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AT&T exclusivity, Steve Jobs' personal war against Flash, and app rejections played a big role in Apple dropping behind Android in the smart phone market.  (Source: AP)
I have a bit of advice for Apple on how to avoid slipping further...

Oh iPhone, you are:
Open yet closed, weak yet strong
If but you were free.

-A haiku on the iPhone's bump to third place

No one wants to be second place in most races, but in the smartphone war, that's precisely what Android has aimed for over the last couple quarters.

RIM rests atop smartphone sales charts thanks to the fact that the smartphone population initially consisted almost exclusively of business users -- a group that still makes up a large portion of the total smartphone market.  

Apple's iPhone changed the market by delivering the first smartphone truly accessible for the masses.  True, others (Windows Mobile phones, Palm designs) could argue ownership of such a title.  But Apple's App Store, advertising blitz, and slick hardware won over the masses like never before.  And they earned it a solid spot at number two -- a very desirable place to be.

Then came Android.  Google's OS didn't start off beautifully.  From the start many questioned the patchwork alliance, the at times unclear objectives of the project, and lacking first generation hardware such as the first Android handset, the G1 phone.

But slowly, Google began to catch up and pick up steam.  It picked up multi-touch.  Its hardware partners, particularly HTC, flooded hot new designs onto every major U.S. carrier.  These designs like the HTC Incredible and Motorola Droid (Milestone) matched the iPhone in hardware or came awful close.

Apple still had one key advantage -- the App Store.  Google's app count will soon hit 50k, but that pales in comparison to the 150,000 apps that the App Store has.  But Apple made some critical missteps.  First, it banned Flash from the iPhone.  Then it even banned Flash ports to native code, further alienating both developers and customers.  Second, it practiced inconsistent policing the App Store.  Sometimes it rejected apps only to later approve them, other times it approved them only to reject them.  Google, too did a bit of this, but Apple did it far more often.

In the end it's easy to see why Apple lost the coveted second place position to the army of Android handsets.  How could its one handset on one (U.S.) carrier hope to keep up with a plethora of high end handsets backed by a multitude of carriers and a more open app marketplace?

If Apple feels bad, we can only wonder where that leaves Palm (recently acquired) and Microsoft's Windows Mobile division who have been bumped further down the ladder as well.  At least Apple still is solidly holding on to its third place position.

I've developed apps for the iPhone, and while I admit I am now eyeing the Android phones, I still have a soft spot for the old iPhone.  I bear it no ill will.

Thus it is out of best wishes that I give Apple the following advice:
1.  Adopt multiple carriers in the U.S.  Lucrative exclusive contracts are not worth cornering yourself into obscurity.
2.  Release multiple phones.  You already did this with the iPod -- imagine how hot an iPhone Nano would be!
3.  Most important -- drop the rhetoric on Flash and shore up the app approval process.  If you want to be the world's premiere mobile applications provider, there's little room for such poor behavior as you have shown.

If Apple can follow such advice, perhaps it can once again become competitive in the race.  Otherwise, with other hungry competitors (Palm, Microsoft) and hot new Android handsets (Samsung Galaxy, HTC EVO) it seems destined to sink down the sales charts, much like Palm before it. 



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why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By samiup on 5/10/2010 2:46:55 PM , Rating: 5
when the iPhone came first, it was incontestably THE best choice for non business customers and it was clearly superior to any Blackberry or palm out there.

but when the Droid came out, it was clearly a superior product than the iPhone, it IS faster, HAS a WWWAAAY larger display and almost TWICE the resolution, HAS Google maps in REAL time not some whacko maps app, and IS on a much BETTER network with a much consistent/faster 3G network and can connect to ANY computer via USB.

so at this point of time, besides being stupid, biased or brain damaged, i dont see why anyone would go for an iPhone.




RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By Enoch2001 on 5/10/10, Rating: -1
RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By daveinternets on 5/10/2010 6:01:15 PM , Rating: 4
Interesting points. I guess your legitimacy can be boiled down to:

iPhone pretty. Android ugly.


By Bateluer on 5/11/2010 8:01:17 AM , Rating: 3
Dang, beat me to it. :p

Technically, he is right about a few things though. Namely, that you can plug an iPod/iPhone into various models of car audio devices and play your music. However, since most Android phones come with standard Micro or Mini USB connectors, I don't believe it would be difficult to implement these features for Android either. And given their meteoric growth, its almost a given that car audio makers will begin to implement this.

On the comments about Android being a clutterfvck of an OS, that's way off base. The elegance of the iPhone OS comes from its simplicity, its limited functionality, and restricted user capability. To say that Android is a cluttered mess because of its vast array of capabilities, ever expanding, I must add, and the user freedom it offers is absurd.


RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By Chudilo on 5/14/2010 10:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
The stock headunit in my 2010 Mazda 3 pairs with my Moto Droid (music and phone profiles) over Bluetooth (with full steering wheel controls and everything). This allows me to stream Pandora and Slacker over the air, thanks to a reliable Verizon's 3G network without any hiccups. thuis is during my long commute which is about an hour.


RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By icanhascpu on 5/10/2010 10:34:34 PM , Rating: 1
First off, the Driod is a great phone. I am happy it exists as it will drive other to improve on it, and that is good for us as consumers. (competition).

However you sound like a fanboy. Is it really needed? The Driod is better hardware-wise, but you acting like an apple fanboy (but just for different hardware) doesn't help.

The Driod display is .2 inches bigger. Very nice! But thats not "WWWAAAY larger". I am hoping 4" will become the standard soon. Seems like the optimal size for a handheld device. Maybe 5" if they make the whole screen seamless on the front (drool).

Also the Driod has 2.5x the resolution. Or are you not talking about the Incredible?

It is in ALL of our best interests Apple catches upto the incredible at least in terms of technical ability (iPhoneHD) even if you do not want to get the phone. It drives costs down and gives added incentive for google and moto to produce a better phone faster.


By cheetah2k on 5/11/2010 1:27:46 AM , Rating: 2
Jobs said that if you want P0rn, then buy an Android phone.

I tend to agree. I think my Nexus One is phone P0rn. It's so sexy and it delivers ;-)


RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By Ted Landry on 5/11/10, Rating: 0
RE: why would anyone buy an iPhone?
By Bateluer on 5/11/2010 8:10:59 AM , Rating: 4
Uh, what? The upcoming iPhone will likely have hardware on par with recently released Android phones, such as the Evo and the Incredible. Perhaps slightly better. But only for a short period until the next crop of smartphones hits.

Best UI is a strictly relative opinion to the user. I couldn't stand the overly simple UI of the iPhone, neither was I particularly crazy about Android's stock UI. Fortunately, there are hundreds of available themes available for Android phones, allowing me complete freedom to have the device look and feel anyway I wish.

With multi-tasking, I believe WebOS would likely get the best implementation for multi-tasking by popular vote. The multi-tasking on the iPhone is extremely limited, only a paltry handful of Apple approved applications. That's not multi-tasking, period. By Apple's logic, the user is too stupid to manage their own applications on their device.

And where do you hear that Android sales have been slow? Sales of the Moto Droid exceeded those of the iPhone 3GS during the first 74 days, and has continued to sell very well. Sales of the Droid Incredible has also been impressive, with the device being sold out of most Verizon stores and periodically going in and out of backorder on the web site. Fact of the matter is, Android handsets move off shelves. Just because one single device doesn't dwarf the iPhone sales does not mean that Android handset sales are stagnant. Tally up all the sales of Android devices, and they'll easily dwarf the iPhone sales in the same manner that PC sales dwarf sales of Mac computers.


By corduroygt on 5/15/2010 6:11:35 PM , Rating: 1
If you read the study that says 74 day sales of Droid are higher than the iPhone 3GS, you'll realize that it's a load of bollocks.

1. It's an estimate, not actual sales numbers from reputable tracking company like NPD.
2. They use original iPhone sales to estimate the 3GS sales, which is BS. The original iPhone was $499/$599 with no subsidies, vs the 3GS at $199/$299.

So I'd appreciate if you wouldn't use some two-bit website's estimate to declare the motorola droid outsold the iphone 3gs, because in all likeliness, it didn't. Hell, all Android's combined with BOGO deals can barely pass the iphone by itself, the moto droid surely isn't enough by itself.

I've used the Motorola Droid, and it's nowhere as easy to use as the iphone, and the hardware keyboard is too stiff and dreadful. The HTC incredible looks much better though, I'll admit.


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