Competitors Response To The iPhone? Can We Talk About Something Else Please!

from the oooh,-look-over-there! dept

Back on June 29th, when the iPhone launched, we had some of the experts in the Techdirt Insight Community give their thoughts on how competitors should respond. There were, as per usual with the experts in the community, some really insightful and interesting responses. From that, we’ve been able to sign new business helping companies formulate and execute on their latest strategies. However, it seems that not everyone is taking a proactive approach to responding to the iPhone (or, at least they’re not willing to admit it publicly). Gizmodo points us to an unintentionally amusing article where Laptop Magazine tried to get four competitors to give their thoughts on the iPhone. Rather than admitting that the iPhone has really shifted how many people view mobile phones and what they can do, all of the companies basically toe the corporate line, look the other way on iPhone questions and make sure to mention their own phones as many times as possible. Given the market response, however, it seems pretty clear that Apple is delivering what the market wanted, while these other guys have not. Insisting that you do have what it takes when the market is shifting elsewhere isn’t going to be a winning strategy. Of course, we’re here to help. If companies want to formulate a real strategic response to the iPhone, they might want to give us a call.

Filed Under:
Companies: apple, helio, motorola, nokia, samsung

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Comments on “Competitors Response To The iPhone? Can We Talk About Something Else Please!”

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Anonymous Coward says:

There’s also pretty clearly an element of the market deciding it wanted whatever Apple delivered ; how else do you explain the marked price drop after only a few months of being available ?. It’s because Apple had already milked the first wave of trendies and from there needed to mantain sales volumes.
Like it or not mobile devices are primarily fashion accessories not functional devices matched to the demands of a “market”.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Rather than admitting that the iPhone has really shifted how many people view mobile phones”

Really, I still think most people use mobile phones to make phone calls. Other than a pretty GUI and different style touch screen input there isn’t anything really that new about the iPhone. The other smartphones all offer similar functionality minus the marketing hype and the “REAL” Internet. Which really when I want to look up something on my cell phone the “REAL” internt isn’t necessary. Besides the “REAL” Internet implies all major plugins are available.

devils in the details says:

Yeah sure the trendies love it, and all the basic functions are easy enough to figure out for a chimp to use it (a necessity for mac users who adopt it).

But all the indepth reviews I’ve read point out a number of features are lacking that would discourage most if not all power-users from adopting. No 3G, no GPS ($600 at launch? I would have expected both!), extremely limited 3rd party software availability, no texting?!? the list goes on and on, I pray that some of these items are addressed in future updates, but thats just for my faith in humanity that such a half-assed device could make billions.

The competetors ARE bringing alternatives to market, HTC and HP to name a few. And all signs are pointing to the fact that their devices will not only equal the iPhone in scenester friendly features, but they will also offer the configurability and 3rd party software support that will interest power-users. And make the device that is actually worth $300-$600!

Chief Elf (profile) says:

No iPhone - Not wanted

Not everyone wants an iPhone. For instance, I wouldn’t use one if they were free. I prefer my trusty Treo 650, where I can load applications I write myself. So, there are multiple cell phone markets, and Apple made a big splash because they tapped a particular market that had not been well served before.

Other cell phone companies can continue to improve existing models and serve the market segments they’ve been serving all along. If they want, they could try to create new models to compete with Apple in the market they’ve brought to light, but it would be a mistake to switch completely to an iPhone-like product line and abandon the markets that don’t appreciate the iPhone design.

Kevin says:

iPhone...slightly innovative

I have a Verizon XV6700 smartphone. Many of my co-workers have iPhones. There are only a handful of things about the iPhone that I like better than my smartphone:

1. 8GB of flash memory, as opposed to the 64MB built in or the maximum of 2GB that I can add via MiniSD cards.

2. Slightly larger, but definitely higher resolution screen.

3. A more full-featured, non-WAP web browser that actually displays most web pages the way that they were intended to be seen, especially those that use columns, instead of just crunching everything into a 1-inch wide column that’s 7 feet long that you have to scroll through.

None of that seems particularly innovative to me.

Things that I like about my phone that the iPhone doesn’t do:

1. Let’s me use a stylus instead of my fat fingers.
2. Integrated pocket version of Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Outlook.
3. Syncs with my corporate Exchange server, not just email but contacts, calendar, tasks, etc.
4. Syncs with my non-corporate email accounts (mostly multiple GMail accounts, but handles synchronization with no problems).
5. Text messaging.
6. Can be tethered to my laptop so that I can use it for wireless broadband access over EVDO for my laptop (VPN connection to work from the road, etc).

And of course, the obligatory thing that they both need:

1. Built in GPS.

Now it doesn’t seem like rockets science to me. Phones exist today with all of these features. What would it take for some enterprising company to produce a single phone that does all of those things? If they could, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

It’s funny when you think about it though, the “coolest” phone around before the iPhone was the Motorola RAZR. It was just like every other flip phone in the world, except a bit longer, wider and thinner. So they made the whole thing bigger so that they could call it the thinnest phone ever, and they sold them by the bucketloads. Funny how that was the most appealing feature that they could come up with before that.

Jim says:


until you try the iPhone for a few days not just a friends or in the store you probably shouldn’t try and talk about it. I have a Treo 650 and a V600 my wife….has the iPhone and if I am really nice she lets me play with it. The iPhone is amazing, it is leaps ahead of anything I have ever played with. Do I use all the functions in my current phones….nope, most of them I don’t, but with the iPhone being so easy, dare say, inviting, I would use them, I am now 47 and I just got my first pair of reading glasses, and both the treo and v600 are hard to read the iPhone screen is a pleasure to use. Even if you use a cell phone only as phone the iphone is so NICE to use, so EASY to use, I would still get one. Bottom line, if you don’t have one or haven’t tried one for a few hours you have no idea and should problaby crawl back in to your cave and be quiet.


James says:

Re: iPhone

Jim Jim Jim, You have dated yourself and shown that you are indeed one of the mac chimps fore mentioned. You are right, iPhone is pretty and easy to use, but those of us who are not satisfied with the current state of technology are always striving to come up with the next bit of function to add to our world. The iPhone is old news tech. In it’s current carnation, the iPhone is comparable to an expensive video game system. It looks great and does most of what it says, but for the business person who needs to have a device that can sync, read multiple formats, is upgradeable and most important be reliable while traveling and reasonably priced, the iPhone is as useless as that gaming system one bought. Although it may have a great processor and incredible graphics, good luck trying to email your partner that spread sheet before Monday morning.
The iPhone is a toy. A cool toy but a toy no less. No need to put someone down because they see this. Some of us younger bucks are on a whole different playing field. As a whole, I feel the iPhone is another expenisive toy for people to buy their over-privileged brats. I do commend you for using the iPhone. Mac has always been a great way to introduce people to technology. Unfortunately their marketing department has yet to see that the techie world is not so into it like they say. It would be nice if they had a device that had an ease of use and an easy price so those who would benefit most, (newbies, older folks, kids) could enjoy technology the same as I do.

Michael Long says:


I’m really tired of hearing the whining about 3G and GPS. First, if SJ is right about the power requirements then I’m with him in that I’d rather have an extra hour or two of music or video or talk time. Ditto if it means the phone has to be larger to hold a bigger battery.

And apparently I’m one of the few people who usually knows where they’re located, and where they happen to be going to boot. On the exceeding rare occasion that I don’t and REALLY need directions, I think I can spare the 30 seconds needed to type in an address.

So again, a feature I don’t need, or more battery life… hmm… let me think…

interval (profile) says:

More iPhoniness

The iPhone reminds me of the Segway, but with much more hype. A phone that can browse the internet, has a camera built in, can play mp3s, and has Bluetooth connectivity, that’s pretty good. Problem is I had that two years before the iPhone was released. What does the iPhone bring to the table, really? A groovy-keen interface? Is that really what the American consumer needs? For me I’ll take a solar panel with 40% efficiency. Now that’s innovation!

The Truth Beacon says:

Details can not be ignored...

In response to your quote (below) about the companies only mentioning their product:

“Rather than admitting that the iPhone has really shifted how many people view mobile phones and what they can do, all of the companies basically toe the corporate line, look the other way on iPhone questions and make sure to mention their own phones as many times as possible.”

After reading the article it seems as if the questions were posed as comparing the iPhone to the offerings from the questioned sources.

Further, from the undertones and wording of the article it seemed like a “The iPhone is better than you, so let’s rub it in and see what your reaction is” article than a “What does the competition think of the iPhone” question…

What you and all other news sources (and especially Apple and it’s fan-boys) fail to realize is that the iPhone is simply not even remotely usable to those of us who actually use it for business. Having actually used an iPhone, you can rest assured that I am not just saying this out of my dislike for Apple.

Mike (profile) says:

So much anger

Wow! I’m surprised at how emotional the anti-iPhone feeling is, along with the accusations that I’m some sort of Apple fanboy. It should be pretty clear from what I’ve written here over the years that I’m no Apple fanboy and, in fact, don’t own any Apple products, other than an iPod Nano that I received as a gift recently.

I do not own an iPhone and I don’t think it’s right for someone like me and what I do.

That said, the point of the story wasn’t to praise the iPhone as is, but to note that the interface advancements presented by the iPhone absolutely do represent a huge challenge for competitors. The demand for the iPhone, even at such a high price, has clearly shown that there is strong demand for such a phone, and that there is a certain feeling towards older phones that they just don’t have the sexyness they need to compete.

No where did I say that the iPhone was the perfect phone for everyone. In fact, it’s not even the perfect (or even an acceptable) phone for me. However, it is true that the iPhone is changing how people think about mobile phones. It’s changing the way they consider how a mobile device should function. Yes, there’s plenty of hype surrounding the iPhone, but to dismiss it all as hype is a strategy destined for failure.

Lawrence says:

Wasn’t it reported that the iPhone outsold all its competitors, i.e. smartphones?

To me, $399 sounds really cheap, given what I’m aware it can do.

Moreover, people are ignoring an important point: the phone runs OSX. BSD Unix. It could become a fully featured computer, if Apple wanted. This give Apple a huge space to adapt and improve as the market changes. They will be able to implement their device as they like over time. This phone is version 1; just wait till version 2, then 3, then 4…

BB Guy #2 says:


I was at a trade show recently where a competitor’s product managers were directly asked how they respond to the iPhone. Initially answers were tongue-in-cheek, but eventually one PM came forward and asked: what it is about the iPhone that you really like?

First response, of course, was the touch interface. But then, silence.

What is it about the iPhone that is revolutionary? An MP3 player? Camera? Video playback? Web browsing? Email?

In reality, the one thing the iPhone has done is to make the consumer base accept that $400+ for a phone is okay.

Besides that, it doesn’t seem to offer anything unique, besides cool looks and a new touch interface. In fact, it is a v1.0 wireless device with all the problems that come with a 1.0 wireless device. They forgot to let users turn off the radio, it has a fixed battery, it is a closed platform. Apple appears to not have learned much from the experience of dozens of companies before it.

…though their CEO does wear jeans during presentations.

Michael Long says:

Re: Initial

@BB Guy #2: Too many PMs are like the one you mention, simply checking the “features” off the list. “Yeah, we’ve got that. That too. We play those.” And so on. And then they scratch their heads and wonder why their creaky plastic product, with many, many more “features”, doesn’t generate the same buzz.

it’s not the list of features, but how those features are implemented. Not to mention the convergence and integration with everything else I use daily on my Mac. Or the fact it’s probably the best video iPod Apple’s made to date.

Or to put it another way, elegance lies in knowing what to leave out.

BB Guy #2 says:

Re: Re: Initial

@Michael Long: The point I made was not about the check list, it was about what Apple has not done.

I do not agree that the apps are “seemlessly integrated”, I find that many of the apps appear to have been designed in separate silos. I don’t agree that they’ve converged the features that they’ve added well (see my v1.0 comments).

And the fact that the i_Phone_ is a good i_Pod_ is irrelevant. Why add bad phone technology to the iPod rather than come up with a better iPod (which they apparently are hard at work doing).

I do agree that many PMs take a cookie-cutter approach to product design (that is, product copying); but in Apple’s case they sure could have used a bit more of that.

And the devices being showed at the show I was at most certainly aren’t “creaky plastic with [too many] features”.

BTW: how do you find the iPhone when it comes to composing emails?

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Separate Devices

You guys can call me backwards on this one,
But when I have a cell phone, I only really care to have it be a phone. It is much cheaper than getting some high tech mp3 player mixed in. And that is all I really care to have it for.
Sometimes I like just turning the phone off for a day.
It is good to disconnect every once in awhile (or at least I feel so).
When I want a mp3 player, I will get out the mp3 player, without having to have my phone on.
I prefer smaller specialized devices and programs to one ginormous aggregate thing.
I could go on with examples but I assume that you guys understand how I think about this already.
Just how I am.

James says:

Did someone confuse the MP3 player market...

…for the wireless phone market? The iPhone gave some people a different choice it didn’t change the market. I’d hardly call 1M in sales a huge success either.

Its pretty, it has features but the end result is its another phone choice (albeit limited when chained to AT&T’s 2yr contract) in a broader market.

The iPod did well in that it brought a decent product to a fragmented market. The wireless phone market is more complicated than that, has entrenched stalwarts who already have good products, and fans that are unlikely to easier just convert from their favorite.

Personally I’ll take my dash w/a full keyboard anyday.

Fraust (user link) says:


I was just at a conference at a hotel and I did not see a single iPhone in use ANYWHERE at the Hotel. Most of the people I encountered had blackberries or treos. I myself use a Blackjack. Why? We’re business users The iPhone is a consumer device. As a consumer device, the iPhone doesn’t really serve consumers with price ($600 and $500 before price drops??) or features (no text or MM messaging and no third party apps?). Yes, having “the real web ” is great, but other devices already offer that at lower cost with more features. Anyone who’s willing to spend $500-$600 for a smart phone that has the above shortcomings plus the battery isn’t removable, has more money than sense. Good luck getting your IT department to support it. I’ve heard that you cannot get push mail from Exchange server on this thing….

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