The last two months have seen two high profile mobile phone launches – one of them over-hyped and the other – to Apple’s peril – quite under-hyped. I am talking about the iPhone and the Ocean from Helio. While the iPhone has started what could be described as media induced mass hysteria – lots of buyers are falling for the “love at first sight” factor that the iPhone comes bundled with. (Obviously Jobs and his designers read Malcom Gladwell’s “blink”) The iPhone is beautiful – there is no doubt about it. Large screen, minimalistic sensibilities. It is the phone that does not look like a phone…and I think that’s where Apple hit bullseye. So crazed masses walked into stores like hypnotized zombies and paid a lot of money to acquire this futuristic object of their dreams – and decided to ignore the following facts:

1) It is ridiculously overpriced ($499 for 4GB and $599 for 8GB) – and you can only use it over AT&T Cingular.
2) It cannot replace your iPod – max storage is just 8 GB. And the memory cannot be expanded.
3) It does not support Bluetooth’s Stereo profile
4) You cannot remove the battery!! (so no spare batteries)
5) It does not support the latest 3G standards – so the web experience is menial for such a device
6) Does not have built in GPS
7) Does not have a physical keyboard or keypad. (It might not seem as such a bad thing – but it is a serious disability for smart phone power users)

….and the list goes on.

Enter Ocean.
This device from Helio – does all of the above and all that the iPhone can do. (except the accelerometer – which allows the iPhone to rotate the desktop to landscape or potrait – depending on how you are holding it.) It has both a keyboard and a keypad. It is not fixed to any network…and costs $295. Check this video review from Zdnet’s David Berlind and decided for yourself. It might not be a looker like the iPhone – but as they say – “beauty is in function”. Maybe it’s true.

As for me, I have decided that the Ocean will be my next phone…