Do Consumers Only Have Eyes for the iPhone?

From T-Moblile’s G1 to Verizon Wireless’ BlackBerry Storm, there are a lot of exciting smartphones due to be released in the next few months"¦ but can anything, no matter how innovative, displace the iPhone in the minds of consumers?

To get a sense of which of the current crop of mobile devices were appealing to iPhone researchers, I took a look at Compete’s data to see what percentage of the online iPhone researchers on AT&T’s site were looking at other mobile devices in July and August – the first two months that the new iPhone 3G was available.

  • Sprint’s Samsung Instinct seems to have been the iPhone’s best competition so far; in both July and August, it was the alternative most viewed by iPhone 3G researchers.
  • Consideration of these iPhone alternatives is pretty steady, and in some cases, increasing. The AT&T Tilt and the LG Dare were viewed by more iPhone 3G researchers in August than they were in July, while consideration of the other three fell by a fraction of a percentage point.

Clearly, it’s possible to capture the attention of iPhone researchers with other devices. Now that the people who had to have an iPhone right away are out of the market, the consumers who are still shopping may be more receptive to the alternatives.

But the big question is, what makes a good iPhone alternative? So far, the touchscreen seems to be a key factor — the Instinct, Dare, and VU all have one — but there’s clearly more to the appeal to the iPhone than that.

Nokia is answering the integration of music with the iPhone (via iTunes) with the "Comes with Music" feature. The openness of Google’s Android operating system for new applications and the marketplace may draw consumers to the new T-Mobile G1; there’s even talk that the new batch of BlackBerrys may include an applications center. It may not be possible to replicate the iPhone’s popularity, but we’ll see over the next few months if anyone else can even come close.

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