Bit of a rhetorical question there, leading into a little bit of a rant as well I’m afraid … I’m a huge iPhone fan.  No big surprise there – it would be more than a little silly to try to run a site like this if I didn’t like the iPhone a whole bunch, and […]
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The iPhone Is Just Another Smartphone, Nothing Special???

Bit of a rhetorical question there, leading into a little bit of a rant as well I’m afraid …

I’m a huge iPhone fan.  No big surprise there – it would be more than a little silly to try to run a site like this if I didn’t like the iPhone a whole bunch, and find it pretty interesting.

I’m also a long-time Windows Mobile user, a Windows PCappsscreen user, and not at all an ‘Apple Fanboy’ type.  So I don’t have any great reaction if someone says they hate the iPhone.  I think it’s fine to love, hate it, or anywhere in  between.

But … one thing that does get me wound up is hearing people who insist on denying the iPhone’s impact on the mobile arena, claiming it has not been a game-changing device.  Those who will happily say the iPhone really isn’t very innovative, really doesn’t have that great a design, isn’t really kicking the shite out of other device manufacturers in its first half a year of being in the game, and so on – basically saying it’s just another smartphone, nothing very special, probably a flash in the pan.

And most of the folks I’ve seen making this argument recently are people who are big-time mobile enthusiasts, experts even. Wow.

My first reaction to all those people is WHAT??? It just amazes me that anyone who follows the mobile industry with even a passing degree of interest could possibly deny the iPhone’s impact.

This week the Mobile World Congress event has been taking place in Barcelona.  This is a pretty major mobile industry trade show, and one that Apple is not even attending. 

Even with no Apple presence at the event, it provides yet another reminder of how much influence the iPhone has had in its short life time – because, not surprisingly, a whole lot of the headlines on what’s going on at the MWC show just how heavily the iPhone is weighing on the minds of all the big players in the mobile industry.

Here are just a few quick examples:

Touch-based interfaces infect show with ‘iPhoneitis – InfoWorld – Sony Ericsson, LG, and Samsung have all caught "iPhoneitis," joining in on one of the hottest trends at the Mobile World Congress — touch-based user interfaces.

@ MWC: Vodafone’s Sarin: Too Many Platforms, Must Raise Game To iPhone – mocoNews.net – "Apple has raised the bar through the iPhone and we all now know how important user interfaces are. We as an industry have to raise our game to provide the kind of interfaces that our customers are becoming accustomed to."

Trying to Capture That iPhone FlairNew York Times – So it was no surprise that many of the phones were iPhone clones …

Others talk about the new Sony Ericsson Xperia phone being an ‘iPhone Killer’.  Only a couple of weeks ago we also heard that Garmin’s first entry into the smartphone world would be an iPhone killer.  Before that it was the Voyager from Verizon, and so on …

Quite a few of the comments I’ve seen that pass the iPhone off as nothing special, seem to claim that it’s really just all about marketing hype and there’s been no real innovation. 

Hmmm, if it was all about marketing hype, I don’t believe the sales numbers and user satisfaction levels (off the charts) would be anywhere near where they are.  And if there’s been no real innovation on the iPhone, then I guess I’d just ask howcome everyone and their dog wants to imitate it?

Here’s some of the other questions I would ask all those who want to try to pass the iPhone off as just another smartphone, nothing real special:

  • How many mobile software publishers have scrambled to add finger-scrolling and other touch elements to their interfaces since the iPhone launched?
  • How many smartphone makers have added some variation on Apple’s multitouch to their devices in the last year?
  • Which other device is there that even comes close to being held up as a constant measuring stick for all new devices the way the iPhone is? 
  • How many other smartphones have lead to carriers seeing record-breaking numbers of new customers switching to them, and driven unheard of usage levels for data on carrier networks?

The fact is, in less than a year of being on the market, the iPhone has become THE measuring stick for smartphones.  You just about cannot talk about a mobile operating system, new mobile application, or a new smartphone, without drawing some sort of comparison to the iPhone.

I would even say that the iPhone could start a rapid nosedive in sales right now, and turn out to be a failure in the long run (though I doubt very much it will) and it *still* will have had a massive impact on the mobile space. 

So … you can love the iPhone, or hate it, or anywhere in between … but I don’t see how you can deny its influence – on all its rival smartphone makers, mobile software publishers, and even in just raising awareness about smartphones and mobile computing in general.

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