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…