Over the past two years spawned by Apple's iPhone, a new class of iconic, need-to-have, shiny converged mobile devices (or smartphones) have come on to the scene that have had a profound impact on the smartphone market. The term superphone, coined in the media, speaks to this high-end device class characterized by its "wow factor," a real or perceived buying frenzy, or an otherwise stylish, functional and pretty-to-look-at device. And while selling 1 million devices in the first few days of availability is not a necessary criterion, it is certainly becoming the expectation from the trade press and Wall Street.
Apple's iPhone certainly set the standard with its launch two years ago and continues to reach new heights with its most recent launch of iPhone 3GS, claiming 1 million devices sold in its first weekend in the market. Verizon Wireless in launching RIM's BlackBerry Storm last November sold 1 million in less than three months. Nokia also sold 1 million of its flagship E71 devices last summer in three months. The Palm Pre, debuted last month, certainly fits the bill with its multi-touch capabilities and beautiful interface from a company that has put its stamp on the smartphone. Palm has been trying to keep up with demand as the Pre has been selling out and is on a nice pace, working towards being a million seller.
And even Android is arguably not a hit, yet the G1 (manufactured by HTC) did sell a million units for T-Mobile USA and provided significant improvement in data usage. With Android, the best is yet to come, with tremendous buzz and anticipation from developers as the likes of Samsung, Motorola and LG either launch or are expected to launch devices with this operating system. And the leading Windows Mobile device provider, HTC, currently offers four Android-based devices.
So the question is, where is Microsoft in all of this? With over 50 suppliers (and all of the major suppliers except Nokia), Microsoft has yet to produce the iconic, shiny device that users have coveted. In the past there have been a few devices that have shown some promise. The Motorola Q, Moto's first smartphone with Windows Mobile, had promise, but was known more for its large return rate with Verizon Wireless than anything else. Samsung's BlackJack, BlackJack II and most recently the Jack were all strong devices and flagship WinMo devices for AT&T, but never quite reached rock star status...Continued