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The New Smartphone Incrementalism

• David Talbot via

If Wednesday's announcements from Nokia and Motorola said anything about the next smartphone era, it is that the war started by Apple when it launched the iPhone in 2007 is turning into a lengthy trench battle of technological incrementalism.

Now it's less about dramatic breakthroughs—such as Apple's radical embrace of touch-screen-centrism, and its subsequent conceptual leap of opening up devices to app developers—and more about gaining marketing buzz to get consumers zeroing in on marginal advantages: a better camera here, a little longer battery life there.

 "Although the feature changes are more incremental than they've been in the past, that's normal in a maturing product category—especially when everyone is fixated on copying Apple's form factor, a big mistake in my opinion," says Michael Mace, a former product planning vice president at Palm and a former marketing executive at Apple. "When the features become more incremental, users generally focus on smaller feature differences."

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