Techmeme directed me to a recent Newsweek article that argues the Verizon iPhone is too late to stop the rise of Android smart phones. Daniel Lyons states that the open nature of the Google platform coupled with recent advances to the Android mobile operating system make the Google Phone “an unstoppable juggernaut.”
John Gruber offers a smart rebuttal on Daring Fireball that re-frames the open/closed debate in terms of product design.
“We’re going to make these decisions for you and offer a limited number of choices” is indeed the company’s philosophy. That’s called design. Apple is indeed more focused on design than its competitors. It’s also been far more successful than its competitors over the past decade, in several lucrative markets.
Gruber’s analysis is more salient here. It is not too late for the Verizon iPhone.
While it is true that recent Android advances like Froyo have made me soften my initial take on Google phones, Apple’s iPhone still has several crucial advantages over Android devices.
iPhones Are Status Symbols
Even in 2011, there is something fun and sexy about the iPhone. Because of design, marketing and advertising, the iPhone has cultural value embedded in its hardware that Droids just can’t match. When people pull an Apple iPhone out in public they belong to an exclusive group that is desirable in society. There are enough people on the Verizon network that covet the social status connected to the iPhone to make it a winner.
iPhones Have The Best Apps
With the exception of Angry Birds, where are the killer apps on Android phones? Apple invented and perfected the mobile app experience (and recently brought apps to desktop computing, as well). The Android App Marketplace, by comparison, is lacking. People still want fun, useful apps on their smart phones and Apple has the industry’s best App Store stocked with the best mobile Apps.
iPhones are Usable
For a number of vocal proponents in the tech space, Android offers a superior smart phone experience.
But for the majority of people, the iPhone is the perfect entry into the smart phone universe. The device is stable, secure and easy to understand. That translates into benefits for average users on the Verizon network. Your Aunt Sally may not quite grok how “Droid Does” but she will understand the iPhone immediately.
The iPhone is not for everyone. But it does its job well and most people find something attractive in the device. I’ve already pre-ordered mine (OK, not yet, but I’ve decided to order one as soon as I can). It’s definitely not too late for the Verizon iPhone.
I recently saw a presentation given by Scot Jones, CEO of ChaCha, discussing their services. One little factoid he discussed was that “smartphones” only represent 25% of the mobile phones in use, today. Although Android may have a bit more momentum on carriers other than AT&T, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room for growth for everyone. The iPhone on Verizon will clearly slow the Android’s growth on that carrier.
I still have a BlackBerry 9700 on T-Mobile; I’m stuck on that damn keyboard, but I just got one step closer to getting an iPhone.
This release surprises me (and yet it doesn’t) why no BETTER version to release when the AT&T version coming out in the spring is SURE to be an upgrade/features and a FIX TO THE ANTENNA PROBLEM. That said, it doesn’t surprise me from the perspective that APPLE is clearly in the drivers seat here (between apple and carrier, not necessarily between apple and google/android)
Apple could basically just say “sure, here you go we made it work on the CDMA network, but don’t expect any bells and whistles”
That said, an interesting thing to think about is the fact that THIS phone won’t offer really ANY international functionality, as a jailbroken and UNLOCKED AT&T phone can do. (or basically any OTHER CURRENT IPHONE outside the USA – heck even the french get UNLOCKED ONES STANDARD)
My understanding is that there is no SIM for this CDMA phone (some CMDA phones DO have sims) so the international network notwithstanding, people won’t be able to do anything with it outside the verizon network – not even int’l roaming at crazy prices from verizon, it just won’t be possible. For the individual user that may not be a problem but from the community standpoint, JBing and unlocking was a pretty growing element. I’ve always had my iphone unlocked so I could put an int’l sim in it when traveling and continue to be JACKED IN! Hey, it’s not the Seychelles unless I can sit on the beach with a drink in my hand AND read my email. 🙂 (okay, I would be slapped silly were I to do that, I admit it. )
So, that new dynamic will be interesting to follow.
Also, I don’t believe any of this “26% of AT&T customers are ready and willing to switch” People there ARE downsides, there ARE tradeoffs, the AT&T network IS getting better and what people SAY and what people DO are ALWAYS very different. So, wait to look at the AT&T numbers from fiscal Q3-Q4 2011 before we say it is so. Remember, chances are AT&T will be getting the iphone 5 sometime this summer if historical launch cycles are to be relied on and Verizon most likely wouldn’t get similar till nearly a YEAR later. EVERY TIME a new iphone has launched since the beginning, AT&T has managed to GROW SUBSCRIBERS AND ARPU (average revenue per user) I don’t see that as changing this time around.
And finally. I don’t consider the verizon network launch to be THE IMPACT on the war of iOs vs. android that others have made it out to be. The GLOBAL MARKET for the iphone is much bigger than the USA and the GLOBAL MARKET for android phones is ALSO much bigger. We might THINK we’re the leaders, but we’re not. We’re just the followers (okay, and some of the developers and manufacturers) android will take over IF it takes over the WORLD not just one tiny little mobile market like the USA.