Apple's $99 iPhone and Palm's New Pre Heat Up the Smartphone Battle

The contest for market leadership among today’s smartphone makers recalls a similar battle years ago in which Sony’s Betamax locked horns with JVC’s VHS system in a quest to become the industry’s standard format for video tape players.

Today’s battle for dominance in the smartphone market, however, involves many smartphone makers and even more competing operating systems. Apple’s latest effort to gain an upperhand is a $99 iPhone with video recording abilities and a battery which, Apple claims, lasts 50% longer than the battery in older models — or up to nine hours.

Also just introduced: Palm’s Pre smartphone, offering an entirely new operating system dubbed "webOS," which has received rave reviews. Other key market players include BlackBerry and Nokia.

Consumers, as usual in these market wars, are the big winners as the lower-priced iPhone shows. But some big questions remain, including whether these increasingly smart devices can eventually substitute for PCs in large numbers, and whether a single standard will emerge from the various operating systems.

At present, no single operating system meets all the needs of consumers, enterprises and developers, say Wharton experts. Over time, the differences in the operating systems may fade as more unified platforms across different browsers and operating systems rise up, in much the same way that successful Internet browsers ultimately became usable across computer operating systems.

One thing seems clear, however: The smartphone market is at a tipping point and is evolving from the realm of a niche product to a game-changing, mass market item. Learn more about what Wharton experts think about where the smartphone phenomena is heading in this article: “As Smartphones Proliferate, Will One Company Emerge as the Clear Market Winner?”

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