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To Beat The iPhone, Nokia RIM and Palm Need One Thing – Apps

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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We can discuss the merits of the phones themselves for ever. But analysts agree the really important thing is the quality of the applications available

The newly unveiled iPhone 3G S is impressive (even despite higher costs in the UK – Editor), and more users may pick up the iPhone 3G as the price comes down. But Apple’s true strength, say analysts, is in the one-two punch of its ability to offer a great device along with an unmatched trove of applications. That is where Palm, Nokia and RIM (and Sony Ericsson) have to catch up.

It remains to be seen what Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 3G S — in 16GB and 32GB models — as well as its price cut of the original iPhone 3G will mean for competitors such as Research In Motion, Palm and Nokia.

Analyst Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research said the iPhone 3G S isn’t an entirely new device, but neither is it simply an upgrade.

“It’s something in between,” Gottheil told eWEEK. “It’s evolutionary — incrementally and significantly better.”

Pre – can it build an ecosystem?

After months of fanfare, the Palm Pre went on sale 6 June and was met with the type of reception Palm and its carrier Sprint were hoping for — according to Sprint, the Pre broke its records for both first-day and first-weekend sales of a device. Our Palm Pre review is positive.

However, opinions of the Pre on 6 June didn’t necessarily hold once 8 June brought Apple’s announcements at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

“The Palm Pre was an effective response to the original iPhone, but only partly a response,” said Gottheil.

In the Pre’s defense, he offered that the iPhone doesn’t multitask as well as the Pre, and the Pre features a dedicated keyboard and is attractive. “But the iPhone 3G S will throw some cold water on Palm’s debut,” Gottheil conceded.

Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner research director, pointed to Apple’s ability to use price to its advantage, saying cheaper iPhones would make competition more aggressive. “And, of course, the iPhone still has a stronger brand appeal and a stronger ecosystem,” Milanesi said. “The changes are not that drastic from a hardware perspective, but the new OS and other software enhancements do offer an interesting solution, especially considering you are getting more for the same price.”

While the iPhone 3G S hardware improvements are noteworthy, the new operating system is what will continue to distinguish the iPhone from the other smartphone competitors.