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8/1/2007
02:04 PM
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Smartphone Browser Shootout: Palm, BlackBerry, HTC Vs. iPhone

Has Apple succeeded in setting a new mobile Web-browsing paradigm? We examine how the Palm Treo, BlackBerry Curve, and HTC Wing stack up against the iPhone.

Conclusion

One thing that became obvious to me as I looked at these various Web interfaces is that data speed isn't as important as good software. Even with improvements like the upgrade of Windows Mobile to Version 6 and the spread of touchscreen support on smartphones, not much has changed. If you didn't like the PocketPC there's still a lot not to like about Windows Mobile and its Mini-Me version of Internet Explorer. Palm still hasn't delivered its next-generation operating system for the Treo line, and BlackBerry's browser remains essentially unchanged.

What the Treo, Blackberry and Wing have in common is a reliance on a menu-driven user interface (taken to an extreme in Windows Mobile), hardware that simply isn't up to the task of supporting a fully functional Web browser, and browser software that tries to do something like Web browsing with both its hands tied behind its back. Going forward these deficiencies will be even more obvious as Web services and Web-delivered applications get more sophisticated.

The good news, as you might expect, is the Apple iPhone. The genius of Apple is its ability, over and over again, to completely reinvent, from the ground up, the user interface for hardware, and to support it with brilliant software. Web browsing on the iPhone is a paradigm shift, a completely different experience -- just as the BlackBerry was, in its time, a paradigm shift.

The elements of the technology that makes the iPhone so different will find their way into other devices, just as the BlackBerry's thumbpad and push e-mail have become more or less standard on smartphones. Touchscreens and direct interaction with the Web page will become standards of their own sort because they've come along just in time as computing, both personal and business, moves to the Web.

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