When Google first came out with the G1, I was not impressed. The iPhone was still fresh and exciting and the G1 felt cheap and underdeveloped. I remember asking the first person I saw with a G1, “Do you work for Google?” Thinking, why else would you have that phone?
Times have definitely changed.
The Android OS has continued to improve and evolve with more and more handset manufacturers coming out with Android phones that people actually want. HTC, a relative no name a few years back, is successfully building their brand presence in the U.S. (thanks in large part to Android) and Motorola is in the middle of a comeback with the early success of the Droid.
With Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and Dell all coming out with Android phones, it looks like Android has a chance of becoming the “Windows” of the smartphone market. On top of this, rumors are that Google themselves are making their own smartphone which would provide the all-in-one hardware-software mix that has made Apple so successful.
So, how can the iPhone win against Android?
By doing what has worked for Apple in the past, focusing on quality and creating enough product diversity to satisfy their target markets.
More iPhone Models
When the iPod came out, there was one model and it was hugely successful, but in order to keep over 70% of the MP3 market share, Apple came out with the Nano, Shuffle, Video, etc. Same thing needs to happen with the iPhone. Different price points and storage capacities aren’t enough. Different hardware configs, screen sizes, form factors, etc. Why is a physical keyboard blasphemy?
Apple is know for innovating with the latest hardware. They were the first laptop manufacturer to include built-in wifi, wide screen displays, backlit keyboards, etc. The original iPhone had the best touch screen and great specs, but the 3GS was a hardware snooze fest. Front facing camera for video chat (can be low rez and only work on wifi,) 5mp camera with flash, and their own line of doc connector peripherals (i.e. game controller) would be awesome.
Open Up the App Store
Yes, it’s good that Apple wants to keep the junk out of the app store and wants to insure that the iPhone experience doesn’t suffer because of poorly written apps. However, the public attention is not on how many apps there are, but how the approval process is slow, flawed and over restrictive. Provide more ratings, allow more content, and hire more people to make the process faster.
User customization has never been a trademark of Apple but a little can go a long way. Either develop a framework for themes or give users more options for what appears on the unlock screen (widgets,etc.) Everyone’s iPhone looks the same and for the Apple creative crowd, that’s not a good thing. At least offer more exterior colors, people eat that up.
Get On Verizon
Hopefully this in already in the works. Don’t let AT&T’s network issues drag down the iPhone brand in the U.S. A lot of users are going with Android because they don’t use (or want) AT&T.
Diversity and competition are great for technology, and I for one am glad it’s Google and not RIM or Microsoft giving Apple the run for their money. Although I’m obviously a die hard Mac fan, the Droid and HTC Dragon look really tempting. I want to use an iPhone because I believe it’s the best hardware/software combo out there, not just because it’s got an Apple logo on it. The iPhone is still tops, but it’s gonna take a lot of innovation to stay in the lead when it’s Google on your heels.