Is iPhone “Second-Rate”, “Weak and Limited”?

Jan 26th, 2007 | By | Category: iPods & Portable Media Players, Mobile Podcasting

Apple iPhoneThe iPhone is not a smartphone, but “a second-rate cellphone”, according to ABI Research analysts Stuart Carlaw and Philip Solis.

‚ÄúConsumers will not be willing to settle for a second-rate cell phone just to have superior music,” argues Stuart Carlaw. “Apple must get the phone engineering part of the equation right, and it is difficult to see how they will accomplish that with no track record in the industry. Even though they are working with some prominent suppliers, the task of putting all of the building blocks together cannot be underestimated.‚Äù

ABI Research defines a smartphone as a cellular handset using an open, commercial operating system that supports third party applications.

‚ÄúIt turns out that this device will be closed to third party applications,” said Solis. “Therefore we must conclude at this point that, based on our current definition, the iPhone is not a smartphone: it is a very high-end feature phone.‚Äù

Feature phones’ functionality (dictated by the software which controls the hardware) is closed and controlled by an operator or the device manufacturer, whereas smartphones are supported by a third-party ecosystem, where competition in the software space creates applications that add value.

“Sure,” concedes Solis, “feature phones have third party applications too – but these are relatively weak and limited applications that work with the middleware such as Java and BREW. Applications designed for smartphones can be written to access core functionality from the OS itself, and are therefore usually more powerful and efficient. The competition in an open environment also yields more cutting edge, rich applications.”

Users will have to wait months to know if the ABI researcher’s definition of a smartphone will be a meaningful criteria for judging the iPhone, or if the iPhone will create a leap in cell-phone usabilty.

No Responses to “Is iPhone “Second-Rate”, “Weak and Limited”?”

  1. Axehole says:

    It’s a flabby little girlie-phone!

  2. I don’t see how lack of third party apps automatically makes this second rate. Perhaps he needs to download the keynote and watch it because the feature set outside of the iPod functionality is definitely 1st rate for a phone.

    I think he’s fair to call out the “smart phone” label, but he seems to be pooh poohing the phone because Apple doesn’t have a track record. Uh, Apple didn’t have a track record with mp3 players until the iPod and that worked out pretty well.

  3. info says:


    I think these will sell well – but also that we need to remember that these are the 1.0 versions. Think about where Apple is with the iPod 5 years out, and then think about the potential for the iPhone as a platform in that timeframe.

  4. Paul says:

    “ABI Research defines a smartphone as a cellular handset using an open, commercial operating system that supports third party applications.”

    Doh.. It runs OSX!! That makes it a pretty smart phone in my book!

    Lables for lables sake… its refusal to think outside the box which nearly killed Apple, before Jobs came back to save the day..

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