iPhone Announcements At WDC: Is Pre Apple’s Prey?

Apple’s anticipated Worldwide Developers’ Conference today disappointed on one level: No Steve Jobs appearance.

Regarding the latest iPhone news: I’m sure fans are excited about the latest bells and whistles–including the addition of features other smartphones have long had. But will they be enough to keep Apple ahead of other handset-makers, and in the eyes of discerning, budget-conscious consumers? Even Apple honchos, perhaps unintentionally, referenced the growing competition. Luckily, all this will only boost mobile marketing’s importance.

The newest, fastest version of Apple’s handset, called iPhone 3Gs, finally allows cut-and-paste, improved software (like mail search) and video capture–the latter of which happens with an improved 3-megapixel camera whose unveiling reportedly garnered “booming applause.” Not much that other phones already have.

Without the price break some analysts expected on the latest iPhones (save for the new $99 tag on the current 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G that debuted last year), these little improvements might not mean much to consumers who still need convinced that they should shell out the money for the sleek handset and accompanying service plan. Especially when rivals like Palm’s Pre start nabbing great reviews and sellouts at Sprint stores.

The latter relates to something Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller pointed out this: Two-thirds of mobile browsing is done on the iPhone or iPod touch, and he claimed that by the time rivals catch up, “the Internet will truly be mobile,” the New York Times says.

Mr. Schiller was probably trying to point out that it’s Apple that has escalated the growth of mobile Internet. But this also means increasingly more smartphones are offering a great mobile web experience. Consumers–given a decent choice based on price points, carriers, and features–aren’t as likely to grab the iPhone as they were when the device first debuted two years ago. The point isn’t which phone is the “best”–it’s that there are a lot more of them, and that web-surfers continue to go mobile, and that the device with which they do so becomes a moot point.