updated 11:45 am EST, Thu January 25, 2007
ABI on iPhone
The iPhone is not a true smartphone, according to a study published today by ABI Research. Though the Apple device runs Mac OS X at its core, its creator's intention to close the platform and block third-party software from being freely installed prevents the iPhone from living up to common expectations of what a smartphone can do. The handset is instead a "very high-end feature phone," ABI's Philip Solis said, referring to devices where only the carrier or designer chooses what core software can be installed. This may put Apple at a disadvantage when compared directly with rivals at the same $500 price level.
"Sure, feature phones have third party applications too," Solis commented. "but these are relatively weak and limited applications... applications designed for smartphones can be written to access core functionality from the OS itself, and are therefore usually more powerful and efficient."
The research firm also warned Apple that it could not simply lean on its iPod expertise to muscle its way into the phone market. "Consumers will not be willing to settle for a second-rate cell phone just to have superior music," said ABI's Stuart Carlaw. ABI observes that Apple's lack of history compared to industry veterans will pose a major challenge that the company will need to overcome if it hopes to survive in the phone business.