85,000 reasons why Apple’s iPhone isn’t going to be disrupted

There’s nothing geeks love more than to argue mobile phone platforms. Here’s Matt Blaisdell saying that apps weren’t key to iPhone’s success. That’s true, but now that Apple has apps the world has changed and challengers to the iPhone will find it very tough.

Here’s why: everyone is using a different set of 20 apps. Trillions of combinations. You can see this on Appsfire’s VIP list (my iPhone apps are listed there, along with a number of others). None of us have the same set of apps.

So, to get me off of the iPhone you are going to have to duplicate all my apps (and I’ve gotten several more since doing this list a couple of weeks ago).

Here, let’s play a game. Let’s say that a Chinese manufacturer ships an Android phone that makes me hot and bothered. Something, say, that’s half the thickness of the iPhone, has a screen that’s sharper, and the battery lasts twice as long, oh, and let’s just say it costs $50 less than buying an iPhone.

Would it get me to switch away from my iPhone? Probably not, truth be told. (I do have a second SIM, though, waiting, just in case that I use to test phones).

Why not?

Because I’ve grown addicted to Tweetie. So, now you’ll have to build an app, or get a third-party developer to build an app that works better. Let’s say you do that.

But do you have my favorite game? Tap Tap Revenge?

Do you have Facebook? Do you have Photoshop? Just today NASDAQ came out with a cool new app. Do you have that? And so on and so forth.

Every app is lockin.

I’m not going to be switching anytime soon, and neither are you.

So, what the other manufacturers are hoping is that enough users remain ignorant of all the uses of the apps and that they get enough of them built either by themselves (not gonna happen) or by developers outside the company before Apple just locks in everyone.

Joe Wilcox, on Twitter, says that iPhone users are “beyond reason.”

No, Joe, I just want my Kindle app on Android before I’ll switch. I have lots of books that I’ve invested in that I can read on my iPHone.

Or, I want my TripIt app on Android or Nokia before I’ll switch. My entire flight information is stuck inside there.

Or, I want to watch Leo Laporte’s show this afternoon (or more accurately, listen to it on my Prius thanks to UStream’s app).

Or I want to use Yelp’s app to find a great restaurant.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

If you get me all those, and all the other 85,000 apps, but on a device that is sexier and more fun to use (and more productive) then I’ll definitely be reasonable and switch.

Until then I have 85,000 reasons to be unreasonable. Oh, did you see this app called “RedLaser?” You point your phone at barcodes, and it gives you information about the products you are looking at, including what the price is on Amazon.com. Very cool.

Now I’m sure you’ll say you have an app like RedLaser on your device, right? (I’ve seen similar on Nokia devices, for instance) But do you have all the others I use?

Yes, I’m unreasonable. Let me know when I can stop being unreasonable! :-)

Oh, and I met the guy who runs the iPhone app team (he asked to remain anonymous) and he told me his team approves hundreds of new apps every day. So, that’s HUNDREDS of new reasons every day that I will remain unreasonable. Sorry to Nokia, Palm, Microsoft, RIM, and all the other players.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

129 thoughts on “85,000 reasons why Apple’s iPhone isn’t going to be disrupted

  1. Actually:

    I bought a Mac mini and learned Objective-C (Which is a strict superset of C and a lot like SmallTalk) just to write iPhone applications. Total cost out of pocket was under 700$ and most of that was the computer. To do anything with Nokia or Microsoft was thousands of dollars. I plan on using the revenue from my iPhone applications to pay off my house. I am being empowered by Apple's iPhone and see absolutely no reason at the present time to try and write any applications for Android 2.0

  2. Actually:

    DEC was done in by the IBM AS/400 as well as a horrible 32bit to 64bit transition that vaporized most applications that ran using COBOL. The AS/400 had over 6000 business applications when debuted in 1981. DEC may have survived in the engineering department, but for back office applications like payroll and warehousing the AS/400 reigned supreme until the rise of Windows NT.

    The iPhone or any other platform lives and dies based on the applications that are available. This weekend I helped my 61 year old father buy an iPhone 3GS after 7 years of Nokia smart phones because of one single application that was available for the iPhone and he wanted for when he was flying his private plane.

    When major insurance companies make applications for an Android instead of the iPhone, I will worry about Apple's iPhone application dominance. Until then, every time my father shows one of his flying buddies what he can do with his phone now; there will be that much more draw to the iPhone and away from the current flavor of the day.

    Folke Sonin

  3. I do agree that the only thing that makes the iPhone attractive vs other OS like Symbian, Androïd or Windows mobile are its 80K++ apps. However, let's be honest: how many of those apps are REALLY useful to help you be productive when you're away from your desktop/laptop? 10? 15? Honestly, 15 apps are well enough to let you edit a document, don't get lost (GPS), listen to some music/watch movies (why would I need 6 different Internet radio apps?!), sync your contacts, access your PC remotely, turn your cellphone into a hot spot for your PC/Mac, stay in touch with your online community, call using VoIP, keep an eye on the weather, read RSS, send/receive emails… and actually use your phone to give calls!

    And OS like Symbian, Androïd, Windows Mobile, RIM and Maemo devices also provide those necessary apps for free!

    And the best of all: at the end of the day you'll discover that you can do plenty of things with the time you'll have spend installing, testing and finally deleting some of those hundred new iPhone apps. Isn't that wonderful?

  4. I switched from Android and the crappy G1 to iPhone and ate the cost because it had the apps I needed and use on a daily basis.
    I have faith that Android 2 and beyond will be there eventually… but the developement on android apps has been slow, very slow. The G1 sucked so hard…. the new Droid deal looks cool but that OS and the apps on it have a lot of growing up to do before I'd consider it again.
    My story: http://rynoweb.com/android-to-iphone/

  5. You are probably right that people become attached to the apps they have invested in on the iPhone. Except you wrongly assume that these developers wont be making exact copies for any other App store. Whats better than having a successful app on the iPhone? Having the exact same success by developing a copy for Android, Blackberry Maemo, etc ! And with all the push behind Android right now plus the exclusivity of the iPhone price range(we not just talking US here) compared to the cheaper cost of upcoming smartphones , its just a little more time beofre htere will be enough eyes on that Android market to attract enough attention. I have compared the Apple iPhone and Android so many times to buying a car: Imagine going to buy a car, but the only option you have is the colour(yes, colour with a “u”) , oh and you cant open the bonnet and you only use one brand of gas.

    Total lack of choice. Why would anyone want this? iPhone users, it is time to move on…

  6. Consider this from TechCrunch: The Problem With iPhone Killers… http://bit.ly/TUoKv – Android is a problem for WinMob and Symbian, not iPhone.
    With only a fraction of the global handphone population owning smartphones, and with only a fraction of the WORLD population owning phones, I think there's enough of a market to support a few good competitors.

  7. I'm not convinced that iPhone dominates its market yet. I think in about ten days it's going to have its first real competition. Real, that is, from my own personal point of view. Droid appears to have what I'd want. I might already have an iPhone, but for a number of sticking points, just one of which is carrier lock-in. I simply don't want ATT. And up to this point I have been dragging my feet about getting any phone which does much more than calls. I'm pretty sure there's a significant number like me, and /maybe/ Droid will convince us. Predictions made right now are quite the gamble.

  8. the iPhone is without changing everthing, the Photoshop app looks crazy. I've event stopped playing my xbox to play iPhone games.

  9. So called “iTunes compatibility” isn't so far off for Android OS phones. Double Twist (http://www.doubletwist.com) will serve as a mediator between your iTunes and your non-iDevices, both syncing normal/smart playlists to any type of device (Androis phones, Symbian, Windows Mobile, PSP, PS3, so on and so forth), and will convert Video so that your videos (including videos from watch folders) get automatically transcoded to the exact device's screen resolution and installed. I expect torrent-to-device transcoding bitTorrent client Vuze to allow torrent-to-Android real time transcoding and uploading in soon versions, as it supports iPhone and PSP MPEG-4 pretty well.

  10. Oh wow. Excellent point about GPS apps now costing $50/$100 more on iPhone, and compared to Android's native Google Nav app, they suck on top of that.

    Ouch. Take that, Apple. Sorry, but I'm not seeing 85,000 reasons at all. I see only a few:

    1) iPhone experience is superior (so far)
    2) Minor investment in a small handful of apps ($2.99 on average is not enough to keep people from switching, though).
    3) iTunes library compatibility

    Android can (and will) easily compete with iPhone in all of those areas though. There is simply no way that apps create “lock-in.”

  11. Scoble, Google is actively shaking the tree as we speak, and apps (and stocks) are falling. TomTom and Garmin bite the wood as Google released Google Navigation for Android 2.0, and god knows how long its gonna take before this appears (if ever) on the iPhone to drive away those GPS software makers. So right now, iPhone became 50-100-200$ more expensive for GPS-requiring folk than an Android phone. And this is a beginning of a trend. Most apps for iPhone already have alternatives for Android. BUT what's available to Android (keyboard replacements, contact app replacements, Home UI replacements) can't be dreamed by even the most avid jailbroken app developers. The bottom line is – yes, people who've invested money in App Store will feel the need to stay and use what they paid for, but eventually what they are missing out outweights that investment (unless investment is in the 5-digit segment, then its just sad).

Comments are closed.