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Summary:

As the launch of the iPhone draws near the stories on it haven’t let up. The Wall Street Journal has a piece on mobile phones that are (or w…

As the launch of the iPhone draws near the stories on it haven’t let up. The Wall Street Journal has a piece on mobile phones that are (or will be) seen as competitors to the iPhone and makes the common mistake of calling them “answers” to the iPhone, as if the manufacturers whipped up a high-end phone in a matter of months. All of these phones were in development before the iPhone was demo’d, even the touch-screen phones, and would have hit the market anyway — although they may not have garnered as much attention. The examples given in the story are the HTC Touch, the LG Prada, the Nokia N95 and the Samsung UpStage. Verizon’s got the right idea in not going up against the iPhone with a single handset — they won’t match the brand.

Not the gadget: One of the better comments I’ve heard on the iPhone came from Yankee Group analyst John Jackson: “The device is only part of the solution to compete with the iPhone…Any handset maker is more than capable of making clever devices. But it’s really about business models. That’s where Apple maintains its business advantage.” That includes content sales as well as deals with carriers to promote the phone and sell it through their stores. The “answer” to the iPhone is not really going to come from manufacturers, it’s going to come from carriers and the way they market their products and services.

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  1. I seriously disagree with this Jackson guy. Of course ALL carriers have to improve their business models, services and marketing but that is no news. Moreover the statement "Any handset maker is more than capable of making clever devices" is not quite accurate. If not, why didn't do it before? No matter what device you have now, it looks and works like crap compared to the iPhone (or at least what we've seen/heard about it).

    Apple's clear competitive is smooth integration of hardware, OS, browser, client apps, etc. Phone manufacturers today have to create devices that will run OpenWave and do Windows or do Symbian, then create a CDMA-BREW version.. oh…add a CDMA doing Java there please! etc.(a mess, in short)

    None of those technologies are under their control. In the case of Apple, they know the pieces A to Z because they created them and that makes it is easier, leaner and more powerful to create new products and apps.

    For AT&T it may have been an expensive deal (nothing from Apple comes cheap) but it will surely pay off in the medium term.

    Content sales are a good tool to build customer retention and loyalty but no one changes carriers because they have better ringtones. A good device is a better incentive to do so and if not, ask Sprint how much business they lost for NOT having a Razr for more than 18 months.

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