It's started, then. Today there is likely to be an announcement about the new iPhone and according to rumour it's going to be cheaper, smaller, more functional, with 3G, better storage and all manner of unsubstantiated stuff - believe it when Apple says it later today.
Only, last week I saw another nice phone - the Samsung Omnia i900 has been unveiled (here's a clipping from UK magazine Stuff, which is accurate in all but their claims that their briefing was exclusive - my presence the same day and that of another London newspaper dictates otherwise.
Rather than bore you with the tech spec I'll just say it's a nicely-designed, easy to use phone. Heavier than the iPhone is likely to be - heck, heavier than it is now - it's still slim and has its own set of widgets to make it as simple to use as an iPhone (unless you're a Mac user in which case the synchronisation is tricky but hey, that's only 5 per cent of the market, not Samsung's bad). It's a little puzzling that it uses Windows Mobile 6.1 and is therefore aimed at the corporate market when it has such a good media player and other social functions but maybe convergeance is taking place faster than we thought in this market. Certainly the days when we were all willing to pay for two phones, one for work and one for play, must surely be numbered by now.
It will be interesting to watch Samsung's progress in this arena. The presenter who showed me the phone was excellent - truly knew his stuff, and the phone is based on solid open systems that will work with the vast majority of computers. The difficulty is going to be in combating Apple's marketing. When the original iPhone came out only months ago it was obviously flawed in that the phone was too small and there was no 3G but - get this - nobody cared. It was an iPhone, dammit, and for many users that was all that mattered.
This, rather than any rational desire for a technical specification, is what's going to drive the iPhone market forward (and yes, whether from Samsung, LG or any of the other competition, this market is being led by Apple in terms of generating awareness). Whatever Apple launches this evening (UK time) - and I'll be commenting in the morning - it'll have Apple's usual sense of panache, which a competent briefing simply doesn't.
So I guess my prediction is that in a month or two's time we'll all still be talking about the iPhone and marveling at how much more it can do. We'll all know there are better phones out there but dammit, they won't be iPhones...