Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Smartphone Market—Brief Analysis

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 11:  A person holds a new  ...

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As a former Microsoft employee, a shareholder, and now a consultant, I was keenly interested in how the new Windows Phone system would measure up against the more entrenched rivals of iPhone and Android.

Fortunately, I was able to procure an LG E-600 phone so I could test it out. 

Though there is a part of me that things Microsoft may be “too little, too late” to the party (as my friend Josh Duncan exposits quite well here), it is also important to remember that, while smartphone penetration is significant and growing, there’s still plenty of room.

And, if there’s one thing that we know about Microsoft, it’s that they don’t go down without a fight.

Ok, on with the comparison.

I should note that I rely HEAVILY on Exchange and Outlook for my calendar/contacts/email since it is, by far, the most powerful tool around and I am a power user. So, yes, that will have an impact.

  iPhone Android Windows Phone
Hardware iPhone HTC EVO 4G LG E-600
OS iOS 4.2 Android 2.2 Windows 7 Phone
Apps “Yeah, there’s an app for that.”  The kings. No contest “There’s pretty much an app for that.” Every app I used regularly on iPhone, I was able to find on Android. “Sort of an app for that.” A lot of the basics are covered, but some of the services which I love and use because they are multi-platform aren’t here (Dropbox, Evernote, Instapaper, for example)
Speed Faster Fast Fastest.
I am REALLY impressed by the speed of this phone.
User Interface The folders are strong. Multi-tasking is much better. Good, but can get clunky at times. Scrolling isn’t as smooth. However, the HTC Sense UI does have 7 screens, which is pretty cool I LOVE the tiles on the home page. Easy and fun. The apps page however is one LONG list and it gets longer with each new app you add.
Marketplace Easy to find stuff. Easy to review. Good, but the lack of a certifying authority does add an element of risk. OK, but one REALLY annoying feature is that when you search for “Amazon” in the marketplace and you are looking within the “apps” section, the search results bring in movies, games, and everything in the marketplace with the word “amazon” in it. Dumb.
Flexibility/Customizability If you want to jailbreak, you can, but it takes some work. This is where Android sings. I rooted my phone and not have a portable wi-fi hot spot. That alone is huge. Plus, I can get rid of stuff I don’t like. Haven’t really tried it here. It can probably be done, but more like Apple than Android if I had to guess.
Contacts Good. Exchange sync can be a bit slow. Some Facebook integration. Solid. Pulls in FB and Twitter contacts as well, but you can’t store them on your external storage card so that can limit your functionality if you have a lot of contacts (as I do). This is where Windows shines. The experience is around the person. You pull up a contact and you see their Outlook and Facebook info in one place. From that profile, you can see their FB wall, post to it, etc. The idea is that the person is at the center. Brilliant.
Miscellaneous There’s a lot that could go here, but you probably know it all. Integration with google services is great, e.g. Google Voice. I like the Xbox live integration. Also, I think the media player (based on Zune) is very smooth.



If you are new to the smartphone market and your needs are email, web browsing, checking Facebook or Twitter, maps, photos/videos, etc. AND you don’t want to spring for an iPhone, then an Android or Windows Phone device is for you. If you use Exchange at work, Windows Phone is a no brainer, particularly if you are a power user of Outlook.

If you want a world of apps, are already invested in the iPlatform (iTunes, etc.) and you just want everything to work smoothly and have any app that you can imagine, then iPhone is probably a good call.

If you want to have most of the functionality of the iPhone and all of the apps as well, then Android could be a good fit for you. Particularly, if you are a big user of Google services already.

Obviously, a lot of this depends on your contract and knowing that your smartphone is only as good as the quality of the network of your provider.


What has your impressions been?

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