Countless handset makers have tried to mimic Apple's success with the iPhone by creating touch-screen-based device of their own, but the vast majority failed to sell even a fraction of the number of handhelds Apple shipped in 2008 -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million devices.
The latest -- and perhaps most notable -- smartphone manufacturer to take on Apple's iPhone in the touch screen arena is Research In Motion, maker of the popular BlackBerry handheld. Rumors about a BlackBerry Touch first hit the Web almost a year ago, six months after Apple first released the iPhone. But it wasn't until early October that RIM confirmed the existence of such a device. Last week, Verizon Wireless, the exclusive U.S. Storm carrier, announced that the touch screen BlackBerry will go on sale on November 21, for $199 after a $50 rebate.
When the BlackBerry Storm becomes available next week, smartphone buyers will be presented with a choice between the most popular touch screen handset in the world, the iPhone, and what could prove to be the world's first true iPhone rival, the Storm 9530. Here's my thinking on eight reasons why the iPhone 3G might be the better choice. Click on over to part two of the series for the flip side: eight reasons why the Storm might be the best option for you.
8) iPhone Now Second Generation
The Apple iPhone has been available for almost a year and a half now -- the first-generation iPhone was released in June of 2007; the second-gen iPhone 3G came in July 2008. And though it hasn't been all smooth sailing, Apple has largely worked through the initial hiccups, so new iPhone users can expect a relatively seamless experience.
Not so with the BlackBerry Storm. Today, Vodafone U.K. is expected to become the first global carrier to sell the Storm -- a different version than the 9530 edition that Verizon will sell in the U.S. -- and though there have been some early reviews of pre-production units, it's still unknown exactly how well RIM's "Click Through" touch screen tech will work and/or hold up over time.
If you're anxious to get your hands on a touch screen smartphone before the holidays, it might be wise to choose the iPhone 3G -- at least until somebody really puts the Storm through the motions.
7) Built-In Memory
The iPhone 3G currently comes in two versions: the 8GB iPhone ($199 with new AT&T contract); and the 16GB edition ($299 on contract). Both the 8GB and 16GB iPhone feature internal storage that cannot be swapped out. That means new iPhone users have immediate access to either 8GB or 16GB of storage, and there's no need to purchase or manage multiple memory cards -- it also means memory cannot be expanded.
This can be both a bane and a boon for smartphone users, depending on personal preferences and digital media habits. Folks who don't really need any more than 16GB of memory could appreciate the fact that they never need to purchase memory cards or remove any iPhone components to swap or expand memory. However, users with large digital media collections might want to use multiple memory cards so they can access more of their digital content.
6) iTunes App Store
With the second-gen iPhone 3G came the iTunes App Store, the sole distribution channel for iPhone software. The App Store makes it simple for iPhone users to locate, download and update third-party software -- from a desktop computer or via iPhone -- and Apple vets each and every app, so users can trust that they're safe in downloading new programs.
From a software developer's perspective, the App Store may not be an ideal mobile application marketplace, but for users, it's simple, reliable and familiar, since it's a part of iTunes and works accordingly.
BlackBerry Storm owners are expected to get an app store of their own in March 2009, tentatively called the BlackBerry Application Storefront, as well as an on-device Application Center, though details on how both will function and to what degree they'll be available in 2009 are sparse.
5) iTunes Integration
From the start, Apple designed the iPhone to work hand-in-hand with its popular iTunes software -- in fact an iTunes account is required for new iPhone users. For your average iPhone owner, the relationship is mostly a beneficial one, as it simplifies the transfer of new applications and media; lets you easily modify iPhone settings via desktop computers; and facilitates the acquisition of iPhone-formatted music, video and other content.
Another huge advantage the iPhone and its iTunes partnership have over the BlackBerry Storm: iTunes works on both PCs and Macs. The BlackBerry Desktop Manager, which is the equivalent desktop software for BlackBerry smartphones, currently only runs on PCs, so many advanced functions aren't available to Mac users -- though RIM says Mac-specific user tool are coming in 2009.
Also, RIM's Desktop Manager is clunky and unintuitive in comparison to iTunes, so less-than-tech-savvy users could benefit from Apple's familiar interface.