Stuart Dredge writes…
If a new mobile phone can play music, then it must be an iPhone rival. Why? Well, because we say so. That’s ‘we’ as in bloggers and journalists, of course. To someone reading Tech Digest, other gadget blogs, or even mainstream newspapers, it must seem like every new phone gets slapped with the iPhone comparison.
Last night, my post on the Sony Ericsson W960 stuck to the trend, and it was the last straw for reader Del. “The only reason the touchscreen will invite inevitable iPhone comparisons is because people like you can’t write anything about mobile phones anymore without mentioning the Apple phone,” he commented. “Christ you can’t even write a title without adding a reference.”
Which is true. So I thought it was time for some
naked self-justification explanation of why we bang on about the iPhone so much, and more specifically, why in most cases, it’s NOT because we’re a bunch of Jobs-worshipping Apple fanboys.
Cynics would argue that the reason we stick ‘iPhone’ in the headline of any music handset story is just to trouser as many Google hits as possible. There are shedloads of people typing iPhone into Google right now, and hell, we’re all keen for traffic. If someone’s interested in iPhone, they’d presumably be interested in a rival handset with similar specs.
But there’s more to it than that. Comparing iPhone to other handsets isn’t – in most cases – just a way to bang the ‘Apple rules, Nokia sucks’ fanboy drum. In fact, it’s the opposite. Rather than get carried away on the hype, the iPhone should be compared to its main rivals, to cut through the bluster and see if it’s really as revolutionary as Apple would like everyone to believe.
The W960 is a good example. It’s 3G for starters, which beats iPhone. It’s got a proper mechanical keyboard under its touchscreen, which should make texting and emailing easier. It’s got some intriguing music recognition software built in, and it’ll tie into mobile operators’ music stores, rather than force you to register an iTunes account.
These are important comparisons to make, and it’d be pointless trying to write about the W960 without mentioning them.
But there’s something else at work too. Sony Ericsson has made a bunch of Walkman phones, including – as Del points out – a touchscreen model, the W950i. It’s sold millions of them too. Meanwhile, Nokia has been mining mobile music for an equally long time, and claims to be the biggest seller of ‘MP3 players’ in the world as a result.
But like it or not, iPhone’s launch later this month is a huge deal in the world of mobile music. It’ll be a factor in anyone’s thoughts who’s considering buying a music-focused handset in the near future. Should they wait for iPhone to come out in Europe? Will they have to change operator to get it? And what else is available if they don’t want to do either of those things?
In that context, talking about LG’s Prada, or Sony Ericsson’s W960, or Nokia’s new phones as iPhone rivals isn’t belittling them. It’s absolutely necessary. What’s lazy journalism is to assume that because Apple made the iPod, its phone will automatically rule the music roost.
God knows, there’ll be enough articles and TV news reports doing that in the coming weeks. But not on here. Now, have I told you about Samsung’s amazing new iPhone-killer…