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The iPhone Debate (vs Blackberry and Android)

When the iPhone was released, I knew we had a chance to move our smartphone platform forward in a revolutionary way. While I loved the device, internal teams wanted different things, read different “trade magazines” and had different agendas so they were pushing hard for Blackberry or Android.

Blackberry, they argued, has a strong presence in business and enterprise and physician practices (the audience we cater to) use Blackberry as their messaging platform. At the time (2007), Blackberry was still seen as a force. But using their devices for more than a few minutes and seeing as how they were presenting their keyboards as a differentiating factor in a good way made it relatively easy to see they were going to exit the world of mobile with a whimper unless they changed their tune.

Android was a newcomer. At the time, there were few Android phones and the ones that were released in 2007 were encrusted with buttons and keyboards. As the process moved forward, they started releasing better, more innovative phones, but I could see the issues of fragmentation a mile off after we met with HTC and their big idea was an intrusive custom interface layer and their phones were laden with Windows-like crapware applications (NASCAR apps? Really?). But Android was still pushed internally over the iPhone because people were afraid of the Apple App store and its vague and scary approval process.

The battle wasn’t easy but eventually we moved opinion to the point where we were able to pull the trigger and adopt Apple, AT&T and the iPhone as our new platform. Reading the news from yesterday, boy am I ever glad we did that.

First, Blackberry is doomed. Their aimless leadership and terrible product development have left them with an aging platform and phones that don’t even look current by 2008 standards. Their forays into touchscreen technology have been a flop and now we find out that their new operating system won’t be available on their button-laden phones until its too late. And there’s no guarantee that the new OS will even be good. Judging from their current efforts, it’s a safe bet that it will be another buggy piece of software with curious design decisions, maddening interface and feeble developer support.

Second, HTC is running into patent issues. On top of a fragmented platform which has users not able to upgrade their OS, and in some cases not even know what they can install, tons of crappy pre-installed and unremovable applications, the un-curated Android app store, and screens big enough to play table tennis on, now users have patent issues to worry about? No thanks.

How good would the internal teams here feel about either one of those platforms right now if they’d made the wrong choice and not gone with the iPhone?