Wednesday, September 19, 2007

iPhone goes international

I just got back from a quick trip to the UK. I took my iPhone with me. The iPhone was being launched to the UK as I was leaving the country on Tuesday. However, it is clear that the iPhone will go mainstream in the UK and Europe. Without exception everyone that saw that I had an iPhone wanted a demonstration and after a quick tour of the phone, iPod and email features everyone declared that they wanted one. This included people that had seen some of the new models coming from Nokia. The only competition for the iPhone is really coming from the iPod touch which will cause some people to keep their current phone and add the wifi-enabled touch in their pocket alongside their existing phone. During my trip I also had the opportunity to use the Blackberry 8830 "world phone" from Verizon. The data plan was useful, allowing me to use Google Maps and retrieve email anywhere. The phone also worked well with crystal clear reception. However, the keyboard - horrible. I found myself constantly hunting to find the correct key. Having used the iPhone and the soft keyboard I would vote for it anytime in preference to the Blackberry. They keys are just too small and the blue backlighting to the keyboard makes it harder, not easier ro distinquish keys, particularly the Alternate keys. The number pad keys are also very small. At the same time the phone is larger than an iPhone, thicker than an iPhone while the display is much smaller. Now, I have also used the Blackberry Pearl in the past. In many ways the Pearl is a better compromise han the 8830. I found the full but small keyboard to be less convenient than the Pearl's "two letters per key" layout. Overall verdict: iPhone beats Blackberry. The drop in price is going to make the iPhone a compelling product. Blackberry will not disappear simply because of the Blackberry Enterprise Server and Push email capability that makes it a compelling buy for corporate buyers but in the consumer market I believe the iPhone will blow away the competition. Where is the differentiation that will keep other handsets in the running? The Nokia N95 offers a 5 megapixel camera. The quality of shots from the camera and the ability to record video will keep some buyers hooked. How long before an iPhone is launched with video and high resolution camera capability? Probably sometime in 2008 is my guess.

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