Tech & You June 18, 2008, 10:19PM EST
Why iPhone Wannabes Don't Cut It
Handset giants are playing catch-up to Apple's design, but their
software still lags badly
by Stephen H. Wildstrom
Apple's influence on high-tech markets has long exceeded the company's
relatively small market share, and nowhere is that more obvious than
in the wireless phone market. Barely a year after it introduced the
original iPhone, Apple (AAPL) has redefined the wireless handset.
If you want to read the whole Newsweek article go to their website or
buy the Magazine.
But look at the bottom line about that Sprint phone which is going to
be a $100 a month...
"Such efforts largely miss the point. Certainly, the beautiful
hardware design adds tremendously to the emotional appeal of Apple
products. But it's the software that makes the iPhone, the Mac, and
the iPod stand out from the pack of wannabes.
Consider how you explore the Net on an iPhone compared with on the
Instinct ($130 after rebate with a two-year contract). The iPhone's
Mobile Safari browser is in a class by itself: It is the only handheld
browser I have used that makes it pleasant to view Web pages designed
for big computer displays. The Instinct browser benefits from a big
screen, but it is otherwise typical of the lame software found on
other non-Apple handhelds. It offers a choice of displaying a page at
magnifications labeled 1/2x, 1x, or 2x, a dramatically inferior option
compared with the iPhone's ability to smoothly enlarge and shrink the
page with a gesture. As a result, full-size Web pages that the iPhone
handles easily are very difficult to read or navigate around on the
The problems go deeper. Sprint**—and just about everyone else*—
Gut Reaction: The Instinct's Good, But…
The Instinct shows that Samsung and Sprint have learned a lot, too.
It's a handsome product—maybe Samsung's best ever. Its no-*button
face, with a display just a bit smaller than the iPhone's, makes it
look like the Apple handset's brother, and it even comes packed in an
Sprint offers the Instinct only with its $99-a-month Simply Everything
plan, which includes unlimited voice and high-speed data plus
unlimited streaming music and video, navigation service, and more. For
some users, this may be a better deal than AT&T's (T) cheapest
unlimited 3G iPhone data plan at $70 a month plus ŕ la carte iTunes
music and videos.
Yet despite its strong multimedia capabilities, the Instinct offers
little more than the typical cell phone, and nothing near the iPhone's
computerlike capabilities. Yes, good hardware design is critical. But
in the end, it's the software that really makes the difference.
Wildstrom is Technology & You columnist for BusinessWeek.
You can contact him at email@example.com