There’s been plenty of chatter that the iPhone is finally facing a concerted challenge from mobile’s biggest players. The HTC Legend, HTC Desire, Google Nexus One and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 can all do things Apple’s blower can’t (yet). Whether it’s social network aggregation, media recommendations or just plain old multitasking, these phones have got the edge.
Well, at least in terms of specs they have. Because, despite the iPhone lagging behind in the eyes of keen techies and mobile fanatics, it’s doing very well. Better than very well, you could say. In fact, Apple flogged a massive 8.75 million iPhones in the first three months of 2010, helping it in part to make an eye-watering $3.03 billion in profit in the first quarter.
With the HTC Legend and Xperia X10 only recently on sale, it’s hard to gauge how they’ll stack up against the iPhone, but only the most optimistic of Apple haters would suggest these phones could reach sales figures of 8.75 million in their entire lifetime.
So what can other phone manufacturers do to put their cells on an equal footing with the iPhone? The emphasis on software is definitely growing, especially with excellent Android updates adding great new functionality. But perhaps what the biggest manufacturers need to do is pour all their resources into one handset, a la Apple, and sing from the rooftops about its skills. This means Nokia focusing on the fabled N8-00 in its top smartphone category, or HTC touting the Desire as the ultimate iPhone alternative.
Short of such a far-reaching and costly approach, investment in simplicity of design is key. HTC has got this one nailed, but other companies need to start realising the power of good industrial design. The iPhone isn’t just popular because it has a sleek touchscreen. It’s because it looks great and is easy-to-use. So much is being made of specs that the average consumer doesn’t use, to the detriment of phones looking sharp as hell. If we’re being brutal, only the HTC Legend can hold a candle to the iPhone when it comes to build.
There isn’t much time for rivals to make their play before Apple goes again, with the now leaked iPhone 4G due for release in June. If Apple maintains the same level of growth, which saw iPhone sales rocket 131 per cent compared to the same period in 2009, then Android, Symbian and Windows Phone have got big issues. So now is the time to spend big on getting the message out there. Tech heads know that Android is better than the iPhone. Joe Public doesn’t.
If HTC, Nokia, BlackBerry and the rest want to be fighting it out at the top, each one is going to have to make sure they have new kit ready to roll before June, or at least are marketing the hell out of their current flagship efforts. HTC is in a prime position, but the Nokia N8-00 needs to appear soon. Apple’s stated aim of becoming the most dominant smartphone player is getting very close to becoming reality, if it hasn’t already.