2008 Year in Review: The iPhone 3G and iPhone clones

The news: AT&T Mobility launched the Apple's iPhone 3G July 11, ushering in a new era of high-speed data capable smartphones. Apple's second-generation iPhone, which featured the same sleek look and innovative touchscreen user interface of the first-gen iPhone, now offered consumers the ability to surf the Web using AT&T's HSPA network and that sparked a flurry of iPhone clones.

T-Mobile USA jumped into the ring post-iPhone 3G, with the launch of the G1, the first phone based on Google's Android platform, which boasted a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard. Then came the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, formerly known as the Tube. Verizon Wireless followed up shortly thereafter with the Motorola Krave ZN4--billed as both a touchscreen phone and a flip phone.

Then, the deluge came: the Samsung Epix (AT&T); the HTC Touch Pro, a soup-ed up version of the HTC Touch Diamond (Sprint Nextel); the $800 Sony Ericsson Xperia X1; the Samsung Saga (Verizon) and Samsung Eternity (AT&T); Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm--the first touchscreen BlackBerry (Verizon); the Samsung Omnia (Verizon); and the Nokia N97.

Why it was significant:
It is easy to pronounce this or that as a paradigm shift, but the launch of the iPhone 3G truly was one. The genius lay behind its marketing, with each 30-second ad almost like an infomercial for how to use the multiple features and applications of the iPhone 3G, and then, at the end, reminding customers that it was a phone, too.  Apple marketed the iPhone 3G as a mobile computer and digital media player first, and a phone second. And other handset makers felt they had to follow suit, launching a bevy of sleek phones with touchscreen UI's. While each pretender to the throne was looking to be an iPhone-Killer, so far the iPhone 3G remains at the top, simply by virtue that no other handset has achieved the same kind of brand recognition that the iPhone 3G has.

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