Will Apple's Culture Hurt the iPhone?
By MIGUEL HELFT October 17, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO - If you want a smartphone powered by Google's Android software, you could get Motorola's Droid 2 or its cousin, the Droid X. Then there is the Droid Incredible from HTC, the Fascinate from Samsung and the Ally from LG.
That's just on Verizon Wireless. An additional 20 or so phones running Android are available in the United States, and there are about 90 worldwide.
But if your preference is an Apple-powered phone, you can buy - an iPhone.
That very short list explains in part why, for all its success in the phone business, Apple suddenly has a real fight on its hands.
Americans now are buying more Android phones than iPhones. If that trend continues, analysts say that in little more than a year, Android will have erased the iPhone's once enormous lead in the high end of the smartphone market.
But this is not the first time Apple has found itself in this kind of fight, where its flagship product is under siege from a loose alliance of rivals selling dozens of competing gadgets.
In the early 1980s, the Macintosh faced an onslaught of competition from an army of PC makers whose products ran Microsoft software. The fight did not end well for Apple. In a few years, Microsoft all but sidelined Apple, and the company almost went out of business.
Can Apple, which insists on tight control of its devices, win in an intensely competitive market against rivals that are openly licensing their software to scores of companies? It faces that challenge not only in phones, but also in the market for tablet computers, where the iPad is about to take on a similar set of rivals.