When Steve Jobs first announced
the Apple iPhone, it spurred a lot of conjecture.
Two of “Patty’s Pioneers” got into a spirited online debate about whether it was going to be “good enough” as a phone or a PDA. Pat Kerpan explained:
“I think reaction depends on whether you are using a microscope or a telescope. ‘What is is’ vs. ‘what it means’…First and foremost: This is an iPod that makes phone calls. The whole success of this product will be driven by the fact that it is not a business product. Business products suck. In fact, Generation D will likely evaluate jobs by access to consumer technology vs. business technology.”
So you shouldn’t compare the iPhone to a phone. You should compare it to an iPod. It’s a portable music player that is also a phone and an Internet access device. Wow! Eric Castain agreed, when you think of the iPhone as an iPhod, it is a very seductive device.
Then they got into the “is it open or is it closed?” debate. Here’s what Pat had to say:
“Closed? More closed than my lame phones? Can't be for long - not with a real Web browser. Not with widgets. Not with a universe of hackers out there. One of my best friends rails against iTunes because it is closed. If selecting a set of AAC drm-protected songs in iTunes and clicking the ‘convert to mp3’ button in another application is closed - then I will take closed in the Apple Reality Distortion Field over any product shipped to date by Sony, Nokia, Ericsson, or Microsoft.”
Several others of you weighed in as well on subjects ranging from “will it work without a keyboard” and "is it really an open platform?"
This week, Steve Jobs announced that the first customer shipments of the iPhone will take place by the end of the month. He also launched a new Safari browser that’s pretty nifty. Here’s a browser that’s designed to work really well on a small form factor screen, with a minimum of point and click. You can swivel it and zoom it. You can poke at it with your finger and zoom in. Take a look! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHB1VSQk1Tc
The new Safari beta is also available to run on Windows. That’s a great move! Making iTunes available on Windows increased iTune’s marketshare dramatically. Making the Safari browser available on Windows will expand its footprint and give all of us another great toolset for interacting online and sharing our creations.
And, best of all, users can create widgets that can sit on their desktops and download those widgets to carry around with them on their iPhones.
According to Robert Mullins’ article in InfoWorld, Apple's iPhone open to software developers:
In the development community, the lack of an SDK has spurred some consternation. O’Reilly Radar’s Mark Hedlund has a good post [Xul Runner for the iPhone] on the topic of whether you can really write useful apps using browser-only development. He alludes to the increasingly popular XUL Runner plug in from Mozilla.
“The problem is this: what capabilities do you want in an Internet-age application platform?
I'm a big proponent of XULRunner for desktop applications. It's my opinion that many of the applications we all want to write and use these days need to consume a wide variety of content from the web.
And yet, I've argued very strongly for third-party apps on the iPhone. I was left a little befuddled by this week's iPhone news, unsure whether to cheer with my friend Jason Fried, who calls the move 'bold' in his piece, 'iPhone SDK: It's called Safari,' or to be dismayed like Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo, who writes a righteous condemnation of the announcement in, 'No iPhone SDK Means No Killer iPhone Apps.'
As with all things Apple, we'll just have to wait and see. I'm inclined to agree with Jason that Apple has made - for whatever reasons, expedient or prescient - the right philosophical decision about how iPhone apps should be developed. Building apps on top of a web browser is the right call for all of the reasons described above. iPhone apps are going to want all of the capabilities that Safari can provide.
"Bring the web to whatever device I'm using. And then bring the device to the web. That's the mantra for the web application development platform debate - no matter the device. I'm encouraged by XULRunner and encouraged by Apple's move, and I think the common solution these two imply is the right one.”
My bet? I’m betting that Apple’s many lead users will quickly demonstrate the power of developing Apple Desktop Widgets and distributing them via RSS on Safari.
So, a hearty welcome to a new platform for consumer-led innovation: the iPhod!