PC World has officially labeled the Apple iPhone as the 5th biggest tech disappointment of 2007, joining the ranks of Windows Vista, the hi-def DVD format wars, and municipal WiMax’s dismal failures.
The iPhone is, of course, groundbreaking and all that, argues PC World, but it could have been much better. Initially, the sheer beauty of the iPhone overshadowed the early problems it had (activation headaches and the much-to-soon $200 price drop, and the ensuing “quasi-rebate”). But of course, the problems keep mounting for Apple’s iPhone, and the iPhone’s honeymoon days are over. Sure, sales are through the roof and Apple’s stock has jumped almost 30% in the past month or so, and Apple is now the #2 smartphone maker behind RIM and its Blackberries, but the hype’s over and reality will set in soon unless Steve Jobs and co. make some changes in early 2008. The major carriers are all rolling out iPhone killers, and Google’s new Android mobile platform will surely dent the iPhone’s armor.
We’re all sick of hearing that the iPhone is painstakingly slow on the EDGE network and that 3G capability is a must-have for the next-gen release (which will probably come out in early 2008, perhaps with GPS to boot… and maybe this time around we can set our own ringtones – it’s 1/4 iPod for crying out loud). But, even if Apple finds a way to maintain battery life with 3G capability and the upgrade drastically improves performance, they still have a lot to do if they want to be in the market for the long run.
Apple is notorious for maintaining control of almost every aspect of the user’s experience on its products, as evidenced by the lack of access third-parties get to the iPhone’s platform. The iPhone won’t even sync correctly with Outlook, and it’s calendar / email functions cripple it for enterprise users. The typical smartphone is much more open-ended, and it’s only a matter of time before the iPhone’s limited customization seriously hurts its rep. With a Google Phone (reportedly called the “Switch”) on the horizon, especially one that is officially going to be open-source, Apple needs to change its game – and fast. Google will undoubtedly offer a more open, more customizable package that users will find refreshing now that the iPhone’s losing its grace. It’s probably too early to speculate exactly what the Google Phone will offer, but one thing’s for sure – it will threaten the iPhone’s throne.