News Analysis: Motorola and Verizon may make the iPhone irrelevant through the Droid X. For the iPhone, it's 1984 in America again and Apple has failed to learn the lessons about open systems and buyers' demand for choice. Apple's products are once again on the road to marginalization.
Imagine if you will that it's 1984, and Apple's
Sledgehammer Gal has just faded away. Then the Macintosh was Apple Computer's
big promise for the future. It would change everything.
Now flash forward to some incidents that are less
memorable in their visual impact, but perhaps more important to today's
computing environment. Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone 4, and then today, Motorola
and Verizon announcing the Droid X.
When Verizon Vice President John Stratton showed the
Droid X in a New York press
conference (which the rest of us got to see in streaming video), he also showed
why Apple hasn't learned the lessons of the decades that followed 1984.
What Apple should have learned is that open systems work;
people don't want someone else putting limits on them, and that they want
choice. The reason the Macintosh never got much above 10 percent market share
(and subsequently sank below that) is that Apple didn't offer a choice. You did
things Apple's way, or you didn't do them at all.
Now, we're 26 years later and it's the iPhone that has
all of the attention, and once again the lessons of the past haven't been
learned. As was the case with the Macintosh, the iPhone provides a choice
between doing things Apple's way or not doing them at all. You have one source
of applications, one choice of carrier. You can't even write your own software,
which you could at least do in the Mac.
When the Verizon-Motorola team introduced the Droid X, it
was a story all about choice. With Android devices you can get software
anywhere you like. It's up to you if you want to take a chance on buggy,
ill-thought-out software, third-party drivers and whatever else you may want.
True, some of these programs may be lousy, but at least you can decide. You don't
have to let Apple or anyone else bless them.
The same thing is true with the choice of carriers. You're
not locked into AT&T and its overburdened 3G network and famously bad
customer service. You can choose service you like. You can go online and
download Adobe Flash and use it to access that 75 percent of the Web that uses
it. You're not limited by silly decisions at the top of a self-serving