It’s almost here. Three little words that sent phone fans into fever pitch.
The long wait for Apple’s iPhone 5 may be drawing to a close – Wednesday is D-Day in case you’ve been living on the moon for the past week.
However, the race has already begun for its rivals.
The iPhone-maker’s main competitor and bitter enemy Samsung unveiled the second generation of its Galaxy Note ‘phablet’ at a European electronics show last week.
They weren’t the only ones.
Nokia’s Lumia Windows 8-powered devices and Motorola Mobility’s new line-up of Droid Razr smartphones were also showcased in their latest attempts to claw back a slice of the smartphone market from Apple and Samsung. Visibly absent from the new-gadget excitement was Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM), which is busy working on its BlackBerry 10 devices, expected in the first quarter of 2013.
Apple opponents were probably smart for deciding to get their message out there on either side of that window. Announcing devices before the iPhone ensures that they get some spotlight before Apple steals all of it. The launch strategy also forces reviewers to compare the already launched devices to the iPhone 5 – so other brands become part of the Apple conversation.
But the question needs to be asked – is diffusing the iPhone hysteria really enough for it to make users switch?
Potential smartphone buyers canvassed by 7DAYS in our own poll admitted that despite the smooth, fast, sleek, and futuristic features of its rivals – Apple’s sixth-generation device still remains the one most want to use to call home on when it’s released in the UAE later this month.
Three out of four people polled said they were planning to upgrade to a new smartphone this year, but almost two-thirds of those asked – 60 per cent – said they were likely to shell out their dirhams on the iPhone. Thirty-two per cent said they would likely plump for a Samsung phone, while only four per cent expressed interest in buying a Nokia Lumia 920. Interestingly, considering the love of BBM and all things ‘Berry in this part of the world, just four per cent said they’d be buying a BlackBerry 10 device.
When pollsters were asked which phone they were more likely to buy this year – Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry and Apple – if all phones were sold at the same price, 70 per cent said they’d spend, spend, spend on an iPhone 5.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 scored 26 per cent, while again just four per cent favoured a BlackBerry 10.
Data package offers were one of the most important factors users said they considered when deciding on a smartphone – even more than the price of the device. UAE telecom providers currently provide global packages only for BlackBerry – giving RIM users a cost-effective reason to hold on to their devices.
Although this is certainly not the norm for the smartphone industry, rival models have helped to draw significant attention to other great handsets on the way, besides Apple’s.
But while these companies are beating the iPhone 5 announcement by a week, perhaps crucially they will likely miss Apple’s release date by weeks or months. An earlier launch for competing phones won’t mean consumers can buy them right away. And that’s too bad – because on September 12, Apple reveals a price and shipping date for iPhone 5. It’s coming.
NOKIA CONFIDENT LUMIA IS A GAME CHANGER
Talk?to the experts and they’ll tell you the smartphone is all about the blurring of the lines between phone and computer. Which is perhaps one of the key reasons Finnish firm Nokia went and attached its to Windows.
Speak to Tom Farrell, vice president of Nokia in this part of the world, and he has little hesitation in declaring the Lumia Windows 8-powered smartphone is part of a “new dawn” for the company.
“Nokia believes that consumers are, and should be, very demanding when choosing a smartphone,” insists Farrell. “The availability of a user interface in their local language and an application store with a choice of high quality and locally relevant apps are two key elements in the overall consumer experience,” he adds.
Which is why from a regional perspective, Nokia says it is delivering the latest Lumia range with Arabic language support and a lot of local content in terms of apps.
“We remain as confident as ever about the impact the next generation Lumia will have on the mobile landscape in the region,” says Farrell.
“With Microsoft, we believe that together we have a winning strategy and a partnership that will transform the Nokia smartphone offering.”