10 things the iPhone can learn from Mobile World Congress

The iPhone may not have been on show at Mobile World Congress. But as ever, its influence was felt across the show floor. No matter what the media-trained suits say, Apple’s blower has completely redefined what a mobile phone can do. Not because it was the first smartphone, but because of its all round, easy-to-use style.

At last though, after three years, the competition is streaking ahead. So what can the iPhone learn ahead of its next-gen release in June? Here’s 10 things we think Steve and crew must take on board now.

Google’s “Mobile First” plans will make Android even better
Steve Jobs reckons Google wants to “kill the iPhone.” And with Eric Schmidt using his MWC keynote to big up the Big G’s “Mobile First” mantra, he might have a point. Google’s developers are going to be working on mobile goodies ahead of desktop ones. And that means Android will only get better. The iPhone is going to have to go some to stop Google steamrollering it in the next 12 months.

Microsoft’s not to be sniggered at
Windows Mobile 6.5 might have caused plenty of mirth in the Cupertino canteen. But you can bet Windows Phone 7 Series is giving Apple’s staff plenty to think about over their vegan lunches. Microsoft is well and truly back in the game. Social networking integration, Live Tiles and Zune support all mean the iPhone 4G is going to have to be pretty remarkable if it’s going to match Redmond’s stellar effort.

The iPhone doesn’t have design kudos sewn up
Jonny Ive’s skills have meant that since day one the iPhone has always been the best-looking of the smartphone bunch. Not any more. The HTC Legend has clearly drawn inspiration from Ive’s doodlings and is now the must-have handset for those who care just as much about how something looks and feels compared to what it can do. And that’s before we’ve even got to the rejigged HTC Sense UI and Android 2.1 software underneath.

AMOLED is setting the standard
Samsung has been slinging AMOLED panels into its phones for over a year. But the Samsung Wave should act as another pointer for Apple. If it wants battery life to be lengthier than a day littered with web browsing and email checks, not to mention offer video playback worthy of its ever growing iTunes store, it’s going to need to give its screen a boost to AMOLED.

Rivals are matching the iPhone’s app prowess
App Planet at MWC has seen devs beavering away on new add-ons for Android. And as well as Google’s offering, there’s also the all-new Windows Marketplace, which appears to be packing some of the iPhone’s headline titles. We’re talking Flight Control and Camera Bag, extras that have made their name on the iPhone. Just blurting out those impressive download figures won’t wash. Apple now has true competition in the app space.

Other players want in on the gaming space
Or, more specifically, Microsoft does. It hasn’t fully outlined how Xbox LIVE will tie in with Windows Phone 7 Series, but the idea of being able to hook up your phone to the service, nab avatar and achievement info, as well as playing LIVE Arcade games and possibly even demos, makes the iPhone’s claims to be the hottest handheld hub look rocky at best. The jury’s out, but the iPhone and its devs will need to work on some ace games to gazump the Big M.

Speed is key
Qualcomm’s 1Ghz Snapdragon processor has been all over MWC like a cheap suit. It’s inside every phone that matters, so the iPhone could most likely do with a similar speed bump. Whether it builds a 1GHz processor itself or heads down the California coast to Qualcomm’s San Diego HQ to get one, the iPhone needs to be just as fast as the likes of the Nexus One.

Size isn’t everything
The mobile world might think big is beautiful right now. But the iPhone is fine as it is when it comes to size. Bulking the screen up might cause customers to baulk and they could do well from learning from the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini. Perhaps a pared down version isn’t such a bad idea after all. iPhone nano anyone?

There’s no need to panic
Of course, Windows Phone 7 Series and the slew of new Android phones look great. But Apple does have time on its side. Microsoft’s OS is a long way off landing in new phones and with the HTC lineup not due until April, no one has a real jump on the iPhone 4G, reportedly planned for June. If Apple can kick it out of the door come midsummer, it’ll be up there with best of them.

Punters want everything these next-gen handsets have to offer
Perhaps the biggest lesson of all. Apple needs to see that smartphone savvy punters want the full social networking integration and stunning features that have been on show this week at MWC. Trading on the iPhone’s name just won’t wash any more. It needs to be bold and roll up with a tweaked design, world-beating features and a willingness to play Google and Microsoft at their own game. Otherwise it could be curtains for the iPhone.

What do you think the iPhone can learn from MWC? Give us your tuppence worth now in the comments section.

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