Apple scared of RIM? Unlikely

It might not be a coincidence that Apple released its iPhone 2.2 update just as the BlackBerry storm gets its 15 minutes of fame but, I doubt that Apple is “scared” of RIM as CNET’s Don Reisenger says. It looks to me like Apple had carefully planned to “steal some thunder” rather than was “scared”. That’s a known marketing tactic, right?

Is Apple “concerned” by Blackberry’s venture into the touch-only phone? Of course they are and they should be – only the paranoid survive (Andy Grove, Intel) . But let’s remember that fundamentally, both companies have prospered using different strenghts.

Blackberry’s killer app is still its legendary push-email. It is a well-oiled machine that has been tightly integrated into wireless carriers’ sales effort and support. Secondly, people associate it with “reliability” & “security”—an image that Apple would certainly like to have. Finally, The Blackberry OS is arguably better than Windows Mobile, although, my Blackberry Curve is as slow and bloated much more than my Blackjack (rest in peace).

The iPhone capitalizes on design (hardware, interface) and on an impeccable implementation of basic features (calls, contacts, unlock, voicemails, web browsing). Apple also has more interesting applications and that’s good because , as most companies have come to realize, the value is in the software. It seems to me that while Apple could eventually implement a good Blackberry client (BB’s “killer app”), Blackberry would have a much harder time matching the overall execution and cool “halo” of Apple.

Last and not least, Apple’s real strength in the coming years is its distribution platform. People often don’t realize it, but it is Apple’s multi-facetted approach that makes it so hard to imitate–let alone beat. Good execution on Mac OS, iTunes and Hardware allows a better integration and a better experience. Apple is already the largest music vendor in the U.S and no-one has come up with a compelling counter-product.

But Don has an accurate list of Storm advantages:

“the BlackBerry Storm offers cut-and-paste (duh!) functionality, its touch screen provides tactile feedback, it works as a tethered modem (a major plus for businesses), allows for expandable memory, boasts video recording, and the battery is removable. The list goes on, but I think that grouping proves the point well: the iPhone 3G is not as capable as we may think” (link)

And I agree: the Apple 3G is not as capable as one might think, but that’s hardly news. For one, none of these advantages is a “killer” feature (hear “lost sales”). Secondly, if bulleted lists were defining sales, HTC would rule the phone market because they tend to have excellent specifications. The truth is: people love the iPhone because its’ cool and they don’t really care about “copy/paste”. The number one complaint for the iPhone is the lack of physical keyboard. The second has to be the “bad” 3G connectivity – which *I think*, is due to aggressive battery management and might be fixed by an update sooner than you think.

Personally, if you ask college students able to afford a smartphone, I doubt they’ll choose the Storm over the iPhone. It’s just not as cool. but of course, I could be totally mistaken. The public will decide and we will see what RIM has to announce when they disclose the Storm sales number. I don’t own an iPhone and I kind of like the Storm, but I really think that the Bold is Blackberry’s current best phone. To go back to what prompted this post: saying that Apple is “scared” is a bit of an exaggeration—perhaps a provocation—or simply wrong.

Filed in Apple >Cellphones >Featured >Top Stories. Read more about Thoughts.

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