June 12, 2007
More ruminations on the iPhone and Safari
I've been thinking about iPhone/Safari all morning. I've posted the article over at our blog for Web Directions South, to shamelessly get some traffic over there ;-)
The essence of my thinking is that the iPhone/Safari is the Mosaic of the Mobile Web.
I've been enthusiastic about the mobile web for many years. I played around with developing a WAP development tool coming up to 10 years ago (good thing I didn't go on with that), and it has long seemed obvious to me that a ubiquitous web is inevitable (which is why the obsession with offline webapps is kinda short sighted - sure interim things like GEARS from google makes sense, but one of the strong drivers for Adobe's AIR (formerly apollo)) and other such non browser based webapps frameworks is offline webapps, something I don't think there is a crying need for right now, and a lessening need for over the next few years. Style Master had support for the CSS molbile profile years ago. But none of these initiatives (WAP, CSSMP, XHTML Basic) ever really drove widespread mobile web adoption.
So, to say that the iPhone, particularly it's web focus, and use of Safari is exciting for me is a huge understatement. I think that in the same way the arrival or Mosaic and then Netscape signalled the arrival of the web, iPhone/Safari signals the arrival of the mobile web.
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Opera has been a viable cross-platform, cross-device environment for a while now (including a widget engine). If any browser is the Mosaic of the mobile web, it's Opera. Keep in mind it has a massive user base in Europe - just because it's not popular in the US doesn't mean it's not popular ;)
Once Safari for PC is out of beta and the iphone actually arrives, then it might be the Netscape of the mobile web. Not that bad really, since it's only a minority of web users who ever *actually* used Mosaic (it came on a floppy disk from my first ISP!) - but plenty used Netscape :)
I don't doubt the power of the iphone to shake up the device market, since anyone who ignored the ipod phenominon must have been living under a rock. I do have some doubts about Apple's power to get a decent network built here though.
It's all irrelevant in .au until the network stops sucking and prices fall. It doesn't matter how hot the phone or the browser is if it can't connect to anything or it costs too much to seriously use it.
I know I bring this up a lot, but I do it since so few people are willing to admit that the mobile web will remain a dream in Australia until there is a siginificant price drop. It'll take off in America, Europe, hell it'll probably take off in the third world before Australia. Australia has barely got onto broadband so far!
I can just imagine peoples' disappointment if they do manage to get hold of a wifi-enabled phone, only to discover the only place with free wifi is their lounge room. Where they may as well use their computer.
Posted by: Ben Buchanan | Jun 13, 2007 10:25:01 AM
I couldn't agree more -- I don't use the expensive 3G/GPRS networks in the UK, and I have very little experience of WAP. Just don't care for it really. I have an old-ish Sony Ericsson, and I prefer a simple phone that is primarily useful for voie conversations and texting.
Having said that, I find myself being drawn to the iPhone's smooth design. I just wonder if the touchscreen could deal with the speed of my typing, though -- I tend to hate using the things, but they claim it's a big tech improvement. I don't think I'll be getting one though. I've resisted the whole "iPod + iTunes" thing up to now, because if I did want to get a portable music player I wouldn't want a fashion accessory that seems to "hang" whenever I encounter its menu system.
Posted by: trojjer | Jun 23, 2007 6:47:04 AM