App selection secures iPhone lead In smartphone market

The maxim that "software sells hardware" is truth

It wasn't always obvious that applications would be as important to mobile users as the iPhone has helped them become. Or that they would be even more important for keeping competitors at bay.

The first statement is a personal admission that I never expected a mere cellular telephone could become so important in my life. The second is an observation that applications are Apple's firewall--at least for now--against encroachment by Palm, BlackBerry, and Google Android.

I realised last night that I have downloaded in excess of 60 iPhone applications, for which I've paid about $US100 total. Only one is a game--Yahtzee--and I've settled on about 30 as "must haves" on my phone, though the lineup is changes from week-to-week.

My most recent addition is the Sirius XM app, which may or may not stay. While the iPhone's own player will run multitasking, the Sirius/XM application stops if you leave it to do something else. Thus, I can listen to "iPod" content while reading my e-mail, but the XM political talk channel I like (POTUS) dies as soon as I try to multitask.

This is an example of where making multitasking available to developers, as Palm and Google Android already do, would be a win for iPhone customers. I have to think Apple is working on it, but my suspicion is there's a reason Apple doesn't want too many apps running simultaneously, hence the delay in making the technology available to developers

If someone handed me a Palm Pre today, I would doubtlessly be able to use it for many things, like phone calls, calendar, and e-mail. I could make that transition smoothly and might even appreciate the "real" Pre keyboard.

What I'd miss would be the applications I've grown used to. Some favorite apps, like Evernote, will probably end up on all the major platforms. Less likely, I suspect, is Things, a to-do manager out of the Mac world that has an iPhone version for carry-around convenience. (And it syncs using Wi-Fi, something more apps should be capable of).

But, what about the ham radio callsign look-up that I use at least as often as Evernote? The hazardous materials database application? The medical apps I sometimes want, or at least feel better having around for reference? And, there is iBird, which allows me to not always have a field guide in my briefcase. It's not as good, but iBird is a lot more portable.

I bet topo mapping apps will become more widely available, but I already have mine. Likewise the various news and social networking tools, such as Tweetdeck, available for both Mac and iPhone.

Of course, I believe that good applications will become available for other platforms, but how long will it be until I can switch smartphones and not suffer withdrawal pains? How long before I won't pitch an iPhone to unwashed friends by showing them all the cool apps that I have that whatever platform they are considering doesn't?

The maxim that "software sells hardware" is truth. And to whatever extent your phone hardware is better than mine--which I think is a stretch for any iPhone competitor at the moment--it will be a long time before competitors can beat the iPhone apps library. Or its music store.

And that "long time" may prove to be some competitors' undoing.

Tech industry veteran David Coursey tweets as techinciter and can be reached via his Web site at www.coursey.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleiphone app storeiPhonesmartphonesiphone apps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Coursey

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?