It’s been a while I have not posted anything on this blog. I am going to talk about smartphones and the hype that surrounds them. It looks like their popularity is picking up and everybody seems to want some kind of smartphone and especially the Apple iPhone. Apple iPhone is such a trend that some people confuse every existing touchscreen smartphone for an iPhone. Now what is so special about them ? Why are they so popular ?
A lot of people think simplicity and ease of use is the source of the iPhone’s success. The iPhone does simple things but does them better than anything out there. This might be true and for using it for about a week I can attest of that fact. Bu there are so many things that makes me not want to use this device as an everyday phone:
- They lock down everything: Not allowed to install third-party apps not approved by Apple, not allowed to run apps in the background (except Apple’s own apps), not allowed to run different apps at the same time, forces you to use iTunes to manage your music, not even allowed to transfer your contacts from/to your SIM card…
- The touch screen: I don’t think it’s natural to not get any feedback when they perform a given action. That is especially true for keyboards. I feel faster with T9 than with Apple iPhone’s onscreen keyboard. I make so many mistakes, It is so frustrating! I hear people get better at it but I don’t want to adapt to it. I think it should adapt to me since it’s supposed to make my life easier!
- The hardware is not even that great: They advertise the camera of the iPhone 3GS as supporting video recording. That has been supported in regular phones for years and that is just an example.
So what are they so popular ? Is it really simplicity ? Yes but the real answer is: Marketing/Advertising.
Apple is very good at that. They are the second biggest technology advertiser just behind Microsoft and ahead of IBM and HP that have three time’s Apple’s annual sales (according to NYT). Their ads are usually targeted and sarcastic. we-do-it-better-than-the-others. They spend hundred millions every year.
One other reason is design: They are also very good at that. It does not need to have a lot under the hood but it’s got to be shiny! People should look at it and think of how beautiful it looks. “IT” can be anything (Computer, Music Player, Phone…).
So all in all what is it ? A “gadget”! A “toy” ! I don’t see professional people nor power users switching to this thing in the future. What are the alternatives ? There are a lot !
Their current market share is high but it’s not growing as much as it used to. I think/hope in the end Apple victims will wake up and switch to something else.