Editorial

The mobile market is turning grey

When Apple introduced the original iPhone, they did break the mold. While looking back the device is now laughable with features that it lacked, the platform has now matured into a mainstream product. When Apple rolled out iOS 5, the Internet went crazy because Apple copied features from both Android and Windows Phone and failed to innovate.

Why did the Internet go crazy? Apple has built itself to be a groundbreaking company, injecting new ideas, new hardware, new software into the marketplace. So when they didn’t do this, the Internet attacked Apple for parting from its traditional course.

Microsoft has had its own run-ins in the mobile landscape. They let their previous mobile platform go stale and become overrun by Android and iOS. Knowing this, they went back to the drawing board to bring about a new OS, one for this century, one that could compete with iOS and Android. When comparing version 1 of iOS to Windows Phone, Windows Phone dominates that platform but that’s because it had to if it wanted to be taken serious.

Microsoft has made great strides in trying to innovate on the UI and features for the platform; rightfully so as they need to grab the attention of the consumer. Windows Phone, especially with the addition of ‘Mango’, will level the playing field once again for Microsoft.  But Microsoft can be credited for unique features that are being copied by other platforms such as quick access to the camera from the lock screen and live tiles.

Moving to Android, the perpetual upgrades to the platform have been a blessing and a curse. The platform has evolved at an incredible pace but keeping all Android devices up-to-date has been another struggle. But Android has brought many new features to the table, most notably widgets and their acceptance on the mobile platform. Android made widgets useable, fun and informative while not crushing the OS under the weight of the widget. Android did innovate too in its notifications, which were copied by Apple, and Google also nailed the implementation.

There are other platforms out there such as BBOS and Symbian, but those are quickly fading from relevancy primarily because Nokia is now supporting Windows Phone and BBOS needs a ground-up refresh to maintain its relevance. WebOS is still out there, but its wide adoption has yet to prevail.  But likewise, these platforms have made their impact over the years, albeit in smaller proportions when compared to Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

When you look at the mobile ecosystem today, the definition between the platforms is shrinking with each new generation. What was once a killer feature on a single platform is quickly replicated by the competitors in their next revision to the software. This is the way the industry works, it seems as if some have forgotten this little fact.

Many years ago, Microsoft and Apple copied features from each other’s OS to help keep their platform relevant. In the car industry, this same phenomenon occurs too, the innovator gets a 1 generation advantage until the competitors implement their own version. This is how the open markets work and will continue to work into the future.

When thinking about the future of mobile platforms, the industry is flattening. Competitive advantage is now defined by external factors from the OS and now resides in the hardware. We have hit the saturation point of one platform being better than the other. Windows Phone, Android and iOS all offer the same features, and thanks to continuous improvement, do it in a very similar way. When one innovates, the others will copy in their next revision. This is the way the markets work and will continue to work until all platforms are only defined by the company supporting them and not the features implemented.

This all breaks down the this, when one company innovates, it is expected that others will follow suit. When a company announces a feature already implemented by another, it is not necessary to riot. This is the way the markets operate, and will continue to do so until the mobile ecosystem turns grey, that is of course, until the next revolution in technology comes along.

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I think the writer is missing the point here though.

First, it's one thing to take an idea and run with it, and a completely other thing to directly rip an idea and implement it exactly as it is in another OS...

And Second, had Apple ripped one or two things, yet invested time in doing something new or different in this release it would be more acceptable. But EVERY feature was a direct rip from someone. They barely even tried to sprinkle the Apple pixy dust on these things. And the certainly didn't make any attempt whatsoever to innovate in any way with this release. There isn't a feature there that wasn't taken from another OS... And I think that says a lot about the perceptions within Apple of their ability to compete in the mobile space.

This article makes a lot of sense.

You can't expect one company to innovate all of the time. Mobile OSes are usually the way they are because it makes them simple and fun to use. To innovate and come up with something completely new would probably be counter-productive.

It seems most companies are playing catchup with Android now, but I'd love to see an Android equivalent of iCloud and iMessage. (stupid names)

Apple will fail to innovate and catch up with M$.
iOS 5.0 is playing catch up with WP 7.1 or 1.1 if you are aware that it is writen from scratch...
And lets also see the time frame. iOS been out for so long while WP 7 is out for 6-8 months

Riva said,
Apple will fail to innovate and catch up with M$.
iOS 5.0 is playing catch up with WP 7.1 or 1.1 if you are aware that it is writen from scratch...
And lets also see the time frame. iOS been out for so long while WP 7 is out for 6-8 months

The cool thing is MS is attempting to blend the look of the PC, WP7 and Xbox all into a familiar look and feel. This is a brilliant move. With nearly 90% of the PC market they can capture a huge market. people like "familiar" and will naturally migrate towards it. They see a new fancy phone that looks and acts just like their PC they go beserk. MS sees the future, 2,3 10 years down the road.

Rooster69 said,

The cool thing is MS is attempting to blend the look of the PC, WP7 and Xbox all into a familiar look and feel. This is a brilliant move. With nearly 90% of the PC market they can capture a huge market. people like "familiar" and will naturally migrate towards it. They see a new fancy phone that looks and acts just like their PC they go beserk. MS sees the future, 2,3 10 years down the road.

Brilliant move? I think not. Many have said this will hurt MS's enterprises business. Too many MS fanboys on this forum. iOS 5 playing catch up to Windows Phone 7...? Has Mango even been released yet. Lack of copy and paste functionality isn't exactly cutting edge. There are reasons WP7 sales have been poor.

If they think Apple is copying now, wait until Stevie kicks the bucket, he is the one that motivates around there. once he is gone, that motivation will go with him. That new liver wont last forever.

why's everyone moaning, think about it apple may have "copied" features that were on other phones.. and not on there iOS... now they are more people would be willing to buy one because of the features and the elegance iOS provides, now you can say... my phone does what Android and BBOS do.. but better.

I personally don't see a problem with it, if they can do it better then great, from the looks of the features I'm really happy that they did because know ill be more interested in buying a iPhone because of the features it will now be getting.

I think you know why.
It's Apple's own habbit to declare each and every little feature they implemented to be magical and revolutionary paid back. Even in this, most bleak WWDC, we learned about revolutionary iCloud. Stop calling ordinary things everyone does revolutionary, and reserve this words for true revolutionary and magic things (that you certainly have), Apple! And people won't laugh when you slip.

The author's point reminds me of the marketing term commoditization, which the process by which a product or service reaches a point in its development where one brand has no features that significantly differentiate it from other brands, so consumers buy on price alone. Or as the author suggests, the markets will work and continue to work until all platforms are only defined by the company supporting them and not the features implemented. Therefore consumers will buy on brand loyalty or price. The actually quality of the product will be essentially the same.

Differentiation will be the ongoing challenge. Microsoft has said it will not rush to put out a tablet solution until it can create something that clearly differentiates its product from other products; Windows 8 looks like it will accomplish this. Likewise with WP7; it looks completely different from other operating systems. But even this kind of differentiation will likely turn grey and new revolution will have to take its place.

While it's probably true that at a point the major platforms will have more or less the same features, it will never be impossible for a company to come up with something the other hasnt yet, they will surely add it too when that happens but just saying.
Also, even though feature sets might be the same I think there is at least one more thing than brand and price users might look at, how a feature is implemented, just look at copy and paste, it's integrated in different way on iOS, Android and WP.
Look at the home and locksreens, they all have them but they aren't quite the same.

rdlind said,
The author's point reminds me of the marketing term commoditization, which the process by which a product or service reaches a point in its development where one brand has no features that significantly differentiate it from other brands, so consumers buy on price alone. Or as the author suggests, the markets will work and continue to work until all platforms are only defined by the company supporting them and not the features implemented. Therefore consumers will buy on brand loyalty or price. The actually quality of the product will be essentially the same.

Differentiation will be the ongoing challenge. Microsoft has said it will not rush to put out a tablet solution until it can create something that clearly differentiates its product from other products; Windows 8 looks like it will accomplish this. Likewise with WP7; it looks completely different from other operating systems. But even this kind of differentiation will likely turn grey and new revolution will have to take its place.

Price may be one stipulation, but featureset and compatible software is another. Apple has about the 'best' distribution model in existence right now, and competitors will not be able to play catchup to this..
Knowing I can get iCloud and sync 10 iDevices songs, contacts, calendars, etc automatically on first power up, as well as message between any of those devices at any time for free, and download a LOT of quality software for these devices once and it install on all compatible devices may sway my decision to keep with their 'brand', and expand to pods, pads and whatever else.

So basically... Apple adds features that fandroids have been blasting them for not having... and now that they have, they can't stand that either.

I'll give you copying the notifications.... however there are only so many ways to display this information. Everything else... wireless syncing, contacts/content from the cloud, etc... how else are they going to implement these things. You add your device, and you get everything sycned up. Simple, just like everyone else.


Fanboys will complain no matter what, all in all everyone copies. If you want to get technical Android copied a lot from the older iOS versions.

shockz said,
So basically... Apple adds features that fandroids have been blasting them for not having... and now that they have, they can't stand that either.

Nah, it's Apple acting like they invented it all, which they didn't. Not even close as a matter of fact. Oh, they did put out a multi-touch display several months before anyone else.

Soulsiphon said,

Nah, it's Apple acting like they invented it all, which they didn't. Not even close as a matter of fact. Oh, they did put out a multi-touch display several months before anyone else.


Well, if that were the case I would understand. But not once did they claim any of the iOS 5 to be magical, revolutionary or industry first so...

I think the idea this author has about some day manufacturers having nothing left to wow and one-up the competition is merely theoretical, and highly unlikely. I mean, honestly, when cell phones were getting popular in the late 90s even, I look back and see myself as 18 or 19, getting my first crappy flip phone with a camera, and thinking, "Man, this is the best phone ever!"...... And that phone doesn't even deserve to be called a PHONE anymore, compared to what there is out now. I think there will always be room to innovate. The idea that one day engineers will simply "run out of ideas" is laughable, and very, very unlikely, and we're certainly nowhere NEAR that point today, like the author seems to think.

IOS and Android are still practically in their infancy, development wise... And with computer chips getting smaller and more powerful by the day... Trust me, there will be no shortage of "innovation" in the smartphone market any time soon

Completely agree... and to further "prove" your point that technology will always move forward regardless of what we might think I have a two rather fun quotes.

β€œIn the future, computers may weigh no more than 1.5 tonnes.”
- Popular mechanics, 1949

β€œI see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years.”
- Bill Gates, 1994

I don't think the author was saying we'll run out of idea's, I think he was saying for this market that has been created for touch phones is now at it's peak. All 4 big players in this market have been redeveloping the mobile phone market. All features in these phones have been done before, it has just been a case of how to get them to work on a mobile device. I think the big 4 are running out of ideas now and features. What else is there to add to phones now? more social networking integration? There isn't an awful lot missing now. The next time we'll have a big change, is when the next generation is developed. Someone takes an idea and makes it practical and then the circle will start all over again.

I don't know what else I want or need my phone to do? But then again I didn't need a fancy phone like an iPhone 6years ago. So where can the phone market go from here? What's next?

I find it a bit funny people were all up in arms over copying amongst mobile operating systems, but I'd bet the same people would be more forgiving if it applied to desktop OSes or browsers.

Denis W said,
I find it a bit funny people were all up in arms over copying amongst mobile operating systems, but I'd bet the same people would be more forgiving if it applied to desktop OSes or browsers.

We know people forgive on desktop and browsers. Browsers implement features first created by someone else all the time and so does desktop OSes, I actually expected to see a lot of Apple haters going on about the copying the ability to resize windows by grabbing any edge and not just bottom right corner but nope, nothing

Leonick said,

We know people forgive on desktop and browsers. Browsers implement features first created by someone else all the time and so does desktop OSes, I actually expected to see a lot of Apple haters going on about the copying the ability to resize windows by grabbing any edge and not just bottom right corner but nope, nothing

There has been some, but the majority probably just doesn't know about it yet.

I still don't understand what the big deal is about iOS 5 not being "revolutionary". Has any of the updates added anything spectacular? It's only software, so comparing it to the actual iPhone hardware launch doesn't really make sense. I also didn't see the internet going "crazy". Only here from the Android fanboys and people that think it's cool to hate on Apple.

Astra.Xtreme said,
I still don't understand what the big deal is about iOS 5 not being "revolutionary". Has any of the updates added anything spectacular? It's only software, so comparing it to the actual iPhone hardware launch doesn't really make sense. I also didn't see the internet going "crazy". Only here from the Android fanboys and people that think it's cool to hate on Apple.
The big deal is that Apple survives by innovating, not copying. So when they fail to innovate, they are slipping. This is not a knock against apple, it's simply the reality of technology.

nubs said,
The big deal is that Apple survives by innovating, not copying. So when they fail to innovate, they are slipping. This is not a knock against apple, it's simply the reality of technology.

Well they took one update to add some features users has been asking for.
I'm sure they'll be right back on to innovating.
Besides getting the iCloud synchronization between devices, cloud backups and so on will make up for no new innovating features. It's not like they are behind, if they were it were the notifications and the fixed that...

But really, Apple doesn't innovate all that much. They take a market, and catalyze it instead by offering a more refined version of the broken products that populate it.

Apple didn't have the first MP3 player, nor was the iPhone the first touchscreen phone. But it popularized the markets for them.

nubs said,
The big deal is that Apple survives by innovating, not copying. So when they fail to innovate, they are slipping. This is not a knock against apple, it's simply the reality of technology.

+1
Very true. They innovated by stealing others innovations and tweaking them a bit to work on their platform.
remember wifi tethering, multitasking, folders? Wonder what made them do all that?

Im just hoping android 3.0 includes a 'DroidTalk' or something like iMessages/BBM/W7p messages, this is about the only feature these devices are missing. I wanna text from my tablet but I can't without tethering to my phone via dropbox.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Only here from the Android fanboys and people that think it's cool to hate on Apple.

Well Apple themselves were the ones who started slagging off their competitors in a direct and unsubtle way. Go figure.

smooth_criminal1990 said,

Well Apple themselves were the ones who started slagging off their competitors in a direct and unsubtle way. Go figure.

Well if nobody else can popularize a feature, then Apple will. That's the fair game of business.

when u have a successful profuct and people r going nut to phasing the latest edition, would you still spending time innovating? if it's me, i would just change the version number and make it a new edition...

This is very true however Apple still has the edge in hardware and probably battery life.

The Samsung focus is nice but most the other Windows Phone models are not so nice. Android has some models that are nice but they all have cheesy battery life.

babyHacker said,
This is very true however Apple still has the edge in hardware and probably battery life.

The Samsung focus is nice but most the other Windows Phone models are not so nice. Android has some models that are nice but they all have cheesy battery life.


They also have an edge in the mount of Apps and their overall quality.

Can't say I noticed the internet going "crazy" accusing apple of copying. Only place I read anything like it was the lame editorial on Neowin yesterday.

bobbba said,
Can't say I noticed the internet going "crazy" accusing apple of copying. Only place I read anything like it was the lame editorial on Neowin yesterday.

Well, then, try looking around.

Edited by Eric, Jun 8 2011, 6:44pm :

bobbba said,
Can't say I noticed the internet going "crazy" accusing apple of copying. Only place I read anything like it was the lame editorial on Neowin yesterday.


Just about every post about iOS 5 has a load of comments about them copying others. But there were always going to be flaming no matter what they did...

bobbba said,
Can't say I noticed the internet going "crazy" accusing apple of copying. Only place I read anything like it was the lame editorial on Neowin yesterday.

There's a lot of nerd rage going around. But yea, it's particularly strong here.

It seems that the author has gone out of his way to not mention RIM and BlackBerry. I use an iPhone personally so I don't care on a personal level, but just curious as to why...

sabrex said,
It seems that the author has gone out of his way to not mention RIM and BlackBerry. I use an iPhone personally so I don't care on a personal level, but just curious as to why...

He mentions BBOS which is BlackBerry OS...

Yeah, Apple isn't doing anything new, just catching up to the game. The only reason we're still talking about iPhones 5 years after it launched is because it's Apple. The phone's form factor and overall UI has not changed appreciably in 5 years. I guess when you have a winning formula (Pepsi), you're reluctant to change. I can appreciate that from a purely business perspective but as a cutting-edge smartphone user, the iPhone is so 2006 - as it were.

Well, why would you re do the UI?
Mac OS (X) still look pretty much the same, more feature and functions and a bit fancier graphics but overall design is the same.

Windows I also pretty much the same since 95, they did some taskbar changes in 7 and will stick a touch interface in top in 8 but still pretty much the same.

Blackberrys OS, pretty much the same.

Android, hasn't change it's UI either, things added but no drastic changes unless you count honeycomb but that was a new UI made for a new kind of device.

There are no reasons for any of them to do any drastic changes.

Leonick said,

Android, hasn't change it's UI either, things added but no drastic changes unless you count honeycomb but that was a new UI made for a new kind of device.

Really? I know for a fact the interface/menus/functionality varied heavily between the different versions, even the SAME versions on different devices. You have every carrier modifying the OS, as well as every phone developer modifying it. Samsung galaxy comes with swype, cause samsung co-designed it.. you have the widget/power controls on the notification drop down bar. You set the UI how you want it even.

3.0 looks different on the xoom than it does on the asus transformer even, which again is different than the Acer iconia and the Gtab devices. its the SAME damn version but different UI, tweaked to that hardware. Apple don't change its UI cause it wants everything to be 'simple' so if you use anything that starts with iPxxxx you can use any other devices that start with iPxxxx and not get confused.

Ruciz said,

snip.

I don't get your argument, your just saying the carrier modifies the UI, doesn't mean Android's UI changes drastically every update. Developer/carriers changing the UI is far different than the Android changing. If you going to say that, look at the customizations on a jailbroken iPhone, you can change it completely...

To the author - whenever anyone does anything remotely similar to what apple has done they get sued, when apple copies someone else it's "how the market works". Doesnt sound like a level playing field to me (as usual).

efjay said,
To the author - whenever anyone does anything remotely similar to what apple has done they get sued, when apple copies someone else it's "how the market works". Doesnt sound like a level playing field to me (as usual).

Usually because when someone gets sued for it they copied the look or used something that has been patented without paying a license. Those are of course what you read about on tech blogs, it's not like people get sued for every little thing apple ever did before them, no one was used for implementing a desktop level web browser on a phone for example. You have to look at the whole picture.

Leonick said,

Usually because when someone gets sued for it they copied the look or used something that has been patented without paying a license. Those are of course what you read about on tech blogs, it's not like people get sued for every little thing apple ever did before them, no one was used for implementing a desktop level web browser on a phone for example. You have to look at the whole picture.

No, apple sues for every little things like scrolling till the end of a vertical list will reveal a blank area. That is not exactly a trademarked look and feel, but a ui implementation. What apple is copying is way more complex and advanced thsn shat it is suing others

No, apple sues for every little things like scrolling till the end of a vertical list will reveal a blank area. That is not exactly a trademarked look and feel, but a ui implementation. What apple is copying is way more complex and advanced than what it is suing others. Nobody just patents every little idea and sues everyone like apple does. That's a very quantifiable statement too.

I am curious.. What are those features (not ideas) that Apple copied from Windows.. I know iMessage and Notification Center are copied form RIM and Android, repsectively?

trollonknoll said,
I am curious.. What are those features (not ideas) that Apple copied from Windows.. I know iMessage and Notification Center are copied form RIM and Android, repsectively?

Camera button to wake phone, wifi syncing, automatic photo upload.

trollonknoll said,
I am curious.. What are those features (not ideas) that Apple copied from Windows.. I know iMessage and Notification Center are copied form RIM and Android, repsectively?

Twitter integration.

trollonknoll said,
I am curious.. What are those features (not ideas) that Apple copied from Windows.. I know iMessage and Notification Center are copied form RIM and Android, repsectively?

Icons, icon groups? It was called Windows 3.1

efjay said,

Camera button to wake phone, wifi syncing, automatic photo upload.

I though Camera+ (3rd party software) - volumesnap hack allowed this.. It was a neat trick before it got removed from Appstore... Looks like both Windows Phone and Apple copied this from small Camera+ developer..

Neobond said,
Contacts syncing is one.

Contact syncing over usb was there in the first iPhone and then online with mobile me and Exchange Activesync ages long before ios5

trollonknoll said,
I am curious.. What are those features (not ideas) that Apple copied from Windows.. I know iMessage and Notification Center are copied form RIM and Android, repsectively?

A lot of the features Apple 'copied' are not currently on Windows Phone but will be in the 'Mango' update. MS beat them to the announcements. Not sure why everyone is getting their panties in a twist over it.

georgevella said,

I am sure that when they saw Windows 8 and saw their keyboard they didn't think, "OH HEY! That looks cool, we should add it into iOS5.", just days before their presentation. No. They have to have had that planned, designed, and coded and ready to go for the presentation and that takes months.

Neobond said,
Contacts syncing is one.

Please name a few more then because I've been syncing my contact with either outlook with a cable to yahoo over 3g since I got my 2 gen iPod touch (running iOS 2 back then) and later an iPhone 4.
It's not new, what's new is having iCloud take care of it with no more configuration than logging in.

As for notifications, what has been stolen from Android. It's a list of notifications, hardly a unique idea, how else are you going to list notifications other than in a list.
Ill give you that they copied the activation method, even though pulling down the statusbar for more information is rather logical, specially when that is were your notifications appear.

trollonknoll said,
I am curious.. What are those features (not ideas) that Apple copied from Windows.. I know iMessage and Notification Center are copied form RIM and Android, repsectively?

Not requiring a computer to setup or update device? I know little about W7p, this could have been copied from EVERY other mobile dev. It looks like iOS5 is a 'bring it to where everyone else is' type of update, like a maintenance update, with no real 'new' features - just new to Appleheads.

A lot of what they included in their iOS5 was already available via a 3rd party program and/or jailbreak. Apple put these folks out of business essentially by stealing their ideas which they will now make sole profit from rather than only like 30% they were before when sold in the App Store. Honestly, this update features should have been in the update to iOS 4.

their iCloud idea is great, download 25,000 songs and make them legit for $25 a year Wonder what RIAA lawsuits will follow

Leonick said,

what's new is having iCloud take care of it with no more configuration than logging in.

Sorry, thats not new either.

Ruciz said,

their iCloud idea is great, download 25,000 songs and make them legit for $25 a year Wonder what RIAA lawsuits will follow

Ummm.... just because iTunes Match will grant you a higher quality files does not necessitate that your "licenses" to listen to the music on those files will "make them legit".

Here is a partial list:

1. 10/2010- Windows Phone includes dedicated camera button, 06/2011-Apple iOS5: Camera button to be included in volume button later this year.
2. 10/2010- Windows Phone includes auto-uploading of pictures to Skydrive or Facebook, 06/2011-Apple announces auto-upload of pictures from iOS devices to iCloud later this year.
3. 10/2010 - Windows Phone includes non-invasive notificaiton system, 06/2011-Apple announces non-modal overlays on the top part of the screen for iOS5.
4. 10/2010 - Windows Phone includes WiFi sync (contiued from Zune years earlier) 06/2011 Apple announces this will be added (finally) to all iOS devices later this year in iOS5.
5. 10/2010 - Windows Phone integrates Facebook into the OS as an integral part of the phone experience. in 01/2011 Microsoft announces Twitter and Linkedin will join into the same integration scheme with the Mango release later this year. Apple: 06/2011: Announces that Twitter will be integrated with iOS devices later this year.
6. 10/2010 - Windows Phone includes background download services. In 03/2011 Microsoft announced that Mango would include a background download service for third party apps, Apple 06/2011 announces background services for iOS5 later this year.
7. 05/2010 Micorosoft announces that the Mango Windows Phone update in fall will include centralized messaging for Facebook Windows Live, SMS, MMS, 05/2011 Apple announces that iOS 5 will include messaging with their iMessage service.

Leonick said,

Please name a few more then because I've been syncing my contact with either outlook with a cable to yahoo over 3g since I got my 2 gen iPod touch (running iOS 2 back then) and later an iPhone 4.
It's not new, what's new is having iCloud take care of it with no more configuration than logging in.

As for notifications, what has been stolen from Android. It's a list of notifications, hardly a unique idea, how else are you going to list notifications other than in a list.
Ill give you that they copied the activation method, even though pulling down the statusbar for more information is rather logical, specially when that is were your notifications appear.


What you said about android's notifications being a generic implementation that anyone should be able to copy is just downright ridiculous and show your bias. It is a very unique implementation that apple copied down to every detail and is very different from whatever they had before (notifications had nothing to do with statusbar in iOS 4 too). By your logic, anyone can copy any idea when it makes sense and is logical, even though nobody has come up with something that makes so much sense before. In that case, pretty much everything apple sues people for should be allowed to be copied. That's retarded.

While looking back the device is now laughable with features that it lacked

I was laughing the day the iPhone 1 was announced. My $30 phone of the time did much, much more than the original iPhone, and in a smaller, faster, easier to use package. It didn't have a touchscreen, but the d-pad and dedicated buttons for call, hangup, back, cancel and tactile keyboard made it quicker to navigate than even today's touchscreen-based devices. It even had full multitasking, something that you'd think was just recently invented from the way people talk...

Well from the sound of people and tech blogs you would think video calls are new too...
Over here ever 3G dumbphone made since around 2003 has had the ability to call any other such phone (not that anyone cared for it), no matter the brand, funny how that functionally disappeared at the beginning the smartphone era and the came back but mosly as brand specific or third party solutions.