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Why is that because of the iPhone and not any of the other smart phones that are out there?
East: Well, frankly, I think the other players are all a bit sort of...They needed somebody like Apple to come along and shake them up a bit. I mean, Nokias are pretty good (pulls out his N95 smart phone), but this N95 is probably, in some ways, just a little bit shy of an iPhone.
It's the industrial design and the user interface design, which is different. This (gestures at the N95) is constrained by the user interface that you get with the Symbian operating system. And Nokia has a legacy of industrial design. You wouldn't actually need the Nokia (logo) on there to know that it was a Nokia phone. That's a good thing, but it's also slightly a constraining thing. Likewise, you probably don't need to know that it comes from Apple when you see the iPhone.
The different thing about Apple is the combination of the industrial design and the user interface. It creates a desirable product, and from what I've seen in the demonstrations of the user interface, a very usable product as well. Whereas quite a lot of the user interfaces you find are actually quite clunky. They're written by engineers for engineers rather than by engineers for consumers.
Do you think that's because of the fact that Apple controls so tightly the hardware and the software development as a joint effort?
East: Yeah, I think the hardware and software should be inextricably linked in most of these digital products, and historically, they haven't been. And that is a constraint.
If you go visit some parts of the world, and you talk to the software group, and you to talk to the hardware group, you might be talking to two different companies; and not surprisingly, those companies don't perform so well.
Why have you managed to maintain the market share that you have?
East: Because of our ecosystem. You know, with a microprocessor, it isn't just a microprocessor. It's what it takes to build the product and deliver a user experience that's good on that product. No one company can do all that. We have 400-plus companies in our ecosystem, and nobody else does that.
What's preventing them from doing that?
East: The fact that we're doing it, actually. I mean, it's a little bit flippant, but if you're an operating-system company, then you want to supply your products to the biggest possible market so you can get as much money as possible for your operating system. So you're going to look to support an architecture that will take you to the biggest market.
That's the processor that you'll support. ARM has better operating-system support than its competitors, and so we get more market share. We'll become a more attractive target for an ecosystem company, and so the cycle repeats itself. We put quite a lot of effort into that, actually.
In terms of the overall smart-phone market, when do you anticipate that that a handset will become less of a high-end device for executives or business travelers and more of a mainstream device?
I think we're a couple of years away, probably, but as I said, I think the iPhone is going to make a huge difference.
Is it price or features? Why do people need to be convinced that (smart phones) are worth it?
East: Well, it's a bit of both. Some of it's price, some of it is that the technology just hasn't been good enough.
You just need a more efficient engine in order to deliver the multimedia features that people expect and want. If you're not a sort of a technology freak, then as a user, if you have a disappointing experience with something like that--if there are some features there, and it works, but it really doesn't work very well--then you don't go back and buy that for quite a long time.
So the technology availability has definitely been a problem holding back smart phones because you're limiting the market to only those sorts of people who are very tolerant and very prepared to tolerate, frankly, inferior quality.
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