One more challenger for the iPhone

New Apple (AAPL) challengers appear with great regularity. Research in Motion (RIMM) has launched consumer versions of its BlackBerry. Palm's (PALM) Pre is meant to take iPhone share. Samsung built a phone called the Instinct to help Sprint (S) challenge AT&T's (T) efforts to take market share via the iPhone.

All of the competition has one thing in common -- they have done almost nothing to throttle the iPhone's success. There are several theories about why the Apple product sells so well, and most of them are likely to be true. The phone is easy to use, even though it has a large number of features. AT&T has made certain that the handset is not too expensive by underwriting the cost to its subscribers. Apple updates the phone with new features. The iPhone App store has over 50,000 software products to enhance the smart phone's usefulness to consumers and businesses.

It must be frustrating for the world's largest handset company, Nokia (NOK), to watch Apple's success at the high end of the market. Nokia has about 38 percent of the global handset market, nearly twice its closest competitor. But it has shown no sign that it can field anything like the iPhone.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia's CEO, insists that his company can make a successful run at the Apple product. He points to his firm's N97 smart phone flagship, which appears to have had almost no success in taking business from the leading smart phone.

Nokia suffers from the same problems of other large handset firms, including Sony Ericsson and Samsung. Consumers have voted with their pocket books -- the iPhone has won their hearts and minds. It entered the smart phone market early. These elements will make it almost impossible to catch up with the iPhone in terms of market share. Nokia still says it has a chance to take a big piece of the market. If wishes were horses, all the beggars would ride.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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