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Apple's iPhone Wake-Up Call

First let me say that I am absolutely delighted and extremely thankful for all the comments that were made in my previous post Palm Treo 680 vs. Apple iPhone and which I received via email.  I’m glad to see that there are so many Treonauts passionately contributing their views (praises and criticisms alike) and would like to thank everyone for their input – please keep it coming as the debate is essential to stimulate further innovation in this space.

Naturally, following such a heated and interesting exchange I believe that some additional commentary is required to help further clarify my views as well as provide you with more insight into my take on the Treo versus iphone debate.

Treo Is Great, iPhone Sucks.  Treo Sucks, iPhone Is Great.
After nearly three years reviewing, analysing and developing my own views on the future of the Treo I have learned that all smartphones are ultimately the result of a series of goals, constraints and compromises from which they simultaneously benefit and suffer.  The resulting device is one that meets particular needs at the manufacturer level and answers unique identified needs at the consumer level but does not provide the ‘perfect’ solution for everyone.

The Treo was developed under one set of goals, constraints and compromises while the iPhone was developed under another.  As such, the solution that each ultimately presents is different and will appeal to a distinct set of customers.  For some like me the Treo will continue to represent the best smartphone there is while for others the future iPhone will.

I can just as easily present you with a list of 10 things I love and hate about my Treo as I can about the iPhone.  The decision as to which smartphone you will ultimately choose rests entirely on the particular criteria that you apply to the features that you personally like or dislike, need or don’t need.  However, using a word that someone raised in the previous comments, the real “delusion” is to think that either the Treo or the iPhone are “flawless” – they’re not.

The fact is that I’m perfectly happy for someone to tell me that they don’t like the Treo since I know perfectly well that there will be others that will equally not like the iPhone – we are all free to choose which one we prefer.  Having said this, my personal preference for the Treo does not under any circumstances mean that I cannot fully appreciate – even envy – some of the terrific features that the iPhone will bring.

Palm Delusion.  Apple Delusion.
My current preference for the Treo over the iPhone should under no circumstances give either Palm, PalmSource/ACCESS, Microsoft Windows Mobile or the many third-party developers and even accessory manufacturers in the “Treo ecosystem” a sense of comfort that might even remotely allow them to become complacent – there’s a ton of work ahead.

In some areas the iPhone has clearly raised the bar that the Treo ecosystem must now thrive to meet or surpass and I will naturally continue to provide both praise and criticism when required to reward innovation and punish lethargy.  In the same vein I have absolutely no intention of letting the Apple hype machine distract me from seeing the true iPhone picture with all its merits and faults. 

In this respect, what does unnerve me are things like Steve Jobs’ assertion in his keynote address yesterday that the iPhone is: 1) technologically five years ahead of any other smartphone and 2) superior in all respects to all existing smartphones including our Treo.  Both claims certainly demonstrate Jobs’ extraordinary showmanship but are not representative of reality outside the Apple Magic Kingdom.  Arguably though he did rate our Treo as the best of the “other” smartphones.

Palm Reality.  Apple Reality
As I have stated before, I believe that the arrival of the iPhone is the best thing to have happened in the smartphone space not because of the device alone but because with its announcement Apple has now completely validated the smartphone as the “phone of the future” and brought it to the attention of hundreds of millions worldwide who will now be more curious to learn about the iPhone and also other smartphones such as our Treo.

Palm has achieved great success in the ‘corporate smartphone space’ and its Treo 680 has for me been one of the single most exciting entries in the ‘consumer smartphone space’.  Apple’s iPhone on the other hand has little to no chance of penetrating the corporate smartphone space (it was not designed for this) but it is however the new benchmark that others will have to beat in the consumer smartphone space.  The Treo 680 will continue to do extremely well as a consumer smartphone this year but there is no doubt that the iPhone and all its cool iPhone accessories will quickly catch up to it when it is launched (unless Palm is able to release a newer and better consumer model by the middle or end of 2007).

The smartphone market promises to be absolutely huge and I have no doubt that in due time this category will come to dominate the entire mobile phone industry.  A large part of this market will consist of corporate smartphones where I envisage that our Treo will continue to thrive and another part of the market will consist of consumer smartphones where the iPhone promises to be a key player – albeit one where others, principally Palm, but also Nokia, SonyEricsson, Motorola and Samsung will undoubtedly bring worthy competing offerings. 

The big consumer smartphone battle has not even begun as the iPhone is still months away from launch but there is no doubt that this year promises to be a new defining moment in the smartphone space – one that will present as many threats as opportunities for our Treo and a time which promises to be anything but boring.

Treonauts are always the most passionate

Posted by Andrew on January 11, 2007 at 06:40 AM

Treo vs. iPhone

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by steve | Jan 11, 2007 7:15:30 AM

I have to agree with both of your reviews of the iphone and treo. I'm one of those "once you go treo, you dont go back" but I agree that the iphone "looks" like a great phone, and I am sure it will sell a lot of phones. But its a horse a piece, its not either/or IT'S both/and. Everyone has their own tastes and own needs, if you want to drop $600 for an iphone, thats great, but how much is the package going to cost from cingular? Will it be worth it? And are you willing to wait 6 months to get it? Because I'm sure it will be backordered. There are so many questions for people to make such assumptions, because I HAVE an 80gb ipod and a treo 650, and my major problem with ipod is the fingerprints all over it, am I sure I want an all touch screen phone that I cant see the amazing picture, because of my greasy fingerprints? I hate that about my ipod, it looks great right out of the box, but a day later, nothing but scratches and smudges. Are they going to be able to make a case for the iphone? Not very much of one, its all touch screen, how will it handle a drop w/o some sort of protective case? And maybe the treo is bulky, but it is so user friendly, and I love being able to have a "laptop" on my hip. Nonetheless, I think its great for all of us treo users, because it might bring down the price of the treo, although the $400 is well worth it, as I'm sure the $600 will be too, but come on...their are pros and cons to both, lets just be realistic. To each his own.

by Fred | Jan 11, 2007 9:09:47 AM

Andrew I appreciate your presentation of the iPhone and also your reaction to the many many comments that were posted (this must be a Treonauts record!). What amazes me is how *passionate* people are about Palm and the Treo or Apple and the iPhone! It also amazes me how people choose one or two features to claim that one device is far superior to the other.
I just ordered a 680 and a bunch of accessories (from the Treonaut store, of course) and I know I'll continue to use Palm devices until something MUCH better comes along and proves itself as such.
I'm not afraid of what Apple may do and I agree with you that strong competition helps everyone.

by Dave | Jan 11, 2007 9:10:40 AM

Great commentary, Andrew. That's why I keep coming back and reading up on everything you put here!

I had a very similar discussion with one of my "geek" friends yesterday. He knows I'm in love with my 650 and am just ITCHING to get myself a 700p.

I gave him my take on the iPhone -- some of the points Steve made above (yeah, it's cool & geeky, but it is going to show EVERY smudge and scratch, AND iPods are notorious for the flimsy case that breaks if you so much as LOOK at it the wrong way!), plus the great points that you made as far as no removable battery, no expandable memory, etc.

I really don't understand why Palm hasn't put more internal memory in our Treos... I was pretty upset when the memory hardly increased from my 600 to 650 (A LOT of us were pretty upset, to the point that Palm offered free SD cards to us, if you remember).

I did concede that iPhone has it going on with the camera -- again, another frustration with us Treonauts out here who WANTED more from Palm...

Anyway, I think Apple is giving Palm a good run for the money -- they're going to have to follow the old maxim: Innovate or die! If memory serves me correctly, one of Andrew's big complaints about the new Treos is the lack of significant change in the user interface (UI) -- I'm certain the iPhone has got an AWESOME UI, it's what they excel at -- hopefully Palm will get their cue and get moving and give us some better integration between the UI and our most-used programs. (Why do you think they started offering Windows CE based Treos? -- people want an EASY UI that not only works well, but LOOKS GREAT)

I'm excited about what iPhone is going to do in getting us even better Treos in the future. Let the competition begin!!!

by Godfrey DiGiorgi | Jan 11, 2007 9:16:12 AM

I've been using the Treo 650 for a year and a half for both business and personal. It's an excellent phone ... I do wish that it wouldn't reboot itself spuriously quite so often but nothing's perfect.

The iPhone's real promise, to me, is more seamless and integrated synchronization with my Mac OS X laptop and desktop systems while integrating a new, better iPod and camera all into one device. The Treo 650 synchronization is clumsy in this respect. The iPhone's ability to do bona fide 802.11b/g wifi straight out of the box with no accessories or software hacks to deal with makes the lack of an SD card slot irrelevant ... Just hook up to my data server and download what I need.

But I'm in no hurry to buy a new phone or service yet. The Treo is serving well, and mine is an unlocked GSM phone that I've been able to use in many places in the world without even thinking hard. At home I have a very economical monthly pre-paid service that handles everything I use it for. ...

It will be fun to see where this goes.


by NorCalLights | Jan 11, 2007 9:17:00 AM

Great followup post, Andrew. I think that Apple's comparisons of the iPhone to current smartphones (except, perhaps the Moto Q) are a little flawed because, as you say, Apple is really opening a new market with this product. We haven't seen success in the consumer smartphone market, but if anyone can open this market, Apple can.

Like I've said in my past posts, competition is a good thing for consumers. A few weeks ago you even posted a blog challenging developers to improve the quality of the software available for our devices. I would extend that challenge to Palm. We need to see some serious hardware and operating system improvements out of their shop. The kind of improvements we haven't seen from Palm, and we just saw from Apple.

by AJArend | Jan 11, 2007 9:39:48 AM

I really think it's too early to definitively say that the iPhone WILL do this, or WON'T do something else. The first generation product hasn't even been released yet, and who knows what features the second, third or fourth generation products will have.

by wdgillette | Jan 11, 2007 10:37:03 AM

Interesting commentary but total fearful fluff. I love my Treo 650 but I'll look at the iPhone when I can. I switched to the MacBook Pro running XP and it is solid, something I can't say for the 5 other notebook computers I'm in charge of whose overheating alone is enough to wonder why we put up with such poor engineering. Call it the Apple Magic Kingdom if you must, but understand that without having seen it you are sounding shrill and irrational.

by Joshua Ochs | Jan 11, 2007 11:14:38 AM

Your damn software is flagging all of my comments as spam. So much for contributing to this debate...

by joeblow | Jan 11, 2007 11:25:08 AM

As stated in the article, everyone has a slightly different view of the "perfect" smartphone. For me, the Treo 680, the current Palm OS offering, has some warts, however the lack of a physical keyboard on the iPhone is a dealbreaker. I remember using the snap-on phone module with a keyboard-less Visor. No fun.

But I think there are a few things we can all agree are lacking:

Is a 3G Palm OS based device too much to ask?
Or the ability to open multiple browser windows simultaneously?
Or the ability to hotsync at speeds above the circa-1985 115200 currently supported by my Treo?
Simultaneous voice and data?
Over-the-air sync that doesn't make the phone unusable for fifteen minutes?
Or a model available for a reasonable price like the Cingular version without the craptacular and un-deletable Cingular craplets which crash the phone regularly?

by the AFrican Nerd | Jan 11, 2007 11:31:18 AM

3 reasons why Treo users should be excited about the iPhone

-Now we can hold Palm to a higher standard

-Now Palm has no excuses

-The iPhone may set a precedent that allows less meddling by Carriers with regards to the functionality of the phone which should allow Palm to better innovate.

by that jackass | Jan 11, 2007 11:44:07 AM

GOOD SAVE!!!! good follow up post, seriously, even tho the previous 'comparison' post is still a jackass post. ok, youre not a moron anymore

by oops46 | Jan 11, 2007 11:55:19 AM

Whether the Iphone is successful or not, it WILL have a large impact on the Smartphone. I truly feel Treo has rested on its "laurels" for too long and has done little or no innovation in regard to operating systems or updating its phone. The idea of a non stylis phone is VERY apealing particularly in the same size of the Treo.

by Steve Grevemeyer | Jan 11, 2007 12:10:53 PM

Well the comment that the iPhone (once they get to actually use that name) is "5 years ahead" isn't that far off...

Given Palm/Treo's technology "enhancements" over the last few years. With very few exceptions, I could still be using my Samsung I300! The Treo is a better phone, but software-wise -- not much else has changed.

Issues with the browser, syncing, requirements for 3rd party apps just to get basic functionality... (Is a file manager TOO much to ask?) People claim the cost of the iPhone is high... Have they added up the cost of a Treo, with extra software, plus software upgrades, etc?

Its unclear how much access developers/users will have to the iPhone -- if it is anything above "nothing". This phone WILL run in the corporate world.

Palm needs to step up.

They need to step up NOW.

Most of what is "wrong" with my Treo can be fixed with SOFTWARE! I'll pay for an upgrade...

Just because I love my Treo doesn't mean I'm going to continue to put up with their continuing lack of progress... Not if I have an alternative!

by Time Running Out on Palm | Jan 11, 2007 12:28:57 PM

A very well-written, insightful and thoughful response...

BUT, it does not change the reality that Apple will dominate and define the market that Palm has struggled with these past few years.

You are still again off the mark, however, with respect to Steve Jobs comments:

>>In this respect, what does unnerve me are things like Steve Jobs’ assertion in his keynote address yesterday that the iPhone is: 1) technologically five years ahead of any other smartphone and 2) superior in all respects to all existing smartphones including our Treo.

Most knowledgeable, neutral observers would tend to agree that Steve Jobs' remarks are, in fact, highly accurate, and not merely "hype" as some are too quick to dismiss them.

Palm: OS stagnated three years ago. NO technology innovation in several years (slight slimming body at expense of battery life or hiding a protruding antenna are NOT innovations!)

Apple: Invented the iPhone in two years time, with no phone experience, almost entirely from the ground up (using existing OS technology).

The five-year claim is entirely appropriate- NO other phone manufacturer has a scalable operating system, NO other phone manufacture has even a hint of user interface design savvy, NO other phone manufacture has the materials technology, NO other phone manufacturer has the brand recognition or well-earned customer loyalty, and NO other phone manufacturer has the vision or guidance to follow where Apple takes the lead in all these aspects, and more.

The superiority claim is superfluous. But, if you want to analyse it, no different than anyone else's claim that the Treo is superior to any other current smartphone. However, on the other hand, until you have actually used and experienced the Apple iPhone, you are not in any position to judge this quality for yourself or anyone else, out of hand.

www.everythingtreo.com wisely launched www.everythingiphone.com

I suggest that you take the time now to acquire a modern OS X computer, and enjoy the next few months getting to know and understand why when Steve Jobs makes claims about its products, there is a substantial amount of credibility behind it, because it is all proven.

Some people need to learn their computer history a little bit better- Steve Jobs is one of the few pioneers who transformed computers from mainframe machines into desktop "microcomputers" available for the masses- not to mention introducing and popularizing the graphic user interface.

More recently, the recording industry failed to develop any viable online music sales model or technology. Obviously, the success of Apple ipod and itunes has clearly proven the talent and ability that Apple brings to bear in successfully delivering technology products and solutions, in a brilliant and elegant way that greatly enhancing and improves people's lives on an everyday basis.

Steve Jobs and Apple are not "hype", they have proven themselves time and time again.

by Jim | Jan 11, 2007 12:33:03 PM

I would have to agree that the iPhone is likely 5 years ahead of the Treo since Palm works at a snails pace. Why haven't we seen a Wifi Treo. You would think they could have done a phone with many of the features that the iPhone will have but they have been caught snoozing. I was disappointed that my 650 didn't have that, what does Palm want to do - slowly introduce features so they get me to buy another unit? OK, I will, except it'll be an iPhone next.

by Rome | Jan 11, 2007 1:24:28 PM


Thanks for pointing out all the hypes Apple has created with this iPhone launch. It is amazing to see the number of journalists and analysts out there who have proclaimed the iPhone as the phone to end all phones. And this phone is nothing but an advanced prototype at this time.

Yes, the iPhone has some cool features but it also has a number of serious shortcomings. I am also with you that I found it almost offensive to hear Jobs claiming the iphone "5 years ahead of all other smartphones out there."

Enjoy your blog and keep up the good work.

by JJ in modesto | Jan 11, 2007 1:57:44 PM

I don't see MS Exchange support, that is painful. Goodlink (the greatest email client for a phone, ever) isn't planning to support the iPhone. I do have a LOT of interest in the iPhone, amazing demo. There are several major points that were misleading in the demo... because it is NOT a G3. You can not surf (or send email) and talk at the same time. He was using WiFi. That and the fact that the phones running OSX isn't the OSX that the Mac's use... I don't mind, but the general public things they will be installing photoshop on their phone.

by Eric | Jan 11, 2007 2:20:56 PM

You still haven't come to terms with this. The iPhone right now looks like it won't make it into the business arena, but 6 months from now, when developers announce PocketQuicken for it, or a scaled down version of iWork that will work on the iPhone.

People are not going to install photoshop on it. Come on. Do they try to do that on Windoze mobile? No.

In 6 months, you will all see how delusional you were about Palm. I like my Treo 650, but it never sync right with iCal (even with MissingSync), and it really looks and operates like it is from the 60s compared to the iPhone.

by Jack Johnson | Jan 11, 2007 2:32:56 PM

Great post, Andrew. Ignore these Apple fanatics who come here to insult and abuse you. They are the worst subculture on the Internet -- everyone knows that. They're lucky they can hide in it. If it weren't so anonymous most of them would be sporting black eyes or worse.

In reality, the iPhone has innovated in only two areas: (1) Multi-touch and (2) Zirconium-based casing. Everything else has been done before. The multi-touch patent gives them a great advantage because it is probably the next wave in User Interfaces. Zirconium casings will render their products scratch-proof, but at a price.

Multi-touch, however, is not the be-all and end-all of UIs. The lack of tactile feedback is a negative. Jobs was masterful in the use of his RDF during the keynote, making everyone believe that at one stroke keyboards have been rendered obsolete. I'm sure a lot of people will fall for this, but after lengthy use of the iPhone they will return to the keyboard -- because even though it's not as flashy, it's just better for entering data or for dialing a number. The only question is how long will they wait before they realize they've made a $600 mistake. Hopefully not before the iPhone's return policy runs out on them.

My gut feeling is that after Jobs snatched the patent on Multi-touch he forced the iPhone to be designed around it. As always, his enormous ego needed a product that would "change the world". I would agree to this UI on a Personal Media Player or a tablet device -- it's almost perfect for those. But on a phone? Or on a smartphone where ease of data entry is paramount? I honestly think he's made a mistake here -- and a grievious one. The only sorry thing about it is that so many people will part with their hard-earned cash for believing in Jobs' RDF. As the fine print on mutual fund prospectuses states: "past performance (of Apple) is not indicative of future returns".

by Gregg | Jan 11, 2007 3:31:08 PM

So interesting to see the reactions here...especially those who pull out the flame thrower and fire away. Seems a just a bit early to declare anyone the winner or the loser here...especially since all that truly is known at this point is based on a demo done by the company rolling out the product.

Certainly this demo has raised expectations and that is good in my mind. Palm I am sure is having meetings on how they are going to get the fire going in their product development department to at a minimum catch up and hopefully get past the bar now having been raised rather high. On the other hand...when you proclaim yourself king there is a risk of discovering you can only go down from there.

Personally I would think it wise to wait until this thing is in the public's hand and being used for a while before declaring yourself the winner. It may be the best thing since sliced bread...and if so, more power to you...go buy the thing and show it off to those that care. On the other hand...I think I would want to wait about 6 months to see if it really is all that it is hyped to be.

by Clement Galluccio | Jan 11, 2007 4:29:14 PM

Reading between the lines of the many comments shared in regard to a comparison of Apple's future iPhone and Palm's present Treo offering, one conclusion is clear. Users are by and large underwhelmed/frustrated by present offerings and seek better, robust solutions that simplify, not complicate, one's life. Based on my experience with the Treo, including the Treo 650 and recently purchased 680, the Treo platfom does not presently deliver on the promise of seamless convergence of phone/internet/life that I am seeking. Based on my experience with Apple products, I am willing to bet that they can, as they have for personal computing and digital music.

by Austin | Jan 11, 2007 5:21:02 PM

I didnt get to read all the posts on here and I hope Im not repeating what people already said but I do agree with those that have mentioned that Apple has brought out some great points and hopefully will make Palm think about the next generation of Treo. I would love to see a bigger screen, definitly more memory and something that is more intuitive. I dont like how Palm has setup their menus and layout on the 680 as Andrew has brought out in his reviews. I still dont know why Palm hasnt integrated a hard drive into the treo to give it more capacity. To be honest, I LOVE the treo but was disappointed with the new models that came out. I guess I was expecting more.

by JL | Jan 11, 2007 8:10:10 PM

even though the Palm operating system is obsolete and lame, i wish there were more blogs like this for WM5. i feel very lonely and not supported using that OS in comparison.

by Mike | Jan 11, 2007 10:19:37 PM

I think that one of the things what the iPhone is going to do for the smartphone market is that it is going to bring in a whole set of "new" users. These users will be looking for a whole different set of features that are not necessarily what the current slew of smartphones are able to deliver.

by Jack Johnson | Jan 11, 2007 10:23:07 PM

I love it. The truth is slowly coming out over just how "innovative" the iPhone really is. Turns out Apple's Multi-touch was implemented on a Linux-based smartphone out of China (!) since last year! See Gizmodo link:


So now I'm wondering just how valid Apple's patent really is. In any case, even if it is enforced in the U.S. I don't think Apple will be able to steamroller the rest of the world so easily. I'm sure the Chinese government could pressure other countries to not honor Apple's U.S. patent on this technology. Hoo-boy, coupled with Cisco's lawsuit Jobs' may definitely have bitten off way more than he can chew here.

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