Apple has it’s Nikon…

…and it’s name is Palm.

To be more specific, the iPhone (Canon 50D) now has it’s Nikon D90, and it’s the Pre.

This idea comes from one of John Gruber’s posts on Daring Fireball back in 2007 titled, ‘Apple Needs a Nikon‘:

The point being that much of what gets chalked up as devotion to/obsession with Apple is, in fact, devotion to/obsession with great design, and there’s an utter dearth of rival PC or handheld gadget makers that value design as Apple does.

And:

Canon’s cameras are better because there’s Nikon — and vice-versa. Canon-vs.-Nikon arguments can get ugly, but in the end, they’re arguments about two companies that make great cameras and great lenses. Apple has no such rival.

Like tech columnist Stephen Fry that Gruber quotes, I don’t have sole allegiance to Apple. The fact that Palm was able to get their business back on track and launch the Pre in the short time they did is remarkable and I’m excited that the iPhone is not in this game alone.

It’s easy to compare the iPhone and the Pre on pixel-level similarities – and blast Palm for copying elements from the iPhone, but the fact remains that both phones have very different priorities and Apple does not hold the rights for using glossy buttons or reflections in a GUI.

Ars Technica did a thorough review (as usual) of the Pre, and made it a point to emphasis how the 2 smartphones differ.

iPhone’s starting point:

In the iPhone’s case, whatever Apple’s mobile may have evolved into, its origins are very straightforward: in the keynote that introduced the iPhone to the world, Jobs described the device as a fusion of three products: a “widescreen iPod with touch controls,” a phone, and an “Internet communications device”. And thus it remains; the iPhone is a widescreen, networked media player that also does a bunch of other stuff, telephony and Internet included.

And the Pre’s starting point:

The Pre, in contrast, was introduced by Rubenstein as a cloud messaging device that also does a bunch of other stuff, media playback included. And this primary messaging orientation has had as deep an impact on every aspect of webOS as the iPhone’s media orientation has had on the iPhone OS.

What’s great is there’s already a handful of Pre owners at Roundarch now (and growing), where there used to only be a sea of iPhones – and yes, some of these Pre owners are iPhone defectors. I know what you’re saying, impossible!

Yes, it’s true, and I think it can only help us keep a better pulse on the ever-evolving mobile market. We’ve already produced iPhone applications for clients like Avis and the band Wilco, and that’s great, but we’re much more than one-trick ponies. Understanding multiple systems can only strengthen our understanding of the broader canopies of interactive and application design under which the iPhone OS and webOS live.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The author owns an iPhone, Canon Rebel and a small handful of AAPL shares.

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