This was, and still is for the most part, one of the biggest stories in the mobile world. After years of commitment to AT&T and the growing consumer dissatisfaction with coverage issues and dropped calls, Apple decided it was time for the happy couple to begin seeing other people. Apple's current new beau is one of the biggest mobile carriers, but it is not the company’s only love interest. Apple is also courting several others with hopes of expanding the iPhone market share, no doubt in response to the frustrating success of Android. Can Apple find true love or is it looking for love in all the wrong places?
The Golden Apple Child
For the first several years of its existence, Apple's iPhone was the “golden child” of the smartphone market, although it was not the only one. There have been many companies starting out with the Pocket PC phones that Microsoft pushed, which resulted in the first smartphones having sliding keyboards and full operating systems, consisting mostly of the original Windows Mobile. When Apple first launched the iPhone, it probably thought the company was taking on its old nemesis, Microsoft. How could Apple have predicted that the silly Open Handset Alliance would produce a “real” product? How could Apple have predicted that it would be going up against Google, a search engine?
Rumors & Hype
With all of the recent rumors and hype coming out of CES and Macworld regarding the future of Apple's mobile platform and others regarding negotiations with T-mobile and other carriers, it would seem that Apple is working toward going broad-based in the market to combat the Android threat. The rumored iPhone 5 is going to change the world and the almost here iPad 2 will ensure Apple's dominance of the tablet PC market for years to come, or so they say. The features touted for these coming releases are targeted at the flaws of the existing products, of course, but further, they seem to be reactionary to the features of the competition that is eating Apple’s market. The expansion of the iPhone to other carriers is Apple trying to prevent Android from being the only choice for everyone but AT&T customers.
The Real Question…
Can Apple, with a closed platform and marketplace, really win against Google with a completely open source solution? Can a company that shares nothing stand alone and win against a company that gives everything away free? Can hardware compete against software? Only time will tell, but with cautionary tales about waiting to make the move to Verizon and AT&T; touting the ability to surf the web while on the phone, many iPhone users will wait.
Consumers will wait to see who will be selling the iPhone 5 or the iPad 2 before they decide to jump carriers. They may wait to see what other carriers they can take their phones to, or which ones will have the best rates. The trouble for Apple is that the longer it waits, the more likely consumers are to consider an Android-and the more time the competition has to blanket the mobile world with the Android logo.