Apple has changed the market in 7 days
I guess almost everybody that reads this site knows my condition as a Microsoft Mobile Devices MVP, and also know about the fact that even though I try hard to keep in pace and know all the other phone operating systems and support iPhone users for one of the Israeli cellular operators as a third-party integrator, I have never liked the iPhone much in the past.
This makes this article a very interesting article for me to write.
I have been accompanying all the news on this area during the last week, from the lauch of the iPad and its warm acceptance in the market, and up to the new announcement of the iPhone 4.0 version.
Let's begin with the iPad: first it was interesting to see many websites that bashed this device at the time of the announcement suddenly express themselves as fanboys less than a day after the launch. What has changed? I don't know.
Let me say that I don't believe that the iPad is a bad device. On the opposite, it can be a great device for many people. It has a beautiful display, and fits greatly for social networks, video watching, book reading, news reading, mail and internet browsing. But don't look at it as a substitute for either your phone or your personal computer. It is too big to substitute your phone and too weak in usages to substitute your computer. Many people will have it as their companion for weekends, and for going around at home without the need to sit down at the computer for simple tasks.
So, the iPad is a completely different kind of beast. It will fit most people in their usage of the computer when not at home (and in some ways of using it at home), not at the office, but when you need things like full blown Office and some special productivity applications, it will not exchange your computer. Will it redefine the way people use their computers? This we are still to see.
I can say that meanwhile the iPad is not the device for me. The usages I have for this device are not worth its price. But I agree that many people would never need anything else at home.
Now let's move into iPhone 4.0.
I believe that here Apple has made it's great step. Usually the biggest rejection for the iPhone was at the business circles, which said "the iPhone is a very attractive consumer device but lacks all that is needed for business use".
Apple has turned this upside down with this release, and this mainly with two new features:
1. Multitasking for third party applications: this will bring many business software developers to finally port their software to the iPhone platform, and maybe turn around the poor situation of the Apple Application Store in which 90% of the 100K applications at the shop are completely useless games.
2. Multi-mailbox exchange sync: this is a feature which may have been on the table multiple times on discussions at Microsoft, but at the end of the day, Apple has done it first. And it is very, very important.
Which scenarios demand multi-mailbox sync? Let's gather some ideas:
a. computer outsourcers and consultants who keep one mailbox at each of their customers for more friendly communication with them.
b. executives who have their exchange account at the office and exchange service at home, and want to sync not only mails, but also contacts and calendars while keeping them separate at home and at office.
c. secretaries or personal assistants that need to see not only their own calendar but also their bosses' calendars.
These are only three examples, but we could continue and add many others.
Now, if we consider that in Windows Phone 7 Microsoft has disabled the multi-tasking and doesn't confirm the existence of multiple Exchange mailbox support, Apple does take a leap over the new Microsoft platform even before it has been released to the OEMs. This may change completely the way we previewed that the market would behave after the launch of the first devices with WP7.
So let me say it with all the words: for the same reasons why I have been saying for the past 3 years that the iPhone is not for me, I say that WP7 is not for me at this stage. But wether I will stick with WM6.5 or get an iPhone, this will be already a question of having the appropriate applications for my business activities. I must say that today, iPhone 4.0 is much more relevant for me than iPhone has ever been, and I already don't completely dismiss the possibility that in some months I will find myself with an iPhone in my hands.