A report by Cisco has determined that 99% of all mobile malware has reared its ugly head on Android devices.
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Phil Schiller, gleefully tweeted the results that showed that while 71% of web-delivered malware was encountered on Android devices, only 14% of it was ever met by iOS users.
These results underscore an interesting dichotomy in the technology world, the one between freedom and control. As any Windows or Linux user jumping into a Mac environment can attest, there is an undeniable degree of control and limitation placed on Mac users, often in the name of design and ease of use. By doing away with expandable memory slots or replaceable batteries, the iPhone does away with the potential bulk, the disruptive design lines, and a certain degree of user error that comes with putting more control in the hands of its customers. The trade-off is a distinct lack of freedom: a 32 GB iPhone can only ever be a 32 GB iPhone, and once the battery dies, iPhone users are left with very few options beyond returning the device to Apple and paying for an upgrade.
This degree of control extends to Apple’s approach to software. Unlike Android devices, iPhones do not provide a simple drag-and-drop interface for moving files between the computer and the device. Instead, iPhone users must wrestle with iTunes, a nightmarishly designed software intermediary that demands frequent updates, and heavily polices the content that is moved to and from the device. Once files miraculously make it to the iPhone, there is no file management to speak of; files can only be moved or modified in ways that specific programs will allow. For example, try deleting a song from an iPhone without first connecting it to a computer, opening iTunes and syncing to the machine. It simply can’t be done.
On the flip side, Android is a Wild West environment of outlaws, bandits, and painted ladies in dusty saloons. The file system is helpfully exposed, so transporting data to and from the device is as straightforward as any self-respecting computer user could expect it to be. Although it’s not the exclusive domain of the Android OS, piracy runs rampant there. Indeed, the most common pieces of malware profiled in Cisco’s report, Qdplugin, makes its way onto phones masquerading as other apps, which users download from non-Google Play store sources. The drawback is that without benefit of Glorious Leader deciding how and when and where you can operate your device, Android users are more susceptible to malware shenanigans.
As a mobile user, it’s up to you: do you prefer to live in Android’s ‘Murica, with its unbridled freedoms and potential harm, or in Apple’s North Korea, with its tightly controlled software that you must fawn over in Daily Praise Sessions? If neither of these are particularly appealing to you, a third option exists: Canada’s BlackBerry. We’re sorry.