Back in 2007, the smart phone industry was hot and competition fierce as manufacturers and carriers vied with one another on the basis of whose hardware and technology was best. Customers weighed factors like speed, phone quality, value, battery life and network support.
Then Apple’s iPhone was introduced. It worked on only one network, its battery only lasted about five hours, voice quality was adequate and it cost twice as much as the rest. Customers stampeded to buy it as Apple turned the industry on its head, successfully swinging the pendulum’s arc from hardware, technology and value to user interface, design, screen size and applications– the so-called “softer features”. Apple’s juggernaut laid waste to the competition, but other players didn’t sit still, eventually narrowing or eliminating Apple’s edge. Android phones have since outsold the iPhone and the field is once again looking for more differentiation. Tablets have also entered the mobile computing fray and the differences between their softer features alone don’t offer compelling reasons to buy one over the other. Instead, competition is turning on front and back cameras, faster chips, better batteries and screen resolutions– and competitive prices– as the pendulum swings back toward hardware, technology and value.