iLike the iPhone and iLove competition

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

Love or hate Apple, the iPhone is only good for the mobile industry. Last week I wrote about how one simple variant of an existing technology product, the notebook, can have such a profound effect on the entire industry.

One company that knows how to do this only too well is Apple.

It saved itself with the iMac, and then transformed the portable music market with the iPod, and in the process gazumped (yikes, I used it again) market pioneer Sony. Hands up who once owned a Walkman!

And now it's set to do it again with the iPhone.

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past week you would have heard about the local release date and carrier support for the iPhone in Australia.

For now, let's consider the impact of of the iPhone on the mobile phone industry.

For starters, the iPhone exists because Apple saw the writing on the wall for the iPod. The big mobile phone manufacturers have been aggressively pushing digital music and multimedia integration into their handsets for some time now.

Is it reasonable to think people will go out of their way to buy an iPod when they get equivalent functionality built into the phone they already carry around? Possibly, but a fair chunk of the market won't, particularly those who view music as an option, not a necessity.

So, at the very least the iPhone is set to defend Apple's portable music turf.

Where the iPhone really shines is in how it brings PC-like rich functionality to the mobile phone – long since stricken by featureless and user-unfriendly software interfaces.

Throw in Apple's portable device storage opulence – long considered after-market but the phone vendors – and you have a real winner.

Apple has well and truly thrown the cat amongst the pigeons with the iPhone and left the already idiotic phone vendors scrambling to catch up. Apple releases an 8GB phone then Nokia releases an 8GB phone, who would have thought that only a year ago?

Nokia could have had its own iPhone well before Apple with its Internet tablets (N770 to N810), but what does it do? It leaves out the GSM phone. Now Nokia's Internet tablets face stiff competition from a 3G iPhone.

Even if you consider Windows Mobile to be an alternative to the iPhone for a PC-like experience on a mobile, the reliance on third-party device manufacturers doesn't provide the same degree of integration Apple does. That could change, but for now Microsoft is also behind the eight-ball.

There's nothing like a disruptive product to kick the industry into gear, and a PC maker launching a grenade into the mobile phone market is the kick it desperately needed.

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