The importance of this OS preview event is often overlooked in the months leading up to new iPhone hardware. Most competitors don’t seem to get it; while it’s the hardware that gives Apple a lead, it’s the software that keeps them ahead.
And while everyone is scrambling to catch up with the current iPhone, most fail to take into account that Apple always has a dozen new things planned. So basically, most competitors are constantly rushing to compete with a soon-to-be-outdated offering.
Meanwhile, the competitors that do innovate, Apple, while its huge installed base, has the luxury of sitting back and cherry-picking (and perfecting) the best of those features for the iPhone.
It’s a lethal combination.
Undoubtedly, after today, we’ll start to hear those competitors complain that “we had that feature first.” But the fact of the matter is that this only underscores their own failure to sell the feature. You have to assume that every feature is going to be copied (as many have done with iPhone features), the only thing to do is to keep moving forward with new features rather than dwell on who did what first.
Or, of course, sue. Or do both (as Apple is).
The biggest takeaway from today though is that most of the obvious iPhone weaknesses have once again fallen (multitasking being the biggest one). Now, as I see it, there is only one major one left to topple: AT&T.
If that doesn’t happen this year, it will happen next year. If I were an iPhone competitor, I’d hit that relentlessly until it does change. It is the Achilles’ heel. And it remains a major differentiating factor. Once that goes away, the competitors will really be forced to innovate. Or die trying. And that will be good for us all.