In my last post I wrote about mobile application design and how form should disappear in the face of function. The implementation of MobileSafari on the iPhone comes so very close to giving developers a toolkit to accomplish this with pizazz, but there are a couple issues holding it back from its full potential:
The "dev kit" that Apple offers doesn't allow access to the phone's features.
This was covered in my last post. Lack of access to the camera, microphone, speaker, alerts etc. hinder iPhone apps from being fully effective.
At the VON conference this fall, I heard the claim that Apple never second-guesses themselves, that every move is planned well in advance. While I don't doubt that this is true, this claim was accompanied by the assertion that Apple never makes a mistake. That the 3rd-party SDK later release was intentional. That the sucky Safari SDK was never intended to be the "real" platform for the iPhone. Even that the $100 early-adopter rebate was all planned from the beginning.
I don't really agree with this stance; I obsessively read everything iPhone-related that I could get my hands on for MONTHS, and I follow Apple pretty closely. While it's true that they haven't taken many false steps since Jobs came back on board with the launch of the original iMac and the iPod, there have been a few recent products that weren't exactly flops, but I'm sure they didn't go the way Apple planned them to.
Part of the reason I would hate to think that Apple made no mistakes is this: if the whole Safari SDK - price drop/refund - 3rd-party app saga was all part of some grand scheme on Apple's part, that would qualify in my book as majorly planned obsolescence. More than I'm comfortable with, in fact. Especially as a Web developer - so what, was Apple just messing with my mind? I don't my (imaginary) type of relationship with Steve Jobs is Walt Disney exactly, but I don't think it's Ike Turner either.
The idea that everything Mac is orchestrated perfectly from on high might work somehow...except for the fact that some things with the iPhone haven't gone as initially (publicly) planned. And the planned obsolescence angle just doesn't fit the company's profile. Sure, tech stuff (and especially gadgets) improves in leaps and bounds. I spend thousands of dollars every year chasing the newest carrot that technology dangles in front of me; I'm a total sucker for that. But I think this is just a little too off-track to be intentional. Apple has been plenty cool about people hacking their iPhones, and I don't doubt that they are working as hard as possible to achieve maximum development AND maximum profit at the same time. So I disagree that the whole thing was planned from the start; I'm chalking it up to "bumps in the road" that will one day lead us to the modern mobile Internet that I envision.
I am, of course, interested in your opinion. Do YOU think the whole iPhone timeline has been completely engineered? Let's talk about it in the comments of this post.
This is the second part of a series of posts, starting with the present and leading us into the future of the mobile Web. Stay tuned.
Next up: Integration of mobile app platforms...
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