It’s been a while since we’ve done a mobile market wrap-up, and it’s not been for lack of news in the mobile industry. Innovation in the handset market has continued at a break neck pace, and it doesn’t appear that it will slow anytime soon. A lot of high-end phones have hit the market this summer, with the key ones being the iPhone 4.0 (AT&T), Droid X (Verizon), HTC EVO 4G (Sprint) and Samsung Vibrant (T-mobile). There has been a trend toward larger phones with higher resolution screens. Later this summer, the Dell Streak smartphone will be released that has an even larger, 5-inch screen. Personally, I can’t see using a device that big as a phone – it needs to fit comfortable in my hand or in my pocket to be my everyday device. It’ll be interesting to see if the Dell Streak breaks new ground, or if proves to be too big for the average consumer to handle.
The releases of these new smartphones have not been without troubles. Even the iPhone 4.0 has had its share of issues, primarily with reception. The issue got so bad that it forced Apple to hold a press conference with Steve Jobs responding to the criticism. In Apple style, they did a great job of spinning the problem and declaring the iPhone reception as good (or as bad, depending on your viewpoint) as every other smartphone. I thought the point of paying the “Apple tax” was to be a cut above everyone else, not as good as the competition. Either way, the iPhone 4.0 is still the class of the field these days, and it certainly helped Apple post great earnings for last quarter. Whether you love Apple or hate them, one thing is certain – they are posting impressive results!
In addition to the iPhone 4.0, the Droid X from Motorola that launched on Verizon has also run into its share of issues. Screen problems are plaguing the device, although both Motorola and Verizon have been quick to step in and remedy the issue. The increasing problems with smartphone introductions leads me to believe that manufacturers are rushing devices out the door prematurely to save/gain marketshare at the expense of quality. Manufacturers need to start doing a better job of quality control in order to preserve consumers’ trust in purchasing new devices.
Finally, one large player that has been absent from all of the mobile discussion has been Microsoft. Once a leader in the smartphone market, they have become a laggard. They are trying to stem their losses with a new OS called Windows Phone 7 (WP7). Microsoft is working to push out the OS by the end of the year, and it appears on schedule as they released hardware last week to Microsoft employees and select press members for review. Initial reviews have been mixed, and I get the feeling that the first release of WP7 will be half-baked with rapid improvements planned, similar to Apple’s original iPhone release strategy in 2007. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the market has shifted dramatically since 2007. iOS and Android are mature enough that I’d be surprised if users are willing to adopt an immature smartphone platform. While Microsoft has lots of resources to place behind WP7, I predict that they will compete with HP/Palm for third place in the smartphone market behind leaders Apple (iOS) and Google (Android).
If you’ve picked up one these, or a different, handset this summer, leave a comment – I’d like to hear how your experience has been. I’d be particularly interested in hearing from anyone who picked up a Samsung Vibrant on T-mobile. It’s the most underrated phone on the market in my opinion, and variants of the device will be available on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon by this fall.