) between Apple and Android, the energy industry has a clear preference for the latter.

This choice is important because the applications that fuel (pun intended) these devices – the very reason technicians, wildcatters, geologists and business patriarchs are such avid users of this hardware – are a matter of simplicity and savings.

To the Apple faithful, I already sense their cautionary comment, which is an article of faith among these loyalists: “Wait a second. Nothing is easier to use than an iPhone or iPad.”

That assertion is subjective, of course, and I would never argue that Apple’s products are difficult to use; but the principal difference between Apple and Android, which may soon be no difference at all, is one of aesthetics – a rich premium Apple continues to extract from customers through an astute combination of superb industrial design, favorable reviews from the press, and the simultaneous rollout of aggressive advertising campaigns and an in-store, must-have-it attitude by shoppers, who behold the latest gadget in one of Apple’s perpetually crowded shrines to the late Steve Jobs.

Still, the energy industry does not need to pay a “beauty tax,” when all the profession requires is something practical, reliable and already (based on the statistics) in the collective hands and pockets of workers nationwide.

And, as smartphones and tablets become more slender and powerful, the differences between an iPhone and an Android equivalent (from Samsung or Google) will be as thin as the devices themselves.

The difference, then, will be – it already is – a choice between iOS versus Android’s open operating system. The distinction is one of control (by Apple), where the approval process for applications is occasionally contradictory and almost always inexplicable.

Which is to say, the cloistered sages of One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, do not make this exercise easy. They do not, despite their (mostly deserved) reputation for creating user-friendly devices, make the submission and acceptance of mobile applications anything but an expensive (because of requested, hard-to-discern changes) and confusing endeavor.

Openness and Options: The Android Difference

Again, I do not have a beef against Apple; I applaud their success.

I know that business owners want a reliable, affordable to replace (should a smartphone or tablet break) group of devices that workers can master in seconds.

The subsequent information that these owners receive – the location, routes, delivery assignments, and the wireless transmission of order tickets and receipts – is a triumph made possible by Android’s open operating system.

The numbers underscore this fact, thanks to Google’s latest reporting, which approximates over 1 billion monthly Android users, up from 538 million in June 2013.

In so many words: We live in an Android universe, in which one of the larger planets is Apple.

Translated into its most direct terms, the energy industry must embrace practicality over theperceived perfectionism of one manufacturer of smartphones and tablets.

The savings that accrue from this decision can be reinvested in new equipment, improved operations, superior communications, greater productivity and enhanced workplace morale.

Those rewards are available to the energy industry – right now.