Battle of smartphones

This past week we saw one of several annual Apple love-ins as the Worldwide Developer Conference took place in San Francisco.

As usual, Steve Jobs kicked it off with the aforementioned gratuitous display of affection as the faithful waited to see what new wonders would pour forth from the fount of Apple.

Meh! not much to get excited about, that alone was newsworthy. Apple did roll out V4 of the iPhone, but it was more yawn than awe inspiring.

To be fair, it is increasingly difficult to wow anyone in the tech space these days. after all, the iPhone/BlackBerry/Android world is pretty darn impressive as it sits.

Apple kept pace with a bit of multi-tasking, the ability to edit video on your phone and a forward as well as backward facing camera, meaning video chat is now a possibility on the iPhone.

It is the last feature, the video chat, that Apple undoubtedly hoped would be the lead feature that had everyone talking, but I am not so sure anyone really cares that much about it.

The strength of smartphones is the Internet connectivity, the applications, the power and possibility. Voice is the least compelling feature of any phone and adding video to it is sort of like adding cheese sauce to broccoli — it’s still broccoli!

One lasting impression the whole keynote left me with is how well Research in Motion is doing and how little credit they are getting.

The BlackBerry is still far and away the leading smartphone, with Apple and the Android phones combined having less market share, yet no one, at least in the high tech press, seems to talk about it.

I was speaking at a conference in Winnipeg last week and an American speaker who preceded me asked who had iPhones. a few hands went up. who had Android? Less hands went up. She followed on by explaining to her less-than-sophisticated northern cousins what a smartphone was!

I was somewhat shocked, as pretty much every attendee had a BlackBerry before them on the table or in their pocket or purse. for some reason this speaker didn’t even consider the BlackBerry as a smartphone! It goes to show how far under the radar RIM continues to fly and makes their market dominance that much more impressive.

The success of the BlackBerry also paints a clear picture of what we really want our smartphones to do. and no, it is not video chat.

E-mail, texting, some targeted web browsing (Googling), phone, time and contact management and even GPS functions dominate our use of the BlackBerry. most of the users of the BlackBerry don’t miss or even think about what they are missing in comparison with the iPhone.

Even though the iPhones and Androids will ultimately do more than the BlackBerry, they don’t do these basic functions as well, and it is these functions we want, and we make our purchasing decisions based on them.

When people ask me why I still use a BlackBerry, when I am obviously impressed with the other phones on the market, I answer the same way over and over: the BlackBerry is a tool, and it works perfectly for me. It keeps me connected, on time and does so efficiently and reliably. Why would I change? I won’t, not in the foreseeable future, and not even way cool video conferencing will change my mind.

Steve Dotto hosted and produced Canada’s most popular High tech TV show, Dotto Tech, for 15 years. he currently is a sought after speaker and writer focusing on the social impact of technology.

Battle of smartphones


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