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iPhone 4.0 perfection, hardly too much to ask, is it Steve?

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
Founder & Owner
17 July 2010

Apple CEO Steve Jobs understands disappointment better than most (take a look at his Stanford University Commencement speech) so I hope he won’t mind me saying that the iPhone 4.0 delivers emotional deflation with exceptional style and timing.

For the avoidance of doubt (and for ‘Sosumi’ legal precision), I will say right now that you would have to prise the new iPhone from my grasp with an industrial-strength pneumatic wrench and run (RUN!) in order to separate me from my favourite device.

The point is that despite the well-documented shortcomings of the iPhone, it is an object of rare beauty in the Smartphone mobile world. When the performance matches the desire, Apple will once again have set the standard as well as opening new ways for people, brands and corporate cultures to communicate.

So, what’s been my experience? Clearly, Apple has been rushed into delivering the iPhone 4.0 to market. I’m enjoying the ‘anytime, anywhere’ joys of dropped calls, signal issues, screen freezes and buggy apps performance. It’s almost an industry mantra that “The iPhone Drops Calls”.  I experienced it with my previous “handy” but not to the same extent.

Is the aerial problem an issue? Definitely, and probably the ‘Death Grip’ is the biggest foul-up that Apple has made. We can have workarounds (use the earpiece, set the phone down, use the “finger’n’thumb” pincer holding method…) but this will be resolved with the next model version. The other “features” can all be sorted out by software updates.

The rare Apple press conference on Friday emphasised this – Steve Jobs taking the time to apologize and, with a chutzpah that you either love or hate, rubbished the mobile competition while laying out a “buy now while you can” sales pitch. The analysts were happy, the press peeved mightily (they wanted blood) and the bloggers “harrumphing” mightily.

Despite its manifest problems, iPhone 4.0 remains the handset that consumers want to buy, or dream of owning – a major reason why the Apple share price has risen 75 per cent in the past year. It’s rocked a little in the past days, as players do what they do on the markets, but Steve Jobs will be announcing quarterly results on Tuesday that are widely expected to be very impressive.

So why the worry, why the hurry? What made Apple distribute a product with some serious usability flaws? In a word, Android.

There’s little doubt that Google’s mobile OS is causing damage. Nearly all the mobile world and their cousin (apart from Samsung) are embracing some form of it.

HTC is setting the Android benchmark: Hero won the Best Handset in the Global Mobile Awards this year, the Legend wowed critics and the new Desire is getting rave reviews. Android OS and HTC Sense UI combine for very impressive iPhone rival.

Samsung also busy in the Smartphone market with its proprietary ‘bada’ open platform (bada means Ocean in Korean) and AMOLED display. It’s a brave move against the current Android tide, which might have some success in capturing the “sub-Smartphone” market.

For me, though, Android may rock but it doesn’t roll. All the parts do not make more than the whole. I used a friend’s Desire recently and the screen was pretty good but still not quite as good as the iPhone. However, in terms of hardware, unless the A4 chip massively changes the game, the other competitors should catch up.

That still doesn’t change the fact that the Droids are a “nice to have”. The marketing does not currently achieve anything like the Apple effect, despite the wonderful reviews, the positive reception amongst consumers. Does anyone really, really want an HTC like they want an iPhone?

For marketers, this means that to dismiss Apple as a mobile platform would be a little early and to embrace in a marriage of convenience with the Droids, would also be – well, dull. We’re monitoring developments very, very closely and will be updating clients with the best information on what changes they need to make in their mobile marketing. Call me if you want to discuss – and let’s use the landline.

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