Thursday, April 10, 2008

Will Apple’s iPhone Maintain Momentum?

Technology Story on the iPhoneApple has done an excellent job selling the iPhone as a commodity the stylish need. Even before Apple announced the impending Exchange tie-in for corporate America the iPhone was the darling of many IT types; not to mention the entire designer and engineering communities. But now Google and its many partners are on the verge of delivering the Android powered phones to the market, and that means real competition. Add to that mobile powerhouses like Nokia showcasing their own touch-screen, auto-rotating, music & video playing phones; and we might see a perfect storm on the mobile computing front.

That is what this really boils down too anyway, mobile computing. The iPhone is a phone, so what? I can get a cell phone for free that sounds just as good as the iPhone and I won’t cry if I drop it on the sidewalk. The iPhone is a feature rich computer in I can hold my hand; now I am excited. (But still scared to drop it…)

Google’s Open Handset Alliance is a big step towards a robust, standards based mobile computing platform. It isn’t the GPhone we all thought it was going to be, but it makes a lot more sense too. Why would Google invest in building a phone when they can build the actual operating systems for many phones? Instead they are powering development for the operating system, middleware and some applications; all of which are branded under the Android name.

Of course, not everyone is on the Android bandwagon; Apple, Nokia and Microsoft all downplayed the importance of Google’s effort. Nokia’s Sybian powered smartphones are already in the hands of consumers worldwide, with huge numbers in Europe. With the upcoming release of Nokia’s new iPhone competitor, Tube, hitting soon, we suddenly have some real choices.

Nokia TubeThe Tube offers haptic feedback, giving the feel of a real button being pushed on the LCD screen. (We humans like the real button feel on virtual buttons.) It has built in GPS with geocoding of photos and videos, something the iPhone is lacking currently. Also superior to the iPhone is the camera and flash, in fact, the iPhone is without a flash on the camera. Where I really think the Nokia will gain some stream is the Symbian OS and its support of Java. Do Sun exec’s use the iPhone, I am sure some do, will they want a Tube, probably, especially if it natively supports the Java platform day one without the restrictions that Apple placed on the iPhone.

Once we are all carrying these tiny mobile computers with phones built into them we will start to see a shift from the traditional thoughts about cell phones to a more Cell Phone 2.0 world. Always connected to the Internet, always communicating with your favorite social community sites, always aware of where you are, always able to see where your friends are, always with your music and your video in the palm of your hands.

As a side note you may be wondering why this has anything to do with you in the corporate IT world. Well, as we move further down this rabbit hole of Internet connected devices it will proliferate more and more into your domain. As your customers become accustomed to this new paradigm they will not only expect it, they will demand the same interoperability from you and your staff.
Apple is a pioneer on the innovation front, the iPhone and the laptop line of MacBook’s proves that, but if Nokia can copy what the iPhone got right, and fix what it has wrong, how many people will be just as happy snapping a Tube up? And how long until Microsoft has its own touch-screen, Internet connected phone with music and video?

Not too long I am sure.


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