I met a Nokia developer the other day at a local event. We chatted about mobile phones for a good while, and he showed me a couple of the Nokia smartphones he was working with. While none of them are as blatant a knockoff as this one, we both marveled at the strikingly familiar design: shiny and black, surrounded by a chrome ring. RIM’s newest, (the Blackberry 9000) is no exception. Look familiar?
It’s no secret that Apple has snagged a huge portion of the smartphone market in the last 9 months. In fact, Apple and the iPhone catapulted to #2 in the U.S. market in its first 6 months on the scene. As a new entrant to the market with a single device competing against established players hawking multiple devices, that is quite an accomplishment.
With that kind of success, Apple’s competitors have been scrambling to crack the recipe to Apple’s secret sauce. So far, they have all failed miserably. While they have all failed in slightly different ways, it is clear that no one in the smartphone market “gets it” like Apple does. It’s the software stupid! Yes, the iPhone is a gorgeous piece of hardware, but, like every other Apple computer, the true power lies in the software. Steve Jobs understands this, and he has said, multiple times, that Apple is a software company. The company makes its own hardware to complement its software and to allow its developers the control they need to produce amazing software.
Many people have asked me over the past 9 months whether they should get an iPhone or some other smartphone. As much as I love my iPhone, I’ve hesitated to recommend it to everyone. That changed at the beginning of March. Thanks to Apple’s announcement of the iPhone SDK and accompanying iPhone 2.0 software update due out in June, I am now bullish on the iPhone, and I won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone for business or personal use.
Apple has made the iPhone business ready by adding support for Exchange ActiveSync, Cicso IPSec VPN, and making some much needed improvements to the email client. Also, as it has done with Mac OS X on the desktop, Apple has made building applications for the iPhone simple and accessible to any software developer. The icing on the cake? For $99/year and a 30% cut of sales, Apple will list your application in the ubiquitous iPhone app store, and the company will handle all distribution and billing. The developer is just cut a check at the end of the month. This allows bright developers to do what they do best: build cool applications.
The game is changing again, and I have little doubt that Apple will continue to be a force in the mobile market. The rest of this year is going to be very exciting for those of us who love mobile devices, and I’m ecstatic that I will be able to contribute to it.