BusinessWeek Feels Verizon and RIM’s Pain

0613 Apple

BusinessWeek has an interesting but slightly over-the-top story about the misery the iPhone 3G will inflict on the rest of the wireless industry. It’s quite maudlin in its focus on the needs of the establishment wireless service providers. It even seems to mourn threats to the dominance of the existing wireless carriers. Perhaps the only news to glean in between the forecasts of doom is that Palm, once the dominant player in Smart Phones is now too niche to merit a mention in a round-up story like this. Apparently, the hole Palm needs to climb out of is so deep that the iPhone 3G’s coming ubiquity doesn’t even make things worse.

  • imajoebob

    I’m pondering if the iPhone isn’t the best thing that could have happened to the Palm? Let’s face it, the “Garnet” OS is so old and tired – maybe even neglected – that if it should have been put to sleep years ago. Palm is, to my way of thinking, facing the same future prospects as Apple in the mid 90’s. Reinvent (I hate hackneyed jargon) or close the doors. Either way, they have to blow the place up. ) (disclosure: I still use my ancient Handspring)

    If Palm can (finally?) come up with an contemporary OS that’s as good as the original, they’ll jump right to the top of the non-iPhone market.

    All the current phones. smart or otherwise, labor with the same basic software they had 10 years ago. None of them do the web well, and while texting is a screaming success, it’s just a steal from Blackberry. Speaking of Blackberry, this is a well designed pager on steroids, bolted onto a phone. The same decade-old phone. And do we really need to talk about Windows-based phones? I’ll just say that software wasn’t as good as the desktop version.

    The iPhone swapped the paradigm (<-hackneyed), and created a true web device, as intuitive and slick as full blown OS X, with phone features taking a back seat. Evidenced best by the absence of a tactile key pad (I almost said dial…). It’s a fabulous device, but it’s not first and foremost a phone.

    So, if Palm can create a phone-centric OS that can do the web, (real) IM, text, and email in a sensible, intuitive fashion, they will rocket to the top of the charts. And A-Number-One, go with your strengths. make it a killer PDA that will work seamlessly with your computer and the web. That’s Palm’s (only?) perceived strength, so they have to leverage it. Just like Apple did with OS X and the iPod.

    Palm may need to sell their vital organs to someone with deep pockets* to finance at least a year of blood letting, but if they can make a clean break and create an entirely new device, they’ll own the smart phone market.

    Or I’m fulla crap.

    *footnote: if a new OS has this potential, a Nokia or Samsung might be the rich partner, protecting their handset sales.

  • phoenix

    I think they probably neglected to mention Palm because it’s been an awkward success. They’ve been instrumental in showing that an OS that’s so old it can grow its own mold can still be successful in a portable smartphone that’s well designed and attractive (eg, the Centro) as well as cheap (under $100 on most carriers). I know plenty of people who’ve opted for the Centro not because it’s a Palm, but because it’s a smartphone and its super cheap.

    That being said, Verizon could easily assuage its fears and pain by working with Apple to get an iPhone for itself. That shouldn’t be tremendously hard, and I’m sure Apple wouldn’t mind the opportunity to work with Verizon, all things like network engineering and handset re-engineering and the exclusive deal with AT&T nonwithstanding.

    As for RIM? Bah. Frankly, I’m one of those folks who’s tired of the iPhone vs. Blackberry nonsensical hype – the comparisons are there but the markets are completely different demographically.

  • Jacob

    I don’t think we’ll see a CDMA phone from Apple. By the time, apple’s 5 year exclusive deal with AT&T is over, LTE (GSM 4G) tech will be deployed by Verizon. I’m sure by then Apple will have deals in place with all GSM carriers.

  • Greg

    Sorry, i didnt know where else to put this:

    “09:10 GMT, Jun 16, 2008Latest Headlines…
    iPhone 3G to hit China in August via China Unicom – report

    Shanghai. June 16. INTERFAX-CHINA – China United Telecommunications
    Corp. (China Unicom) will begin to sell Apple Inc.’s new 3G version
    iPhone in mainland China in August, Chinese media reported today.
    China Unicom has reached an agreement with Apple to introduce the new
    iPhone 3G in mainland China, Chinese Web site Sina reported today. This
    is in line with an earlier report by Oriental Morning Post, which quoted
    Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, as saying that he expects the
    iPhone 3G to enter mainland China this year.
    “I have not heard of a deal between China Unicom and Apple over the
    iPhone,” Shi Lin, an official from China Unicom’s handset procurement
    subsidiary Unicom Vsens, told Interfax.
    “It is unlikely that China Unicom will ………”
    http://www.interfax.com/4/4031

About the author

Pete Mortensen

Pete Mortensen is a design strategist for consulting firm Jump Associates and the co-author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, a book and blog that are significantly more interesting than you might initially think. Pete's particular Apple avocations are both around design--interface and industrial. Follow him on Twitter!

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