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The Smartphone Industry Gets Another Shake Up

Written on July 20, 2010

Following last week’s peak at the smartphone industry, we’ll take another look at some new developments that are throwing a curve ball to those trying to predict who exactly is on the rise and who’s stumbled. We took a look at the industry from the lens of smartphone OS’s, and saw that iPhone and Android have been showing impressive gains in use. But it seems the future for these companies and their products is less predictable than it seems.

Apple recently released their newest in the ever-popular iPhone series, the iPhone 4. Touting the usual hype and fanfare the iPhone is known for, it was expected to receive the same near-universal praise its predecessors saw. But then reports of issues started to come in from consumers. It turns out that the iPhone’s external antenna – the metal band wrapped around the phone – was causing signal trouble when gripped by the lower left corner. This was the driving factor in Consumer Report’s decision to not recommend the iPhone 4 to its readers. Though not the most elegant solution, multiple reports found that a simple piece of masking or duct tape in the corner solved the problem.

Apple wasted little time issuing a response, first recommending that their users “avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band.” Alternatively, they offered customers could purchase a case to block the antenna from contact. Steve Jobs made multiple statements on the issue, essentially down-playing the flaw by recommending “not holding it in that way” and that all mobile phones have such vulnerabilities. This did not stem the tide of criticism, however, and Apple took further action on July 16th. A press conference was held in which Jobs announced that Apple would provide free bumpers (cases to shield the antenna) to iPhone 4 owners, and that customers who already bought the bumper would be reimbursed. Jobs also continued to assert that this issue was present in all smartphones, and that the issue had been drastically exaggerated by the media.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion continues to hype the upcoming BlackBerry 6 OS. Their sneak-peak video of the OS’s features has many talking about what improvements will be seen upon its release. Among the new features is a redesigned WebKit; allowing for abilities such as pinch-zoom and touchscreen scrolling. The inclusion of these and other features seen in the BlackBerry’s competition may put the BlackBerry in better position to confront the rising tide of users picking up Android and iOS equipped smartphones. And with Apple still reeling from what Jobs has dubbed “antennagate,” they may be in better position than they expected.

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