A little background
So, I sold myself to the space plastic. I got myself an iPhone. After some tricking with the software I got it up and running. There are just a few rough edges left but in all a great experience. It really delivers, a few quirks that you get used to it in no time at all. You have to get used to the keyboard but it only took me a one or two days to nail it.
Most of the basic applications work great, the integration is the best part of it, you can add the address for a contact and from there go to the map and get directions from your home address - real sweet.
The calendar is great but why couldn't it just sync with windows calendar or any iCal file out there? Could it be that they want me to buy a mac? But to be honest, no other phone maker makes it any easier to sync.
A few pointers, the text messaging works great as a conversation but sometimes you need to send to more than one or forward, then there is the SMSD application that handles messages as you are used to. There even is a solution in the works to handle MMS, at SwirlySpace you can have an application that for starters handles sending MMS.
But the functionality, responsively and integration of all other applications are so good it doesn't matter. And the updates the pump out seem to offer more that bug fixes that should have been in place by delivery. But that has to be proved.
So where are all the others?
Why didn't Nokia, SonyEricsson or any other of the mobile companies out there deliver this kind of product?
The main problem here is history. For the past decades mobile phones have been selling on features, the developers are the driving factor, together with marketing. In the beginning you really sold a telephone, just the bare minimum of features (calling, handling contacts and SMS). This was easy, 4-5 items in a menu and you were safe. Add a few extra features and you would sell more, shrink the size, add to battery life. Any other extra feature was a main selling point as there was only so many ways to dial a phone number. But as the feature war went on there was casualties, too bad it was among the users. Marketing locked on to all the features that the techies invented and now they are stuck there. The feature list keeps getting longer and is expected to expand with GSM, SMS, CDMA, Bluetooth, GPRS, MMS, PTT, TDMA, WAP, GPS, 3G, EV-DO, UMTS, HSDPA, EDGE, Turbo-3G, CDPD, GAIT...
Want me to continue? That is what most mobile companies are selling. Not a great phone, web surfing experience, music machine or personal planner. And they are so stuck in selling acronyms that they have trouble to cut lose. Drop all buzzwords and sell an experience.
The only company with a full experience focus, coupled with the marketing money, is Apple. The last building block was the timing, available processing power and hardware to support the UI. They were able to start fresh with no history in what's expected other than a great experience and a fanatic crowd. There are a few players, Neonode is one but unfortunately I think it's too late for them. Another major player here might be Google. They have the muscles to provide a platform, now let the experience guys do something cool stuff with that. Keep the Linux geeks at bay or we will have an interface like Gimp.
Don't get me wrong here I do think that SonyEricsson sell a lot of great phones. I have a few myself and they are my second choice. But I always feel that they have the potential to do so much more. And by the way, if you know most of the acronyms above you’re in trouble, take some user experience and get yourself out of the featuritis.