Google has pulled ahead in the smartphone war, with a bit of help from its Ice Cream Sandwich software, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
Google versus Apple, in a fight to the death.
THE world’s leading smartphone makers are facing off in an epic battle for consumers.
While Apple’s iPhone 4S went on sale in seven countries including Australia this month, Google will unveil its latest innovations in the Nexus Prime soon.
The 4.3-inch smartphone, made by Samsung, will be the first to feature Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich software designed for tablets and smartphones.
Analysts say both smartphone camps will attract plenty of attention, and even crowds, and their clash is likely to be closer than ever.
Apple kicked off the fight recently, unveiling the iPhone 4S that offers a faster processor, an enhanced 8-megapixel camera, better battery and a new voice-recognition feature that promises to answer conversational questions. Ovum analyst Tim Renowden says there was huge interest surrounding Apple’s latest release despite the relatively modest upgrade.
‘‘ Australia is a bit of a strange market in that the iPhone is probably more popular here than in other markets,’’ Renowden says.
‘‘ There were a lot of people sitting on an iPhone 3GS just waiting to upgrade.’’
While Australia is particularly iPhone-centric, Google has pulled ahead as the leading smartphone platform across the globe.
Google Android phones represented 43 per cent of all smartphone sales between April and June, according to tech researcher Gartner, while Apple iPhones made up 18 per cent.
Telsyte research analyst Foad Fadaghi says part of Google Android’s appeal is its availability on phones of many sizes and prices. Apple’s choice to release one phone a year may encourage users to investigate other options, Fadaghi says.
‘‘ There will be renewed interest in other platforms and other software simply because the appearance of the iPhone hasn’t changed,’’ he says.
‘‘ Clearly a weakness of Apple is its one-size-fits-all policy and when you don’t even cosmetically change the appearance of the device it doesn’t resolve this issue.
‘‘ Even a white model is not enough – you need more than one basic design.’’
Fadaghi says the 4S might not create ‘‘ the same hype we’ve seen’’ for iPhones past due to the similar design, but he says new software features and access to Apple’s iCloud could provide consumers with a reason to upgrade their iPhone.
‘‘ Some of those users are also very locked into Apple because of their apps,’’ he says.
‘‘ It’s very difficult to let them go or buy them all again on a different platform if they’ve made a significant investment.’’
Google’s third phone, the Nexus Prime, could provide some users with a reason to switch sides, however.
Due to be officially unveiled soon, the smartphone will feature a 4.6-inch Super AMOLED HD screen and will run on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, the fastest in a phone to date. Google’s major software update, Ice Cream Sandwich, will also debut on the phone and is expected to include features that use facial recognition.
But IDC market analyst Yee Kuan Lau says Google and its partners have a big job ahead to counter Apple’s marketing machine and new software.