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iPhone – All About the Cool

By deans ~ October 29th, 2009. Filed under: Observations, Random Thoughts.

As a wave of potentially interesting terminal devices for ultra-mobile computing starts to appear (Moto Droid, BlackBerry Storm2, etc.), we’ve been thinking a lot about our platform choices.  Clearly, the iPhone rules for the entertainment focused elite (or at least those that think of themselves as such).  What has been less clear, however, is how the iPhone, with its carefully managed SDK and App Store, will perform as a mainstream business platform.

As we’ve been pondering these imponderables, this “report” from Retrevo caught my attention.  From a business manager’s perspective, the money quote is:

… they [iPhone owners] use their smart phones more for activities like watching videos, checking sports scores, and texting and they even watch more adult material on their iPhones than BlackBerry owners.

That certainly sounds productive!  (I’m listening to Mötley Crüe on my iPod Touch as I write this.)

A cynic reading the Retrevo post might jump to the conclusion that iPhone owners are shallow, arrogant narcissists.  In fact, the post concludes with the following:

… sure paints a picture of a group of smartphone owners that “think different,” and another more down-to-earth, mainstream group of BlackBerry owners.

I was particularly struck by the final chart presented in the post.  Respondents were apparently asked to rank themselves with respect to several “coolness” characteristics.  I think that the self assessment is very telling:

… iPhone owners rated themselves higher as Intellectuals, Extroverts, and Media Buffs than BlackBerry owners

Chart:  How iPhone Owners See Themselves
Source: Retrevo Blog: iPhone vs. BlackBerry Owners: Your Phone Tells All

With that in mind, I’m finally ready to get around to making a point.  The carefully crafted iPhone user experience is unparalleled for media consumption and gaming.  It’s in a class by itself.  The thing is, though, that Apple puts up a whole fortress of barriers to developers that want to build real solutions to business problems and make their software available on a range of mobile terminals.  Sure, you can hammer on your app to fit it into the Apple template (and you might even be able to get it approved), but why bother when you have so many more degrees of freedom and device choices with Android / Linux (unfortunately, I don’t know as much about developing for BlackBerry OS 5.0).  Until recently, the answer boiled down to 40M+ iPhones / iPod Touches, against pretty weak alternative hardware.  Perhaps this is starting to change.


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