The iPhone obsession

Since my attempts at capturing web developers’ hearts and minds by publishing fundamental research have failed miserably but my thirst for attention continues unabated, today I will once more shout at iPhone developers. That’s proven to work.

More specifically, today I will shout at web developers who think that delicately inserting an iPhone up their ass is the same as mobile web development.

Before we start, a little thought experiment. Suppose I proposed the following:

  1. IE6 is today’s most advanced browser. (Note: this was actually true back in 2000. Please bear with me.)
  2. IE6’s market share is about 80%.
  3. The other browsers are way worse than IE6, and developing for them is a pain; something we’re not interested in and are a bit afraid of.
  4. Therefore we will develop websites exclusively for IE6.

Would you agree with those sentiments, even if we’re back in 2000 and IE6 is really the best browser we have?

Or would you reply that our sites should work as well as they can in all browsers through the use of web standards, progressive enhancement, and all the rest of the best practices we’ve been preaching for the past ten years?

I distinctly remember a time when we web developers cared about such concepts. But those times are long gone.

Warning! iCandy will damage your brain!

Nowadays we live in a fantasy world that focuses exclusively on one platform, and does so exclusively for reasons of eye candy.

We laughingly disown every single principle the web standards movement has ever stood for in the past ten years in order to swoon and drool over Apple’s iCandy and happily accept the reality distortion field that emanates from it.

The iPhone has become an obsession. If we don’t pay attention, we’ll have a mobile web that only works on the iPhone. And then we’ll have the real mobile web that wasn’t made by us and doesn’t give a shit about web standards and best practices.

Worse, it seems web developers are happy with this state of affairs. It seems web developers are congratulating themselves on excluding 85% of the smartphone users. They certainly never bother to check their sites in S60 WebKit, the largest smartphone browser in the world.

Fucking dimwits.

We’re doing exactly the same as ten years ago. We now say “iPhone” instead of “IE6,” but otherwise nothing’s changed.

No, wait, there’s one more change: the iPhone has far less mobile market share now than IE6 had desktop share back then.

Stats

Let’s illustrate that last remark with some smartphone sales stats:

  1. Nokia: 39%
  2. RIM: 20% (BlackBerry)
  3. Apple: 15% (this 15% is obviously far more important than the previous 59%)
  4. HTC: 5%
  5. Other: 21% (Samsung is expected to make a major jump this year)

Let’s break these sales stats down by continent. Asia excluding Japan first:

  1. Nokia: 75%
  2. Apple: 8%
  3. HTC: 6%
  4. RIM: 4%
  5. Samsung: 3%
  6. Motorola: 2%

Western Europe:

  1. Nokia: 48%
  2. Apple: 20%
  3. RIM: 15%
  4. HTC: 10%
  5. Samsung: 5%
  6. SonyEricsson: 1%

Finally North America:

  1. RIM: 51%
  2. Apple: 29%
  3. HTC: 6%
  4. Palm: 5% (probably includes PalmOS devices)
  5. Nokia: 4%
  6. Samsung: 2%
  7. Sharp: 1%

Apple is second in every market, but the least difference with the market leader is 22% in North America.

Source: Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report (48Meg PDF) p. 160

North Americans are parochial in their choice of a smartphone. One more reason why the North American market has zero predictive value for the rest of the world.

Oddly, Europeans buy relatively more Asian smartphones, while Asians buy relatively more European smartphones.

The Japanese market is so very different from all the others that I left it out. Besides, a full 20% of Japanese smartphone sales fall in an unspecified “others” category. Apple is fourth with 10% of sales.

The Japanese are even more parochial than the Americans when it comes to selecting a smartphone, but that’s partly caused by the unique shape the mobile space has in that country. None of the Western manufacturers has truly created an inroad in the most advanced mobile market in the world.

Incidentally, the Japanese market does have predictive value for the rest of the world, but it’s sometimes so advanced that it’s hard to understand.

And here are the smartphone OS stats, also from Tomi Ahonen (whose blog I highly recommend, by the way):

  1. Symbian: 45% (all of Nokia plus a bit of SonyEricsson and Samsung)
  2. BlackBerry: 20%
  3. iPhone: 15% (this 15% is obviously far more important than the previous 65%)
  4. Windows Mobile: 6% (HTC, Samsung, SonyEricsson)
  5. Android: 4% (HTC, Samsung, SonyEricsson, Motorola, Google)
  6. Other: 10% (Various Linux builds, Palm, as well as really obscure stuff. Will be reinforced by Samsung Bada during this year.)

Despite the platform having only 15% sales market share we all want our mobile websites to look exactly like an iPhone app and we only want to use iPhone features.

We want to happily live forever in our fantasy world that’s filled to overflowing with fucking iPhones, and where Nokias or BlackBerries aren’t welcome. Our rationalisation machine is running overtime to maintain this illusion and filter away reality.

We’re a bunch of lousy amateurs, that’s what we are.

No “mobile web development” specialist ever mentions Nokia ever. After all, Nokia only sells more smartphones than BlackBerry and Apple combined, so there’s no reason to mention it.

Mentioning Nokia is the mark of the rude boor. The man of discernment mentions the iPhone. And mentions it and mentions it and mentions it. And then mentions the iPad, to show he is open to non-iPhone devices. The bigger the better.

Oh, and don’t bring up Android. Yes, it’s an excellent system, and yes, it could have a bright future ahead of it, but right now it doesn’t amount to anything in the global market. It certainly won’t serve as a “Hey, I do multiple platforms” alibi.

15% + 4% = 19%

Turn off the fucking reality distortion field.

Arguments

“But ... but ... ” I hear you sputter. Sputter on. You’re wrong.

UX

But the iPhone has the best user experience of any phone!

True. So what?

Whole flocks of web developers swear that their Mac is far more user-friendly than any Windows machine that will ever be invented. Still, do they develop websites only for Macs?

Safari

But Safari iPhone is the best mobile browser!

True. So what?

Firefox is the best desktop browser. (Or Opera, or Safari, or whatever.) Do you develop sites exclusively for Firefox?

CSS enhancements

But Safari supports amazing CSS-driven graphic capabilities!

True. So what?

Use these capabilities, by all means. Just don’t depend on them. Don’t stare at them obsessively for hours on end and then decide you’ve made your site “mobile compatible.”

There’s this thing called progressive enhancement. It’s a neat trick that allows you to use the iPhone’s capabilities without damaging the experience of users of other phones.

Traffic market share

But Safari iPhone has about 50% of mobile internet traffic market share! You can’t ignore that, can you?

Watch me ignore it.

First, so what? No, let me rephrase that: So fucking what? Since when does web development mean leaving 50% of your mobile users out in the cold? Since when is “I only support browsers with a large market share” a valid argument? (Answer: since we have an iPhone up our ass.)

Next, I’m not so sure if it’s true. Mobile browser detection is really hard. None of the reports I’ve read so far show how they detect browsers. Lots of mobile browsers have iPhone in their UA strings to work around browser detects that obsessed web developers have set up. Do all traffic market share reporters work around that problem? Most probably do, but we can’t be sure.

Besides, what will happen when the operators abandon the economically untenable flat rate for iPhone data traffic? Will iPhone users maintain their current traffic market share when they have to pay as they go?

US doesn’t matter

Next, many market share reports apply only to the US market, and it’s exactly these reports that are discussed most by the influential American tech bloggers.

The real mobile battle, however, will take place in Europe and Asia. The US is a sideshow. Unfortunately it’s extraordinarily hard to convince people, both Americans and non-Americans, of that fact. So let’s try again:

Contrary to every single other technical advance of the last 50 years, mobile did not start in the US, and the US has always been somewhat behind Asia and Europe. For instance, SMS only really took off with the Obama campaign, while the rest of the world became addicted to it years ago.

Source: Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report (48Meg PDF) p. 75

While North America has 17% of the world’s internet users, it has only 7% of the world’s mobile users. Europe (22%) and Asia (45%) have the same figure for both.

The US market doesn’t have any predictive value for the rest of the world, either, because Nokia is absent. It’s just a small niche market.

That means that, contrary to every other branch of tech, American mobile opinions just aren’t very important to the rest of the world. For the American market, yes, of course they matter. For all other markets, don’t listen to them.

The problem is that too much of the rest of the world takes its cues from the well-read US tech bloggers that have made obsessing over Apple and Google while being blissfully unaware of the rest of the mobile ecosystem into a fine art.

In the medium run the problem will solve itself. Either the US bloggers will catch up with mobile reality, or they will cease to be read. I’m guessing the former. They’re not stupid.

Our fault

But with all that said I still have no reliable traffic market share figures. So let’s accept that 50% of all mobile web traffic comes from the iPhone. Or 30%. Or 70%. Whatever. Far more than its sales market share, in any case.

Point is, that’s our fault.

I can vividly imagine an S60 WebKit user getting tired of shitty websites whose developers were too busy playing with their iPhones to bother with the largest worldwide smartphone browser.

We web developers are doing an amazingly lousy job right now. We have to start serious mobile testing instead of just playing around with our iPhone for a few minutes before declaring our site fit for mobile.

Supporting all browsers is the whole fucking point of being a good web developer, and I’m going to force you to do it even if I have to personally swear at each of you individually.

Remove iPhone from ass

I’m sick of the travesty that calls itself “mobile web development” but mostly amounts to Apple-obsessed idiots with iPhones so far up their asses that their brains are starving for oxygen.

Do you ever see any mainstream mobile web development article that talks about S60 WebKit or the (lousy) BlackBerry browser? Due to our iPhone obsession we are deliberately not paying any attention to a user group that’s four times as large as the iPhone.

We have come full-circle back to developing for only one browser. Worse, we are congratulating ourselves on that bit of cleverness. Christ, do we really have to go through the whole standards movement once again?

True, the default browsers on Nokia and (especially) BlackBerry phones are less advanced than Safari iPhone, but so what? Dealing with them is the job we signed up to do. Besides, Nokia and BlackBerry are fully aware of the situation, and I expect significant improvements during this year. And if not, there’s always Opera.

As to traffic, Nokias and BlackBerries may consume less that their fair share, but as I said earlier that’s our fault. We can’t use the mess we created as an excuse to create an even larger mess. Besides, which web developer ignores 85% of his potential users? (The answer, obviously, is: one with an iPhone up his ass.)

Work to do

Web developers should take a look at their sites on a Nokia and a BlackBerry and fix whatever’s wrong. It isn’t that hard to get your hands on a testing device. Just ask around or use PerfectoMobile. (I do not trust emulators, so I don’t recommend their use.)

Install Opera Mini on the device, and also install Opera Mobile if you have a Nokia. Check in both. The native browsers are more important, though.

Oh, and remember: Fixing a site for a browser does not mean making sure the complete feature set works in that browser. Use progressive enhancement. Lots and lots of it. Especially on BlackBerry. That’ll keep you sane.

Finally, I’ll be monitoring new mobile web publications, and I’m thinking of instating an “iPhone Up Ass Award” for the mobile web development article that ignores reality most effectively. You have been warned.

If you write an article about mobile web development, I expect you to devote a significant chunk of it to one or two specific Nokia or BlackBerry phones. Show you can look further than just the latest fad and see the mobile web in its entirety.

To those who still want to blather about seamless UX and swoonworthy CSS and all the rest of the bullshit: why don’t you fuck the fuck off and go wank your stupid iThingy elsewhere? If you’re not interested in universal access you’re not a real web developer and you don’t belong on the mobile web.

As for the rest of us, we’ve got work to do.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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1 Posted by Matt Calthrop on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Some really good facts there (amongst all the noise!).

Hope you're feeling better now... :-)

2 Posted by Jonas Feiring on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I wouldn't worry to much.

I think right about now is the time when people start thinking about making their brand new, shiny mobile sites expand beyond the iPhone.

First step will be Android, and then the rest will follow suit. And it won't be very hard work, as most of the designs will be standards based already. :-)

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving the iPhone crowd some extra eyecandy as long as the important stuff works elsewhere as well.

3 Posted by Michael C. Beck on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Nice article in its content and fully agree with you, though i would have loved to see some less noise and shitty/fucking/wankypitty and instead some more focus on the story.

(Somehow reminds me a lot of your earlier posts. Got a little less attention lately?)

4 Posted by Tim Anderson on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

The one stat you don't mention is share of the mobile app market, which is where iPhone shines. The implication is that other mobile vendors have a lot of work to do in order to get people buying apps for their devices. Another implication is that from a developer perspective iPhone is a much bigger market than the 15% you quote implies.

5 Posted by Anonymous on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I think you need to sit yourself down with a cup of tea.

6 Posted by t on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

"Why don’t you fuck the fuck off and go wank your stupid iThingy elsewhere?"

Something I muse over every time someone gets an iPhone out. I just don't like them, and I love the ie6 analogy. Great opinion very well voice

7 Posted by Marius M. on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Hi,

actually I partly agree with your opinion, that mobile web is not about "it works on my iPhone, yeah baby!". But let's think back: Wasn't Apple the company that kind of revolutionized the mobile web with their mobile phone?

I mean, for sure, we should not exclude other mobile browsers from web development, but am I wrong saying that we kinda need to force the other companies to finally build browsers that actually deserves the name "mobile browser"? I mean, it hasn't been any different with IE - it wasn't getting any better until it got competition from other browsers and kinda was excluded from many sites. Do you think that Microsoft would have bothered that much enhancing the IE in such a big way if there wouldn't have been any pressure coming from the people that actually work with those technologies?

In my opinion, exclusion is not the right way, but saying "I won't support your f*cking mobile browser until it speaks former HTML and maybe also a piece of JS" isn't wrong either. :-)

Thanks for "hearing" me.
twitter.com/devilx

8 Posted by Tom Hume on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Who are these mobile web developers who are completely focused on the iPhone then? Not come across many of them myself, though most interest we see in applications right now is for iPhone (particularly from the ad industry).

I agree with the fundamental point that the web shouldn't be confined to any one browser or device, without anything to back up your assertion that lots of folks are developing web apps purely for iPhone, I'm afraid I found this post pointlessly inflammatory - and that your language got in the way of the point you were trying to make.

9 Posted by Peter on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

love the article! i am still looking forward to an article where you give a quick overview of what to keep in mind while optimizing a website for mobile use (kinda like a tips and tricks article).

Anyway, I think you have a typo in the last paragraph: "...phones. >Show< you can look further..".

Peter

10 Posted by James Murphy on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

@Tim - That's an apples and oranges comparison. For an app developer it may be worth targetting the iPhone (though it seems to me that there are reasons why the app stats may be misleading) but this is an article about web development and about the genuine issue of far too many people equating iPhone to "mobile web" and "mobile app" when that is clearly not the case.

11 Posted by Lars on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

TLDR: Follow web-standards, and avoid excluding browsers/platforms.

12 Posted by Terence Eden on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

The other side of the issue is, at some point, Apple will stop supporting the current generation of iPhone. Then, there will be millions of people stuck with an out of date browser.

If developers think IE6 hanging around is bad - they've obviously never looked at phone stats where it's not uncommon to see a high percentage of users (not page views) with browsers which literally *can't* be updated.

I always try to design for the most basic device. If it will work on a Sharp GX-10, it'll work on anything. Once that's done - add the bells & whistles for the modern phones.

13 Posted by Kevin Anderson on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

With thousands of mobile browsers (most of them all equally unusable), I agree with the general sentiment of your post that's it foolish to develop for one browser.

However, I disagree with your out of hand dismissal of the US in terms of a mobile market. Right now, you've got two insurgents in the mobile space, the iPhone and Android from Google. Those are global trends and not simply US trends, although as you point out focusing on US focused metrics needs to be kept in context.

Back to trends in the US, Nielsen has a 2010 report (Under-aged Texting: Usage and Actual Cost) showing that US teens actually text just as much if not more than European teens. American Idol was driving this trend years before the 2008 Obama election. I hear a lot of comments about US mobile that might have been accurate in the middle of the last decade but aren't accurate now. For a global perspective, I'd argue you can't ignore any mobile market, including the US, and one needs to realise differences between Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Indian sub-continent. It's not the US and the rest of the world.

14 Posted by Dean Morrison on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Maybe it is because S60 is crap and that as Nokia are a declining force all that developers are doing is backing the new trend. Either develop for a platform that works (ie. iPhone) or develop for a platform that is crap, looks like crap and feels like crap (ie. S60).
Hmmmm - easy decision

And I am no Apple Fanboy either. I actually disliked the Apple for a number of reasons until I used the iPhone and realised that S60 was like using mainframe in comparison.

15 Posted by Rimantas on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Somehow it seems that the one with iPhone obsession there is you.

I am not sure what's going on with you, but looking for some help may not be a bad idea after all.

"As to traffic, Nokias and BlackBerries may consume less that their fair share, but as I said earlier that’s our fault"

Now this is BULLSHIT. WebSited did not change overnight when iPhone came out, but web usage
on mobile devices surged. You know why? Because of
UX of browsing the web on iPhone.

And calling UX bullshit was the last straw for me. Bye.

16 Posted by Cuuri on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

It's not just developers, as long as clients have iPhones up their ass you won't see anyone push for testing on more mobile platforms.

While the iPhone is around it'll give everyone an excuse to be lazy. You could be salty about that all day but it's not going to change anything. Being able to ignore large parts of the mobile space is how most developers like it.

17 Posted by Alessandro91 on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

You are forgetting iPod Touch.
If you consider iPhone + iPod Touch, you are consider 90% of mobile web users today.

18 Posted by andrej on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I agree with your post, html shouldn't be used device specific. But the reality is, that currently it doesn't matter. Everything is about the usability: all the other phones are completely useless for mobile internet surfing. They might as well remove the browser and nobody would notice.

The iphone is a mobile internet device, until recently all the others were mobile phones.

19 Posted by Irae on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Very good article.

I just want to add something about Brazil mobile status.
Here the iPhone users don't have the flat rate for internet access that you have in Europe or US. Mobile bandwidth is a lot more expensive and is slower.
Also, iPhone is far more expensive and probably accounts for a narrower market share than 15% of mobile users.

Even tough, iPhone stands for more then 50% of mobile traffic.

Where I work, a major local news site, the team responsible for mobile sites have divided the development in slim, smartphone, blackberry and iPhone.

All are supported, each group having it's exclusive html template. It's not progressive enhancement, but they cover about 95% of the brazilian mobile market share.

20 Posted by Michael Schwarz on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Well, I haven't checked a recent BlackBerry lately - just a BB Pearl, and yes, it's rather painfull to make anything look "good" here. (Also: What a terrible system-font they have...)
The whole Nokia S60 Browsers are pretty good, really. And Opera Mini/Mobile too.

But hey, talking 'bout "eyecandy": if anything ever helped to draw attention to "mobile web design", it's that - finally - things start to look good on these small devices. This is important. It makes sites more usable. Compare all that to WAP.

Some things might be odd today, but over all we are heading in the right direction, I think .

21 Posted by Guillaume Stricher on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

From a designer point of view... Isn't this the "natural" way of things to go since Safari browser is one of the few that passes the acid test, brilliantly and support standards... And so does Opera... Well, should other browser vendors do the same and give us the proper tools to test our websites and we'll start to take care of their users as well... We've been doing this for 10 years now, why would we suddenly drop users ?... We need the proper tools, not just an emulator or some sort of commercial service to test but a real browser just like Apple and Chrome have... But hey, thanks Peter for pointing this: Safari browsers represent only a small part of mobile browsing...

22 Posted by Cedric Dugas on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I'm a bit surprise of this article

First your stats are off, look at admob mobile stats, their stats show 70% of users browsing the web use webkit mobile.

Also, IE6 was not a good browser, it was a good browser at this time and place. It was not following standards and had a lot of bugs, webkit use compliant css3 and html5 features.

With a website build for mobile webkit, it should be really easy to make it work on firefox mobile, if they add CSS3 animations.

23 Posted by James Pearce on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

> No “mobile web development” specialist ever mentions Nokia ever

Not technically true...

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-mobile-pack/screenshots/

I would say the iPhone's brilliance has been in opening up the general web community's minds to the potential of the mobile future.

Otherwise, I more or less agree with you, especially if you're talking to the 'Bay Area' version of the mobile web :-)

24 Posted by Bart Guijt on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

The S60/Blackberry browsers are neglected for good reason: in spite of the good hardware they are running on, they can't handle anything beyond WAP2.0.

So instead of web devs take these browsers into account, RIM/Symbian should just upgrade their browsers to support an actual set of HTML4(5)/CSS2(3) standards like the iPhone does. Who is lazy here?

25 Posted by August Lilleaas on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I have been arguing in favor of iPhone only mobile web development, because I thought the mobile browser market share for the iPhone was closer to 90% or so. Based on a gut feeling, not real research.

Do you have a source for the actual number, 50%? I would certainly like to read more about that.

26 Posted by Ben Gerrissen on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

iPhone is simply where the money is for developers, so there's loads more documentation and primers. There's nothing more lucrative then apple's appstore.

http://bit.ly/aAp16H

As always, it's about the $$$

27 Posted by Alex Iskander on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I agree that web sites and apps should not _only_ work on iPhone.

However, iPhone's browser today is not at all like IE6 back when it came out. Even when IE6 came out, it was buggy shit that didn't follow any standards (not even Microsoft's own). iPhone's Safari browser, conversely, _does_ follow standards for the most part.

The biggest non-standard components on iPhone that I can think of are the -webkit CSS extensions, such as transitions and gradients; these are coming to other browsers (especially WebKit browsers on mobile devices), and transitions, at least, will often degrade gracefully.

There is one more non-standard item in iPhone's browser: touch events. Hopefully, other devices will implement these; for the moment, however, only iPhone does (that I'm aware of) and I'm not about to _not_ use them—there are some things I can _only_ do with touch events.

Finally, there is one more flaw: I have an iPhone. I'll have an iPad. Do you expect me to buy (and pay for) an dozen different phones to test on the lot of them? I'll test the mobile app on different desktop browsers, but not much more, thanks.

Browsers on the desktop are free, but mobile browsers often aren't. (And emulators don't really cut it.)

28 Posted by kL on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

BlackBerry browser is crap. It's so bad, that it deserves to die. I'm very happy to exclude it from any website, just like I do exclude IE3.0 and Netscape 2.0 from my sites.

29 Posted by Truman on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

That article rocks!
All these people (but it is not only developers decisions) will wake up with their wallet torn and money empty after this mobility craze...
Developping for iphone, then android, then, then, then...

The Web is the most efficient way... people have just forgotten

30 Posted by Roland van Ipenburg on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

"It isn’t that hard to get your hands on a testing device" But compared to the about a dozen different desktop browsers any lousy amateur can run on his Mac, maintaining a significant collection of different mobile devices for testing purposes is probably out of his league. And most of the industry isn't organized in a way that would make it easy to have specialized third parties take care of the support for particular platforms, so we're kind of stuck with those lousy amateurs only having their own iPhone up their ass for mobile testing purposes.

31 Posted by Codesquid on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Sir, stand up and take a bow. This article speaks the truth! Far too many people are obsessing over the latest shiny gadget instead of focusing on proper cross-browser and cross-device compatibility. When I test in mobile devices, I test in as many as I can get my hands on. That's usually only a handful of devices, but it's certainly never just the iPhone.

32 Posted by Matt Moran on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Totally agree. If it's not compatible & readable everywhere, it's sub-optimal. It's entirely doable to make a website that'll work everywhere.

33 Posted by pallzoltan on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

i seriously think that the "iPhone Up Ass Award" is a good idea, it could attract lots of attention :)
maybe we could steer our way out of another browser-war

ps: i really enjoyed your book peter

34 Posted by Paul on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

This is a very childish article, but I'd be interested to know your opinions on having rich mobile user interfaces for modern phones which can handle the fancy iCandy effects, but alongside a usable mobile site for the 85% of mobile browsers which do not support such fanciness.

You surely end up with the best of both worlds, no? The iPhone users can be smug in their little site, and everyone else can still have a well-developed, accessible site.

35 Posted by dandy on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

true. iphone is overrated. much overrated.

Nice post.

36 Posted by Johan Perk on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Hahaha zo ken ik je weer Ppk! Peukie doen? *removing iPhone from ass*

37 Posted by Stephen Martin on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Really solid points. Thanks for sharing stats.

38 Posted by Oncle Tom on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Another interesting data would have been "% of smartphones/mobile browsers browsing the Web".

But I agree : iPhone should not focus out other alternatives.

39 Posted by Dan Dorman on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I agree with the point of this article, but I'm wondering about the practical implementation of it.

It's relatively easy to check cross-browser compatibility when developing sites for desktop browsers. I can download and install as many as I'd like and shuffle/refresh them quite easily.

It's not as simple with mobile devices. I've got an iPhone, so I can check the results of what I'm doing on that. (And even checking a single mobile device is sort of a pain, compared to alt-tabbing through application windows.) But I don't have a BlackBerry or Nokia device, so I can't really check. We don't all of us have the luxury of getting test devices shipped to us.

I'm not pointing this out to be snarky, but what are your suggestions for practicing cross-mobile-platform compatibility? Are there simulators we can download? Do those work on Mac and PC? Is there some sort of site like browsershots.org for mobile browsers? (Although I don't find the latter option viable--it's too slow for actual development. Serves nicely as a check, though.)

40 Posted by xethorn on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

This article is great.

However, I would like to remind that the iPhone works with Safari which runs via Webkit, an open-source web browser engine. Chrome, Epiphany are using it.

As a matter of fact, IE6 were creating new elements, functions, css properties to fulfill some duties (png transparency, opacity, blinking text). They are proprietary functionalities. Webkit is different: they're following the W3C recommendations and is always up-to-date for free.

So if you're following the standards when you're designing the website, it will automatically work at least on two mobile system: Mac Os X (does it have a name for phone?) and Android. More important: once all browsers will have the W3C recommendations implemented, my mobile websites will work the same way without making a change.

I would definitively say: "think W3C standards and do not focus on one phone". My 2cents.

41 Posted by Hayden on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

OR... use a framework like Titanium or PhoneGap and get the best of both worlds.. multiple platforms from 1 source code

42 Posted by Denny on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Paul (35) - did you skip all the parts of the article that recommended using a 'progressive enhancements' approach?

43 Posted by Thierry on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Well sort of true.
Iphone support but don't try it on a different browser. Working on it though:
http://m.ytm.nl/

44 Posted by Stu on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

The state of browsing on s60 is terrible- not because of the browser, it's the websites!

Half the time on visiting sites you end up at a terrible mobile version, instead of going to the article you want your thrown onto the front page. Worse is the fact that it would have rendered the original page perfectly well.

45 Posted by RaphaelDDL on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I lol at people that thinks only iPhone is used for mobile internet. I work in a Mobile Internet Company and we know iPhone is not the top. In fact, most of the users of portals we made still use that crappy motorola's like V3, MotoQ, and lot's of Nokia that do not render pages good looking like a N95.

and the html used for them is normally WORSE than coding for IE6... I was annoyed by IE6 as web developer. Now i'm annoyed by V3, N73, all those crappy BlackBerries,etc.

46 Posted by Jim on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Has anyone thought the reason so much of the mobile based browsing is iPhone based is because you HAVE to have a data bundle with an iPhone, you don't with a Nokia.

If you get any other phone you'll have to pay either around £7.50 a month or £2-3 a MB. So if you have a iPhone you may as well surf with it. If you have a Nokia 5800, it'll cost you £7.50 a month for the privilege.

That's a big hurdle if you already have broadband at home.
If Nokia 5800's and N97 where sold only with data bundles included, you'd see more of them surfing the web, I suspect.

47 Posted by Wim Duivendrecht on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

You seem to ignore that an obsession doesn't just spring into life for no reason. The iPhone has by far the most user friendly user interface of all smartphones.

I recently had to use a Blackberry and thought: let's install a new app.

4 hours and many google searches later I still had NO idea in the world of how to do this. I may be a dimwit but I'm quite sure this also has something to do with the terrible almost non-existent user interface design applied to the Blackberry.

Many gadgets are made to make consumers drool for the iCandy (almost all consumer smartphones do this) but only the iPhone actually offers more than eye candy. It offers a smooth and easy user experience,

This is where the obsession comes from, and other smartphone developers would be wise if they finally overhauled their archaic 10-year outdated operating systems and prepare themselves for the next decade. Otherwise Apple's 15% will most certainly grow to 95%.

48 Posted by Alex on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

So, the biggest plus for me as far as developing web sites for the iPhone is that I don't have to do anything different.

I generally don't even need to check a site on the iPhone to know it works already, because Safari does very well with web standards.

If you're building sites and adhering to standards, you're building sites for the iPhone. Sure, there's a lot of things you can do to optimize as far as speed and UX for iPhone, but that's niche, and most web devs want the biggest audience possible.

49 Posted by Brad on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Brilliant piece of work!

50 Posted by Nikolaos Dimopoulos on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Very refreshing article. A bit colorful but soooo true!

Keep up the good work!!

51 Posted by Ian on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I really enjoyed this post and I agree 100%.

One thing worth mentioning though, if Apple didn't design the iPhone for sticking up asses they would never have made it so smooth, with those curved edges and all.

52 Posted by Alix on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Very good post, let's hope it will reach every webdesigner and webdesign related blogs.

53 Posted by Ronan on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Some choice language there! But all the same, well argued. I just can't help thinking I would have been more swayed by the argument if there was more layers of transparent background colours to distract me:)

54 Posted by Richard Quadling on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I don't have an iPhone. Do I need one?

The "progressive enhancement" approach is just what we've been doing for years, so, is it really true that the seasoned and experienced developers are dropping their tried and tested methodologies for the fast buck of iphony

That would seem unlikely, but I'm not the expert here.

But if all of the heat in this blog is due to the manufacturer's not building a browser to a proper standard. Again. Then there is nothing new here.

Every browser with a "feature" which none of the other browsers support is yet another non-standard feature that everyone will want (marquee and blink come to mind - oh the joys I had in telling my boss at the time that there really was no need to have the news item in BOTH tags!).

But, there is nothing new here. The manufacturer's want market share. Real developers will develop to standards with progressive enhancement. Job done. And also job well done and ongoing employment for when the market share shifts to another manufacturer/product/version/featureset/whatever.

Fun article though.

55 Posted by Arlo on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

When citing facts on user data please provide references to your research. Some of these numbers look pretty hoaky to me.

Thanks

56 Posted by Mark Miller on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Sorry, but your argument doesn't stand up to the market place. The reason people are developing for the iPhone is because of the app store and the potential for selling something to an existing market.

You can scream about the iPhone all you want, but if a developer needs to make money from their product they have to expose the app and sell it somewhere. It has nothing to do with ignoring 'web standards' or whatever else you want to throw at it. It's a financial decision, not a political stand against all platforms except the iPhone.

For the record, I don't own an iPhone, or any other Apple product, and I'm not a developer. It just seems logical to expose your work to the largest number of people who actually have a chance to purchase it.

57 Posted by smitty on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I respectfully disagree with your arguments with two words: Device Fragmentation.

#1 - IE6 was created in a pre-standards era and shocked full of proprietary crap that fueled browser fragmentation.

#2 - IE6 was not a model for what a browser should be, but rather what a browser shouldn't be. The iPhone is a model of what a phone can and should be and what a web experience can and should be on a mobile device. That's why BB is adopting Webkit.

#3 - You can't account for every device or every user. That sounds like the perfect development environment, but every company has a bottom line. As you get past development and into the QA process, the time and effort associated with testing on these devices more than triples.

#4 - Android being an open OS is both a gift and a curse. We're about to see a myriad of permutations of mobile devices that come out. It would behoove a company to focus on a set of devices and not try to tackle all of them.

I do believe in grace degradation/ progressive enhancement and developing for the lowest common denominator and working your way up, but you can't compare mobile to desktop. Device fragmentation is a big deal and the reason so many choose to focus on select devices.

58 Posted by Oliver on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Give me nice ready-to-use Frameworks like iUi (http://code.google.com/p/iui/) and I won't care supporting any other Mobile Devices' browsers!

The good thing about the iPhone is, that you don't even need to adjust anything to have your site properly displayed on it (Flash contents excluded), and the experience is still a hundred times better than f.eg. with a BlackBerry 9000!

I fully agree with the comments by devilx/marius & Alex.

59 Posted by Paul on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I couldn't agree more.

It really pisses me off when a company will dedicate time and money into releasing an iPhone app when they could just sort out their website or blog with a mobile friendly version.

What is more annoying is that being a paying customer of a third party CRM/CMS that insists on having you use IE 7 because they haven't updated their core system, wastes their paying clients money on developing an awful, convoluted and complicated iPhone app.

I am so sick of this trend that I have recently purchased a HTC Hero and am dumping the iPhone.

Unfortunately there is a lot of money to be made in developing iPhone apps, or even using those online application builds so people can knock them out on mass. It's a fad that will come to a plateau but for now I don't see it changing for a while.

60 Posted by Esther Brunner on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Look, it's just too expensive to support all mobile browsers. And with anything less than iPhone screen resolution and web standard compliance of the browser, it makes no sense to browse the web anyway. It's no fun. Owners of these phones rarely use it. They will switch to a new phone should they ever want a web capable mobile device. So why bother.

61 Posted by Brian LePore on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

First off, let me say that I am in completely agreement that developers should not be focused exclusively on one device. This is a powerful point that can't be repeated enough.

That being said, until I can get emulators for each of these devices on my PC (which I actually hate) and not as a Web service, or I can get devices like the iPod touch where I don't need a data plan, I just don't see how I can justify support for more than the iPod/iPhone. Right now my company do not have clients actually asking for mobile support (which has shocked me actually as I expected us to have clients clamoring for it over a year ago), and this is just a pride thing. Right now I am aiming for at least iPod/iPhone support and hoping for more (though following your blog I don't think they're likely to be exactly perfect in other devices).

62 Posted by Horia Dragomir on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I love the idea of "iPhone Up Ass Awards", a lot.

The things is, Opera Mini fixes a lot of this -- albeit at great expense to Opera, because their servers are costly.

But I think this WILL turn into another standards war. As if we didn't have our hands full already.

63 Posted by Sp.Shut on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Who told the s60 webkit is the most popular mobile browser?

According to StatCouner Opera is the most popular mobile browser: http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_browser-ww-monthly-200901-201002.

Sure the stats are not 100% true but you can get the general picture.

64 Posted by Martin Wilson on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

A great post.

Mobile strategy – iPhone should factor but certainly not dominate. http://www.indigo102.com/archives/824

Flurry of stats paints shocking picture of Application loyalty. http://www.indigo102.com/archives/1063

Two of a number of posts written around the iPhone.

65 Posted by Ramkumar on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

This was a fantastic post, and very well written. All mobile web developers should take note. I also second the other comment about a post (like things to consider) when developing mobile websites, so that you don't end up developing for iCandy alone.

66 Posted by Horia Dragomir on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Dear Esther Brunner, you are missing a very important point.

People mostly read news and look up info on their handhelds.

In that sense, it's about information. Information that's unfortunately inaccessible because the site takes eons to load or breaks the phone's software in half.

People don't need flashy transitions. They might want them, yes. But they NEED information. Let's make that possible, eh?

67 Posted by Tom on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

It's a shame that a passionate tone can be mistaken for an unmeasured rant by those for whom the use of "choice" language is apparently so offensive.

Interesting article. I'm not entirely sure that iPhone "experience" (urgh...) isn't so much better than other modern phones that is won't set the standard by which most other subsequent phones will operate. As for market share, bear in mind that while the adoption rates you quoted are not market-leading, real ordinary people (not the Apple worshippers who save up between any product release, just in case) are subject to 12, 18 and even 24 month mobile contracts. The iPhone has been around for 3 years now and has such mind share now that I wouldn't be surprised if it saw significant uptake over the next year as those old contracts come to an end.

68 Posted by Matt Bee on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

@Esther Brunner

Its CHEAPER to create something that works everywhere, is standards compliant and fast. It is called HTML.

Then you add CSS, and using progressive enhancement you end up with something beautiful on the iPhone and something perfectly usable on ALL other devices. That's ALL current handheld devices. Every single one. And it'll be beautiful too if you just think about design.

And its madness to say no one uses other devices. I've been using mobile internet and WAP for over 6 years now and didn't stop because the iPhone came out! And the stats speak for themselves in that article!

Matt

69 Posted by Smitty on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Dear Horia Dragomir,

Ever heard of a mobile web app. Not all websites are optimized versions of the desktop. Information is king, but depending on your audience flash transitions help immerse the user into the mobile application.

70 Posted by Terence Eden on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

To all those saying "But I can't afford every device."
There's a good list of emulators at dotMobi. http://mobiforge.com/emulators/page/mobile-emulators

Some - like Nokia and BlackBerry - are official emulators and should provide a good reference rendering.

71 Posted by Paradox on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

You make many valid points, however I would like to make a counterpoint. Much of the mobile web is powered by webkit (Apple, Android, Symbian, Torch (WinMo and soon Blackberry), and most of the css3 graphic effects you mention originated in, and have widespread support in, webkit. As such, you can use CSS gradients without problem. You can use drop shadow without problem. Because nearly every mobile web platform uses the same rendering engine.

Fennic/Firefox mobile could upset this balance, but lucky for us, Firefox is always following in webkits footsteps, innovating while implementing. So while your CSS may get heavier with -moz and -webkit properties doing the same thing, you have a unique enviornment to develop in, one with widespread standards compliance.

72 Posted by Rachel on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I carry an S60 phone and I hate browsing on it. Not because of the sites, but because of the browser. It's slow and crashes at the slightest provocation. And I'm pretty tolerant of sub-optimal rendering. On my laptop I often use elinks (a text-only browser) because I appreciate its simplicity.

I only use the Nokia browser in emergencies, like when I need to find a shop's phone number before heading across town to buy something there.

On the other hand, when I am around my iPhone-bearing friends, they are all joined to Safari at the hip, the web almost a direct extension of their brain. Even I leave my phone in my pocket and borrow one of theirs if I need to look something up on a site that doesn't have a stripped-down mobile version.

So for the purpose of catering to active mobile web users, I think focusing on the iPhone makes good sense. If you can't please everybody, then devoting attention to people who actually feel compelled to use their devices is better than squandering time and energy based on raw number of devices sold.

Perhaps in the long run this will serve as a motivation for Nokia and others to improve the browsing experience, before their large but shrinking market share evaporates.

73 Posted by Olly Hodgson on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Am I the first to point out IE6 came out in 2001? ;)

Either way, your point still stands. We should be developing and testing across a wide range of mobile platforms.

The thing is, Apple makes it very easy for developers. They provide really good developer documentation. More importantly, they sell a standalone wifi-only device we can test against without the need for an expensive data contract.

Do Nokia, RIM, HTC, Sony, Google, et al offer similar devices?

74 Posted by Angel on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Very well said. Thanks :)

75 Posted by Paul Gill on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Excellent article. Just wanted to say thanks for such an invigorating invective style - makes it great to read.

76 Posted by chris bovard on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Wicked post and the color of it was great.
People need to speak their mind more about the web.

77 Posted by Vanja on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I'd simply say that, while I do agree with you on web standards issue, you are using statistics just to prove your point.

Sales != usage

I am too lazy to google now, but somewhere I've read that Mobile Safari makes around 80% of mobile browsers in terms of actual usage. Something that Nokia, despite zillion s60 devices they've sold, never accomplished with their browser.
Now ~80% that i mentioned may or may not be true, but sales certainly doesn't havr nothing to do with the point you are trying to make.

And yes, i wrote this on iPhone :)

78 Posted by sds on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Your point is lost in faulty facts.

One, it is up to the cell phone designers to make a decent mobile web browser that degrades Internet content gracefully. Palm managed to do this as far back as the Treo. It is not a web developer's problem if cell phone designers follow no standard. Nor is it a web designers fault if a web site is not optimized for any mobile phone. The cell phone designers are the ones who need to work on their design, not us. Web designers have a standard to follow. Cell phone designers are welcome to follow the same standards we design by. Web designers do not design around Mobile Safari. Mobile Safari is compliant.

Two, a really bad comparison. I don't know what generation of tech guru you are, but Internet Explorer has NEVER BEEN the best web browser. Not even in 2001 when it was first released. Most notably Netscape, prior to the purchase by AOL, was superior. Especially when interpreting Javascript. Netscape 4.7 was released long before IE6, in 1996.

There has not been a day in web development that web developers have not had to hack code to work in IE in some way. Hacking the iPhone is not a must do for web developers, app developers, users, or anyone else. App developers and users of the iPhone can hack the iPhone if they want, but this is optional. Hacking the iPhone is not mandatory as it has ALWAYS been with IE6. Horrible comparison.

79 Posted by Ian Lloyd on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

There have been a couple of mentions of emulators but no-one's really said what I feel is the biggest hurdle to supporting other devices - emulators that do not require a net connection and a publicly available web site.

During *development*, I check my pages regularly on several browsers. For fundamental changes, it's often a case of change CSS, save then hit refresh on 5 different browsers.

I can do the same with the iPhone using the simulator provided with the SDK and I do rely on it.

However, to test on an online emulator means the site needs to live - and that's **way** too late to be checking. Online emulators do not see the work you do on private dev servers. And retrospective (panicked) fixes do not make for a great support model.

If more browser vendors made it more easy for developers to test their work *early* - by providing easy-to-install emulators as .exe or .dmg - they would find more developers supporting a wider range of mobile browsers.

BTW, this doesn't automatically mean that more companies will offer *official* support, but you'd get more sites working thanks to guerilla efforts by developers like me who 'work for the man'.

80 Posted by Michael Durwin on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Some things you forget:
iPhone apps are a HUGE PR tactic. No one gives you press about a Blackberry app.
iPhone has the most advanced and slick user experience. So, when you want to appear cutting edge, this is the place to do it.
Early adopters use iPhones. If you're looking for all the cool influencers to be using your app, and influencing others about your brand, you must develop for iPhone.
Apple gives you a free TV spot. When was the last time you saw a smartphone app shown in a commercial for any other smartphone?

So, it's not all about who's better to develop for, or which will be accessible for the most phones. That's only part of the picture.
Of course when you develop an app you should be doing it for all smartphones, it's a shame there is no standard. But in this, smartphone manufacturers are a foolish as game developers. Why isn't Halo on Wii? Very few games are platform independent. That's because there's little significant difference between the console, other than BluRay on PS.

81 Posted by Adam Wride on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Devs go to the iphone/itouch because that's where the money is. Because of the app store.

That's why people care about the US market - because that's where the money is.

When the money moves so will developers.

82 Posted by Thomas M on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

sds: "It is not a web developer's problem if cell phone designers follow no standard. Nor is it a web designers fault if a web site is not optimized for any mobile phone."

Really? Wow.. As a Web Developer this means that I can also stop worrying if my site is broken for Opera and IE since they (the browser makers), not me, should fix it!

This is a whole weight off my shoulders. Thanks sds!

*Sarcasm might be present in this post.

83 Posted by Martin T. Focazio on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Interesting screed, if only you were right. I work at a place where one of our clients is a financial services firm. We care - very much - for our mobile users, regardless of the platform they use. In fact, we let the users guide what we do online - so that's why we support IE6, that's why we support iPhone and that's why - literally every day - we obsess over the "edge cases" that want to use our clients sites even with oddball hardware (we still see Amiga, OS/2, Windows 98 and others, and we STILL design so they can at least use the site.
But the iPhone users - they are a different breed. We cater to them with custom sites to meet "iPhone" standards not because we want to be "cool" but because iPhone users are a huge number of visitors to the site, and we need to make them happy. If we saw similar numbers of people coming in via a Playstation, we'd certainly "optimize" an experience for them.
One mediocre experience that "works everywhere" is bad business. Several optimized experiences is better for profits. Those matter, you know, to the people who pay us.

84 Posted by A. Coward on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Another iPhone hater who probably has a device in his pocket that looks and feels- like an iPhone. It's very convienent to forget iPhone raised the bar, everyone is now making a device that looks exactly like an iPhone. But to your point just make websites that are WAP capable, chill out.

(comment posted from my iPhone)

85 Posted by Lee Dumond on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I'm sure you have a point here somewhere. Unfortunately, whatever it was has been totally obscured by prolific references to asses with various mobile devices inserted into them.

If this was an attempt at humor, rest assured that you failed.

On the other hand, perhaps this has something to do with toilet training (or lack thereof) in your formative years. I suggest intensive psychotherapy -- preferably by a professional possesing years of intensive training with Freudian techniques.

86 Posted by Robin Card on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I agree with the sentiment of the argument but I stopped reading when the author started failing to articulate himself and resorted to having to swear.

87 Posted by Kevin on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Nice flamebait, Mission Accomplished; I agree with you and would contend a similar argument can be applied to mac book pros as a development environment. Honestly, the thing that frightens me the most is the social implication of all this - owning overpriced apple gear reminds me of buying a McMansion in a gated community. Or belittling myspace. Too many white men in this industry.

88 Posted by Luis on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I'm shocked with the language in this article. Very disapointting. And about the browser stuff, although I agree that web developers shoudn't focus in just one single device, I must remember that IE6 didn't ever follow standards. This is obviously not the same now.

89 Posted by sds on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

@Thomas M, if you are a good web developer, you design your web sites to be complaint and by W3C standards.

Again, cell phone designers are welcome to use the same standards I use to develop their web browser. Firefox, Opera, Safari, Mobile Safari are all compliant, even with HTML5. The least cell phone designers could do for their user is make sure complaint web pages degrade well.

So no, it is not my problem or any other developer's problem if the cell phone designers know web standards are available to them and they do not follow them.

IE for the desktop, I make an exception for. But asking a web developer to purchase every cell phone on the market and develop around every cell phone on the market is ridiculous!!!! But, @Thomas M, you are welcome to do just that if you like. Let us all know how that works out for you. Happy coding. Sarcasm noted.

90 Posted by Tom on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

"Supporting all browsers is the whole fucking point of being a good web developer, and I’m going to force you to do it even if I have to personally swear at each of you individually"

Whaaa? No it's fucking not. "Supporting all browsers" is the precise reason we've had travesties like IE 6 live as long as they have. When mobile devices support standards, they will be able to display content that currently just works in mobile Safari.

91 Posted by sds on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Misspelled compliant. But, @Thomas M, as a web developer you should know what I meant even if misspelled.

92 Posted by girlie_mac on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I have this love/hate relationship with iPhone, as a mobile web developer (also as a consumer!).

I believe iPhone really did change the mobile market, at least in the US, where there was virtually no mobile internet market in pre-iPhone era. (yea I know I am exaggerating a bit). And since then, people think "mobile" means "iPhone" and their "mobile web" supports only on iPhone.

Gazillions of so-called "mobile professionals" who emerged post-iPhone-era can lecture you how obsolete you are by caring about Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones and such.

However, I wouldn't call iPhone an IE6 though. First of all, IE6 has NEVER attracted developers!. We just had to tolerate with it and hack it.

93 Posted by SeattleMike on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Sales stats don't mean anything, it's what people DO with the device and iPhone users are the uncontested winners when it comes to who browses the mobile web the most (nearly 50% or more of mobile web traffic is iPhone-sourced at last check).

It doesn't mean anything if 15 million Windows Mobile smatphones sell a quarter if their users hate the mobile browse sand don't surf the web with it.

94 Posted by Michal K on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

While most things you say are true. I don't fully agree with IE6-to-iPhone comparison.
While IE6 was usually "mostly" better than other browsers, it simply feels like iPhone is head-and-shouldres above Blackberry and Nokia. Having this said, it's no excuse for developers (or sticking it up your ass). I do however understand the detachment from "pre iPhone" smartphones, people confuse it however with ignoring everything else.

So to summarize I think there needs to be a middle-way approach to this. On one hand - let's not make Nokia the "IE6" of mobile devices, but let's also not blindly follow what Steve Jobs feeds us with sounds and bright colors.

95 Posted by mors on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

All valid poinst, but you speaking of S60 and Blackberry has if they were relevant. Developers don't work with those devices, because they are a pain to use, and their browsers are really really bad. Also, you used OS market share as base. Wrong!

That's why there is Opera, which you pathetically excluded from the whole debate. Opera has double digit percentage number of mobile market share, and in many markets it surpasses the iPhone by long margins.


96 Posted by Bertil Hatt on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I really love how you layout comments: it helps skip the r*nts without imparing anyone…

Many people have pointed out the obvious: you consider sales and not actual web usage, certainly your biggest mistake; the main reason for the discrepency is usability. As customers are only going lazier with time that advantage will only re-inforce iPhone's supremacy — unless a more enjoyable platform emerges, and the same designers will follow the new lead like they followed Jobs. See: you don't consider the enthusiasm of the coder as a legitimate concern, ease-of-use was at the eart of TimBL initial concerns. Actually used web standards are a two-sided market, you need to please both sides to dominate it (and once you do… — see Flash.)

You sound like those who criticised the commercial web: yes, it had an impact on the rest, but most of what it has to offer wouldn't exist without revenues to pay for it. The mobile web without the iPhone isn't less anything then with it: the coders it brough it wouldn't be there without the sheer enjoyment of making something shiny — and some might even respect standards.

97 Posted by Andy on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Having to buy another phone just to develop for the long tail is quite bothersome and expensive for small time developers.

98 Posted by Maximiliano Firtman on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I totally agree with you. Take a look to the rough cuts version of my upcoming book "Programming the Mobile Web" from O'Reilly. I have already requested a change to the mkt info to add all platforms but the contents emphatizes the need to create experiences for all platforms and it includes specific data and samples for Symbian, S40, BlackBerry and others.

It is very important to meet all platforms. If not, you are not creating a professional work.

99 Posted by Todd Parker on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

The key takeaway is that before you start creating any sort of device or browser-optimized site, you need to first have a baseline version is usable on *any* device and for every user (this includes building in accessibility).

This is why PPK's point about using progressive enhancement is so important. PE allows you to create a site that will work anywhere with a maintainable codebase. We're all building for the web, so web standards and progressive enhancement is the only practical way to deal with the crazy range of devices we need to support as responsible developers. Sorry for plugging our book, but it offers a good roadmap and set of tools for building with progressive enhancement: http://filamentgroup.com/dwpe/

Once you have a site that will work on Netscape 4.7 and and old Blackberries, then by all means knock yourself out creating a fancy iPhone-optimized experience that layers different, targeted enhancements for that device. But always start from a solid foundation of HTML and use PE to selectively enhance capable browsers. Anything that isn't HTML will break in a lot of places, especially mobile.

100 Posted by Matthew Maxwell on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

While I do agree with the statement that all web development should work across every platform/browser, I think you could have been a little more tasteful in your delivery.

Mobile web development on a large scale is still pretty new in comparison to the years that desktop web development has been around, and just like desktop web development, it will progressively get better.

Think about all the things that were programmed specifically for IE (and in some cases still only work in IE)...

Doesn't make it justifiable on any level, but you know what they say about history being recursive...

101 Posted by Dave on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

It's easy; Focus on making content accessible on mobile platforms in general. Don't target one specific viewport or focus on artsy-fartsy designs. Make your info available without a few miles worth of scrollbars, and you're doing it right.

102 Posted by Andrew Hedges on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Ha ha, @PPK, I guess your cry for attention worked!

I wrote about the sorry state of mobile web development in the U.S. over 2 years ago.

http://andrew.hedges.name/blog/2007/01/19/the-state-of-the-mobile-web-in-the-u.s.

I think you're right and maybe the problem is that the U.S. went from no real awareness of the mobile web directly to iPhone.

Progressive enhancement is definitely the right approach to the mobile web, just as it is for the desktop web. Hopefully, though, many of the extensions Apple have proposed will make it into other browsers soon and we can get on with providing that enhanced experience to even more users.

Thanks for another thought provoking article!

103 Posted by Lars Gunther on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

RE: The "But the iPhone is standards compliant" excuse:

I see a lot of sites using the -webkit- CSS-prefixes only. Ignoring the fact that there are -moz- prefixes and -o- prefixes as well. And not anticipating a prefix-less future. How is that following standards?

There are lots of sites that set the viewport meta tag to the IPhones screen width, giving people who use any other device a bad experience. How is that following standards?

There are lots of sites that advertise its "iPhone version" or has iphone as a part of its URL. How is that following standards?

Re the: "But all other phones have a crappy user experience"

Have you guys even looked at the Nokia n900? I would suggest it is at least on par with the iPhone, and since it runs several browsers, both Gecko and Webkit based (and hopefully Opera too in a near future), it is a better choice for developers.

104 Posted by Salvatore Iovene on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Just saying that the iPhone's browser is definitely NOT the best, and by a big margin. Check the browser in the Nokia N900. Miles ahead. Of anything.

105 Posted by Rocky on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Who the hell cares? its a capitalistic system. Let the best phone win!

106 Posted by isoveli on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

thanks, mate! right on the spot there.

really enjoyed this text and many others you've wrote.

107 Posted by Marco Jardim on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

On the defense of those that don't test mobile websites on platforms other than the iPhone's Safari, I'd like to say that it isn't as easy to test mobile browsers as it is desktop browsers.

For desktops we have dozens of programs and virtualization utilities that can help us accomplish it. For mobile phones, we have to rely on unreliable emulators. The alternative is purchasing one of each device.

Given that they aren't as easy to upgrade as the iPhone, with the exception of some Android phones, how can one debug a site for Symbian's mobile browsers when each Nokia we buy is very limited when it comes to software updates.

As much as I understand your point of view we need two important things in order to "unite" the mobile web.

We need an interest from customers, to see their websites supported in various platforms, and we need a way of testing that is more reliable and affordable than purchasing individual handsets.

108 Posted by Billy Z on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

You make valid points about maintaining standards compliance; However, they are lost in sensationalist writing.

If you seriously intended to win people over to your side of the argument, an expletive-ridden tirade that belittled any opposition opinions was not the way to do it.

I'm not personally offended by any of it (in fact, I'm as likely to drop a good f-bomb as the next guy), but it certainly doesn't help your persuasive cause, which I assume is your reasoning behind this article.

109 Posted by jeremy clarke on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

>First, so what? No, let me rephrase that: So fucking what?

You sound like an asshole. You have decent arguments but as I'm sure most of the other commenters have pointed out you are obviously too angry to talk about them intelligently.

Before you hit publish you should ask yourself "Is blood rushing through my temples?" "Am I freaking out?", and if either answer is YES, you need to wait and review the work tomorrow.

You might also want to get involved with work on the Nokia browsers, cause they suck and nobody wants to use them, which is why nobody cares how sites look in them.

110 Posted by Sivan on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Well said.

I would generalize this to touch UIs. Where is the data that shows it's a superior input and navigation scheme?

A touch device requires a large screen and simplified UI. The resulting ease of use is not exclusively a result of a touch scheme.

And to further generalize the iPhone obsession, is kinetic motion of UI elements and other special effects necessary enough to justify the processing required on a mobile device?

Also missing is a discussion about the hardware trade-offs of touch based devices. The large screen consumes a lot of power and dictates a smaller battery, which, combined, lead to a short battery life. They also tend to cost a lot more, and most consumers still can't justify the cost.

In reality, a simple mobile site can work well on both touch and non-touch devices, but developers are captured by the notion that they are developing for touch devices and exclude others by user agent.

111 Posted by anon on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

"But Safari iPhone is the best mobile browser!
True. So what?"

You might want to check out the latest Firefox build for Maemo.

112 Posted by Lars Lindbäck on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

I have to agree with post #61. Device fragmentation is an issue for the mobile web. Sure we have standards, but there are so many different phones with different capabilities (screen size etc.) and browsers out there making it hard to implement mobile web sites that look perfect on all devices. Don't forget: "There is no WebKit on mobile!”: http://bit.ly/dowNZ0

And are there really that many mobile web sites out there designed exclusively for the iPhone?

Why not help the "Fucking dimwits" and make a list of tools/frameworks that makes mobile web development easier?

113 Posted by TC on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

The other mobile web browsers are complete and absolute crap and the user experience is the same. This is why no one wants to develop for them.

So, you have a crap smartphone with a large market share. No one cares. Even if they develop mobile web sites your phone is too damn lousy to view them, so here's an idea:

Get a REAL smartphone.

114 Posted by Dude on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

It's unfortunate that an article with a decent argument to make fails to address the most important statistic - the % of mobile web traffic - where iPhone (+iPod touch) accounts for a substantial amount.

I think you're right in saying that devs should be working on standards based sites and testing in multiple browsers, but it doesn't help your cause when you neglect to look at such important things.

115 Posted by zull on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

As someone who has developed multiple apps for Symbian, let me say why devs avoid Symbian...it is the most heinous, atrocious platform to develop for that I have ever developed for, and I have developed on almost every major mobile platform (Palm's webOS, Android, iPhone, WM, Brew, and yes, Symbian), Windows, a little Mac, and some Linux. Every time I coded an app for it, I would come away laughing and want to quit my job and get a job as a bartender, far away from smartphones and computers. It's a goofy archaic architecture with a screwball approach to UI development that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to developers who work on most major platforms. Symbian needs a LOT of work to get developers to actually WANT to develop for it. Shouting at devs won't change that. People who enjoy developing for Symbian are like people who adapt to living in a dump and find it "liberating". I generally ask for a rate roughly twice what I usually make to do Symbian so I can cover for my heavy use of aspirin.

116 Posted by 80g on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

Although I hear your point your argument is flawed at it's core.

Just because a device has a given market share and that device has a web browser does not correlate to web usage of the device/browser.

I owned a BlackBerry for 12 years and probably used the web on it for 50% of device time in it's web browser.

Re-look at your statistics with that in mind and I think the story you tell flips over.

Hey look, I just dismantled your argument in a single comment and I didn't even need to use any expletives. Just sayin'.

117 Posted by furkanmustafa on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

as long as apple follows web standarts and do not resist like ms/ie team, i do not agree with these.

118 Posted by Marc on 8 February 2010 | Permalink

"First, so what? No, let me rephrase that: So fucking what? Since when does web development mean leaving 50% of your mobile users out in the cold?"


When you have a limited number of resources and the cost/benefit ratio of only optimising for iPhone out weighs (in someones opinion) the cost/benefit of playing nice on every platform.

119 Posted by JonF on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Incidentally, it would be nice if the comment containers here wouldn't crop lines of text off at the bottom when viewing in mobile Safari ;)

120 Posted by Ray Hollister on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Dang skippy! Being a WebOS user and former Palm OS user, I am glad to hear someone say it.

121 Posted by nuth on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

You're my hero. I don't make many sites, so haven't really looked at the mobil web all that much, except what was possible 3-4 years ago, so thus far valid semantic html is all I provide, which degrades gracefully. Don't have a smart phone so don't have any way to test either way. Thanks though for reminding everyone. Sites that don't work in every browser is so frustrating.

122 Posted by Mitch McLeod on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Awesome post man!

Totally agree, I am in love with my iPhone but I understand not everyone has one...

You can design for iPhone just make sure it looks okay with all other mobile browsers, just like designing a site in firefox and making sure it looks the same in all other browsers, it's not rocket science! :P

123 Posted by beatniak on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Great article!

Please talk with the guys (and gal) from mobile monday amsterdam and have this speech on stage. They too have an iPhone (android actually) in their ass, but they'll love this talk.

And for myself:

i will also test the websites i develop on wimo and Sym phones
(x 100)


124 Posted by amateurhack on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Man, I hate it when an article has such a good, thought provoking point at it's center, but then I can't share it with any of my friends because the author couldn't cool it long enough to edit out some of his foul language. Sorry; no matter how important and influential you are, most people will not take you seriously (as they ought to, I admit) because of your lack of self-control.

125 Posted by jim lofton on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

I seem to be missing something here and that is, there is a difference between developing mobile web apps and mobile apps. Just as there is a difference developing desktop apps and web apps. Despite the blurring of the lines between the two, it is a very different thing.

For some developers who are developing mobile apps that only run on an iPhone it is hard to argue with the success of the appstore from Apple. As for mobile web development, iSafari is pretty standards compliant, but I agree with you that it is not enough of a reason to test only in iSafari.

However, as many have pointed out it can be difficult if not impossible to test for other platforms. And as you even admit you don't trust emulators, the real problem and the direction of your ire should fall on the Nokias and Blackberry folks for not providing an environment for easily testing regardless of what you use for your development system. Here your comparison to MS/IE is closer to correct as Microsoft became the platform to develop desktop apps because of ease and power of visual studio. Ultimately, if I were a heavy mobile web app developer I would likely have one or two of the other most popular devices. So I hate to say it but your complaints fall on deaf ears.

126 Posted by Zuco on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

True.
You are so right!
But make a site compatible for all browsers is easy in the PC or Mac world. Just install the browser and check the site there. Virtualbox is our friend.
But it's really hard to do the same in the mobile world.

With so many devices and differences, the effort to get one and the expenses to do so, makes the task really hard.

So as far as I saw, people usually configure their sites for the mobile platform that the have access to, and sacrifice the rest of them.

127 Posted by Hora on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

This will probably get lost in the vast amount of comments out here or will be mistaken for spam given the fact I'm about to paste a link in here, but check out Mobify Me, it's a great service (free to play around with or for small sites). You can transform a desktop site into an iPhone/BB/Nokia compatible site in just a few hours.

http://mobify.me/

128 Posted by Eoin on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

What an utterly stupid article. Is the poster talking about creating a mobile web application, or an iPhone app?

If the latter there are no standards between Android ( Java and their unique API), iPhone ) Obj C, Symbian, Windows etc.

Nor will that ever equalize out. I dont see iPhone development myself as just a mobile development - the best people at that are probably Mac devs. It is an OS on a device. As the processor gets more powerful more of OS X will go on the iPhone and iPad - and code can be shared between iPad, iPhone, and the Mac.

If the former, as someone has already said - Apple use WebKit. Which is standard compliant - and Flash is not a standard. It is a PLUGIN.

So no actual content there. As befits the kind of plonker who calls himself a "mobile platform strategist, consultant and trainer". In general the strategist ( et al.) are left in the dust by the real engineers. Laughable post.

129 Posted by Russell Leggett on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

I think in principle you are correct. Let's not make a mobile web specifically for the iphone. What I think you're missing is that this is really the start of the mobile web. These aren't companies saying, "We need something for mobile devices, lets just do the iphone." These are companies who have established websites and have realized that there are enough people on iphones that they need to extend their web presence there. You may think I'm splitting hairs, but what I'm saying is that the people making sites easier for iphone users are breaking ground into the mobile space. Is that enough? No. Let's push on to the future, but if people don't spend an extra 100 hours on the off chance a Nokia user checks out their site, I wouldn't swear a lot over it. Build to standards, avoid lock in or proprietary extensions. Beyond that, let the competition take care of the rest.

130 Posted by bx83 on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Hi, I'd just like to remind everyone that we're talking about fucking phones, which are overpriced novelty devices for 1st world citizens. iPhone is popular because it has the best 'UX', and therefore USERS LIKE THEM. The point of all technology sold to USERS is a good USER EXPERIENCE. People who say they hate iPhones fall into two categories:

4% - ludites
96% - people who secretly want one but are poor or stubborn

Everyone scoffed at the iPhone when it was released, just like they scoffed at the iMac, iPod, etc. Then everyone followed suit. Prior to iPhone, touch-screens were rare; now, phones with buttons that aren't qwerty keyboards are rare.

Apple has raised the standard of mobiles, and turned them into 'mobile devices'. Their marketing and magic bullshit has moved the phone world forward, like the PDA phenomenon, Blackberry, Nokia, and S60 OS never could, because *they were shit and expensive and complex and frustrating to use*. Because they were trying to put a laptop into something the size of a leaf, instead of just doing what Apple did, which was just making a touch-responsive piece of glass you could make calls, play games and listen to music on.

Everyone likes developing for the thing everyone likes and copies.

131 Posted by Anonymous on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

I think the author is off the mark. Developers focus on making their sites look good on the iPhone because it's possible. Web standards go about as far in the mobile world as in HTML email. The iPhone is the leader here in adopting standards. It is not practical to buy and maintain every mobile device on the market. And if no one wants to browse the web in a crappy mobile browser, it is certainly not developers' fault. I doubt that making quirksmode look good on Nokia is going to ignite a a renaissance of non-iPhone web surfing.

132 Posted by Hamranhansenhansen on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

> We’re doing exactly the
> same as ten years ago.
> We now say “iPhone” instead
> of “IE6,” but otherwise
> nothing’s changed.

There is a dramatic change: Safari is standards-based. You can make HTML5 for Safari. There is no spec for writing IE6.

HTML5 is not just for Web developers, it's for browser makers. If my site meets the spec and it runs on one HTML5 browser, I am done. It's Nokia's responsibility to make sure HTML5 runs on their devices, not mine.

> some smartphone sales
> stats:

It doesn't matter that S60 has more devices out there ... the iPhone browser is actually used more, like 90% of mobile browsing.

> It isn’t that hard to
> get your hands on a
> testing device.

Not only is it hard, I'm just not interested. I don't care what quirks these devices have or what their failures are.

The problem I have with your whole argument is there is no "mobile Web". There is just one World Wide Web. If a browser can't run HTML5 it is not a Web browser. I'm not interested in it. It's up to device makers to get their devices up to spec to run the Web. That's the whole point of standardization.

Yes, down with iPhone-specific sites, but iPhone is a standard HTML5 browser, not IE6 all over again.

133 Posted by dannyo on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Except, back in 2001, there were people who did design only for IE6. I know in class we were taught about redirecting on user agents, but out in the real world, managers only spend for what they need to. IE6 went from solitary to secondary target development because Mozilla's browser was easier to use, searched with Google, and at the time more safe than IE. More importantly, people used it and commerce sites that said IE only were turning away customers. That's a bad idea. Meanwhile Microsoft called IE6 done and abandoned its development.

If Apple and WebKit vendors also rest on their laurels, history may repeat. If WebKit targeted development starts turning away significant numbers of visitors, cross-mobile-browser development will come back into vogue.

In the meantime as long as you're doing the right thing, what does it matter if any one else isn't?

134 Posted by est on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

I said the same thing earlier :)

http://blog.est.im/archives/830

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1077120

135 Posted by Gordon on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

That's quite a baseless claim that "everyone" developing for the mobile web is developing for one browser, one platform. For something you repeat for several pages, you had best come up with something to back that up.

A lot of us have carried our progressive enhancement philosophies into the mobile space, despite your perceptions.

Yes, we still keep older browsers and phones in mind, especially for the global markets, but 1.) unlike you, many of us can't afford to expenses involved in testing on the countless number of mobile devices, form factors, etc., and 2.) I'd rather we move everyone forward towards an iPhone-like mobile web instead of remaining at the lowest common denominator.

Do you remember how many people were excited to browse the mobile web before this generation of smartphones? Me neither.

136 Posted by Rohit on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Your argument is valid and does deserve discussion/consideration. But your style of delivery, with so many swear words, ruins the essence of it. I want to appreciate all the hard work you might have put in here, but I can't! Not with so many swear words put in there. It doesn't show class, it shows frustration. Agreed, you might have wanted this issue to be considered seriously (may be it wasn't). But, that still doesn't mean you can blabber along with some unnecessary words that just depict your frustration. It's just not expected from a good writer!

And the stats you've mentioned above. The reference you've used for that, it's another blog post! Blog posts cannot be considered as credible reference Mister! Didn't you learn this in School? Sorry if I am being harsh.

It's just that I started reading this article hoping there it would be really good! But, in the end, it's just an article written by a frustrated user :( Sorry!

137 Posted by Andrew on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Your reasons are fair, but you forgot one very major difference. WebKit is open source (http://webkit.org/) while IE6 (or 7 or 8 or...) isn't. WebKit is following the standards (where they exist) and working with the standards communities (where no standards currently exist.) Yes, there is some question on the HTML5 video, but there are other examples where they're providing their implementations to standards bodies. See http://webkit.org/blog/324/css-animation-2/ for example.

Their implementations are open and usable to all other browser manufacturers. Without that, then yes - you would be right. We would be in the same camp as IE6 - a closed platform with no option but to drink the Microsoft Kool-aid.

138 Posted by Adam Hill on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Most of this post sounds like a frustrated teenager. In the real world, web developers have to work within the means they have. We could try to make all our sites available to all browsers, but due to the way browser developers are constantly branching standards we have an almost endless job trying to keep up.

You could spend more of this hot air shouting at the browser developers rather than those that use them.

If a site doesn't work on a specific browser, and is standards compliant, then we should be blaming the browser - not the creator.

139 Posted by Alex of Canberra on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Cool story bro.

But seriously, people develop with the iPhone in mind because that's where the money is. People with iPhones spend money. People with Nokias are cheapskates.

Why would you spend all the effort to appeal to the dozens of other browsers, to marginally improve your page hits and sales?

Progressive Enhancement is a good idea, but iPhone bashing is not the way to preach it. Bash web sites that don't do it, praise web sites that do. Point out that the site has to work as raw HTML without CSS or JavaScript, before the developer tries getting it working with funky transitions and monkey spanking ads.

140 Posted by Noah on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

I've got an even better idea : let's have developers target their code to the standards. The browser is supposed to be irrelevant - as long as it's standards-compliant, THAT'S what counts. Likewise, the page code shouldn't target MobileSafari, or S60 Webkit, or Firefox, or Blazer, or IE - it should be standards-compliant code.

Stop targeting browsers. Target standards.

141 Posted by Joe Stevens on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

You make a good point....but screw the crap. It's enough of a pain in the ass developing for all of the desktop browsers. I think on mobile web developers should take a stand and ignore the less then best browsers. Why test on Android/ S60, if they are using webkit then there is no reason the can't be as good as mobile Safari, if they can't reach that standard then thier users get a degraded expierience.

142 Posted by Jeff Barbose on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Gee, author, why is it that you conveniently ignore the fact that it's the Webkit team that seems to be working at least as hard if not harder than anyone else to be as standards compliant as anyone else?

And as an iPhone app (non-web) developer, Apple has always pushed us for the types of attention to detail and usability like graceful degradation.

It's no small irony here that you're claiming it's web developers who seem to be the ones who don't care about these things.

But PPK, a lot of your commenters are correct. Android has no excuse for using inferior versions of WebKit. Isn't THAT more like having to support IE6 in an IE8 world than your torturedly stretched analogy with the iPhone? Isn't Android "new"?

Developers will go where the money is. As a long-suffering Mac user, I've know this in my bones. How much of the world was I shut out of?

I also assume that if you're going to play this whole "not IE6 again!" game, you're going to side with Apple on the whole no-Flash thing?

143 Posted by Mike Brittain on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

My initial reaction to your post was excitement, but after thinking more about your points I came up with some data that applies to mobile web usage, rather than handset sales. When you compare these sets of data I think you'll see there's really no correlation between the two. Mobile web trends explain the infatuation with iPhone-specific development.

On the whole, I agree with you... iPhone only development is dumb.

http://www.mikebrittain.com/blog/2010/02/08/iphone-obsession-reaction/

144 Posted by Mark on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Quality, not quantity.

It took Apple to whip the mobile industry at their own game. Oh for shame :-)

145 Posted by marcin81 on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

Wait a second, is iPhone that phone that doesn't work with Flash? and probably never will unless Adobe will release special, downgraded flash player for iPhone (I doubt it will)...if somebody doesn't know what I have on mind, google up "why iphone doesn't see flash"

True is Apple made a huge step bringing iPhone 3 years ago and we should thank Apple for pushing the technology forward. Other companies learned their lesson and brought new products where a lot of them already surpassed the newest iPhone...

146 Posted by Pelle on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

For someone talking about reaching out to all mobile web users, I find it funny that this page itself is not iPhone-compatible; long comments get truncated.
Maybe you should spend more time making sure it's standards compliant than testing with IE6?

147 Posted by iPaladin on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

If it wasn't for Safari and Mobile Safari's development of WebKit and Mobile Webkit, web development would be stuck in the stone ages. Since Apple itself oversees a lot of the development of HTML5, I'm sure they will have a great interest in making sure open development has a key place in future mobile websites.

It's not just about developing apps... if you look at PastryKit, a technology of Webkit Apple has developed, that will be a lot of the future for mobile development.

If anything it's Blackberry and Symbian that need to get on the open WebKit train, not developers backing up their trains from the standards of the future just because everyone doesn't like everything about said standards.

Your analogy of IE6 fails because that was designed not to fit up to standards but to be a proprietary browser that would derail standards based development and make the Internet the MS Internet. Thank God for Mozilla and WebKit otherwise we might still be locked into crap!

148 Posted by sprugman on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

I find it ironic that the comments on this site have rendering errors on my webOS broeser. Physician, heal thyself.

149 Posted by Ian Fuller on 9 February 2010 | Permalink

You fail to mention that 80% of mobile web usage falls to large format handsets. That is to say, Nokia and the symbian OS don't really have a web footprint when compared to iPhone and other large format handsets.