The American blogosphere has been pursuing a campaign of untruths in the area of mobility for a couple of years now. While one tries to ignore most of it, because they stem from ignorance rather than an intent to deceive, it is still appalling some of the myths that are being propagated by mainstream blogs from the USA.
Unfortunately, because US-based blogs are dominant on the web, the untruths go round and after a while, people assume they are true. Here are a few of the iPhone-centric myths that keep making the rounds of US-based blogs.
Myth: the “real internet” started with the iPhone
I read one US-based blogger who submitted that the “real internet” – the capability to access desktop format sites on mobile phones – started with the iPhone and Safari combining the power of a Webkit browser and a mobile phone for the first time, and later adopted by Nokia and Google among others.
Hello! Nokia’s E-series and N-series devices had been combining the power of a webkit browser and a mobile phone for over three years before the iPhone showed up. Check out any Symbian S60 smartphone since Nokia’s E and N series have beeen around. You’ll find one powerful WebKit browser in those phones. It just isn’t true.
To put things right, it started with Nokia and was later adopted by the iPhone, and then Android, and now BlackBerry – all of them years after Nokia had implemented it on a wide range of devices.
Millions of users (myself inclusive) had been accessing the “real internet” – true desktop browsing – on their smartphones for donkey years before the iPhone showed up. The Nokia 9210i, 9500, 9300, E61, E61i, E90, and several models by Sony Ericsson, HTC and others are clear examples of devices that offered true desktop web browsing in the dinosaur era.
I owned and used all the above-named Nokias extensively, and they worked well for full desktop browsing. I didn’t have to tweak or hack them to be able to do this. They just worked out of the box.
Of course, the problem is that America was years behind the rest of the world in the world of mobiles. To the average American, an example of a great phone was the Motorola Razr – a phone that was so limited in just about everything except bling. Now, its those Razr-loving people who want to re-write the history of mobile.
The iPhone made the browsing more pleasant, but sorry – true desktop web browsing has been available on mobile devices since Adam. And when I say “real internet”, I mean really advanced things. Like accessing a VPN, Cpanel, or WebHostManager.
Myth: the iPhone’s Safari browser is the most widely-used mobile browser
That’s another lie sold by the American blogging community. One outstanding US-based blogger who shows a better understanding of the situation than the average is Dennis Bournique who runs WapReview. He addressed this in part in his recent article Why Do Mobile Web Designers Ignore Opera Mini? I highly recommend that article, as it shows the rank ignorance (or sense of self-importance) that pervades the US mobile web landscape.
Opera Mini’s global usage is waaaay bigger than the iPhone’s estimated installed base of about 34 million devices (assuming that all existing iPhones are used regularly by their owners for web browsing, which I doubt). Yet, the US media and blogging machine keeps on about how the iPhone made web browsing on phones popular. Fact: Opera Mini did – with millions of users worldwide who far beyond the number of iPhone users.
We do not need to speak of the mass of millions of Symbian devices (more than the iPhone can hold a candle to) many of which are used to access the internet daily outside of the US. But of course, the American blogging community gets its statistics of mobile web usage from US-centric ad networks. Admob anyone? What do you expect?
Dennis also references another insightful article by Peter-Paul Koch titled The iPhone obsession. While the article contains lots of expletives (reader discretion advised), I recommend it for its pointed exposition of the foolishness that has become the order of the day with Americans and the iPhone.
Be sure of it: the iPhone’s Safari is not the most widely used mobile browser. That honour belongs to Opera Mini.
Myth: the iPhone is a threat to Nokia/Symbian
This one is laughable, really, if not outrightly silly. The iPhone has never been a threat to Nokia/Symbian, and is not about to be.
As at end of 2009, the iPhone had only 2.2% of the global mobile handset market share. Nokia had 38%. Let’s put it in a table for clarity:
Global Top 10 Handset Makers
1 – Nokia . . . . . . . 432 Million 38 %
2 – Samsung . . . . 227 Million 20 %
3 – LG . . . . . . . . . . 117 Million 10 %
4 – SonyEricsson . . . 57 Million 5 %
5 – Motorola . . . . . . 55 Million 5 %
6 – ZTE . . . . . . . . . 50 Million 4.5%
7 – Kyocera . . . . . . 45 Million 4 %
8 – RIM . . . . . . . . . 35 Million 3.5%
9 – Sharp . . . . . . . . 29 Million 2.6 %
10 – Apple . . . . . . .. 25 Million 2.2 %
Others . . . . . . . . . . 56 Million 5%
TOTAL . . . . . . . .. 1,130 Million (1.13 Billion)
Source (really recommended reading)
In perspective, Nokia is as big as the next three biggest handset makers all put together. And the iPhone (Apple) is waaaay down at number ten. Okay, so the iPhone is an immediate threat to Sharp phones (number 9) – but when was the last time you saw one of those? That is how far down the iPhone is.
Samsung is the real threat to Nokia (look at all those amazing phones that Samsung have been putting out). Samsung have been aggressively growing their marketshare year after year, chasing after Nokia. The American community are not talking about that; are they? Why – almost no-one is mentioning it at all!
Apple has got Sharp, RIM, Kyocera, ZTE, Motorola (as bad as they’ve been doing recently), Sony Ericsson, LG, and then Samsung to deal with first – in that order. After catching up with Samsung, Apple will then have to sell three times as much phones as Samsung currently does in order to catch up with what Nokia currently holds. Get the true picture?
In terms of smartphone marketshare, Symbian has 45% and Apple has 15%. Contrary to those who shout the death of Symbian (yes; Symbian has issues and thankfully they are addressing those; but no; symbian ain’t dying), the platform experienced a growth in marketshare in the last quarter of 2009. Growth.
So you get the picture here too, Symbian is as big as the next four smartphone contenders (BlackBerry, iPhone, Windowsphone, and Android) all put together. Ponder on that a bit.
Another often unstated fact: RIM (with 20% of the global smartphone market) is ahead of Apple and has been growing steadily too year after year. RIM understands the game. When they focussed on the small North American market (NAM), they stayed small. A few years ago, they got smart, realising that a love relationship with the NAM is a recipe for staying in the backwaters.
If you really think that America is that vibrant as a mobile market, show me one manufacturer who has largely focused their energy on the North American market and made it big. This is the mistake that Palm made with the older Palm OS. It is the same mistake that they are still making with WebOS. And Apple is walking that same line. But the NAM is the backwaters of the mobile industry. At least for now.
The problem with Americans is that they think that the world revolves around them. In many other different areas; Yes. But in mobile and mobility, an outstanding No. This is one turf they need to wipe the smugness off their faces. It is the same reason why the US blogging community are obsessed with Palm and WebOS, as well as Google and Android. Its an American thing!
Yes; Apple wowed everyone with the iPhone’s user interface. But everyone and their dog now have a fancy user interface – Nokia/Symbian (see a demo of Symbian^3 showing up on phones later this year), LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, et al.
Now, it is the iPhone that is under pressure. The iPhone’s unique selling point is not so unique any longer. Its market appears to have plateaued as well. As things are right now, the iPhone’s marketshare will grow a little more and then stop. This is the time for Apple to change strategies or be content with the small marketshare it currently holds.
But I don’t think that Apple will shift. Its just not their thing. Mac PCs still hold a small PC marketshare till date and are basically US-centric too. That’s Apple. Mostly great products; mostly limited marketshare. That cannot be a company that can actually threaten Nokia’s dominance. Full stop.
I am not a Nokia fanboy. As a matter of fact, current Nokia/Symbian devices do not meet my needs. I buy and use devices from any manufacturer and on any platform so long as my current needs are met. Perhaps tomorrow, I may buy a Nokia. Or an iPhone. Who knows?
But truth is sacred. Facts must not be distorted for any reason.
I like the iPhone for what it represents. I am not bashing it. But if we don’t set records straight, we’ll keep living in the Matrix – a world of distorted reality cooked up by Apple and the uninformed American blogging community.
The iPhone is an outstanding device. But basically, it is a device that costs an arm and a leg but with limited functionality and limited availability primarilly in a country that makes up a small percentage of the world’s mobile market, as well as being a country that does not reflect the realities of the rest of the world’s mobile market.
No; the iPhone has never been a threat and is so, so not going to be a threat to Nokia or Symbian. At least, not unless Apple changes its current strategy for something better. Or – God forbid – Nokia decides to abandon the mobile phone business.
The American mainstream media and blogging community – and everyone who is blindly following them – need to pull out their heads out of the sand and face reality. ‘Nuf said.
PS: By the way, I have nothing against the US or Americans. I have American contacts and acquaintances that I deeply treasure, so if you are American, please don’t take this the wrong way.