July 16, 2008 |
You have the most successful touchscreen handset on the market, your brand image could sell contacts to the blind, and guess what? You are largely responsible for a roadblock in the advancement of mobile social networking. What I'm referring to is the fact that new iPhone applications are not allowed to run continuously as a background processes.
Of course, I doubt Apple or its head man Steve Jobs directly intend to inhibit the advancement of mobile social media by not allowing iPhone applications to run continuously in the background of the iPhone interface. That choice would be in the interests of ensuring that the iPhone doesn't become sluggish from too many background processes — a slow phone, no matter what the reason, does not translate as success with
naive consumers. I would venture a guess that many smartphone consumers choose Blackberrys or iPhones because they aren't running Windows Mobile, an operating system notorious for being sluggish and buggy. Call it quality control or whatever you like, from a business standpoint, the decision is a no-brainer.
The problem is that you will have no idea when you receive an instant message on AIM, a direct message on Twitter, a friend request on Facebook, or a video reply on Seesmic as you go about your day to day activities, unless of course you have your Mail app configured to receive updates to each of these programs. The situation simply isn't ideal. This is the way it should be: when you open up your Facebook application, until you turn off your iPhone (or end the process), your iPhone should notify you when you receive updates to your account. That is being truly connected 24/7 on your mobile unit.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this situation is that the iPhone is arguably the most capable platform for paving the way to fully-realized mobile social networking. There is a simple solution, but it most likely isn't a solution that would sit well with Apple. Simply add a "Force Quit" application to the iPhone so users can pick and choose what applications they run. I'm not a huge YouTube fan, and I'd rather have it turned off. I also don't really need to check my stocks at all times (as I am a bit low in shares right now). Why shouldn't I be able to run two different applications in their places?
The next obvious solution would be to plan a boost in RAM and processor power for the next version of the iPhone. It will be far too easy for Apple to sail smoothly by only pushing hardware enough to stay slightly ahead of competitors. But it is obvious this application issue is a problem. Though I and many have a vested interest in the advancement of mobile social platforms, I seriously doubt that is Steve Jobs' top concern. At what point does keeping ahead of the Joneses get replaced by really pushing innovation? Isn't that what the iPhone was originally all about?
I have to say that I think Apple copped out with the iPhone 3G. Granted, changing the phone to work on the high-speed 3G network was needed, but not groundbreaking by any means. Developers did all the work on the Apps store, and I hate to say it, but there is very little "Wow!" factor to GPS these days. Jobs gave us something great and original, and is now sitting back to milk the cash cow, and that is why you are just a hop, skip and throw away from proper mobile social networking.