By Greg Mills
The US president of HTC has been widely quoted in the press proclaiming his research indicates that iPhone is no longer cool with young people. Is there an Android app for finding out just what hard drug or alcoholic mind bender the guy is on?
Apparently, you hear what you want to hear and ignore the rest of what is said. It seems Martin Fichter, the regional manager for HTC asked some students, in a not-too-scientific survey, if they thought iPhone was still “cool.” Some unnamed student thought since her dad had a iPhone, the cool factor had worn off for her. Poor baby. Get that girl a Zune and Kin phone right away. The Android is so Apple looking, I am sure she wouldn’t want one of those. (See http://www.geekwire.com/2011/htc-boss-windows-phone-7-patents-iphones-cool-anymore .)
“I brought my daughter back to college — she’s down in Portland at Reed — and I talked to a few of the kids on her floor. And none of them has an iPhone because they told me: ‘My dad has an iPhone.’ There’s an interesting thing that’s going on in the market. The iPhone becomes a little less cool than it was. They were carrying HTCs. They were carrying Samsungs. They were even carrying some Chinese manufacturer’s devices. If you look at a college campus, MacBook Airs are cool. iPhones are not that cool anymore. We here are using iPhones, but our kids don’t find them that cool anymore.”
My question for Mr. Fichter is this: if the iPhone is so out of date, why is HTC modeling their phones and software after the iPhone? They say emulation is the most sincere form of flattery. What HTC is selling makes the statement of Ficher disingenuous indeed. Wishful thinking becomes reality with certain mind bending drugs and I suggest that HTC begin testing employees from the top down right away. Apple products of all kinds are so cool, they fly off the shelf.
Also in the news, it seems HTC is so concerned about the Apple success in the smart phone and tablet department they are looking at buying the Palm WebOS platform from HP. HP cried “uncle” and bailed out of the mobile market, but HTC is so specifically oriented as to make its future tied to mobile there is no fall back position for them.
The way I read the situation, the Android handset makers have concluded Google might take Android away from them and allow Motorola an exclusive platform modeled after Apple’s vertical business format. Apple builds the devices and creates the software allowing carefully crafted products that works seamlessly. Numerous flavors of Android designed to work on a dozen brands of smartphones creates to a lot of the issues of incompatibility seen in that platform.
You have to think HTC and the rest of the Android handset makers are worried about how all of this will shake out. The one thing they all have in common, other than the Android OS is the Apple legal actions they face. Not only are they taxed by the Apple legal assault, they now face uncertainty that Google will continue to make the most recent Android OS available to them. Motorola has the inside track. Some Google internal document got out confirming their worst fears that despite publicly proclaiming that Android was going to remain “open source” there is at least discussion at Google over favoring Motorola.
The backdrop to all this is Apple’s iOS 5 and the coming new iPhone model that will invigorate the Apple platform just as the Android bag of hurt hangs heavy around the necks of all the handset makers. That Apple might put a cheaper model of iPhone out that would fit the pre-paid market must have Nokia climbing the walls. Taking the last market segment away will hurt Nokia badly.
Another factor is that Apple has begun to offer iPhone to every cellular network out there, even Sprint. The “I would rather have an iPhone, but I will accept an Android” opening for the wannabe iPhone killers is closing. Market share for Apple will certainly grow into that market as contracts on old Android smartphones expire and the handsets get long on the tooth.
That is Greg’s Bite for today.