Android phones dominate CTIA: Is Apple a 1-trick pony?

With 115 phones either on or near the market, Android is poised to offer Apple a real run for its money. Got competition?
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

Special Report: CTIA Wireless

There's little doubt that the iPhone remains the smartphone to beat. At around a quarter of the smartphone market (depending upon your reckoning - regardless, it's a lot), iPhone sales remain extraordinarily strong. There's good reason for this - it's a great phone with a kajillion (give or take) apps. However, the attention being paid to Android-based "superphones" at this year's CTIA conference makes me wonder how it will continue to compete in a market with countless choices on the Android platform.

As a consumer, if you want an iPhone experience (access to the App store, Safari, slick gesture and multitouch, iTunes, etc.), then you can buy an iPhone. Sure, it can be black or white and it can be a 3G or 3GS. It can have 3 different hard drive capacities. But it's still an iPhone from Apple. It's being sold unlocked now, but you're also fairly limited on carrier choice.

On the other hand, if you want an Android phone, your choices are a bit more varied: Googleandblog.com lists 115 phones currently running Android. While some of these are spread across different countries and a variety of carriers, the point is clear. Consumers (and enterprises) have a whole lot more choice looking at Android as their platform of choice rather than iPhone.

If the iPhone is your thing, then great. However, in terms of market penetration, wouldn't it seem that a platform with phones specialized for messaging, for multimedia, for voice (heck, the HTC EVO is a 4G hotspot for up to 8 computers), etc., is a bit more compelling than Apple's single offering?

Perhaps the iPhone is just so good, there only needs to be one offering. After all, Apple's approach to computers as the sole source of OS X offerings has continued to pay dividends. Tier 1 PC vendors have to compete with each other for increasingly low margins while Apple can charge a premium for their equipment (even if their MacBook and MacBook Pros are looking a bit long in the tooth).

However, as consumers, it's hard to argue with choice and competition. Android has certainly injected a bit (OK, a lot) into the smartphone marketplace. The iPhone 4G better be really cool.

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