Daniel Eran Dilger
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Will Windows Mobile Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?

Daniel Eran Dilger
Today’s broad array of smartphone operating system contenders are offering lots of potential answers to a problem that only requires one. It appears the market has two options ahead: either pool generic hardware makers behind a single operating system and deliver a smartphone marketplace that resembles the Windows PC market, or watch them fall to a dominant leader and have a smartphone market that resembles Apple’s iPod ecosystem.

This decision isn’t going to be made by a class of intellectual elite, or by government mandate. it’s going to be made by the market itself. Here are the factors that will influence the outcome, either marginalizing Apple’s iPhone into a niche as the company has twice experienced previously at the hands of DOS in 1981 and Windows in 1991, or positioning it as the dominant leader as Apple has achieved for itself with the iPod since 2001.

The second segment in this series looks at Microsoft’s Windows Mobile’s attempts to “DOS-attack” Apple’s iPhone. Subsequent segments look at Google’s Android and Nokia’s newly opened Symbian and other mobile contenders challenging the iPhone.

Will the iPhone Meet its Match from a Modern Day DOS?
Will Windows Mobile Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?
Will Google’s Android Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?
Will Symbian Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?This All Happened Before… But Things Have Changed.

It’s easy to try to predict the future with the help of hindsight. However, while we know history keeps repeating, events always do so in slightly different ways that keep us surprised, as anyone who has tried to salvage fashion and wear it again a generation later has found. In this case, we have two historical events serving as potential foreshadowing events. Which will win out: a DOS model or the iPod model?

Windows Enthusiasts had been confidently praying for Microsoft’s Windows Media platform to save them from the iPod ever since Apple released its music player. When the PlaysForSure world came crashing down, they rushed to support Microsoft’s own solo attempt to compete against the iPod with Zune.

Things really got ugly when the iPhone arrived. Meditative prayers for deliverance from the iPod turned into incessant voodoo chanting against the iPhone, accompanied by spirited dancing around the truth and needling attacks.

Philip Solis of ABI Research shifted his attention from conducting interviews that suggested a mass Zune migration to issuing reports denying that the iPhone was a smartphone at all by his own definition.

Rob Enderle jumped from hopeful optimism for the Zune (“Microsoft is trying to encompass Apple and turn them into a bit player. The strategy is brilliant, but the question is can they execute?”) to angry condemnation of the iPhone, calling it “damned” and “not a good phone” months before he had ever even touched one. Enderle is now serving as a consultant to Dell’s plans to resurrect its failed “DJ Ditty,” and offering up opinions on how to compete with the iPod, despite having no experience in guiding companies into competition apart from a long career of cheerleading Microsoft’s monopoly position, which was devoid of any functional competitors.

Mike Elgan initially wrote that the Zune “scares Apple to the core,” and was confident that Microsoft would “leverage the collective power of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Soapbox (Microsoft’s new ”YouTube killer“) and the Xbox 360” to kill Apple’s iPod business. After the Zune failed and the iPhone took off, Elgan complained that Apple was “arrogant” and “the new Microsoft” and needed to be stopped. Since then, Microsoft has canceled XP, Vista has floundered, Soapbox went nowhere, an the Xbox 360 has done nothing to advance Zune sales.

Paul Thurrott similarly called iTunes a dangerous monopoly despite the wide open market for iPod alternatives, and warned “Apple should be stopped before the abuses get too great and harm too many consumers.” However, Thurrott himself has chosen to bravely negotiate those dangers and use iTunes, iPods, the iPhone, and pays for MobileMe. He celebrates his use of Apple products in front of Mac users, and then bad mouths them in his Windows-oriented blogs. Lately he has been increasingly unable to find anything good to say about the Zune or Windows Mobile either, however.

More Absurd iPhone Myths: Third Party Software Panic
Mac OS X vs Linux: Third Party Software and Security
Arrogance Unleashed: The Foul Stench of Computerworld’s Mike Elgan
Forrester Research: Epic Terror of iTunes and Apple TV

Windows Mobile is Not the DOS You’re Looking For.

Even the most devoted, hardcore fans of the Zune and Windows Mobile are having a hard time praising their current incarnations. The next version of each, both of which promise to address their huge gap in functionality compared to the iPhone and iPod touch, is scheduled for late 2009 or 2010. That is an eternity away, particularly considering that the iPhone went from rumor to 2.0 over the same period of time. A year and a half from now, the iPhone will be splitting atoms and curing cancer (so to speak).

While Apple has received some appropriate criticism for releasing iPhone 2.0 with considerably less stability and polish than the original iPhone 1.x software, updates improving the situation have been released regularly, with two just in the last month. Windows Mobile users are lucky if they get a minor bug fix once a year, and many users have to wait months after an update is released before their hardware manufacture or mobile provider approves the update for download.

The original iPhone also had some teething problems that were quickly addressed in a series of regular updates over its first six months on the market. In comparison, Windows Mobile has been out for over half a decade. It has not only rarely received updates, but has never performed admirably. It is known for poor battery life, rampant instability, and a poor development architecture that is well behind the iPhone’s Cocoa Touch frameworks.

Over the last two years, Apple delivered eleven updates to the iPhone OS compared to two from Microsoft, despite the fact that Apple only sold the iPhone over three fourths of that period. Over the next two years, Apple will likely ship another dozen updates while Microsoft only plans to ship one: Windows Mobile 7

DOS Model Problems.

In addition to the faults of Windows Mobile that can be directly blamed upon Microsoft, there are also serious flaws within the model for selling a universal operating system across a number of hardware devices. The “DOS model” has demonstrated problems for PC makers, but in a mobile device, those problems have even greater significance.

Microsoft is troubled with having to support a wide range of Windows Mobile phones that all support different features. PDA-style “Pocket PC” Windows Mobile devices use a larger stylus tap screen, while “Windows Mobile Smartphones” such as the Motorola Q, only provide a tiny screen with no touchscreen capacity. Also, only a few Windows Mobile phones have an accelerometer, or WiFi, or GPS, and the camera in each is unique. These hardware differences complicate developers’ ability to release software that takes advantage of the features of each phone appropriately.

Should a game provide accelerometer controls that only work on a few Windows Mobile phones? Should a document viewer application attempt to take advantage of a larger, interactive tap screen or try to cram into a tiny screen driven only by hardware buttons? The iPhone has one screen interface and a single set of hardware features for developers to target.

While new iPhone models will eventually broaden those features, Apple will be managing the transition, and has the power to deliver software that abstracts different abilities seamlessly, just as it has on the Mac. For example, location services on the iPhone 3G works identically to those on the original iPhone apart from lacking GPS, and the iPod touch works the same way despite only being able to use WiFi to find its location. Developers don’t have write to a specific profile, they simply ask the device for a location and the software uses the hardware available. Supporting devices from different manufactures all trying to differentiate themselves is simply far more difficult.

Wait, Stop, Come Back.

Microsoft’s core inability to deliver a decent mobile operating system after a decade of trying, on top of the fact that supporting a wide variety of hardware is simply more difficult to pull off compared to Apple’s integrated model, makes it simply hard to make the case that Microsoft will float out a third generic platform to overtake the smartphone industry following its DOS and Windows for the PC, both of which were actually more the product of fortunate positioning and existing market power.

In reality, while Microsoft talks up its plans to take over the smartphone market, Windows Mobile has been dramatically losing market share among smartphones despite having taken over the software reigns at Palm and snuffing out the Palm OS to take its position as heir to the Treo dynasty. The Windows desktop monopoly has done nothing to shore up Windows Mobile’s declining market share, which according to Canalys has slipped from 23% in 2004 to around 12% today.

Instead, Apple rose to match and then exceed Microsoft’s market share among smartphones in the US within just three months of sales. It not only maintained its lead in the US, but with the release of the iPhone 3G appears to have caught up to Microsoft’s entire worldwide shipments across all of its providers in its first weeks on going on sale.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2008 08 Artist-B-B-1112-Bp1112-135
Microsoft’s Zune, Vista, and Windows Mobile 7 Strategy vs the iPhone
DOS and Windows Then…

When Apple released its Macintosh in 1984, the IBM DOS PC had already captivated the market and was widely established. The majority of PCs being sold had already migrated away from CP/M and other DOS competitors, leaving Apple to compete against a strongly entrenched platform led by the much larger IBM, which had monopolized business machines for decades prior to entering the new personal computing market.

Apple also had a severe price premium to overcome when selling against DOS PCs (most of which were sold with a fraction of the RAM or graphics capabilities of the Mac), and Apple itself was doing a poor job of marketing the Mac, with CEO John Sculley choosing to promote “Apple II forever” while Jean-Luis Gassée pulled plans to push Macs in business and targeted the high end desktop publishing niche instead.

When Microsoft began successfully promoting Windows in 1991, it was selling to that same DOS PC audience, which had only become further entrenched over the last eight years. The Mac was already hammered into a tight niche and Apple had done little to advance its technological lead over the PC. On top of all that, Apple had handed Microsoft a wide open license to use its Mac interface conventions, and then embroiled itself in unsuccessful litigation to undo the damage. By the time Windows began shipping broadly, Sculley was focused on his political career while Gassée was getting ready to start his own company.

Mac Office, $150 Million, and the Story Nobody Covered
Jean-Louis Gassée Returns from Obscurity… to Talk About MobileMe
… and the iPhone Now.

Today, the circumstances are wildly different. Windows Mobile does not enjoy any dominant position in the US (where RIM is far ahead) or worldwide (where Nokia is leading by a dramatic margin). Competition between Windows Mobile and other alternatives has left Microsoft’s product looking unattractive outside of a few niche markets among Microsoft IT shops, many of whom are now considering the iPhone instead.

The iPhone has broad appeal leveraging Apple’s iPod, Mac, and retail store successes. Apple is actually marketing its products effectively now through its own retail stores. AT&T and other mobile partners are also working to sell the iPhone because it generates more money for them; ten years ago, Apple could barely get retailers to stock its products, let alone market them.

Not only are Apple’s sales outpacing those of Windows Mobile devices, but users are now browsing the web four times more frequently from the iPhone than from Windows Mobile. Apple not only has a huge mindshare and technical lead, but has a co-development platform spanning the Mac desktop and the iPod touch handheld that shares technology with the iPhone. While Microsoft sells some Pocket PC PDAs lacking mobile service that are not counted in its smartphone market share, Apple sells a vast number of iPod touch devices that likely outnumber sales of the iPhone by a wide margin, and those are similarly not counted in Apple’s smartphone market share.

Considering the entire WinCE platform, which includes Windows Mobile Smartphones, Pocket PC (mobile and non-mobile), Zune, and other PlaysForSure licensed Portable Media Center devices, Microsoft’s influence over handheld devices is insignificant compared to Apple’s with the iPod and iPhone, despite the fact that the iPhone and the iPod touch are barely a year old. In the US, where Apple sold the majority of its iPhones in 2007, it outflanked all Windows Mobile sales in its first quarter of sales.

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A Better DOS than MS-DOS.

Who will pick up the torch Microsoft has dropped? The most likely contender may be Google’s Android. Microsoft’s leading Windows Mobile partner HTC certainly thinks so, as it is hedging its bets to become a member of Android’s Open Handset Alliance. Can Android play DOS to the iPhone for commodity smartphone hardware manufacturers, and will Google end up with a Microsoft-like role among phone makers? The next article will take a look.

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1 solipsism { 08.20.08 at 12:49 am }

I could be wrong but I think the entire WinCE updates for smartphones since 1996 now equals what the iPhone has released in 13 months.

2 dssstrkl { 08.20.08 at 3:57 am }

I have to say that I don’t really agree with the premise that the smartphone market is necessarily going to follow the trends that the PC market did. Considering the size of the mobile market, its very possible for multiple platforms to win in a big way and that no single platform will ever dominate. Although, I do fully expect Windows Mobile to lose. I’m hoping Android in particular lives up to the hype, if for no other reason that to keep Apple on their toes.

3 John E { 08.20.08 at 4:17 am }

well, just comparing the numbers of updates is a bit misleading. Apple has always had more and more often, because it evolves and updates its operating systems in smaller chunks than MS. it can do that because, as Dan notes, it has the advantage of making its own hardware which keeps compatibility issues relatively simple. MS could never put out as many incremental updates even if it wanted, because each Windows update has to be carefully packaged to be totally backward compatible with all kinds of PC’s and their drivers and all that. that is a heck of a problem, and it would force anyone to batch up a lot of changes into just one big release every year or two to deal with it (very imperfectly).

WinCE/Mobile suffer the same syndrome of too many OEM’s and telcos as Dan describes above. on paper thanks to its Windows CE roots it can do more things than the iPhone version of Leopard, like Office Mobile. but functionally the 2007 WinMobile 6 was inferior to 2007 iPhone and its vastly superior UI, and now it’s a full generation behind iPhone 2.0 with its revolutionary AppStore. presumably MS will catch up to that with WinMobile 7. but here is where their batched update syndrome is devastating, because by then in late 09 or 2010, Apple will have already pushed out iPhone 3.0 months before, further advancing the state of the art.

a further disadvantage for WinMobile, as Dan has written in depth many times, is that it is a whole separate OS, not a variant of NT/XP/Vista. so while the iPhone benefits directly from sharing Apple’s continuing technical advancement of OS X, and being integrated with it, poor WinMobile/CE has to evolve on its own and yet keep in step with Windows world too and all its drama.

i almost feel sorry for them.

4 ilari.scheinin { 08.20.08 at 5:46 am }

“Apple sells a vast number of iPod touch devices that likely outnumber sales of the iPhone by a wide margin”

I highly doubt this. Prior to iPhone 3G, I think it was possible that the number of iPod Touch units would be slightly higher, but not much. Last quarter Apple sold a total of 11M iPods with an ASP of $152, and the Touch is priced from $299 to $499.

Actually, I bet that beginning from this quarter, iPhone sales will be a bigger business than all Pods combined. Of course you need to remember the subscription accounting when looking at Earnings Release as the iPhone revenue is not there directly. If we take $500 as the ASP for the iPhone, last quarter’s iPod sales would correspond to only 3.3M units to exceed the iPod sales. Apple is clearly selling more than that.

5 lmasanti { 08.20.08 at 8:29 am }

I think that the movil market will be more like the “PC manufacturer market”… something like HP with ~30%, Dell with 25%~, etc.
Although in the cell case, there also will be difference OSes.
If the cellphone markets is 1.2 billions this year, 30% means 360 millions! Take just the 10% for smarphones and “still it is a huge” 36 millions…

6 elllroy { 08.20.08 at 9:12 am }

i am wondering about the numbers in your worldwide q4 2007 mobile devices table. didn’t apple sell north of 20 million ipods in that quarter and doesn’t that eqal around 40% of musicplayers?

7 mjtomlin { 08.20.08 at 10:27 am }

The biggest difference in today’s market versus 20 – 30 years ago is system usage is data/content driven rather than driven by application/software.

There are many open standards today (thanks to the Internet) and the underlying operating system isn’t as important anymore. Back in the day, every file format was proprietary and other than ASCII text, there wasn’t a free standard way of sharing data/content across different platforms.

It’s funny that people like to say Apple is going to fail because of its “closed” platform, even though that platform supports many, many open standards. I believe Microsoft is ultimately doomed for the opposite fact; they still insist on using their own proprietary formats and technologies and locking data/content to Windows or other MS software.

8 John Muir { 08.20.08 at 10:42 am }

Don’t be too sure that Daniel’s going to conclude by crowning a speculative inheritor to DOS. This series is keeping its options open.

I happen to think that it’s unlikely each and every hardware maker will develop their own mobile OS. As companies, they’re just not set up for it. Easier to do what they’re used to and conform to the reference design and let someone else do all the innovation for them.

This is laziness of course. It’s what you do when you don’t believe in your own engineers. Like Dell, you concentrate on squeezing the manufacturing and distribution you care so much about … while ignoring the fact that everything you ship is dull, unattractive, and dead meat up against Apple.

But just as this is not a repeat of the 1980’s personal computer, this is also not a market where the only way to ensure interoperability is to run the same code. There is scope for players the like of Amiga and Be – should anyone take on their mantle – which could prove to be very interesting.

Meanwhile, Apple already have the smartphone sewn up. Everyone else (Google and Microsoft among them) will have to charge into this battle from the bottom of the hill.

9 karablak { 08.20.08 at 10:58 am }

John, the patching problems of MS are not just result of having to take care of compatibility issues with lots of different hardware, it’s the way they create software. Bill Gates said some time ago (I think it was during the ’98 antitrust case) that at MS, they put separate teams to work on various parts of software, those teams don’t know what other teams are doing, they sometimes (quite often actually) work on functions that others are doing as well, only differently, that the code is supposed to be as hard to reverse-engineer and as poorly documented as possible due to inter-team competition (accidentally it also works great when you’re a monopoly trying to prevent competition’s efforts at interoperability), then all this mess is sent to the final team that “puts it all together haphazardly” (Gates’ own words) into a monolithic monstrosity. Now do you see where the problem really is? Compare it to FOSS and Apple who do things modularly.
Let’s take for example the positioning system across the two generations of iPhone and iPod touch and let’s figure out what happens when you try to use it.*

1. You start the positioning software (chunk A) to see where you are
2. The positioning software asks the intermediary chunk B (probably integral part of OS) of software to acquire information from hardware
3. The intermediary chunk detects what hardware you have that can obtain required info and communicates with chunk C (the hardware driver) to have it done
4. Chunk C activates hardware and passes the generated information back to chunk B
5. Which then passes it to chunk A and there you go!

In this situation if you want to patch chunk B (or any other actually) you don’t need to care about it being compatible with chunks A and C. Neither chunk needs to know *how* the others work, it just needs to know they do.

Now imagine MS software doing the same. You can’t? Neither do I. And since five minutes with Vista will prove that that old policy is alive and well at MS I doubt they’ll suddenly drop it for their “new” Windows Mobile.

So, to sum things up- yes, close integration of software and hardware is a factor, it’s not the only one, and not the biggest one either. That would be engineering methods and principles.

*(ok, I’m not an Apple software engineer so it might work a bit differently but probably not that much)

10 Phildikian { 08.20.08 at 11:45 am }

While I agree with you about the market being big enough for several players – I get tired of hearing that same mantra: “Apple needs competition to keep on it’s toes”.

I think Apple does a pretty good job keeping on it’s toes in the market that it’s dominating right now – music. You can say that there is no viable competitor either in hardware or software sales (with the exception perhaps being Amazon mp3). Even as they have a huge market share for iTunes they still refuse to bow to the music label’s demands of hiking up song prices. They refused to increase prices and “test” bundling TV shows which is why NBC took their programming away – the reason being they don’t want to do things that they know will piss off their customers.

Yes, Apple has had it’s share of flubs (iPhone software 2.0 and MobileMe I’m looking at you), but they do respond to their customers pretty well and they do make it clear that they create products that they themselves want to use. I don’t think Apple needs a Microsoft-like competitor to make them that way – that’s part of their company nature.

11 daGUY { 08.20.08 at 2:17 pm }


“I’m hoping Android in particular lives up to the hype, if for no other reason that to keep Apple on their toes.”

I don’t know if Apple is even that worried about Android, if at all. Android works on a completely different model – like Microsoft, Google is making the software and licensing it out to a variety of hardware makers. By definition, Android has to run across a multitude of devices with different capabilities, form factors, and hardware features. That makes it near-impossible to offer a cohesive user experience that rivals the iPhone/iPod touch.

Aside from not being dependent on Microsoft, I don’t see what improvements Android is going to be able to bring to the smartphone market. They’re running everything off of a similar model, and I think it’s going to produce similar results – mediocre software that offers a poor user experience and can’t be easily adapted between devices.

Given that Windows Mobile had a decade head start against the iPhone and already got crushed, I don’t see Android – which hasn’t even been released yet – as much of a threat.

12 John Muir { 08.20.08 at 2:24 pm }


It’s not really Android itself which is the threat, so much as the cheaper devices it will be running on. The idea is that if Google can deliver a user experience a fraction as good as Apple’s, and a browser which is up to the task … then their generic platform would be “good enough” and the same economics as keep the PC an order of magnitude bigger than the Mac would roll into play.

This did NOT occur with mp3 players meanwhile, as Daniel often points out.

There’s a hurdle which Android must cross. That hurdle is likely not quite 100% as good as the iPhone. But it’s a lot further to leap than we’ve seen happen from the competition so far.

Once (or if) the hurdle is met, then the web should open everything up with desktop quality open standards browsing. This is obviously Google’s principal interest anyway. So if they can get there, you can be sure they’ll push web apps as the platform’s saving grace.

13 gus2000 { 08.20.08 at 5:00 pm }

Maybe Microsoft should actually re-release DOS for the mobile platform. You really don’t need a GUI when you’re stuck without a pointer, typing with your thumbs. Besides, ASCII art looks fine.

DOS is stable. It has a small footprint. I bet HIMEM.SYS could handle plenty of memory space. It doesn’t run background tasks, but neither does iPhone. Software? Already written, and tested for decades! Customize it all you want with BAT files.

“New from Motorola: The Seecolon Pr0mpt!”

14 ginswizzle { 08.20.08 at 6:04 pm }

Thanks for the informed and thoughtful analysis. However, you misstate how often Windows Mobile is updated relative to iPhone OS – it is roughly the same amount not 5x less. More details at http://motesome.blogspot.com/2008/08/iphone-os-not-really-updated-5x-more.html.

15 John Muir { 08.20.08 at 6:19 pm }

Good grief Gus, I really hope you’re joking. :D

16 nat { 08.20.08 at 7:00 pm }

gus2000 said:

“[DOS] doesn’t run background tasks, but neither does iPhone.”

That’s because the former can’t. The latter can, Apple simply doesn’t condone it as allowing background tasks could/would lower battery life and cause the foreground app to chug.

I’m sure you’re aware, just saying. :D

17 John E { 08.21.08 at 12:06 am }

lots of good points. i think we all agree WinMobile will be an also-ran, out of the money in this race due to its inherent crapitude.

except … bear in mind all the OEM’s that need a smartphone OS and can’t create their own. what is Sony/Erricson going to use to hang on to their high-end market? HTC? and all the rest except Nokia and RIM? or Archos for their nice Media Tablets? can they afford to wait a year or more for a full-featured Android or a neo-Symbian? i don’t think so. so they may still use a lot more WinMobile out of desperation and bolt their own custom UI on top of it, like HTC has done for the Touch Diamond.

smartphone sales will probably double every year from now on until almost all phones sold are some kind of smartphone. so even while WinMobile’s % share goes down, it will still license more units each year. they sold 18 million in 07-08, and will probably sell 25-30 million in 08-09, even as weak as it is.

18 Jesse { 08.21.08 at 1:59 am }

As has been noted, just because Microsoft has failed at something doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The challenge of providing a good user experience across different hardware could only be met by a company that knows how offer a good user experience in the first place, i.e. not Microsoft.

I doubt Google can do it either. Their expertise is making stripped-down interfaces, with near-zero learning curves, that process data and present it in the simplest way possible. An OS is a different beast.

As to this theoretical happy land with several coexisting smartphone OS’s, I am pessimistic. The supposedly wonderful and many-systemed heyday of personal computing that Microsoft gutted was only stable while computers were for hobbyists. Right now, smartphones are a luxury, and a luxury market can support many extravagances. Once smartphones are a necessity, that all changes. A necessity market has to have a one-size-fits-all option. Someone will answer that need, but I don’t think it will be Apple.

19 Jesse { 08.21.08 at 2:02 am }

…or Google, or Microsoft, I should have added.

20 John Muir { 08.21.08 at 10:16 am }

One web fits all. Seriously, it’s at least as important as the iPod halo effect in the Mac’s second wind.

If they can get the web right: a platform is viable. It may not beat Apple on interface or features, but bulk almost always comes right down to price. It’s only really the iPod which I can think of as an exception to that rule. And I suspect that one was all to do with iTunes’ stunning brilliance compared to the crapware needed to use any other player.

Phones meanwhile are not nearly as bound to the desktop for administration as music players. With the web, they are all but complete.

21 Jesse { 08.21.08 at 10:45 am }

I think iPods are no exception–iPods are still a luxury as well. If there came a time where a PMP was an essential tool, the market would change fast.

The web very well may be the OS that matters, so that he who webs best wins. Yet there may come some other differentiating feature that comes along–seeing as how all Blackberry had to do to become a sensation was come up with a slightly new twist on email. If it turns out that push email is itself what drives smartphones into the realm of necessity, the barrier to competition with Apple is far lower. A cheap phone with a lousy general OS but a good-enough push email feature–delivered at the right price point–could become dominant. Apple’s push features are the cheapest right now, but someone whose only focus was push could undercut them by a lot.

So, yeah, it could be the web that makes a difference, in which case Apple’s in great shape, because good web delivery on a phone is hard. But there’s plenty of other, less difficult-to-deliver features that may be the driver of change.

22 John E { 08.21.08 at 12:35 pm }

well, it’s features+form factor+service/pricing combinations that define the ‘sweet spots’ in the smartphone universe that an OS then needs to deliver. it’s too long a topic for here, but for example:

– the Blackberry is all about business email and so its keyboard dominates form-wise and the service is expensive but optimized for that. now the Bold adds modest media features for family photos, etc., and it will be a real success for RIM (killing the new WinMobile Palm Treo Pro, BTW).

– the 2007 iPhone was optimized for media and web browsing with its really big screen dominating form-wise (“the best iPod we ever made” said SJ). its somewhat expensive communications services were not the greatest, except that the UI was a huge advance over the competition. saleswise, actually it was only a modest success, but it changed the game, setting up …

– the 2008 iPhone, which added the big leap forward of cheap, easy to install, and worthwhile applications – that people will really use like a mini-computer (and communication services also are improved), at just a bit higher price overall as before.

today the competition is just catching up to the 2007 iPhone, and then they’ll have to scramble to match the 2008 iPhone in 2009.

so what is the next driver of change?

i think pricing, which is to say, the webphone that avoids needing to pay for any telco service, saving about $1000 per year. the iPhone could do it today with a Skype app, but of course you still have to sign up with AT&T. so that isn’t it.

The Touch could do it – if Apple just added a microphone. but will they? (i expect to see Touch prices cut in half next month, BTW).

Anyway, whoever offers the first first-class webphone/smartphone could quickly take command of the market. Android?

23 John E { 08.21.08 at 12:40 pm }

forgot to note a successful webphone would need a good solid VOIP service. third parties like Skype et al may not be enough. Google? MobileMe?

24 nat { 08.21.08 at 2:29 pm }

John E said:

“forgot to note a successful webphone would need a good solid VOIP service. third parties like Skype et al may not be enough. Google? MobileMe?”

How about Apple’s own iChat? :D

25 Jesse { 08.21.08 at 10:59 pm }

Uh, where are you getting the crack that makes you think the first iPhone “saleswise… was only a modest success”? I’ve got a buyer in Redmond for you.

26 John E { 08.21.08 at 11:48 pm }

huh? do you think sales were better or worse than “modest success”? anyway, 2G phone sales were on track to sell about the 10 million units Jobs had set as a goal, but not much more. so that is “success” by his metric, but not exceeding that expectation. so, “modest.”

the 3G is initially selling about 3 times as fast, thanks in part of course to greatly expanded global sales. if that keeps up, then i’d call it a “big success.” we’ll know after the Xmas quarter is over, next January.

27 Jesse { 08.22.08 at 2:26 am }

High as a kite. Selling that amount with a first-time effort is phenomenal both in raw sales and market share. Show me any new player in the industry who did so much so fast.

I’m actually fully willing to be proven wrong, since I know so little about the history of cell phones. But, man, people were predicting this thing’s tanking left and right. The only proof you’re citing is that Jobs didn’t shatter the goal he publicly announced–a goal Daniel analyzed as incredibly ambitious in the first place.

“Modest?” Put down the pipe!

28 John Muir { 08.22.08 at 11:16 am }

Steve Jobs was playing the hype game with the media with that goal. He baited a big sharp hook for the Enderle’s and other hacks of this world to get caught on.

And of course it worked!

The original iPhone was a phenomenon at launch. The 3G is its Second Coming. :D

29 Will the iPhone Meet its Match from a Modern Day DOS? — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 08.25.08 at 2:47 am }

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