Well, it was fun carrying the most advanced smartphone on the planet. For a whole 32 days. But the Sprint EVO 4G launched today and its specs – especially the larger OLED display and WiMAX capability – put the Nexus One in the shade.
The bigger story today, though, is the ripple effects of AT&T consigning its unlimited-data plans to the dustbin of history. Gizmodo’s take, AT&T Just Killed Unlimited Wireless Data (and Screwed Everybody in the Process), is pretty representative.
Because I understand how network costs scale I’m more sanguine about the longer-term prospects than Gizmodo is. Unlimited flat rate will return when someone – probably Sprint, given the nature of their network buildout – decides it’s a useful competitive weapon. That will force others to follow suit; the market-equilibrium condition will be all flat rate, same as it is in voice calling today and for exactly the same reasons.
In the short term, though, AT&T’s move kicks Apple square in the nuts. The simplicity of unlimited-flat-rate data was a significant part of the appeal of the iPhone and iPad; this change takes a significant part of the shine off both devices, especially the iPad. Understanding this, Apple has suspended Web-store sales of the iPad 3G. Indirectly, this is good news for Android and should help it maintain the upward momentum from Q1, in which it surpassed the iPhone in unit sales.
This also means the stakes for Steve Jobs’s talk at WWDC in three days have gone way, way up. The iPhone is reduced to #3 in unit sales; it’s lagging Android in features like Flash, voice-to-text, and WiFi-hotspot capability; developers are near revolt against murky app-store policies; and now it’s got higher total cost of ownership! The product looks stale and tired. Jobs needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat, and fast.