When Apple announced that its App Store had over 100,000 apps Nov. 4, undoubtedly some users were impressed by the news. Certainly that must mean that there are tens of thousands of apps that we would want, right? Don't be so sure.
See, the problem with the mobile phone business is that too often customers both in the consumer space and in the enterprise are forced to focus on certain features, while ignoring others. It's a great benefit to Apple, Google, Research In Motion and other major companies in the space and it helps those companies sell so many phones.
But there are some flaws in some of the mobile devices those companies (and others) sell that don't get the kind of attention they might deserve. Admittedly, those companies develop great products, and increasingly so. But the devices are flawed in some ways too, and we can't lose sight of that.
Let's take a look at just how flawed they are.
1. Touch-screen quality varies
For the most part, touch screens just aren't as great as most folks claim they are. In fact, they're very difficult to use. The iPhone easily does the best job of producing a viable touch experience. But when you evaluate other products, like the Palm Pre or the BlackBerry Storm, the experience isn't nearly as reliable.
2. Virtual keyboards are the worst
Whether it's the iPhone or the BlackBerry Storm2, a virtual keyboard simply doesn't provide an experience that justifies ditching a physical keyboard. More often than not, typing on the iPhone yields some crazy results. And that's the best of the bunch. Trying to type on a device like the BlackBerry Storm is awful. RIM improved the BlackBerry Storm2, but it still can't quite match the iPhone. And neither device can match a physical keyboard.
3. Getting locked into a carrier is awful
Although it was a smart business move for Apple, the very fact that the iPhone is locked down to AT&T is unfortunate, to say the least. In the mobile phone space, being able to switch carriers can mean the difference between happiness with a mobile phone and unhappiness. In some areas, AT&T's coverage is abysmal. Coverage isn't universal for any carrier. Having the option to bring a phone to the best provider in an area would undoubtedly result in happier phone owners.
4. Don't be impressed by quantity
There may be over 100,000 apps in Apple's App Store, but that doesn't mean that it provides more value than the competition. The vast majority of applications in the store receive little attention from the majority of users.
In fact, the App Store is littered with junk that most customers can barely use. The same can be said for any other app store. The iPhone might have the most applications available to it, but unless a user finds quality in those applications, that means very little.