There was a guy at my friend's New Years Eve party last night who has been living in Japan. He was showing off his FOMA D902i (english info), and man, it's so much cooler than our phones.
And I'm not talking about which phones are better feature-for-feature. I'm talking about cool factor alone. And in the consumer market, cool is what sells.
The iPod is cool. I've heard it even has majority market share in Japan (which is almost unheard of for an American product in a highly competitive Japanese market). US smartphones are NOT cool. Even the coolest US smartphones STILL AREN'T COOL. The ROKR/SLVR are barely cool compared to their Japanese counterparts (but they aren't functional, and their interfaces suck).
Which means... there's room in the US market for Apple, Sony, or some other company that knows how to make cool products come out with one phone model that will conquer the market in a single swoop (think iPod).
We're so far behind... it's not even funny.