For iPhone owners who are happy with their platform, and think it's amazing, the news of the increased competition may mean very little. They still have access to the most robust application store in the world. They still have excellent integration with their desktop machines, especially their Macs. And they can be confident knowing that the product will continue to be upgraded.
But if you're an iPhone owner who is either tired of the limited carrier choices, or if you're simply curious about Android, or if you prefer Google's applications and approach moreso than you do the Steve Jobs way, today's announcement has to give you immediate pause. Not because it instantly vaporizes the iPhone's lead, but because of the same reason we all should be watching the creep of the Chrome OS - because it's not just about now. It's about next.
Switching smartphones (no superphones for me, thank you) is not as easy as it used to be when one dropped a Nokia for a Sony Erricson or a Motorola with little thought. Now, you're as married to a platform as you are to your operating system. Now, because of the application store, and all those hooks that I warned about in September of 2008, you are going to be giving up a lot more than one unit for another, but literally throwing away tens to hundreds of dollars of applications you may have purchased, which will either have to be purchased again on the new platform, or may have no equivalent at all.
With the cost of data plans and voice plans and hardware and applications, the true cost of a smartphone over the lifetime of the product rivals that of top of the line laptops, so the same kind of thought and shopping around once reserved for a day to day computer is the same kind of thinking now necessary for the unit you're going to clip on your belt and call your parents with.
In December of 2008, I said there are two phones in this world, those that are iPhone and those that are not. That's clearly no longer the case. You either have an iPhone or an Android, or an also-ran, and I believe that BlackBerry's position is niched in businesses, away from the consumer, with Apple and Google in the driver's seat for the foreseeable future. But even if you've run the specs and like the iPhone better, or you have an iPhone and think it's still the best, when it comes time to buy again, you just might take serious pause, and have to go through analysis paralysis.
I talked more about this very real issue this afternoon on a CinchCast, embedded below: