Will Nobody Pick Up the iPhone Gauntlet?

Clearly the iPhone is a great piece of engineering. You’d be hard-pressed (and then some) to argue that this objet d’art is not a stupendous product. However, as I and others have pointed out, it suffers from some material shortcomings that make it a stretch for some (though not a gigantic) set of users.

What I can’t figure out is why nobody has seriously picked up the gauntlet yet to seriously compete. What are you guys doing, exactly? Apple is a fucking music distribution company with a few engineers hanging around for good measure, folks. Y’all are handheld device design and distribution companies!!!! Are you going to let them eat your lunch like this? Gimme a break!

Some folks argue that Android (aka ‘gPhone’) will be magical. What I see thus far in terms of the UI and sample apps – never mind the complete lack of hardware support so far – is underwhelming. Android is a stupendous concept, but it makes the flawed (IMO) assumption that, like computers, handheld devices can (and should?) have their hardware and operating systems separated. Apple keeps winning battles because they refuse to let the OS and the hardware be rent asunder. By keeping the iPhone hardware intimately tied to the iPhone software, they can optimize both simultaneously and produce a device with both object-value and huge functional value. I think the jury is out on whether the great handset makers (HTC, Palm, Moto, Nokia, etc.) can out-Apple Apple with a divided setup.

And before you argue that Windows Mobile is all that and a bag of chips, suck down some valium. It isn’t. It’s ugly and cumbersome and not customizable enough. You can dress it up (I use SpB), but there are just too many hardware designs to get any piece of UI (for example) software to click perfectly. You learn to work around the problems, but, c’mon.

I was very very excited about the upcoming HTC Touch Diamond. Sexy hardware. Great form factor. Nearly every bell & whistle. And lots of custom software (it’s a WM phone) developed by HTC for the device to theoretically make it a stellar user experience. Early reviews suggest some problems though with device responsiveness et. al. Perhaps it’ll get sorted out by the time the US release hits later this year.

But beyond the Touch Diamond, which may be fatally flawed, nobody is even close, IMO. Where’s the innovation, guys? You defined and supposedly control this market! You’re playing pure defense now! Eek!


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  3. Will Herman

    It looks like there are going to be three producers of PDA/phones of any note – Apple, HTC and RIM. There will, of course, be many producers of phones that are just phones. The real question on the table, IMHO, is what is the market for phones that come with $80/month “plans.” Is this market already tapped out in terms of number of users? Are new sales primarily based on users switching phones/platforms? If I’m even close to right (how often does that happen?) there is going to a monumental niche fight that’s going to happen here.

    To me, it’s hard to see how WM fairs in this battle – even though I’m a WM user and liker. HTC is driving the crap out of innovation and I think they will be the standard-bearer for WM. My guess is some of the most exciting stuff in the near future is going to come out of RIM. They have already announce 9 new phones coming out in the next 18 months. Their goal appears to be to drive a different phone into every sub-niche of this pda/phone market. While that’s had to see as cost effective, it may in fact be the best way to own a big share of the market.

    BTW, I don’t see the attraction of Android other than the aura of coming from Google. Open platform? If people really cared about an open platform, the iPhone wouldn’t be selling so well. And, as you know, WM is a pretty open platform – with it’s inherent big hardware requirements, though.

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