Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sabre's new Tripcase a TripIt Competitor

Sabre has introduced a downloadable iPhone app that competes with TripIt.
It has some similar features but unlike the email parsing capability of TripIt, TripCase automatically imports the PNR information provided it was booked in Sabre. It is currently only available on the iPhone, but additional platforms will be introduced later this year. So is this a TripIt killer? Maybe at some point, but certainly not immediately.
What I find fascinating is the fact that Sabre participated as one of the investors in TripIt's 5.1 million in Series B financing. It looks like Sabre is hedging its bets!

What is a bit ironic is Sabre's market behavior which reminds me a lot of Microsoft back in the 1990s. Back then, Sabre joined other tech companies in challenging Microsoft's ability to control the development of applications because of its ownership of the OS and browser. In those days Microsoft had a solid reputation of partnering with smaller software entities and then coming out with a competitive product. It is unlikely that Sabre Studios who developed TripCase had any connection with the Sabre group that invested in TripIt, but the fact that TripCase is a clear TripIt competitor at least gives one the impression of a one time partner who is now a competitor.

From my perspective I am happy to see a major travel brand embracing the downloadable app store approach to distribution as these types of apps can take advantage of the location awareness of the smartphone delivering new services not available on the Web.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Illegal iPhone Clones are Here

This image is an iPhone, right? Look again. This is an illegal iPhone copy made in China that I found was being sold in Dubai. A client of mine bought this from a vendor in Dubai about a week ago while I was there. Apart from the obvious legal ramifications of this device (I'll leave that to Apple), the impact on the market will be significant. My client bought this iPhone copy for 300 Dirhams (about $82 USD).
In our report for PhoCusWright, we predicted a flood of smartphone copies in 2009. This clear ripoff of the iPhone is characteristic of what will be common phenomenon throughout Asia. As long as the wireless carriers go along, illegal copies like these will flourish and significantly increase the penetration of smartphones in the market. It is unclear if this phone would access an app store. BTW if you didn't notice, the key difference between a real iPhone and this illegal copy is that it only has four rows versus five on the main screen.