Talking tech since 2003

In business there is nothing better than winning over new customers.  After all, when your product or service is of quality enough to gain serious traction in your industry you can pretty much be certain that you have done something right.  However, even winning over a customer isn’t always a surefire guarantee of long-term success.  The beautiful thing about technology-based industries such as the mobile communications sector is the fact that customers can be “re-won” over just about as often as their contracts renew or expire, meaning that in order to be successful and keep money coming in hardware manufacturers need to constantly better their products to prevent consumers such as you and me from pursuing other avenues.

That said, the next generation of Apple’s iPhone (I’ll leave the name and mockup images to other blogs that seem to “specialize” in that field) is going to be up against stiff competition in the constantly growing mobile market.  Just like years past, Apple is going to have to compete with RIM’s struggling-to-keep-up BlackBerry OS, Google’s popular Android platform, and Microsoft’s up-and-coming Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango).  Now, seeing as how Mango isn’t even available to the general public as of yet I’m going to spare it from my criticism this time around, but as others are already starting to point out the upcoming iPhone release really does stand to crumble the market share of both Android and BlackBerry.

Starting off with BlackBerry, you have to realize that RIM’s flagship mobile operating system never had grassroots with general consumers like your stay-at-home soccer mom, but was rather built from the ground up with a strict focus on enterprise and business users.  While BlackBerry has done quite a bit to get in the hands of regular consumers, though, the fact of the matter is that as of today the only arena where BlackBerry OS has any type of edge over Android or iOS is in business environments.  And at that, I really can’t figure out why.  I mean, all of the features that we see in BBOS have been implemented and improved upon in both iOS and Android OS.  After all, every single smartphone on the market (and even some of the “dumbphones” out there) can handle the once-noteworthy messaging and collaboration features that BlackBerry OS rode to the bank way back when.

But iOS 5 is going to take this a step further.  The implementation of iCloud will give business users all of the collaboration and synchronization features they would ever need; and do it all for free, unless of course users had a need to upgrade.  Gone will be the days of IT departments having to manage the BlackBerry Enterprise Server just to provide their users with basic features.  Of course, if businesses wanted to control their content in-house instead of putting their workload on iCloud (a justifiable argument that every business really should push around) they could easily implement Microsoft Exchange support within iOS.  So when you really think about it, iOS is becoming more flexible for enterprise smartphones than BlackBerry was or is.  That’s probably why a near two-thirds of current BlackBerry users, according to the Beatweek article I cited earlier, say that they’re switching to iPhone handsets the next time they do upgrades. 

Moving onto the topic of Android, I really do think that Google is going to need to do quite a bit of damage control if they want to prevent the last several years of Android development from going town the toilet.  You see, even though Android seemed to start off on the right foot (I for one thought it would be a huge competitor to the iPhone OS) recent reports have estimated that the rate at which consumers returned Android-based devices to retailers after purchasing them was as high as 40%.  Now, even though other neutrals sources have gone against these figures by arguing that retail stores wouldn’t even carry Android-based devices if the return rate was really that high, the whole debate has brought up the fact that buyer’s remorse after purchasing Android devices isn’t that uncommon at all.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same Beatweek article found that less than half of current Android users planned on purchasing another Android device down the road.  Who does that mean more business for?  Seeing as how BlackBerry is going the way of the Betamax, I think it’s fair to say that while Windows Phone Mango has the potential to get a bit more traction for Android-dumpers the real clear “winner” in this situation is going to be Apple’s iPhone.

Throw in the fact that the iPhone is no longer exclusive to AT&T and it becomes quite evident that the floodgates are opening for the iPhone to strengthen its hold on the smartphone industry.  Again.

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