Rise of Android could steal iPhone 4G's thunder
Since its launch three years ago, the iPhone has become the industry benchmark for high-end smartphones and its 4G avatar only reinforces this view. A number of factors, including unique user experience, well designed and sleek form factor, integration of Apple’s as well as third party services onto the device has resulted in iPhone’s success. However the more important reason being Apple’s ability to build and motivate a large and active developer community that produces content, in the form of apps.
This ecosystem of developers and the value they bring to the platform, as well as to consumers, is the hardest aspect of the iPhone proposition for other companies to replicate, especially given the reluctance of developers to support multiple software platforms. It is also the reason Apple is so keen to protect this community from disintermediation by the open web and hence its rather tough stance with Adobe over Flash.
However, the recently launched iPhone 4, which supports quad-band 3G rather than tri-band, faces much stiffer competition than its predecessors. The rise of Google Android over the last two years has been phenomenal and is allowing manufacturers to create appealing alternatives to the iPhone; critically at cheaper prices. These handsets are more than just iPhone clones. The risk to Apple is that these devices offer greater freedom with available content and may prove more appealing, if it offers the right user and developer experience, than a device with Apple approved content only. This may ultimately be what puts the brakes on unlimited iPhone growth.
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