Apple iPhone, move over. At least, that's the hope of Google and Research in Motion as they ready the first serious competitors to the iPhone, in the "mobile 2.0" market that Apple invented.
Later this month, the first Google Android OS-based phone, HTC's G1, will come on the market through the carrier T-Mobile. And in November, RIM's first BlackBerry that supports real Web pages is scheduled to debut. While there have been many pathetic iPhone imitations to date, these two devices look to be the real deal, with hardware, software, and OS capabilities able to compete with Apple's carefully constructed, elegant platform.
Of course, new devices always look great at product demos, and it's possible that there'll be serious imperfections that only some real hands-on use unveils. After all, Apple's iPhone had its own set of disappointments in both major releases.
But even if they're not perfect, the HTC G1 and the BlackBerry Storm are clearly in the same league as the iPhone, giving mobile users the first real choice for Web-capable, messaging-savvy, and app-rich devices.
At first glance, the HTC G1 and Android platform seems aimed more at consumers than business users, as it has no integration with enterprise systems such as Microsoft Exchange, and its security features are unclear. But its apps are sophisticated, and it appears to have at least iPhone-level Web support.
The BlackBerry Storm, by contrast, is clearly intended for business users, retaining the BlackBerry's e-mail and security strengths, and promises to add Web page capabilities similar to the iPhone's.
In both cases, the quality of the user interface remains to be seen, but the two devices do avoid some major iPhone annoyances such as the lack of cut and paste and the inability to multitask. For a device-by-device comparison, check out InfoWorld's slide show.
At a theoretical level, Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices are competitors to the iPhone, but neither has had any serious mojo since the iPhone came out. Both Palm and Microsoft are working on new versions of their mobile OSes, so it's possible they could reenter the first tier. But both companies have a decade's worth of stumbles to overcome, and it's not clear that the fundamentals have changed at either company.