December 05, 2007 |
By now you've likely all heard plenty about the iPhone. Too much, even. Since the start of summer we’ve seen both the mainstream press and the blogosphere harp incessantly about Apple’s invention – its technological advantages, the seeming unrivaled grace with which it functions, or those specially-concocted websites and applications that have risen to public view (i.e., Facebook, Digg, Meebo, etc.) over the past few months. Just last evening Google quietly introduced an updated iPhone-friendly interface for a wide range of services.
And though such particular attention is warranted in some instances – the device is after all a widely-accepted benchmark for the mobile communications and mobile entertainment industry – there are some things about the third-party market the iPhone’s release has spawned that may in fact irk a great many people. People that have chosen not to opt into a contracted ownership with the multi-touch marvel. People that are thrilled by other supersmart handhelds floating about the mobile realm today.
One of those things, I imagine, is the continuing growth in the subset of Web developments which cater specifically to the iPhone. You know what I’m talking about. Either it takes the input of a special URL on the part of the end user or the front server dishing the bits knows to tell your palm-sized pal where it is you need to go to “get the good stuff,” but whatever the case, you know you’re destined to get el primo treatmento. None of that half-assed garbage all the commoners of the smartphone world are forced to chew on. The best of the best (relatively speaking) is what the iPhone-owning cognoscente get to enjoy. As they should, right?
Well, no, not really. I mean, why should an iPhone be given different cloud-based code to play with than, say, a Nokia N95 – which, I might add, carries a price tag well north of the illustrious iPhone? Or, for that matter, any device installed with software assembled by Palm/Access, Microsoft, or the folks at UIQ? Are those special sites put together simply because iPhone users can see stuff in pretty much unmatched clarity? Or that they can flick and pinch and touch their way to a glorious RSS feed-reading session, rather than having to work with those oh-so-ancient things we call buttons?
Yes, I think that that’s partly the reasoning behind their creation. And, frankly, the fact that that is indeed the scenario currently unfolding before our eyes is ridiculous. Clearly we’re seeing many developers taking the iPhone as something of a what-should-be-standard standard-to-be (apologies if you stumble over that hyphen frenzy there). Why exactly is that so? The iPhone is hardly the market leader, hardly the king of the hill. Neither in the North America, nor in Europe. No, it’s really RIM’s BlackBerry that’s proliferating like mad. It’s that Canada-born push-mail phenomenon that’s got the world all up in a tizzy. Not the round-edged darling from Cupertino.
So what gives? It doesn’t exactly bode well for Web development – especially when we see massive expansion in the worldwide mobile space – for anyone to play favorites. Sure, let AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Motorola, HTC, Apple, RIM, and countless other network operators and hardware providers battle amongst themselves over who gets what exclusive and who gets snubbed. All that stuff is just corporate moronicism at work. Web development, however, at its elemental core, is meant to be universally acceptable. You go to Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Profy, and countless other online destinations using any number of desktop-based browsers, and, generally speaking, you get the same format, the same layout, the same damn picture.
So, if one considers this logically, the same, universal experience should be provided to mobile Web users as well. We shouldn’t be seeing any developers showing preferences. If this activity continues for much longer, we’ll undoubtedly see unwanted conflicts arise.
And that won’t be a pretty picture. For anybody. It’s all good and well that Web apps are being put together at a steadily increasing rate by startups and big businesses alike. But they should be targeting everyone with their wares, no? iPhone and non-iPhone users both.