Yesterday the latest version of Apple’s iPhone (dubbed iPhone 4) was released at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. This is a huge leap for iPhones, so the implications for Apple alone are major, however I think the iPhone 4 is going to have the greatest impact on the smartphone market as a whole. This phone is a game changer for everyone: consumers and competitors.
Last month I posted about the rivalry between Google and Apple – in that post I said:
Google is running with the open source guys, pushing all the features that users say they want and doing it on a wide range of Android devices. If Apple says that they won’t do it (Flash), Google quickly does it. Google is in a people pleasing mode — a dangerous mode to be in. Instead of doing the normal routine of copying all the good and improving upon the bad, they are copying as little as possible and barely improving upon the bad.
What I am basically saying is that Google is copying Apple (and poorly so) instead of innovating their product. This is why the iPhone 4 is so damned game changing for Google.
Since 2007 the major iPhone complaints have been the following (as best I can remember them):
- No Flash
- No Copy & Paste
- No 3G
- No Multi-tasking
- No Porno / anything goes apps
- No Video
- Poor camera
- Lacking MMS
- Headphone jack sucks (remember that recessed jack in the first iPhone?)
Out of all those complaints Apple has addressed each one with flying colors – with exception of the ‘anything goes app store’ and Flash (which we all know why by now). Google has none of these complaints and really have had none of them from the outset of Android, yet Apple is clearly in the lead – why?
Google is building software to run on lots of platforms, HTC is building most all of the hardware, Carriers are tweaking the looks of the interface to fit their ‘brands’. Apple is building everything – allowing no one else to tweak their device.
So why now is it that I think Google has finally been backed into a corner – there is not much left to complain about the iPhone. You either accept the fasted, smallest, crispest phone you can buy (and buy for cheap for that matter) or you buy an Android phone. In other words, there is no compelling reason to buy and Android phone over an Apple phone any longer. If you really want porn or other apps that Apple will not allow into the App Store you can get it all on the web. If you think you need Flash – think again, over 50% of Flash based media sites are making the move to web standards viewable on the iPhone and iPad.
It will take HTC months if not a year to build a phone that can compete hardware to hardware with the iPhone, and even then would be upgraders will run into another major problem: their contracts. One reason Apple has stuck with AT&T is because AT&T up to this point has been willing to offer upgrades to existing customers, thus allowing current iPhone users to buy the newest iPhone each year with minimal penalty (sometime no penalty).
I don’t see Verizon or T-Mobile / Sprint being willing to do the same for Android users – meaning if you want the latest and greatest Android device you have to wait 2 years for your contract to expire, or pay up.
Oh I almost forgot – this whole FaceTime video chat thing. Yeah Android users can already do it over 3G with Fring, but can they initiate when on a regular call, can they flip from camera to camera like on the iPhone? No. Can any user figure out how to do it? No again. People can’t even yell at Apple for creating another closed standard, as they are opening up FaceTime to all as a protocol for Smartphone video calling. Now it makes all handset makers look bad if they don’t use it, after all Apple was first-ish.
Then as always it comes right back down to marketing. As Gina Tripani of Smarterware says:
That’s the thing about Apple marketing. They don’t talk about how many gigabytes of memory or how many CPU cycles or how many apps (much). They aim for your heart, and show you how technology can make your life better during its most important moments.
She is spot on, just watch the iPhone 4 video or this shorter commercial video from Apple and tell me that you don’t see what this video is really telling you. A soldier seeing his unborn child, a deaf couple talking on the phone. This is heartwarming stuff, this isn’t telling you want the phone can do, Apple is telling you what the iPhone 4 can do for YOU.
Compare and contrast that to this Sprint HTC EVO 4G commercial which is the current king of the mountain for Android phones.
I know you can see the difference, Sprint/HTC/Google touted the phone be a revolution and told you nothing about what the phone can do for you, it didn’t even really tell you what 4G was or that it is faster. This just said first a lot. Really neat.
The difference is night and day, if you have been waiting for the iPhone to come to your network or to come to maturity – time to stop waiting. The iPhone 4 is here and you are throwing away your money buying anything else.
[Updated: 6/9/10 at 8:56 AM] Reader Roger Barnes pointed out an inaccuracy – Sprint does allow their premier customers to upgrade phones every 12 months. Though not everyone can be a Premier customer – it is easy enough to qualify.