Has Apple Lost Its Shine?

I was talking to a friend of mine last week — a software developer — who’s been a committed iPhone user. Although he isn’t a Mac or iPhone developer, he’s passionate about how much better the iPhone’s user interface and apps are than any other phone he’s tried.

However, he’s just switched away from the iPhone, because “my father’s bought one and it’s not cool to have the same phone as your dad”.

To replace his iPhone, he opted for an HTC Hero. So far, he’s impressed by the platform, its capabilities and the market momentum of Android.

Of course, this is only one anecdote, and it’s clearly too early to call it a trend. But it does echo what we have heard about why people are choosing the Palm Pre from O2.

Everyone seems to have an iPhone these days — it’s even coming to Tesco Mobile in the UK — so it’s nice to have a something different. We’ve also heard stories about how young people no longer regard the Wii as a cool console for gaming, again because their parents are using it.

I think the iPhone will remain the “poster child” of smartphones for some time, even though the smartphone space is becoming very crowded and may even move into oversupply during 2010. But it looks as if Apple needs to take a more segmented approach and produce a completely new iPhone next year if it’s going to retain the hearts and minds of some of its earliest adopters.