Opinion: It's A Great Time For Smartphones Everywhere

This is probably spitting into the wind, but I've got to wonder: Why can't fans of opposing smartphone teams celebrate the remarkable successes everyone's having?

I was reading over the stories that emerged from yesterday's unveiling of Ice Cream Sandwich when the thought struck me that we're currently in the middle of an excellent time for smartphones.

Not just Android ones, although that was clearly the focus of yesterday's stories, but all smartphones. And that thought cascaded into another. Competition is good for markets like this, because it spurs innovation. The original iPhone gave the smartphone market a kick up the backside, but it rather quickly wasn't the only model out there. Android was disruptive technology in the best sense, and in a case of imitation being the best form of flattery, iPhones now have a very Android-esque notification blind to use. Yet all I seem to see is whinging and moaning about competing platforms. I get why this happens, but it does make me wonder; why is it that we can't celebrate the really cool stuff that's happening right now, given that ultimately it's good for all of us?

Android

Three words. Ice Cream Sandwich. This is looking seriously good; Google finally adding the kind of polish that's been a touch missing from previous Android releases, alongside the superb looking Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Sure, it's big, and that won't suit every single user, but I'm sure there'll be handsets with smaller form factors due along quickly. Speaking of different form factors, the new Motorola RAZR looks pretty darned spiffy, even if it was rather eclipsed by Google's Ice Cream Sandwich news yesterday. After all, one of the strengths of the Android market is that it can support all sorts of form factors, from keyboard-equipped models like the HTC ChaCha to tiny units like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray.

Blackberry

OK, the recent outages won't have won too many fans, but RIM's still a company that's thinking big. The Bold 9900 is an excellent keyboard-based phone — the phone with a keyboard to beat in my opinion — and the new BBX platform shows some hope. RIM's not yet out of the fight, and in the name of competition, hopefully they're not going anywhere soon.

iPhone

There's a shiny new iPhone! But you probably knew that. It has been rather popular, after all. Combined with iOS 5 it's a very powerful little machine, and I've got to say I'm having a lot of fun testing my review model out right now; so much so that I'm giving serious consideration to jumping back to iOS from my Galaxy S II.

Sure, some of the iPhone 4S' lustre is due to features found in iOS 5, but that too is worth celebrating. After all, iOS 5 can be installed onto an iPhone 3GS — I've done this myself with absolutely zero problems — and that's a phone that's more than two years old. I'm struggling to think of a smartphone more than two years old that still gets updates.

Windows Phone 7

Mango's a damn fine upgrade for the existing models, but the focus right now has to be on the upcoming Mango models, and clearly, Nokia's first steps into Windows Phone 7 territory. If the Nokia N9 is any indication, when Nokia combines its hardware design with a really good operating system (sorry, Symbian fans; I've still got nothing for you), great things may happen.

Everybody needs a scapegoat If you really, truly, must have a scapegoat, how about, say, WebOS? Nothing particularly wrong with WebOS per se, except that it's something of a dead man walking. As such, even criticism would seem like attention to WebOS, and it would probably welcome any attention it can get right now.

Image: Gillyberlin

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