Smart Phones WarLast year Apple changed the smart phone industry forever with the release of its wildly popular iPhone device. While other similar devices had been on the market for years, the iPhone used Apple\’s unparalleled marketing prowess to quickly establish itself as a major player in the space. Plus, it just looked damn cool.

Still, while the iPhone was unquestionably a hit with consumers, it wasn\’t as fully embraced in by businesses, which are the bread and butter of the smart phone industry. Granted that wasn\’t necessarily Apple\’s intended target with the first iPhone but it was still considered a drawback, especially since the device couldn\’t synch to an enterprise mail server like Exchange. As a result Research in Motion\’s Blackberry device continued to be the de facto standard when it came to business smart phone users.

At the same time, those with Blackberry and other similar smart phones, after seeing the rich capabilities of the iPhone began to wish they had some of those features too. Sensing the proverbial blood in the water, Apple announced earlier this year that the new version of the iPhone, which will be released next month, will have the ability to connect to an Exchange server.

In response, Blackberry appears to have adopted many of the popular iPhone features, from a much more lush UI to more media options. The company also launched a national television campaign, designed clearly to target those still on the fence about getting a smart phone.

Both of the new versions of these stalwart smart phones are a boon to digital marketers. Probably the most important change is the ability of the Blackberry 9000 to (finally!) have the ability to properly read an HTML email as intended. The iPhone will also tap into the much more robust 3G network, which will mostly notably impact its video capabilities. Both devices will also put a renewed focus on Location Based Services, albeit, not surprisingly, in different ways.

The specific details for their respective LBS plans have yet to be revealed but Google has already announced numerous plans for its Android mobile platform to play a significant role in the new iPhone. One particularly interesting potential iPhone 2.0 feature that has been fiercely debated is the apparent ability to both order items from walking past a store, like Starbucks, and receiving an alert when the order was ready.

While not exactly a revolutionary concept, if this indeed becomes a feature of the new phone, then perhaps the long-stalled LBS revolution will finally commence. Then we\’ll only be maybe one year behind the rest of the world in this regard.

Regardless of which device ultimately wins the hearts and minds of the business road warriors out there, the battle will usher in a whole new generation of smart phones, with LG, Nokia and others already planning to have their own killer devices out there in the months to come. With advances in IP telephony, the rise of Skype and Google\’s intriguing Android platform, it\’s also quite possible that within a couple of years, consumer will no longer even have to be dependent upon a cell carrier for their device. And that is something mobile marketers will whole heartedly embrace.

Who do you think will win the battle – iPhone or Blackberry or perhaps a dark horse third candidate? Sound off below and share your thoughts with us.

Until next time\”¦

Steve Chipman
Analog thoughts in a digital world