ABI Research claims the upcoming Apple iPhone isn't a smartphone. The research firm says it's a very high-end feature phone, but not a smartphone because the phone isn't open to third-party software.
A feature phone's functionality (dictated by the software which controls the hardware) is closed and controlled by an operator or the device manufacturer, whereas smartphones are supported by a third-party ecosystem, where competition in the software space creates applications that add value. "Sure," concedes Solis, "feature phones have third party applications too – but these are relatively weak and limited applications that work with the middleware such as Java and BREW. Applications designed for smartphones can be written to access core functionality from the OS itself, and are therefore usually more powerful and efficient. The competition in an open environment also yields more cutting edge, rich applications."
ABI wireless research director Stuart Carlaw adds, "Consumers will not be willing to settle for a second-rate cell phone just to have superior music. Apple must get the phone engineering part of the equation right, and it is difficult to see how they will accomplish that with no track record in the industry. Even though they are working with some prominent suppliers, the task of putting all of the building blocks together cannot be underestimated."