Smartphone makers- better wake up and smell the Applesauce

Iphone_3gWell the long awaited iPhone 3G announcement has come and gone and the July 11th availability date will be here in just a few weeks.  The pundits have analyzed its capabilities, shortcomings and torn apart the new AT&T iPhone data plan.  We’ve seen the experts critique the newest iPhone on a feature by feature basis and lament the exclusion of feature X or the shortcomings of feature Y.  I’m here to tell you that just like the original iPhone these shortcomings don’t matter in the overall scheme of things.

Companies that make smartphones better be shaking in their boots right now as the iPhone 3G is going to continue to change the game and in fact change it faster than the original iPhone did.  Geeks can rightly point out that there are many smartphones on the market today that do more things than the iPhone and do some things better than the iPhone but I’m here to tell you that it just doesn’t matter.  Apple realizes that the very small phone savvy (read geek) market segment is so small it doesn’t matter.  Apple has rightly determined that the target market of the iPhone, and it hasn’t changed with the 3G model, is the mainstream consumer market that doesn’t even know what a smartphone is.

If you’re like me you’ve seen this in action.  Aunt Sue comes in with her new iPhone that she picked up after she saw her friend’s and it’s "just so easy to use".  This is the same Aunt Sue that hated using her regular cell phone because it was "too hard" so all she ever did with it was make phone calls.  She always manually dialed them too because the address book feature was just too hard to learn.  As you listen to her talk about her new iPhone and watch her show it off you realize that she already has learned how to use the iPhone address book and much more.  She brags that she is amazed that she can get and send photos of her family members with email, even though she’s so intimidated with computers that she’s never used one.  Which means she’s never, ever used email before.  She does now on her little iPhone because it practically set itself up when she fired up the iPhone.  She talks about how she now exchanges text messages with her nieces and nephews regularly because it doesn’t matter if "they answer the phone or not".

I have seen this scenario many times and it doesn’t vary much each time.  This is where Apple has excelled with the simple touch interface and making the core smartphone functions of the iPhone work so easily.  It doesn’t matter if we geeks find the iPhone’s functions lacking because we are not Apple’s target market.  Aunt Sue is.  You smartphone makers sure better understand that and think about that long and hard.

I have more than once seen iPhone users who have never been on the Internet because it’s beyond their understanding who are now happily surfing their local newspaper online, or checking out the big news on the web.  I have seen these folks tell someone looking for some information that "they’ll just Google it" which is amazing given they didn’t even know what Google was a few months ago.  In this regard the iPhone has been life changing for these folks which is not something that other products have done or even come close to before.  The sparkle in the eyes of these people as they recount their first encounter with this technology because of the iPhone is priceless.  Invariably they admit that the reason it worked for them is because they were not intimidated by the iPhone like they are with technology in general because of how simple it was to use right out of the box. 

So you other smartphone makers better smell the Applesauce and get things a lot easier to use.  Not for the geeks but for the Aunt Sues out there.  There are many, many more Aunt Sues than there are geeks and as the iPhone 3G is launched all over the world there will be millions and millions of Aunt Sues who will be able to get their hands on one.  So you’d better get that super easy to use smartphone out pretty soon and get the word out to the Aunt Sues out there or you may end up sucking wind.