Apple’s iPhone has drawn a mixture of suspicion and admiration at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, with T-Mobile’s CEO Hamid Akhavan making clear concern over Steve Jobs’ selection of Cingular as an exclusive US carrier for the device. The tie-up was announced at January’s Macworld in a new approach to the mobile industry’s conventional subsidized but largely open handset model, in what could mark a move toward device-driven trading models.
Asked for his views, Hamid Akhavan said in a keynote panel it was not yet a worry. “It could become concerning, we don’t know,” he said. “A surprising aspect is the aspect of exclusivity. This doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with promoting usage – as soon as you limit yourself to a certain supplier, you limit yourself. It’s not 100 percent clear what the benefits of this exclusivity are. This could become concerning if not managed. We don’t know what the success of iPhone will be … it’s not guaranteed that this model is successful. The iTunes phone model wasn’t as successful as expected. There are a number of competing offers.”
Apple is supposedly not present at 3GSM, having eschewed the world’s largest mobile gathering to announce its device at its own summit last month. But the iPhone effect is ripping through the halls regardless, as a glut of new handsets is launched with “iPhone” comparisons in the press release, and other handset makers react to Jobs’ gadget:
- Neonode N2: Probably the most obvious imitator of the bunch, the N2 also includes a gesture-based that allows for interaction by sweeping fingers across the screen.
- Nokia: CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo challenged Jobs to “turn mindshare into market share“.
- Samsung: Apparently, they have launched an “iPhone-killer”.
- Toshiba: Yes, another “iPhone-killer“. How does it follow that these devices are conventional smartphones with slide-out keyboards, yet challengers to Apple’s device?