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Apple’s iOS has often been heralded as simpler than other smartphone user interfaces. Fewer choices means a lower likelihood of mistakes and messing something up. A straightforward home screen with all your apps might mean less confusion than having widgets, app drawers and other things possibly confusing the user. By contrast, giving users a choice might be too confusing. Not everyone wants to be empowered by choice, at least when it comes to gadget interfaces.

Android is not exactly stranger to choice. Customization, after all, has been among the stronger arguments toward choosing Android (this is perhaps one reason the concept of Facebook Home is being shot down by Android enthusiasts). Does it mean Android is more complicated? Not necessarily.

A recently-released survey  has shown that Samsung’s Galaxy series — which runs on Android, of course — has been found to be simpler by respondents. Siegel+Gale, a brand consultancy firm that prides itself on its “simple is smart” motto, has surveyed 400 people and found the Galaxy brand to be simpler than the iPhone, at least on a product level.

A few points that respondents found praise-worthy:

  • Compatibility with other brands and standards vs. proprietary standards, including accessories and devices
  • Easy file sharing and file transfers

“At the brand level, Apple is perceived as simpler than Samsung, but on a product level, challenger Galaxy has knocked the long-standing simplicity champion onto the canvas and out of first place,” said the Siegel+Gale statement. Given this, the Samsung Galaxy series is seen as a significant threat to the iPhone because it can do more — and do it simply — than the iPhone.

It is worth noting that Apple has trumped Samsung in terms of simplicity at the brand level, as per the 2012 Global Brand Simplicity Index by Siegel+Gale. Apple holds the fifth spot, while Samsung is number 14. Google, meanwhile, is at the top, amongst the 94 companies included across 25 industries.

Observers note, though, that we might want to take this piece of information with a grain of salt. Samsung is listed as one of the consulting firm’s clients, while Apple is not, notes CNet‘s Chris Matyszczyk. Also, 400 survey respondents might not exactly be a good sample out of millions of smartphone users.

Does simplicity really influence a consumer’s buying decision? To some extent, I would agree. When upgrading to a new device, or adding yet another one to my usual arsenal of gadgets, I prefer something that would not be too difficult to integrate into my life. This includes migrating data, customization, charging choices and accessories. Being exposed to both iOS and Android, though, I can say that both platforms are simple enough in their own right, at least for my needs. Besides, “simplicity” is not always a selling point for all target markets.

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise platforms, and is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team that offers digital content and marketing services.