Why Today is a Really Important Day for the iPhone

Well before I get to that…..Today is a really important day for me because I bought my iPhone yesterday and it has been charged up during the night, while fresh firmware and a new operating system were installed etc, etc. [ Fresh firmware, a new O/S, and a new version of iTunes on my Mac…Why dont they just ship a virgin device and get all the bits installed over the internet? ]. Its now all lickety spit, charged up, and ready to go. And it is wonderfully impressive. I have been slow to get an iPhone because it has been slow to make itself available in Italy (where I mostly live). Of course, it was launched here three months ago, and Italy is the most telefonino-dominated culture in the world (maybe after Korea) but it has been impossible to get hold of them till this week.

It would seem that I have finally gotten on board the iPhone bandwagon just as it faces its most important challenge: Android, aka the Gphone will be launched today by T-Mobile. Android is Google’s ‘open’ platform, operating system for mobile telephony and mobile computing. Greg Sterling at SearchEngineLand has some good facts and figures explaining why the web will become predominantly mobile. As Greg explains the iPhone and the soon to be revealed Android have an important competitive but collaborative interdependence:

The iPhone is like the “proof of concept device” for the mobile internet. And it is the device to which the first Android phone will inevitably be compared by everyone. Google has seen its mobile fortunes rise with the iPhone. But the iPhone has tiny market share ……

Android is, in some respects, the anti-iPhone. Like the iPhone it seeks to provide a better user experience but also features a totally open platform unlike the highly controlled Apple device. At a conference last week, I had a mobile company executive tell me, “Steve Jobs re-wrote our press release.” That can be seen as a metaphor for the tight controls that Apple imposes on developers and the entire process of launching iPhone applications.

The Android software ecosystem promises to be more freewheeling and more uneven as a result.

Google is going to have its hands full competing in the mobile space. Although Android has been a bit slow to come on stream, I like the idea of a freewheeling ecosystem. Competition is good for Google, as it certainly will be for Apple. It will also be interesting to see how the Google ‘marketplace’ compares with the evolving Apple AppStore.

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