Opinion: Apple sets lasting standard in wireless

Mon, 06/29/2009 - 8:10am
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

When looking at the AdMob’s most recent Metrics Reports, it’s hard not to wonder what kind of magic pixie dust Apple dropped into its devices. The iPhone has created a monumental divide between its products and others on the market, especially other smartphones. But it’s exactly that divide that has transformed the wireless industry in a matter of years.

Say what you will about the relevance of AdMob’s monthly metrics report – it gives us a pretty good idea of which handsets are munching up data on the mobile Web. Not surprisingly, the iPhone and iPod Touch snagged the top two spots again in May, taking 45 percent of total ad requests in the United States. Third on the list is the Samsung R450, which accounts for 4.5 percent of ad requests.

To clarify, the Samsung R450 is a messaging phone with a slide-out keyboard. It’s not even really a smartphone by most definitions. In fact, the HTC Dream, or G1, which comes in at No. 5 on the list and accounts for 2.2 percent of total requests, is the next smartphone in AdMob’s lineup. Not surprisingly, the Android-based HTC Dream has a touchscreen, and its user interface has received better-than-average reviews. Sound familiar?

Whether you’re a fan or a hater of Apple and its products (there’s plenty of both), to ignore the impact that the iPhone has had on the industry is impossible. From the way carriers manage their networks to mobile content distribution, the iPhone is setting standards that will last long after other devices come along and even out the playing field.

It’s natural to want to beat the lead guy, and undoubtedly some smarter-than-smart smartphone will do just that, but it will do it by building off the iPhone, not by pretending it doesn’t exist. As of right now, all eyes are on the Palm Pre, which is definitely advancing the evolutionary line of the smartphone. Price point and available applications aside, the Pre has a strong fan base, an intuitive UI and a touchscreen. 

It’s probably best to get used to that iPhone-like familiarity. Emerging devices and services that go up against the iPhone and its App Store are all going to be familiar stories. There are a lot of people out there who seem to want to make a battle out of the handset market (i.e., Pre vs. iPhone), but in the end, it’s going to be a matter of who can at least meet what’s become expected of a mobile Web device as put forth by the iPhone, and then add one or two extras to the formula. The Pre added multi-tasking to the smartphone, and the HTC Dream delivers a compelling open-source OS, but both look an awful lot like something that took a huge chunk of ad requests for May 2009.

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•  Opinion: Apple sets lasting standard in wireless
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