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Whither the iPhone killer?

Apple's biggest competition to the iPhone in 2009 may be nothing at all.

The iPhone has enjoyed a strong run, leapfrogging RIM to claim second place in the smartphone market with 17.3 market share, as reported in Ars Technica. But will Apple be able to hold or grow its iPhone market position in 2009?

I polled a group of 17-year old neighbors yesterday, asking them what gadgets they crave. Most would love an iPhone but, barring that (due to cost or carrier reasons), one phone that got a lot of praise is the Samsung Glyde. While CNET didn't give it much love, these teens loved the slide-out keyboard. (Giving how often some of them bathe, it's probably ideal to keep touchscreens away from them.)

Samsung and others will likely give the iPhone a run for its money, but I would guess that the primary competition to Apple in 2009 will actually be spending inertia. I've wanted the 3G iPhone for months, but I simply can't justify the purchase: my old iPhone works just fine, and this economy isn't the time to be spending on nice-to-haves.

While the iPhone is better positioned than RIM to win over both businesses and consumers, in a recession the best option may be to buy nothing at all. Even Apple can't compete with that.