How The IPhone Became A Smartphone

Apologies in advance for making some of our readers feel old, but some of our other readers still haven’t gotten out of college, and they may not remember a time when we referred not to smartphones, but to “iPhones.” Techies knew that the iPhone was just one type of smartphone, but the average person on the street saw a line clearly drawn between the flip-open cell phones of the nineties and early 00’s, and the fancy new iPhones of the late 00’s and 2010’s. They were blind to every other touchscreen communication device on the market.

Once upon a time, we didn’t talk about “video games,” we referred to it as “playing Nintendo.” In some regions, people don’t refer to “cola,” we call it all “Coke,” even if it’s Sam’s Club or RC brand Coke… unless it’s Pepsi, of course. iPhone, for a time, held the same position, being not a smartphone, but the smartphone.

Sure, there were Blackberries, but they were a sideshow. iPhones had iOS, they had Angry Birds first, they had a wider range of available apps. It wasn’t until the Android came out that there was even a question as to who was winning.

Android is currently leading for sales, even as iPhone still pulls out ahead on profit, so it would be unfair to say that the iPhone has “lost” the race, but they’re no longer running uncontested, either. The question then is not how the iPhone lost the contest, but rather, what gaps did they leave in the market that only a powerful competitor could fill?

  • An Open App Marketplace

One of the first and biggest draws that put people on Android’s side was the open app marketplace. The web is full of horror stories of developers having their apps pulled, censored and denied based on a range of reasons, including the all-too-frequent “one person complained about it one time.”

This isn’t a concern for Android developers, and while there is an argument to be made for quality control, the fact remains that an app market where anyone can make anything and charge any price for it is something that consumers clearly desire, if these sales are any indication.

  • Flexible Pricing

The iPhones tend to remain at a higher price point than the Androids. Androids are tools, they are platforms from which to communicate with friends, play games, browse the web and so on. iPhones are all of that, and they’re a status symbol. People camp outside of electronics stores to buy an iPhone, they show their iPhones off and take pictures of them to post online. iPhones aren’t just tools, they’re also fashion, like a $500 purse or a $200 pair of sneakers. The price is a big part of that. Around half of the US owns a smartphone by now, but not everyone can afford the newest iPhone.

  • Apple’s Disinterest in Staying on Top

Apple will retain its core following of techies, hipsters and art school kids, they don’t need to appeal to those of us who just need a good smartphone to play with. They do have the marketing muscle and the access to low-cost materials that would allow them to outsell Android, but they simply don’t want to.

“When the average reader picks up a book, they’re less interested in theme and metaphor and structure than they are in character and story: does the protagonist get what they want? Do they overcome the obstacles and win love, land that dream job or beat the badguys?” said Christopher with Armor for Android an Android application company, “They demand nothing of the writing but that it be functional. Exactly what Android users demand of their phones.”

Samsung phones are still trailing in terms of sheer profit, but outselling Apple by a wide enough margin that it seems safe to say that Android phones are, well, the new “iPhone” in many ways. They may not inspire the same level of devotion that iPhone users express for their favorite brand name, but they’ve become about as commonplace as the television or the personal computer.

For as long as they please, and as long as smartphones remain a relevant technology, the iPhone, iPad and assorted iDevices will remain the fashion brand, the status symbol, even as the average consumer seeks out cheaper and more versatile options.

Featured images:
  • License: Image author owned

About Author: Christopher is a writer for Android antivirus company Armor for Android. Christopher has worked in the Android security field for several years and provides content and advice to Android users.

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