I read with some interest and amazement, an article by Joe Wilcox at Betanews last night predicting that the iPhone will lose the smartphone war. Wilcox compares the iPhone to the Mac versus PC battles of the late 1990s, saying the iPhone is destined for a similar fate — meaning that its market share will drop. Personally I don’t see that happening.
A lot of things have changed over the last 15 years that make the iPhone nothing like the battles of the past. Apple is not the same company and neither are its competitors.
Apple released the iPod and people claimed that Microsoft, Dell and others would walk all over Apple when they released competing products. That worked out well for them, didn’t it?
Apple was the first successful downloadable music store in the world. Everyone from MTV to Napster has tried to take market share away from iTunes, but it continued to grow to the point where it passed Wal-Mart as the largest music retailer.
And then you have the iPhone. Apple literally changed the market. It changed the way consumers and companies look at smartphones, how they should work, how you can interact with them and the things you can do with them.
The iPhone is a PDA, phone, music player, video player, Internet device and it is more sophisticated in each one of those tasks than anything the competition has to offer today.
That is the key word, “today.” The competition hasn’t been able to properly copy what Apple has right now, so how do they expect to be able to surpass what they have planned for the future.
The next version of the iPhone is already well underway and it will have cooler features than the existing models.
Apple created a platform, not just a piece of hardware that uses the same old software. That’s a huge distinction.
If you want a parallel, try this. Apple had the most successful music player on the market with the iPod mini. Any other company executive would have given their right arm to have that device. What did Apple do? It dumped it.
Apple stopped making its top-selling iPod and introduced the iPod nano in its place. Just when the competitors thought they had Apple in their sights, Apple completely changed the game.
That’s the type of battle Apple is fighting in the smartphone market. Apple is not trying to outsell Nokia, Microsoft or anyone else. Not yet anyway.
Apple will outclass them all.
Apple has the ability to deliver that wow factor that nobody else can. Will the world’s press show up if Michael Dell introduces a smartphone? Probably not. Who really cares?
After all of that, we still haven’t touched on the applications.
Wilcox says the number of applications available for the iPhone can’t be considered its measure of success. However, that’s the same measure of success that Windows users have been using as its measure of success for years.
The App Store has its good and bad points. John Gruber summed up my thoughts in a post on Daring Fireball last night. To sum up — quality over quantity.
There are a lot of worthy competitors in the mobile space right now and it’s going to make things interesting for the next few years. When it comes right down to it, I expect Apple will innovate in that market the same way as it has done in other markets it enters.
That may not be good news for its competitors, but it sure will be good news for consumers.