While the mobile industry is busy talking about and comparing the Nexus One and the iPhone, there is one phone that really gives a clear perspective of the entire market and sums up the industry in a nutshell. It was not long ago when I first laid hand on the famous Motorola RAZR. “Wow, what a phone”, I thought, but what was it about the RAZR that so impressed people. What did the phone really being to the table that made people by the RAZR by the millions? Let’s be honest, was it the features that the phone offered or was it simply a pure case of style over substance? Did the RAZR revolutionize the mobile phone in that it offered better wireless broadband? Did it offer a better camera? Was its user experience superior to its predecessors?
The answer is a big fat no. The RAZR did nothing in terms of functionality. The only thing it did was push the boundaries of mobile hardware. Motorola managed to build a mobile phone that would amaze anyone that would hold it. We all fell for it. Not only did us “dumb” consumers fall into the trap, but all of Motorola’s competitors did too. All the big corporations that spend billions on market research, spent the next year or two competing who could make the thinnest phone. What about functionality? What about experience? Not many phones before or after the RAZR offered such a poor user experience. So how were we so blind?
Instead of trying to answer “what were we all thinking?”, what we should be trying to answer is “Have we learned from our mistakes?” I believe we have and the HTC HD2 proves my point. The mobile industry has completely evolved in my opinion from a hardware-centric market to a software-obsessed one. Why obsessed? Because, today, many consumers are purchasing their mobile handsets based on the number of apps the market that compliments that phone hosts. I have heard on many occasions (and I will not deny that I have even said this) consumers trashing the Android platform because compared to Apple’s 130,000 apps, the Android Market has only 20,000. Think about that for a second, 20,000 apps to install on your mobile phone. Who needs so many? OK, so you are probably thinking that it is not the number that matters, rather the variety. While the App Store has an app for “pretty much anything”, there are many things not yet available in the Android Market. This is true, but I would dare to say that you can find 99% of apps you will need in the Market.
So, how does the HD2 prove this point? Well, the HD2 is the ultimate phone, or at least it would have been back in the RAZR days. In terms of its hardware, it lacks nothing. Where do I start? The screen is a ridiculous 4.3′ (compared to the miniature 3.5′ on the iPhone), the processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which is 1GHZ compared to the 600MHZ on the iPhone (this means everything works faster on the phone, including how fast you can access the wireless internet, not to be confused with how fast the actual connection is). The camera is 5MP with an LED flash. The entire phone is 11mm thick, which when compared to the RAZR’s 14mm (when closed) is just insane. When I said it lacks nothing, I was not kidding.
So, why are people busy talking about the iPhone and the Nexus One when there is an HD2? The answer? No one cares about hardware nowadays. The Windows Marketplace, which is the equivalent of the App Store on the iPhone is just non existent. I mean it exists, but with the numbers and the variety of apps it provides, it might as well not exist. Like a friend who recently reviewed the HD2 told me, there is only a limited amount of time you can spend on Youtube.
To be fair, I will say that the HD2 is not all hardware. HTC did as good of a job as they could at covering up the origins of the phone’s OS. At first glance (that might actually last a long time), you do not even know you are on a Windows Mobile phone. The phone is also the first Windows device to have a capacitive touch screen, as opposed to the resistive touch screen, which can be found on all the older Windows Mobile devices. No need for a stylus with the HD2. However, if you are like me and enjoy getting to know your phone well, you will eventually encounter the old Windows Mobile you once saw in older devices. It is hidden well, but it is very much there.
In addition to the fantastic job HTC did designing the UI, all the various social tools are integrated into the new OS. Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, they are all preinstalled. A nice touch, but not enough. The bottom line is, we seemed to have learned our lesson. The HD2 is the modern RAZR, as I see it. It is beautifully designed, it really is. The experience, if I am being honest, is leaps and bounds ahead of what the RAZR was, and I am not just talking about something that happens over the years. I do not blame HTC for the HD2’s lack of popularity, I blame Microsoft. They need to get with the program, make app development as easy as it is on the competing platforms, and most of all, they need to get their priorities straight.
I don’t know about you, but this whole “Microsoft falling behind Apple technologically”, is Deja Vu of the whole Mac VS. PC saga. All I can say is, this is still a new space relatively speaking, and so it is not too late for Windows Mobile, but if Microsoft does not make a major switch in the way it views its mobile OS and its ecosystem, the Apple commercials mocking the Windows Mobile platform are not far off.
On the flip side, if you want a phone that incorporates all the new technology and pushes the limits of the mobile industry, the HD2 has it all. The internet on the HD2 for example, is less like the mobile Web as we know it (http://www.broadbandexpert.com.au/), and more like the desktop experience we have grown accustomed to. That is what 4.3′ of screen will do for you. Let’s sum it up by saying, take the HD2’s looks and slap on some of Apple or Android’s personality (and by personality, I mean 3rd party apps), and you got yourself a phone that will beat out any and all competition.