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Panel: iPhone poses problems as model for success

updated 09:50 am EST, Thu February 14, 2008

MWC panel on iPhone

The iPhone may be a great success, but emulating it could prove a challenge, a panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has concluded. Addressing other technology and behavioral experts, technology marketer Anup Murarka of Adobe noted that 77 percent of iPhone buyers have labeled themselves as "very satisfied" with their experience -- something he and the other panelists agreed was not attributable to carrier AT&T, but almost entirely to Apple, the phone's designer. The panel could not agree, however, on the path to Apple's achievements.

Suggestions included subliminally satisfying users' "need states," such as killing time, but focused primarily on improving interfaces, such as through Murarka's direct strategy of better design. Sarah Lipman, a co-founder and R&R director at Power2B, recommended connecting with users' "neural networks," exploiting touch and "pre-touch" input. Mike Yonker, a general manager at Texas Instruments, proposed that search functions could bring people to richer content more easily, saying this is something Apple has achieved. "The content is the core," Lipman noted, "and we have to get out of their [users'] way."

The panel also recommended that wireless carriers make changes to their plans, which typically discourage enjoyment of phones by charging users for every minute of activity. All iPhones benefit from unlimited data access. Even if carriers do not adjust the actual rates though, the panel said, they can still market them better, increasing understanding of what is possible. "Operators are putting together cost plans that people can't understand," comment Lucia Predolin, international marketing and communications director at Italy's Buongirono.

by MacNN Staff



  1. howiethemacguy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This doesn't surprise me.

    The reason why it proves to be a challenge is because the other companies just don't have the committment to quality and innovation that Apple has. Look at all of the phones that have came out over the last year that have trouch screens. The touch screens are redundant and useless. They are redundant because there is also a traditional keypad. Also, the other manufacturers are still using the same OS. They don't want to spend the time and money on developing an OS for the phone. Apple spent years developing the iPhone. Anything that gets released right on the heals of the iPhone is going to be inferior.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    M$ all over again

    With Apple's entry into the mobile handset market, they've done in this industry what they've done in the computer industry: innovate themselves waaaaaaaay out in front of the pack. The irony is almost laughable how the competition is having these panel meetings to figure out how to copy their successful model.

    However, it's going to be necessary. The few companies that broke with their tradion of vice-like control in their business models are reaping the rewards of taking the chance on a product that gives people the control they want. This has the competition scared. What else could ever get them to come to an analytical meeting?

    I doubt it would be easy to copy Apple's software model. Not only does the iPhone leverage the stability of OS X and the best streamlined interface we've seen to date, but it has the installed user base of iTunes, which people don't you JUST for their mobile. I don't see how they could come up with something as successful as iTMS and the new video functionality.

    If any of them try to cherry pick just part of this business model, it's not going to succeed. I doubt any one company has the resources to create a mobile ecosystem similar to this one, and any conglomerate is going to be a hodge-podge in comparison.

    No, I doubt any other handset maker is going to see success in an attempt to copy this business model. They don't have Apple's mentality: "People who want to make good software make good hardware." That doesn't mean people won't try. Just look at M$'s attempts- they succeeded largerly because of their early entry and backstabbing IBM.

    I predict we'll see a large shift towards Apple's method, but nothing will ever match it, especially if Apple keeps on innovating.

  1. zac4mac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    any wonder

    "Designed by committee" is a cliché?


  1. ClevelandAdv

    Joined: Dec 1969



    As most of these tech companies have engineers designing GUI and human interface standards, they will struggle with the iPhone's success for a while. Eventually they will give up and just dump cheap imitation garbage on the public, many of whom will buy, cause it is cheap.

    The iPhone is the best device I have ever owned of any kind, and there is much room for improvement. Apple has developed a platform that was 'engineered' with the user in mind. It also provides a nearly limitless platform to expand.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They'll Never Get It

    Apple gets it. And Apple has laid the hardware and software foundation on which to build success after success now. And while there will probably be some more clunkers along the way, the successes are and will be unabashed successes. The rest of the pack are like the golfers who go out and buy the same set of golf clubs that Tiger Woods uses because obviously the reason Tiger is so good is because of his clubs. (Memo to self: find out what kind of gum George W. Bush chews and avoid it.)

  1. Haywire

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Clueless experts

    It's amazing how clueless a panel of "experts" can be.

    What Apple did for the iPhone design is basically very simple, but required hard work to implement.

    The iPhone emulates the Mac as an Internet access device while incidentally also being a phone. The key is a user doesn't have to conform to arcane phone interfaces to use it as either a phone, Internet, or iPod device.

    The hard work for any competitor is the implementation of a truly intuitive and easy to use interface for all the features. Competitors don't understand the value of the human interface. Nor do they have the capability for conceiving and implementing an integrated product vision. They all have to get over the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" syndrome. They should be continually breaking and evolving their products - Apple, with Steve Jobs direction, does this better than any company these days.

  1. jujuman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hah!!! Experts indeed!!!

    The problem I feel with these experts are that they always like to define things..... Defining things like "need states" and "neural networks," exploiting touch and "pre-touch" input, "The content is the core"... stuff like that.

    They seem to think that there is some kind of magic formula to what Apple has done. Some kind of pixie dust that Apple sprinkled on the iPhone to get people to like it.

    What I feel that Apple designers do is to approach it from the point of view of the user, the man in the street. How a normal person would like to use his device, how he would like his device to behave, what he would like his device to do for him.

    What these so called experts seem to think is that people have to adapt to their devices. They don't seem to design their devices with the user in mind. Hah!!! Experts indeed!!!

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    These experts fail to see the real reason that the current state of smart phones have such difficulty in capturing potential buyers imaginations. They all seemingly look as if they were designed by a committee in a post war Soviet tractor factory. Especially that new Sony X1, what a travesty of design.

  1. notehead

    Joined: Dec 1969


    rock on, jujuman

    Damn right. Lots of companies have brilliant engineers, but Apple's engineering is steered by humanism as much as, if not more than, by analysis.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Europeans see the iPhone

    as overpriced junk. That's why they're not selling as well as expected overseas. I don't think the iPhone's interface is a draw overseas. They want cheaper phones and more hardware features. They'll get more features in iPhone 2.0, but then there's still the cost.

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