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(2011-07-31 22:35:26)







Worthy Rivals for the Crown in Smartphones


Published: July 22, 2011



First sold to the public just four years ago, the Apple iPhone melded the vast potential of the Internet with a multimedia player, a still and video camera, e-mail, texting, instant messaging, social networking and other applications — now 425,000 and counting — into one elegant, easy-to-use touch-screen package. And it makes voice calls. Rarely has one device so upended a market.




The author found Samsung's Droid Charge “congenial.”

作者觉得三星Droid Charge手机非常“方便”。


The iPhone 4 was a “revelation,” despite a tight keyboard.


 George Frey/Bloomberg News


This week Apple said it sold 20.3 million in the quarter that ended June 30, 142 percent more than it sold during the same quarter a year ago and two million more than the previous record for a quarter. Apple shares hit a record high of $400 after its quarterly profit of $7.31 billion soared past estimates, giving the company a market value of $360 billion. It is America’s second-most-valuable company, surpassed only by Exxon Mobil.


Is Apple’s dominance insurmountable? Just over two years ago, when I was shopping for a new phone, nothing seemed close to rivaling the iPhone. It was available exclusively to AT&T customers, so I reluctantly settled on a BlackBerry model (the Pearl) available to Verizonsubscribers like me. A few weeks ago, I had to ask directions to a restaurant from a young woman I spotted on the street using an iPhone. She quickly obliged by producing an easy-to-read Google map while the Pearl, whose tiny screen made it all but useless for Web browsing and navigation, languished in my pocket.

是苹果公司的优势难以克服吗?就在两年前,当我正在挑选一部新手机时,似乎没有一部能与苹果相比。它是专门为AT&T公司客户设计的,因此我很不情愿地选择了一款黑莓型号的手机(the Pearl),这对我这样的Verizon公司客户比较方便。几个星期前,我向一位在街上使用iphone的年轻女人询问一个餐馆的方向时,她很快通过查找一个易于阅读的谷歌地图告诉了我。然而我的Pearl手机因为屏幕太小,除了网页浏览和导航外,一无是处,只能呆在我的口袋黯然失色。


Apple ended AT&T’s exclusivity earlier this year, and this month I was eligible for an upgrade to a new device. During the years since I’d bought the Pearl, an array of new devices using the Google Android operating system had appeared, and Research in Motion had introduced several new BlackBerry models. Limiting the original iPhone to AT&T subscribers brought Apple lucrative payments from AT&T and heightened the device’s aura of exclusivity.



But I wondered: had Apple waited too long, given the pace of change in the industry, allowing Android and RIM devices to catch up, or even move ahead? I decided to compare three rival mobile devices: the iPhone 4, and Android and BlackBerry models.

但是我想:考虑到手机行业改革步伐如此之快,苹果公司也许等得太久,使得安卓和RIM设备赶上,甚至超越苹果公司?我决定将三个互相竞争的移动设备做一个比较:iPhone 4,安卓和黑莓手机。


The stakes are enormous. For all Apple’s recent success, a titanic battle is now under way among Apple, Google, RIM and a recent alliance between Nokia and Microsoft, with Amazon, Twitter and Facebook waiting in the wings. Even as iPhone sales soar, sales of Android devices are rising faster. The consulting firm Millennial Media estimated last month that Android devices accounted for 54 percent of the global market for smartphones, followed by Apple with 26 percent, RIM with 15 percent and all others with less than 4 percent.

赌注是巨大的。对于苹果公司最近的成功,一场形势严峻的竞争正在苹果,谷歌,RIM和最近一个诺基亚和微软之间的联盟间开展,同时亚马逊,推特,Facebook正在等待时机的到来。尽管iPhone的销售飙升,安卓设备的销售上升速度更快。Millennial Media咨询公司上个月估计,安卓设备占全球智能手机市场的54%,其次是苹果公司占26%,RIM占15%以及所有其他的仅占少于4%的比例。


This battle is only partly about the devices themselves. Google doesn’t make or sell them, instead licensing its operating system to pretty much anyone who wants to use it, including HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and most of the world’s manufacturers. Google makes money from advertising, and wants to use the Android platform to dominate search and display advertising on mobile devices. Apple makes a lot of money selling iPhones, but the devices are inextricably linked to applications and content sold by Apple, like products from the Apple App Store.



As John Jackson, an analyst who specializes in mobile and wireless technologies at CSS Insight put it, “At the end of the day, this is a battle between Internet giants for control of what you do and consume on your mobile device and beyond. It will all turn on the ecosystem.”

约翰 杰克逊是一位专业的移动和无线技术分析师,正如他向CSS Insight公司说的那样,“最终,这将是互联网巨头们,为控制你做什么,你如何在你的移动设备上消费以及其它超出这些东西,而进行的一场争夺。所有的一切都会对生态系统产生影响。”


For my experiment, Verizon lent me an iPhone 4, a Samsung Droid Charge and a BlackBerry Bold. I immediately unwrapped the iPhone. Like all Apple products, the packaging was as elegant as the device. It fit comfortably in my hand and pocket. Voice calls were clear, with none of the antenna problems I’d read about when the iPhone 4 was introduced. Web browsing was a pleasure, with fast download speeds even at 3G levels. As an iPad and Mac user, I felt instantly at home, with familiar apps already installed and easy to use. My only complaint was the relatively cramped touch keyboard. I was spewing out typos and often fighting the aggressive auto-correction feature. I suppose none of this is news to the millions already using iPhones, but to someone like me, the device was a revelation.

为了我的实验,Verizon公司借给我一部iPhone 4,一部三星Droid Charge手机和一部黑莓Bold。我立即打开了那部iPhone。就像所有的苹果公司的产品一样,包装和设备一样精致。无论是拿在手上还是放在口袋里,感觉都很好。语音通话很清晰,没有所谓的在iPhone 4推出时我所耳闻的信号问题。当飞快的下载速度甚至在3G的技术水平上时,浏览网页就变成了一件非常愉悦的事。同时,熟悉的应用程序已经安装并且十分易于使用,让作为一个iPad与Mac用户的我立刻就感到很亲切。我唯一的抱怨是它相对狭小的触摸键盘。我不断打出的错别字并且经常与 “好斗的”自动校正功能不断“斗争”。我想这对于数百万已使用iPhone的人来说已经不是新闻,但是对于像我这样的人,这个设备是比较出乎意料的。


After several days, I realized that I had to stop using the iPhone or this wasn’t going to pass muster as an objective test. So I turned to the Samsung Droid Charge.

几天之后,我意识到,我不得不暂停使用iPhone,否则这将不能成为一个合格的客观测试。于是我开始使用三星Droid Charge手机。


Who designed the packaging and marketing? Samsung takes the Android imagery to absurd lengths, with vaguely Star Wars packaging and sound effects that seem aimed at teenage gamers. My first impression was that it was an embarrassment to anyone over 30. But then I took a closer look at the device itself. It’s big (5.1” x 2.7”) but surprisingly light (5 ounces compared to the iPhone’s 4.8 ounces). Its curved edges made it comfortable to hold and it slipped easily into my pocket. The large screen is amazing. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the operating system, I found the instructions clear, the device easy to use and intuitive. I found life in the Google ecosystem surprisingly congenial, with seamless Gmail, Google search, calendar, mapping and navigation. The 4G Charge did everything the 3G iPhone did, only faster (in areas with 4G coverage) and bigger. Photos and video were especially impressive. And the touch keyboard was so big and tactile that my typos all but vanished. I can’t say it was flawless — searching for restaurant recommendations in Old Saybrook, Conn., I kept getting results for Old Seabrook, N.H. —but I don’t think I can blame the phone.

After these dazzling results, I turned to the Blackberry Bold. As someone already using a BlackBerry, I found its operations instantly familiar, for better or worse. The screen is bigger and better than on the Pearl, but still cramped. Web search results appear in type so small as to be unreadable, and the cumbersome magnifying feature was no better than on my old phone. As for the vaunted BlackBerry keyboard, I made more typing mistakes than on the iPhone. I’ve seen other peoples’ thumbs fly over the tiny keys, but I have large hands, and I never got the hang of it. On balance, the Bold was an improvement over my old phone, but not a serious contender.




The Blackberry Bold 9900 was an “improvement.”

黑莓Bold 9900手机是一次“改进”。


RIM shares plunged 15 percent last month after the company said it shipped just 13.3 million smartphones during the quarter, below its estimates. Given my experience, that’s not surprising. RIM has been promising a new operating system, but hasn’t announced a release date for mobile phones using it. It’s hard to believe that the BlackBerry brand once dominated the market.



My two-week trial period over, I wrestled over the iPhone versus the Charge. Then my decision crystallized: I’d close my eyes to the Droid packaging and buy the Charge, because of the bigger touch keyboard, the large size and quality of the screen, and, to a lesser extent, the 4G download speed. Mine is only one decision in a vast global market. I’m delighted so far with the Charge and have been showing it off to friends. Still, I haven’t yet had enough experience to determine if the Android Market is an adequate substitute for the Apple App Store, or to explore many of the features and apps. Apple is introducing the iPhone 5 later this year as well as its iCloud storage services for Apple devices, and it may well leapfrog its rivals.

两个星期的试用期结束后,我在iPhone与Charge两款手机之间进行思想斗争。然后我有了决定:我闭上眼睛里看到的Droid的包装,然后买了Charge的手机,因为它更大的触摸键盘,大尺寸和高质量的屏幕,以及在较小的程度上,因为它4G水平的下载速度。我的决定只是巨大的全球市场中的一个小小决策。我迄今为止对Charge手机非常满意,同时已经向朋友们展示过它。不过,我还没有足够的经验来确定安卓手机市场能完全地替代苹果应用程序商店,或者能探索出许多功能和应用程序。苹果公司今年晚些时候会引入iPhone 5以及其苹果设备上的iCloud存储服务,这很可能超越其对手。


But my experience suggests Apple no longer has the field to itself. Devices like the Samsung Charge and HTC’s much-praised Thunderbolt have radically changed the landscape.



Apple says it welcomes competition. “Well, now they have it,” said Mr. Jackson, the CSS Insight analyst. “Samsung and HTC are both ascendant. They’ve bet big, on larger screens, great user experiences and 4G.”









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