App Industry Roundup: What if we don’t like the new iPhone?

Jun 4, 2010
Finance

Apple faces a lot of new pressure in the smart phone race, as we note in today’s App Industry Roundup. But what if Steve Jobs delivers a dud on Monday? Don’t worry, HTC has an option that won’t disappoint. Plus, Steve Ballmer admits Microsoft has slipped in the phone game. Apple has a lot on the […]

Apple faces a lot of new pressure in the smart phone race, as we note in today’s App Industry Roundup. But what if Steve Jobs delivers a dud on Monday? Don’t worry, HTC has an option that won’t disappoint. Plus, Steve Ballmer admits Microsoft has slipped in the phone game.

Apple has a lot on the line with Monday’s announcement

What if Steve Jobs introduces a new iPhone on Monday and no one is impressed? That’s the conceit behind this take from Reuters on the current iPhone hoopla.

Well, no one really expects a dud when Steve Jobs shows off the fourth-generation iPhone, expected to go on sale later this month. But the Reuters story correctly notes that Apple faces more pressure than ever to continue to dazzle us. Last year, Research in Motion’s line-up of Blackberry models was seen as Apple’s top competitor, but now “Android has made huge progress,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. She believes a new iPhone “will keep them ahead of the game” but that it isn’t as easy for Apple to stay ahead at the moment.

The new iPhone will have several key features (here are 5 things you can expect) but Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall wonders if that will be enough.

“There will be some pretty cool things on stage with Steve, but at the end of the day we know the general functionality,” he said.

It’s getting to be a tough crowd for Jobs and Apple, which is a good thing for the rest of us. We should have high expectations, we should want to be wowed, and we should welcome the competition that is increasingly grabbing our attention.

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That includes this hot new number from Sprint, the HTC Evo 4G.

Sprint’s big Android phone comes with a kickstand

The Evo is the first so-called 3G/4G phone, which means it will run on the faster, WiMax-based 4G networks where available and on Sprint’s 3G network elsewhere. But the real story with this phone is its size. This brawny beauty has a 4.3-inch screen (the iPhone 3Gs has a 3.5-inch screen), has an 8-megapixel camera and can be tethered to a laptop.

When I first handled the HTC Evo, I thought the screen was actually too big, that its scale would be more distracting than desirable. I was wrong. In this review, I note that the screen’s real advantage is when it comes to touch-typing messages, not watching videos. (Although that is sweet.) The bigger screen gives your thumbs room to breathe, and I was typing faster on the Evo than I did on Verizon’s HTC Incredible.

There is one problem with the HTC Evo. The battery life appears to drain faster than an iPhone, so be prepared to purchase an extra charging device if you want this.

In my humble opinion, I’m voting for HTC as the top phone-maker for the first half of 2010. The holiday season will bring a bounty of additional goodies, but HTC is by far the leader of the pack so far. The Incredible is a fine, fast phone and the Evo has stunning attributes. But who is HTC, and do they have a Steve Jobs like leader?

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At the D8 conference, this CEO you don’t know — Peter Chou — talked with Walt Mossberg about the company’s recent ascendancy. Did you know HTC trails only Nokia, Rim and Apple in smartphone sales?

Chou even addressed the issue of Evo’s battery life, as Brier Dudley notes in his blog. Chou said the battery works longer if the phone’s more advanced features aren’t being used (um, I could have told you that), but acknowledged that battery life needs to improve on smartphones.

“The battery technology is one area that innovates very slowly,” Chou said.

Steve Ballmer: We’re No. 5!, We’re No. 5!

Finally, also at D8, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a candid admission that you already knew: its smartphones are not that interesting. (The Kin models are a notable exception.) Ballmer told Mossberg: “We were ahead of this game and now we find ourselves No. 5 in the market… We missed a whole cycle.”

Recently, two top Microsoft executives have left the company. But it’s a good thing Ballmer has a partner like HTC’s Chou. HTC sells a number of Windows-based smartphones and Chou indicated that will continue. That might not be enough to improve Microsoft’s standings, but it certainly won’t hurt.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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