TUAW wrote about why the iPhone is not a commodity.
Of course, the idea that smartphones are fast becoming commoditized is often brought up as a reason why Apple needs to come out with a magical new product immediately. The often overlooked reality is that Apple works tirelessly to ensure that the iPhone houses features that competitors simply can’t match. We saw this most recently with the introduction of Touch ID on the iPhone 5s. While some competitors — namely Samsung — have attempted to mimic the functionality of Touch ID with their own offerings, the simplicity, usability, and more importantly, the reliability of Apple’s own implementation remains unrivaled.
It is easy to copy but hard to recreate the same experience.
Recently at WWDC 2014, we saw that Apple remains committed to enhancing the feature set of iOS in ways that are difficult, if not practically impossible, for competitors to copy. The mounting integration between iOS and OS X is the most glaring example. With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple continues to blur the lines between the Mac and iOS. More importantly, Apple’s over arching theme of “continuity” brings with it a number of features that will have a real impact on the way consumers use technology; Handoff is a boon for efficiency while the ability to make phone calls from the Mac elicited boisterous applause from WWDC attendees.
This type of seamless integration will prove frustratingly difficult for companies like Samsung or LG to implement. Microsoft could presumably go down this path, but with the share of Windows Phone still obscenely low, they’ve still yet to prove themselves a major player in the mobile space.
Apple has started to move towards differentiating the iPhone from the competition. Perhaps the question we should ask is how Android can avoid becoming a commodity.
If anything, commoditization across Android handsets seems like more of a pressing issue than commoditization vis a vis Apple and Android.