I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Lowering the bar

Walt Mossberg likes the HTC Hero and calls it “a worthy competitor to the iPhone, the BlackBerry and the Pre”.

John Gruber points out:

Thank goodness they boogered up the front display with big “HTC” and “Sprint” logos. It retails for $280 but there’s a $100 mail-in rebate, and only ships with 2 GB of built-in storage. That compares really poorly to the $99 no-rebate-necessary 8 GB iPhone.

It doesn’t sound like a “worthy competitor to the iPhone” so far. Let’s see what else Mossberg had to say about the Hero:

…after a year, Android has less than 10% of the 85,000 apps the iPhone now offers.

…the Hero’s price is a bit deceptive.

The Hero’s hardware isn’t especially beautiful. It’s a dull grey, noticeably thicker than the iPhone, with a smaller screen and six buttons plus a trackball…

It comes with just two gigabytes of memory…

One big drawback is battery life.

I sometimes found the touch screen unresponsive, requiring multiple pokes at an icon.

It sounds like the Hero is a decent phone when compared to other Android phones, but I’m not seeing how this effectively competes with the iPhone. How many iPhone owners or holdouts are going to consider an alternative that costs more, has worse battery life and less storage, is thicker and uglier, doesn’t work very well, and also doesn’t have a physical keyboard?

By what standards is this a “worthy competitor”? And what would the tech press say if the next iPhone was uglier, cost more with a deceptive rebate arrangement, and had a flaky touch screen?