How smart is the iPhone?

How smart is the iPhone?

Summary: Like most people with a pulse in their wrist and a love of tech in their hearts, I saw the Macworld keynote the other day. I know it's not going to win me any friends but does anyone else think Steve Jobs mightn't be so good on numbers?

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Like most people with a pulse in their wrist and a love of tech in their hearts, I saw the Macworld keynote the other day. I know it's not going to win me any friends but does anyone else think Steve Jobs mightn't be so good on numbers?

Said Steve of his newest mobile baby: "We have garnered a 20 percent market share of the US smartphone market."

The Nokia 5500

I don't know Steve, I'm just not sure you have. I'm not doubting the black polo-necked one's ability to see how many iPhones have left the shelves, more querying how he determined what counts as a smartphone.

It's worth noting that Steve Jobs is only using Gartner's numbers on the whole smartphone issue; more specifically, Gartner's US smartphone market share numbers for the third calendar quarter of last year. According to the numbers Jobs cited, RIM picked up 39 percent market share, the iPhone came second with 19 percent, leaving Palm, Motorola, and Nokia to take third, fourth and fifth place with 9.8, 7.4 and 1.4 percent respectively.

Does anything about that seem wrong to you? It does to me. While Nokia is not as popular in the US as it is in other territories, such as Europe, there's no denying it can still flog a few handsets -- handsets which are for the most part running on the Symbian OS. In the same quarter as the Gartner stats Jobs referenced, Symbian shifted 20 million phones but apparently undersold the iPhone by some quite considerable margin.

For Nokia to undersell RIM, Moto, Palm and Apple in Gartner's statistics, there's clearly a divergence of opinion on what constitutes a smartphone.

The Nokia E61

For Gartner, a smartphone is a large-screen, data-centric, handheld device designed to offer complete phone as well as PDA-type functionality. Presumably, it judges devices like the E61 in that category, while excluding the more familiar candy-bar stylings of the Nokia 5500 Sport.

For most people, however, any device running the Symbian OS would be considered a smartphone, as would anything running Windows Mobile or Linux, for that matter.

The iPhone, however, would not. Not yet anyway.

One of the key defining characteristics of a smartphone is openness -- the ability to add and remove programs freely, and a programmable OS. And Apple has yet to sanction this completely -- an SDK is yet to arrive, although it's scheduled for February. Until then, it looks like users are forced to take the jailbreak option, turning the iPhone into a smartphone against its will.

Disclosure: Jo Best did not visit San Francisco as a guest of Apple. She watched the keynote at her desk like everyone else. Sorry.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Linux, Mobile OS, Mobility, Nokia, Open Source, Operating Systems

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11 comments
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  • openess

    "One of the key defining characteristics of a smartphone is openness"

    umm who said? you?

    I am sure you are much more of an expert at segmenting the mobile handset market than Gartner.
    anonymous
  • openness

    Being somewhat of a mobile nerd, it's a question I've put to various analyst, users, software and hardware makers over the years: what defines a smartphone? Their answers almost always involve openness.

    It's not my opinion, rather that of the main players in the mobile industry -- albeit one I'd happen to agree with.
    anonymous
  • Open vs Smart

    If their definition involves "openness" surely it is a definition of "open", not smart?

    It is a bit like John Dawkins saying "Alternative medicine" is anything that has not been tested by "scientific" medicine. So, as soon as you agree with my "system" I will acknowledge you, otherwise you're out on your own.
    anonymous
  • iPhone numbers..

    "It's not my opinion, rather that of the main players in the mobile industry -- albeit one I'd happen to agree with."

    You mean one you're paid to agree with by someone who seeks to gain by discrediting Apple.
    anonymous
  • Your article headlines

    Jo, I just noticed someting - your headlines for your past three or four articles are all questions.
    anonymous
  • Not so much

    Openness was the most important characteristic identified by most people i asked on what is a smartphone, as opposed to a feature phone.

    To suggest that "if theirdefinition involves "openness" surely it is a definition of "open", not smart?" is nonsensical. Using that argument descends into the depths of tautology - then the definition of smartphone would be that it would be smart. It's clearly far too nebulous a term and there must be more to define such a device. It's similar to two answers to the question "what defines a giraffe?" either you say "it's giraffey" or "it's the tallest living mammal, found in Africa, with a long neck and a distinctive patched coat".

    As for the statement, "It is a bit like John Dawkins saying "Alternative medicine" is anything that has not been tested by "scientific" medicine. So, as soon as you agree with my "system" I will acknowledge you, otherwise you're out on your own." No, it's not. If those I had asked had defined a smartphone as a device with a large screen size, then the sentence would read "This is opinion of the main players in the mobile industry -- albeit not one I'd happen to agree with."
    anonymous
  • where is info

    Where you get the information that SDK for iphone is going to be ready in March? Could you give me a link, I would like to read the details.


    Javatech
    http://www.javatech.eu/mobile-software.html
    anonymous
  • iPhone not smart at all

    I wouldn't call iPhone a smart phone. It is a phone would some added entertainment features, a decent web browser. But it is by no means smart. There are tons of things it cannot do. I don't think I need to list them.
    Still it is amazing how Apple was able to sell that many phones. Just goes to show that good marketing and having a loyal customer base can make all the difference.
    anonymous
  • How smart is the iphone

    The smartest phone is the one that works when you need it. Not my HTC with windows mobile and failing battery. The rest is marketing hype and battling over features that most smart phone users access on their laptop five minutes later anyway. I know, but we really need one!
    anonymous
  • Smartphone

    Surely a smartphone has 4 major players:

    1/ Ability to update or install new software

    2/ Ability to synchronise a calendar, contacts

    3/ Ability to access & send emails

    4/ Surf the Internet

    Without these 4 basics a phone is just a phone & useless in business which is where a smartphone is predominantly utilised.
    anonymous
  • Nokia E61

    I read that the USA market is low on Nokia acceptance. That's dumb!

    Your HTC with failing battery & the amazing Windoze Mobbel, amazing because it is the slowest cart on the street led by the dumbest horse. Nokia is pretty much equal with SonyEricsson & well ahead of everyone else including the HTC. I've got the E61 & I love it. I'd get the E71 but my wife would thrash me all the way down the street with her straw broom before zooming off to the markets to buy a new dress to replace the wind damaged old one.

    The battery life is great, I can do anything I need with it except take pics. The E61 & E71 can take 3Meg pics. The Nokia has everything. It was the first smartphone to cover all bases. Bluetooth, SD mini, wireless & will even do the RIM thing if your company or self is rich enough & dumb enough to pay for the Internet twice.
    anonymous