Apple iPhone application development: can't do right by some

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andy-merrett.jpgAndy Merrett writes…

Thanks to the amount of hype and spin surrounding the iPhone, it seems that, when it comes to third party applications, Apple can’t do right by some people.

Apple were criticised right from the start when it looked as if they wouldn’t offer any kind of third-party application support for the iPhone.

Now that their initial solution has been unveiled – Web 2.0 and AJAX – they’re being slated again. Pick a derogatory word about Apple’s solution and it’s probably been used against them.

It seems few people stop to consider that this is Apple’s first-generation iPhone. As with the first Apple TV, the first iPod, the first Mac, the first iMac, or the first MacBook Pro, it will have first-generation functionality.

Everyone knows that future generations of the iPhone will feature more functionality. Take a look at the evolution of the iPod, now imagine what an iPhone could look like in five years’ time.

If the iPhone had remained completely closed off to third-party application developers, it would still be an insanely great mobile phone.

Now Apple has said that anyone with Web 2.0 development skills can create applications for the iPhone. That sounds like a great deal to me, as it opens up a whole realm of possibilities.

It also means that developers working on new web applications can be fairly assured that they’ll work on the iPhone – they don’t have to develop exclusively for the iPhone, but for the whole web. Show me a Windows Mobile or Symbian developer that can do that.

How much legitimate ‘modding’ of your iPod can you do?

None.

Yet it’s still a great device.

How much ‘modding’ does the average mobile phone user do? I’m talking about adding full-blown applications, not ringtones and wallpapers.

Not much, if any.

I don’t think that this is the last we’ll hear from Apple on the issue of application development. Who’s to say that Apple won’t work with a handful of trusted partners to develop native applications?

Of course, any developer not on the list of “chosen” will cry foul again.

Tough. Deal with it.

Apple, and the iPhone, have been placed on such a high pedestal that it’s now impossible for the company to come up with solutions that please everyone.

That doesn’t make their solutions bad.

Mobile social networking is set to take off in a big way – what could be better than having a desktop-class operating system and full, standard Web 2.0 technologies built right in to the iPhone?

I think Apple has made a very smart move, just at the right time to catch the next big thing in mobile usage.

Andy Merrett

4 comments

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  • “…now imagine what an iPhone could look like in five years’ time.”

    The top-line LG phone in four years and six months time?

  • Level-headed comments to be sure. Apple is about making technology accessible to the 50% of people who have IQ’s under 100. As I’ve said before, MSoft tried to do an iPhone, but the keyboard was 3 feet long and the instruction booklet was 1400 pages.
    People who pull video cards and update memory and jerk around with their software should be put in the same category as people who change their own oil, spark plugs and flush the transmissions on their cars (relics). Move into the future, buy an iPhone, get acutal work done and stop jerking around with your gear.

  • Good points! This is the first article I’ve read to see the positive side of Apple’s announcement. I agree that allowing development of Web 2.0 apps on Safari wasn’t bad news. Hey, no development kit required! Get started, people.

    If/when the iPhone version of Safari supports Flash player, then application developers could use Flex to develop some very cool browser-hosted apps. Here’s hoping.

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