Phones: iPhone 3G
, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S
Entered market: 2007
Latest Model: iPhone 4SPro
- Easy to use iOS Software
- Superior design and materials used in manufacture
- 500,000 Apps and counting
- Tightly controlled user experience
Future plans and development
- Handsets are fragile compared to the competition
- iOS hard to modify and tinker with
- Requires a computer and iTunes software for many actions, like loading your own music that hasn’t been purchased from Apple
With the untimely passing of CEO Steve Jobs, some have wondered if Apple will maintain its legendary secrecy. The Cupertino firm also has a history of logging dozens of patents a month, some of which seem destined for application, and several which seem to be red herrings to throw competitors (and tech reporters) off the scent. The iPhone 4S was considered a minor update of the 4, with the same form factor and few real updates. The next iPhone (presumably the iPhone 5) is the subject of intense speculation, but Apple provides no window into its product pipeline. History
Apple Computer launched the era of personal computing, before seeing its market position eroded by the Microsoft Windows operating system and IBM's open license on its version of the Personal Computer. Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy in the mid-90s. The return of founder Steve Jobs to the helm in 1998 started the company on the road back to profitability, and the introduction of the iPod in 2001 sparked a revolution in hand-held personal devices, led definitively by Apple.
In 2007, Apple released a radically different take on the mobile phone with the iPhone. With proper touchscreen responsiveness, full internet and email capabilities and a large ecosystem of affordable software applications, the iPhone provided the benchmark for all smartphones today, and by coming first, retain a status as the market leader for innovation.
Today, the company has clout, market share and technology on its side, not to mention a $100 billion war chest. Yearly iPhone updates continue to generate enormous buzz, if slightly diminishing returns in terms of innovation. Their next release will (presumably) be the iPhone 5, which will need to make an enormous leap in terms of design and operating system to keep Apple above the fray of the smartphone market, where they are losing share to Google's unlicensed alternative, Android. Marketplace
This is one statistic where the numbers do not seem to affect Apple the way it affects it competitors. The iPhone, by itself, owns between 40-55% of the smartphone operating system market in Australia, compared to Android, which owns anywhere from 20-30%. It is worth noting that Apple does not offer its software on any other platform other than its own, manufactured devices, and that Android is scattered across dozens of manufacturers – none of whom pay Google to use it. More telling statistics include their lower market share in developing countries, particularly China and India, where Nokia's Symbian operating system (soon to be replaced by Windows Mobile) and Android hold the growing smartphone market, while old fashioned feature phones (the politically correct soubriquet for what used to be called dumb phones) still command the majority of overall market share.
Apple has less to fear from other smartphone manufacturers in the rich world, and much more work ahead of them to make their brand affordable in the developing world. Rumors of lower-priced, entry level iPhones on the production slate, and a recent push into China are encouraging for investors and enthusiasts alike.
The most telling statistic, however, is the App Store and the premium placed on the iPhone handset. The iPhone owns 4% of the worldwide mobile phone market (making it still the best selling smartphone, but a minnow compared to some low-cost featurephones), but collects 50% of worldwide mobile phone revenue, thanks in part to the App Store, and to steep subsidies placed on other handsets. Providers
Apple has been able to broker a deal with every Australian network provider, thanks to the GSM standard in use in Australia (the US and other countries use a mish-mash of different connection technologies).
Telstra's 4G network best takes advantage of the phone’s capabilities, while Optus and Vodafone offer more affordable plans to use what coverage they have. Most budget providers re-sell Optus network, and offer a host of incentives – Amaysim in particular has attracted attention for cheap rates and Australia-based customer service.
The iPhone meets every market except two: those who think the phone is too secure, and those who think it’s not secure enough. The former are tinkerers and modifiers who are stifled by the tight control of the iPhone's internal file system. These users want to personalize their phone to a degree that Apple discourages, and use software on their phone that hasn’t been sanctioned. The second market that the iPhone doesn’t cater to are those users who want a tough, durable handset that is very secure for sensitive business applications. The iPhone is considered unsafe for this type of application, as the email encryption is not sophisticated, and its aluminium and glass body is too delicate to stand up to rigorous use.
However, the iPhone is still the most singularly popular smartphone in the world, and remains a coveted consumer good in its own right.