Phone Wars Part 2: The Granddaddy

Funny to think how back in the mid 90’s Apple was on the fast track to irrelevance. In 2013 they moved up to 6th on the Fortune 500. First came the iPod but the real break through was the iPhone. From day one, it defined the modern smartphone. Over the past few years, our personal and professional lives have been converging at an astonishing rate. More than 50% of us check our phones "while lying in bed" - before going to sleep, in the middle of the night, or as soon as we wake up. We’re connected like never before and Apple timed the iPhone perfectly. It was also cool and this factor can’t be understated. Many people decide they want one before they even know what they’re getting into. They don’t evaluate other options or even what they plan to do with it. Well played, Apple, well played. But what their innovative marketing drives is a simple message: It's easy and you need one. There’s good reason, too. Apple has always had simple yet elegant designs, clean interfaces, and products which work out of the box. No muss, no fuss, just plug-n-play. There’s a reason they have some of the most rabid fanboys.

Pros: If you already own multiple Apple products (Apple TV, iPads, Macs), or plan to, then the iPhone is the obvious first option. You’re probably already leaning towards it and that makes sense, especially if you’re not a tech hobbyist and don’t care about the number of processor cores and megapixels and AMOLED vs. LCD displays. The iPhone is a safe option. It works well, whether you’re doing the basics or you’re all about apps/social media/games/whatever. It has arguably the best camera and the hardware always feels durable and looks sleek. That moves us to the ecosystem, where you get all your content - apps, games, music, video, etc. Good question, and sure, you can use multiple ecosystems. I do it, I'm an eco-dabbler. I like my Pod but it’s the only Apple product I own. While there's nothing constraining you to one, if you own multiple devices (and who doesn’t nowadays?), you get the best value sticking with one. And Apple’s is easy to get into and tough to leave. Almost magically people who had iPods and wanted their first smartphones became Apple lifers. From a vast library of music, apps, and games to an Apple store 15 minutes from your house, they make it easy to get what you want and you’re also cool while doing it!

iPhone cons: If you’re prone to screen envy, then the iPhone may not be for you. It’s a crisp display but it’s not the largest. The phone itself is smaller on average and depending on your point of view, that may not be a bad thing. The iOS platform is nothing if not simple but it also feels a little "cartoony" and "toyish" which is why iOS 7 was such a big overhaul. It’s also the most closed ecosystem. Apple makes and controls everything: the phone, the operating system, and the marketplace. This is another instance where point of view is important. It may be a pro for some who like the consistent experience and don’t mind fewer options in general with the phones themselves. For others, that’s their biggest gripe. It comes down to what are practical vs. a philosophical issues and only you can answer.

Conclusion: Remember the old saying, "No one was ever fired for buying IBM"? That’s how I feel about the iPhone. It’s been the most popular among friends and coworkers for a while. That cuts across a pretty wide spectrum from folks old and young who don’t know much about computers/technology to software developers and engineers to executives. If you’re already invested in Apple products and comfortable with iOS and the overall Apple "model", then you probably don't need to look further. But for those who are really into their gadgets and aren’t drinking the Apple Kool-Aid, there are options which may be better suited for you. Next time, we’ll take a look at Android and Google, one of the only companies making both Apple and Microsoft nervous...

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