Saturday, February 17, 2007

Not so sure about the iPhone anymore

Apple's TV ads feature Mac and PC impersonations While the PC and Mac guys depicted in Apple's television commercials are caricatures of America's desktop dichotomy, the stereotype that Windows is for work and Mac [is for fun stuff] seems poised to strengthen when we look at Windows Mobile 6 and the upcoming slimmed down OS X for iPhone. This is at least in part because they inherit the best from their parents with Windows Mobile 6 expressing a stronger synergy with Microsoft Exchange and Office and Apple with iTunes, Mail, Calendar, Address Book, etc.

Apple iPhone While Apple's iPod has been long-capable of running more powerful applications than music playback, they have focused on what what's essential to an MP3 player, even deferring video playback until being able to offer an unprecedented experience (i.e. being able to download network TV shows via iTunes). They've done a great job resisting convergence for the sake of convergence. Microsoft had to learn the hard way since bringing the Windows 95 experience to the your hand in the form of Windows CE 1.0. Since then, they've gotten rid of the keyboard, redesigned the interface, gotten rid of the touch screen [(in the successful 'Standard' edition)], then brought the keyboard back, taking years to gain a market dominant position over Palm. Getting the right balance has not been easy. This is certainly proof that convergence is not wrong, but takes serious innovation. Palm Pilot's "we don't need color" approach and Steve Jobs' assertion that "video is a passive experience" are clearly no longer relevant considering Apple's Widescreen iPod of an iPhone and that the last monochrome Palm handheld was a discount stocking stuffer several holiday seasons ago.

HTC Advantage Windows Mobile 6 stands to be both a winner and a loser in the mobile phone market with its three evolved brands, Standard, Classic and Professional (formerly Smartphone, Pocket PC, and Phone Editions). It may lose some of its niche consumer market to iPhone but also reclaim territory previous lost to RIM's Blackberry. RIM started for push-based email where email is sent directly to a Blackberry without the user having to actively check their email. This was achieved through integration with Microsoft's own Exchange email servers. Microsoft's come a long way, finally beating Palm in terms of shipped devices. Growing on the success of the slimmed down Smartphone Edition that ran on cheaper hardware (sans touchscreen), Microsoft is building into version 5 robust Office document editing features previously only available on more expensive Pocket PC and Phone Editions. Cooler computing-intensive (power-hungry) features like opening up a Unix terminal or controlling a Windows desktop with the Terminal Services Client in VGA resolution are still restricted to what is now called Windows Mobile Professional.

Samsung BlackJack At the cost of a larger touch-screen interface and expensive graphics accelerators found on Windows Mobile Pro, Windows Mobile Standard Edition seems to have matured very nicely from an initially dumbed-down version of Windows Mobile developed for mobile phones to really fleshing out to meet the needs of business users and improving security and manageability. Both the new iPhone and Windows Mobile will have a richer browsing and [Exchange-less push-based] email experience than their competitors. Both purport to suport the dynamic content manipulation via AJAX in web-pages. However, it is exactly the ways in which iPhone is so much like Windows Mobile Standard Edition that I'm becoming more wary of it.

iPod photo Palm Zire 21 These two devices buck the overambitious, all-in-one convergence that had Windows Mobile Professional over-promising and under-delivering. They intend to reinvent the phone by stripping out what was non-essential and perfecting what remained. While Apple's device has seemingly limitless potential and you could argue that it is comparable to a PDA, Apple's closed-system nature restricts third-party developers from making software for the iPhone. This essentially reinforces the concept that the device is less of a converged computing platform than a ... "revolutionary phone, breakthrough internet device, and widescreen iPod".

U2 iPod 5.5g HP iPAQ h2215 The iPhone is by far the more ambitious of the two devices because it also promises the best music and video experience. While it's easy enough to throw away (recycle/reuse) both my cell phone and my clearly obsoleted Pocket PC, asking someone to give up their 30GB video-enabled iPod may not be so simple. Of course, we haven't seen the whole story from Apple and maybe there will be a terminal app hiding somewhere on the iPhone enough to convince me to leave behind most of my media content. There it could have been a deliberate decision by Apple to delay third party software development in the beginning to have more control over a very critical stage of the iPhone product line.

References: Windows Mobile Standard Video Demo, Download Squad

Last updated: 2/18/2006 9:07 PM EST

1 comment:

JKChou said...

You're better off with a Blackberry as a young professional. It's no use having an iPhone that distracts you from work or talking