The iPhone killer is on the way

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Written by dermdaly on February 16th, 2010

The new windows 7 phone is upon us. Finally there’s an “iPhone killer”!!!

Ehhhhh. No.

There will be an iPhone killer. But it’s not going be today tomorrow. The iPhone is just far too advanced of any competition.

Why? Apple have one thing in spades that no other computer or handset manufacturer has: Taste.

This seems to be lost on most non-iPhone owners. The arguments for the competition are usually about specifications. That’s just silly. Most people don’t know megabytes from kilohertz so don’t give a monkeys about specifications.
I’ve often listened to arguments about x device having a faster processor, or doing background processing. But these people never ever do what almost every new iPhone owner does : tell me how much they love their phones.
Try it: borrow a buddies iPhone and play with it. 2 things will happen : you’ll say “yeah…it is lovely” and your buddy will start to twitch; we don’t like letting our iPhones out of our reach for too long.
You don’t get that reaction from a new Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung or Android for that matter. In fact the most common utterance I hear from nokia owners are

“look I just want to make calls and send texts”

not

“I love this phone”

Every time I try out a new other vendors phone I usually finding myself not liking it. sometimes the annoyances are subtle like just slighlty too slow to respond or jerky scrolling. That just tells me that someone in the company, high up, with the final say said

“it’s good enough.”

That’s understandable; getting the last 5% so that something goes from “good enough” to “perfect” may well take ages or cost the earth.
But thankfully, Apple don’t do “good enough”. They take the “it’s gotta be perfect” approach as a matter of course. And for that…we have the iPhone

So when’s that iPhone killer coming?
Consider this: for a few years, every new mp3 player was being dubbed an “iPod killer”. It hasn’t happened yet and nobody even writes about iPod killers anymore.

So far the only iPhone killers have been, well…newer iPhones.

It won’t last forever; it never does. Walkmans were toppled; iPhones will be, but it will take new technology that I can’t imagine right now. iPhone could easily dominate for a decade……

Comments (14)

Finbarr says:

Totally agree Dermot. Good points

Conor W says:

I was worried when I read the title… But agree with everything you say here. Bang on

Mike Butler says:

I wouldn’t get too complacent about the iPhone. It’s my favourite phone by a long (long long) shot, but it appears Android 2.1 customer satisfaction is only a smidgen behind iPhone – a recently released survey had 72% of Android owners very satisfied v’s 77% for iPhone. ( It’s possible, though, that the relative sizes of both markets might have had some impact on the results ) Nexus One and Droid owners seem to delight in showing off their phones the way iPhone users do…

Interestingly Blackberry satisfaction was at half that level and windows mobile lags well behind at less than a third of the iPhone approval rating…

Even the term “iPhone killer” is redundant. It would be a boring world if all phones were aimed at the same specific group of consumers. There’s plenty of room for a range of platforms. People who find iPhone too restrictive love the freedom of Android. iPhone users laugh at the rough edges of Android. It will be always thus…

The stronger Android and the others get the better for us iPhone people – a bit of competition is a healthy thing…

mm dermdaly says:

Hi Mike,
Some very interesting points. I’m not ignoring Android at all. I really believe it will be the next thing…behind the iPhone. If I were Nokia, or Sony Ericsson, Android would be what I was worried about.
But consider the genuine responses from people. When the original iPhone was released I knew I wanted one, and all I owned from Apple at that point was an iPod nano.
Now consider the response when the Nexus One was released. The resounding opinion appeared to be one of “it could’ve been, but it wasn’t”.
And the surprising thing is that whilst people write about “iPhone Killers”, they are ignoring one big thing: There’s more to come from Apple. The iPad is the next big thing. It truly is. But I for one am really looking forward to see what’s unveiled in June.

I’m thankful that there’s choice in the marketplace and that my ecosystem is my personal space. I like controlling what goes on my personal devices without needing an iTunes umbilical cord. I also like legacy things like real keys, dependable 3G voice handling, removeable batteries and a phone I can drop at the bus stop before taking the next call. The overall cost of ownership still confines iPhones into the convergent phone sector–outside the pocket money range of most of my students. But I have an iPhone to play and learn. And in a telling criticism of my social circle, my mates don’t want to hold it (or any of my other devices).

mm dermdaly says:

Thanks for the comments Bernie; Much appreciated. I love to hear what non-iPhone users find important. Some years back, I was quite interested in the open source movement and would have agreed wholeheartedly with some of those points, but personally I find myself not wanting to tinker as much any more. Just today, I read this tweet from someone I know: “Time for a rootfs cleanup exercise #Maemo”. That’s what the ability to control gives you.
I had tons of Nokias and Sony Ericssons over the years. I never had the need to remove their batteries. If I remember correctly, the early Nokias suffered from random power drops due to loose connections due to replacing the battery.
The point I’m making is vive la difference. I don’t want to hack my phone. I don’t feel tethered to iTunes, and I don’t tend to consider dropping the phone as part of the selection criteria when purchasing.
The financial point is well made. It is a premium device; it will only appeal to certain people.
As for not showing your iPhone to your friends? Aww cmon. Perhaps you need to widen the circle 😉 ?

[…] The iPhone killer is on the way errr probably not […]

Charles says:

Yes, Apple have taste and make very cool products.

They did in the 80’s too, when the Mac was far ahead of PC’s and MS Windows.

But who won that competition? Not Apple.

Apple’s problem is this: they make super-cool stuff that leads the market, and then they shoot themselves in the foot with their ridiculously restrictive business practices. After a while the competition catches up with products that are not quite as cool, but are good enough, and run on a much wider range of hardware, usually for much cheaper. And then people decide that they don’t want to pay twice as much just to be a bit more cool.

That is why 90% of PC’s today are not Macs, despite the fact that Windows was never as cool as a Mac.

The same thing is happening with the iPhone right now. The competition has caught up, and people will soon realise that they don’t have to put up with Apple’s dictatorial control of their phones. Android phones might not be quite as cool, but they’re a lot more open, and soon they’ll be a lot cheaper too.

And what is Apple’s response to this? The same thing they tried against Windows in the 80’s – get the lawyers out. Do you remember the (in)famous “Look and Feel” lawsuit against Microsoft? It’s happening all over again with Android, and they’ll lose this time too.

Being tasteful and cool only works up to a point. It’s true that the iPod has never been de-throned, but the smartphone market is a lot different to dumb mp3 players. It depends on developer support for a start.

If Apple continue down the path they’re on at the moment, one they’ve trodden before in the 80’s, the iPhone killer will be here a lot sooner then you think.

mm dermdaly says:

Hi Charles,
Many thanks for you contribution. Its always crazy to make predictions in the IT space. But I do think your arguments have a few flaws.
There’s no doubt that there are far more Windows PCs than Macs, but that’s taking too narrow a view. Whilst Microsoft may outstrip Apple 9:1 in PC market share, they are nearly on a level par with company valuation for example. So it depends on what you are measuring as success when you talk about who won.
Frankly, I don’t buy he openness argument. Android is already fragmented, and running on a wide variety of differing hardware will result in different form factors, capabilities and screens. This leads to much higher development costs; The developers may not be alienated, but they’ll be frustrated (and broke).
I’m not sure I get the point about needing developer support – There’s 150,000 apps in the store, so I can safely say that developers support apple. I’ve used the SDK and documentation, and I can safely say that apple support developers.
I stick by my arguments. Its gonna take a long time to dethrone the iPhone.

Ian Moran says:

Hmm, don’t think the competition is too far behind. I played with a mates HTC Desire and was well impressed – and he had been buying an iPhone for months before making his final choice. As you say though things could get very interesting come June and iPhone 4 or whatever it’s called.

We don’t want the phone market stifled like the MP3 player market. I think the iPod has killed all competition there – and we’re left with a player that is rather dull

trojankitten says:

Taste transcends the polish of the hardware and user interface, and into the entire product strategy of Apple:

1) Minimal product map, 1-4 models per product category, not dozens.

2) Consistency and predictability: old iPhones supported and updated as much as possible (other companies stop supporting their handsets in mere months after release).

3) Ecosystem. Everyone likes to talk about it, but it’s nowhere to be seen in competition. No music store, no video store, Android Market is a mess, no solid strategy for data sync between all device types (ex. desktop, laptop, tablet, phone).

[…] I wrote about the “iPhone Killer” last year. Nothing has changed, and all the arguments remain the same. […]

Anthony says:

It looks like Android rules the roost now. Worldwide Android sales 50.9%, iOS sales 23.8%.

See the Gartner smartphone market report, Q4 2011

As a developer of Android apps and as someone who owns several Windows PCs, but no Macs, I dislike Apple’s policy of requiring you to buy a Mac before you can develop iPhone apps. I also dislike their restrictive and controlling policies about every aspect of their technologies. That’s why I’m happy that Android has now gained dominance of this market. Apple comes up with great ideas and maintains dominance for a while, but utimately its their restrictive policies which drive people away.

mm dermdaly says:

Hey Anthony,
Thanks for providing some comment. “Ruling the Roost” is an interesting perspective. I run a company developing mobile apps, for clients based on client wishes. Our iOS requests outstrip Android by about 5 to 1. There’ll always be a statistic that sees iPhone on top, or Android on top. Here’s an interesting one for example.
.

So where does this leave us ? Well, my experience is telling me the opposite of Gartner’s. My experience trumps them for me, because it is how we get paid. Also, remember that pretty much nobody is purchasing apps on Android. See how Angry Birds had to refer to Ad Support?

However to address your points about disliking Apple’s policies; I get you. It is pretty difficult for people on limited budgets to get into iPhone App development. But….Apple don’t care. They’ve more apps, more revenues, more developers and so forth.
Take care,
Dermot.

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