October 20, 2011

The past few weeks have been an incredible time for smartphones. Apple launched its iPhone 4S, sticking with its successful iPhone 4 design and repeating a play that the company used before when it launched the 3GS as a follow-up to the 3G. The move bespoke a confidence in its approach, focusing efforts on where the company thinks it matters while resisting temptations such as a larger display or LTE.

And if the introduction of the iPhone 4S was classically Apple, what happened the following week was classically Android. Within 24 hours, two Android licensees announced bleeding-edged phones. The Motorola Droid RAZR packed LTE into a .71 mm splashproof, Kevlar-coated, stainless steel-supported profile. And the other side of the globe, Google and Samsung teamed up to reveal the first Ice Cream Sandwich phone, boating a 4.65” AMOLED display, NFC to enable Android Beam, and face recognition-based unlocking. Both handsets are headed toward Verizon, the high-end Android cup of which seems like it will overflow this holiday season.

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March 30, 2009

imageIt’s no secret that Symbian is the most prevalent smartphone operating system around the word but barely has a toehold in the U.S. as i has been hampered by Nokia’s poor showing in the States. But both Nokia and Symbian could well pick up some domestic share with the Nokia E71x, which Chris Ziegler at Engadget Mobile (with whom I shared a doomed episode of TechVi) reports is slated to hit AT&T. . Its svelte profile, solid keyboard and efficient if not glamorous UIs made it the E71 one of the best smartphones released last year. and by far the most broadly appealing S60 QWERTY device to ever hit U.S. shores.

Being launched by one of the two biggest U.S. carriers a a price under $100 could create significant market pull. It’s a Centro-priced smartphone that is in nearly every way superior to the Centro,. And while I personally think the E71x looks fetching in black, I think AT&T would have been wise to do some alternative colors as Sprint did with the Centro. Like the Centro, I suspect that most consumers won’t seek out third-party applications although there’s much more there for he taking for the E71x.

The same Engadget Mobile post also notes that AT&T will also roll out the Samsung Propel Pro, which stuffs Windows Mobile into the feature phone offered by the operator. This will mark the entrant of a rare Windows Mobile vertical slider, and should provide a rare opportunity to ferret out how much of a market advantage, if any, Windows Mobile offers a device that shares a sub-brand and form factor with a feature phone.

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February 17, 2009

imageAt Mobile World Congress, Nokia and Microsoft joined  Apple, RIM, Google and Palm in announcing that they’ll be supporting application stores or marketplaces for their operating systems or handsets. This should result in easier discoverabiliy of functionality for consumers and could further reward developers who have been lured by development funds. While the verdict is still out on whether the horse will pay to drink, Apple has brought the water to it..

However, there’s also an opportunity to build upon what Apple has done with its iPhone-based App Store, which started as a clean experience and still provides good exposure for popular and highlighted software. But many applications have gotten lost in the crowd.

To be fair, Apple has done a better job of providing exposure for these other programs in the iTunes software, but there’s also more that Apple could be doing with personalization. This isn’t like the iTunes music store which was hampered in its “Just For You” recommendation by relying only on paid downloads. Also, several of these new stores provided by RIM, Nokia and Microsoft could hit the ground running with an existing library of hundreds or thousands of applications and the fewer restrictions placed upon applications for many of these other operating systems should open the doors to a wider array of application types.

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July 14, 2008

imageSo, what do you know? The subsidization model works and consumers could care less if the phone costs them more in the long-run (the long run in this case being a two-year contract) or if the power management challenges .of a 3G network compromised sealed battery life.

Apple sold one million (must… resist… Dr. Evil… impression) Macintosh 2.0′s, I mean, Phone 3Gs opening weekend, noting that it took them more than two months to move that many of the original iPhones. The media attention around the iPhone 3G, while tremendous, may have been at less of a fever pitch than it was for the original iPhone, because it was more of a known quantity and the new features were more of the “fill in the gaps” quantity, but Apple is clearly accurate in saying that price was the biggest inhibitor among those who wanted but didn’t purchase the original iPhone..

By the way, after swinging by the Apple Store on 59h and Fifth, aka “the cube”, late Friday afternoon in the amazing weather, I popped into the Nokia New York flagship store just a few blocks a way on 57th, just east of Fifth Avenue. There was a lot of excitement on the building’s facade as the store was decked out in promotion for The Dark Knight,, but on the first floor of the narrow three-story edifice there were only four consumers.

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