What a Bad Week It's Been for Apple's Adversaries

It's been a bad week for Adobe, Amazon and now Google, not to mention other smartphone, netbook and e-reader makers. Apple has put together one of the most spectacular weeks in mobile tech history, taking dead aim at big rivals.

Six days after the iPad hit the streets, Apple announced amazing upgrades in iPhone OS 4.0 coming later this summer. iPhone OS 4.0 has multitasking capabilities, Bluetooth keyboard support, SMS inside apps, folders, better email management and data encryption, and a mobile advertising platform, called iAd.

iAd, which enables interactive ads inside an app, is an affront to Google whose business relies on browser-based searching. "People aren't searching on a mobile device like they are on a desktop device," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "They are using apps to get to the Internet."

Jobs also took a swipe at Google, noting that Apple wanted to acquire AdMob but Google "snatched it away from us." Consider the favor returned.

Meanwhile, lack of multitasking has been a big knock on the iPhone. Makers of rival smartphones like the Droid often point out this flaw. Not anymore. iPhone OS 4.0 gives the iPhone the ability to run multiple third-party apps simultaneously. This feature is especially important for the iPad (which runs iPhone OS) and its efforts to displace netbooks.

Apple sold more than 300,000 iPad units on opening day, with a million iPad apps downloaded. Ovum analyst Jonathan Yarmis, however, wasn't impressed. He writes in a research note: "The first troubling sign is the fact that you can still get an iPad today. They didn't sell out. Apple, in the past, has shown great strength in managing inventory to create shortages."

Since then, iPad sales have reached 450,000 with Best Buy selling out its inventory.

Sales aside, the iPad has already shaken rival Amazon Kindle. No longer able to dictate terms as the undisputed leader in the e-reader market, Amazon has had to bow to book publishers' demands on pricing. The iPad, along with Apple's iBookstore and iBook reader, is being heralded as a Kindle killer.

The iPad also doesn't support Adobe Flash. Nor does the iPhone. And iAd ads will be developed on HTML 5. With the iPhone growing in popularity—more than 50 million iPhones sold with 30,000 new iPhone users added every day, according to Apple—and the potential of the iPad, Adobe faces challenges ahead.

InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman writes in a story: "With the recent launch of the iPad, it's clear that Apple's goal is to do more than ignore Flash. Apple wants to kill Flash and the other RIAs. Its weapon of choice: the still-evolving HTML5 browser standard."

Apple is on a roll, putting rivals on notice.

Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer for CIO.com in Silicon Valley. Send him an email at tkaneshige@cio.com. Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.

Subscribe to the Today in Tech Newsletter

Comments