Is Apple’s iPhone 3G S a bit Same Same?

Why diversified distribution may be the only thing that saves the iPhone from embarrassment

For years now, the sun hath shone brightly on Apple’s back. Where RIM’s Storm was a sad disappointment and the LG’s Arena failed to live up to the hype, Apple’s iPhone stood the test of time, continuing to gain market share and popularity.

But the smart phone world has been abuzz since the Palm Pre blew everyone away.

With its attractive design, excellent touch screen and QWERTY keyboard, our biggest surprise was that Palm’s latest offering broke from tradition and didn’t resemble the hybrid child of a brick and a typewriter.

The Pre’s webOS system is intuitive and easy to use, while its ability to synchronise and add information to and from various social networking sources is remarkable.

Apple has struck back with its latest attempt at a wunderkind – the Apple iPhone 3G S. Taking onboard the doubts of blasphemous naysayers that didn’t blindly follow the Jesus-phone, the trendy giant has updated it to be two times faster than the 2nd generation version.

The latest offering is certainly a step up. It’s quicker off the block thanks to a 600MHz processor and 256MB of RAM, while the 3MP auto focussing camera can finally record video to the larger hard drive – now with a maximum capacity of 32GB.

The iPhone 3G S now has the ability to act as a mobile modem and a “Voice Control” system that can find and call stored contacts or play tracks.

But despite these internal changes, the iPhone’s aesthetic style remains the same. Add to that the fact that many of the ‘upgrades’ are features that have long been standard in other smart phones, and you can understand why many tech journos have been somewhat under-whelmed.

On paper it may seem that the innovative and work-friendly Palm Pre has won the battle before it’s begun thanks to excellent features and an early release. Media reports have been very positive and the blogosphere is lighting up.

Unfortunately for Australians, all this means very little. A final release date for the Pre down under hasn’t been set yet, and a GSM version compatible with our mobile networks hasn’t even been officially announced. When it finally arrives in Q4 of 2009, Telstra will have exclusivity in distribution for three months.

By contrast, the Apple iPhone 3G S is coming soon and already has three eager telcos salivating at the chance to sell it. The successful marketing and ongoing App store functionality will ensure continuing consumer engagement as will the wider variety of plans.

So while the Palm Pre’s brilliance has glinted in the eye of many a journalist and consumer, Apple will most likely win the next round of the smart phone war. Until a better product comes along to upset the applecart, the sun won’t set on its empire just yet.