QuirksBlog - Apple
Part of Mobile.
In February 1999, when my very first salary as a web developer arrived, I bought two things I wanted but so far couldn’t afford: a CD player and a watch. The CD player is still around somewhere in my new house, waiting to be connected. The watch, curiously, stopped working pretty soon after I stopped working for employers. Freelancers don’t need timekeeping, apparently. That was in 2002, and I haven’t worn a watch since.
Now there’s the Apple Watch. (Also a whole slew of Android Wear watches, but guess which type gets most attention?) I don’t really see the use case, but that might be my lack of imagination. Anyway, my job is not to discuss use cases, but browsers — or rather, the lack of them.
In preparation for tomorrow’s iPhone announcements I’d like to repeat something I said last October: the iPhone 3GS will be produced for many years to come, and its price will drop a little every year.
Update: Well, it seems I was wrong here. The 3GS has been nixed. Pity.
At first sight the new iPad 3 seems to be a vindication of Moore’s Law. Apple wanted to significantly increase the pixel density of the screen, and had to wait until the components were cheap enough to sell the iPad for its usual price. Now, apparently, that wait has ended and the iPad 3 with Retina is here.
Still, not all is well with the iPad 3. Put simply, what Apple forgot here (or deliberately decided to overlook) is that Moore’s Law doesn’t go for data connections; especially not for mobile ones. Increasing a wireless data network’s speed doesn’t really depend on cheaper hardware: it’s a matter of bandwidth, frequencies, and more cell towers.
Over the past week or so I found I have seriously misjudged the iPhone 4S announcement, and I’d like to set the record straight. After reading a few interesting pieces I realised I’d misunderstood Apple’s patterns and cycles, and I saw how brilliant the 3GS move is.
I decided to write this little summary to firmly plant Apple’s pattern of cycles in my mind. No original thoughts here — I just collate ideas from other sources.
Back in May I went on record saying that Apple would announce two iPhone models this year. It didn’t. I also said I’d eat crow in public if I was wrong, so even though I don’t think anyone actually remembers my promise, I owe you this.
... munch ... crunch ... [spit out feather] ... bleeh ... munch ...
Belgium is investigating whether Apple’s recent changes to its subscription policies for newspaper apps are an abuse of its dominant market position. Apple no longer allows newspapers to provide free digital versions to their print subscribers. This could possibly lead to a new antitrust affair.
This story seems to play only in Belgium and the Netherlands for now; readers from other countries may not know it. That’s why I wrote this special report.
Apple continues to startle me, and I do not mean by its iPhone 4. (I haven’t yet seen it, so I can’t say anything useful about it.) No, what I mean is the ongoing Antennagate problems, and even there I do not mean the actual problem, but Apple’s way of dealing with it. And even there I do not mean Antennagate as an isolated PR incident, but as yet another chapter in how Apple spends 2010 to piss off the world at large.
Some updates on a few developing stories in the mobile space.
Cameron Moll is worried about a future in which we’ll all write Objective-C for the iPhone OS instead of writing web standards for the mobile web.
At one point in time, J2ME (now Java ME) and WAP were the starting points for a discussion on mobile strategy and the web. Then, for a brief period of time, you talked about HTML/CSS. Now, for a growing majority of mobile strategies that don’t require a global presence on widely varying devices, the discussion begins with iPhone.
Emphasis mine. Strategy and presence are the clue, and they’re the reasons I think the situation will not be quite as bad as Cameron fears.
AdMob, the mobile advertiser that was bought by Google some months ago, has released its latest market share figures for the mobile browsers.
Their main findings have already been discussed extensively:
- Smartphones are on the rise; 48% versus 35% last month.
- Feature phones are falling quickly; 58% to 35%.
- Still, the absolute number of feature phones rose by 31%, which means that the market as a whole is growing rapidly.
The AdMob report, however, is not about browser market share but about ad impressions. And that may matter a lot. Unfortunately we don’t know how much it matters.
Since my attempts at capturing web developers’ hearts and minds by
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:
- IE6 is today’s most advanced browser. (Note: this was actually
true back in 2000. Please bear with me.)
- IE6’s market share is about 80%.
- 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.
- 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.
I have several more things to say in the Web apps vs. native apps debate, and I’ve decided that a few smaller posts treating just one subject would be the best form. Today we kick off with the Cocoa Touch framework.
John Gruber wants me to mention the Cocoa Touch framework. He feels that its excellence is an important factor in the success of native iPhone apps.
Point is, although Gruber’s probably right, he ought to be wrong.
Well, that was an interesting ride. Besides passionate agreements, my previous post also elicited passionate disagreements.
My post could be construed as a rant. Hell, parts of it were a rant. (Nobody said this blogging stuff is easy, especially when you’re passionate about something. But if I can’t speak my mind here, what’s the point of having a blog?)
Several people I respect a lot said that I’d made a stupid mistake and was just plain wrong. After some thought I decided they are right.
I was wrong about Web apps being able to replace native apps right now. I was wrong about the iPhone developers’ mindset. They aren’t stupid.
In his “Apple’s mistake” essay Paul Graham makes an unwarranted assumption; an assumption everybody who’s currently involved in the Great App Store Debate seems to be making.
The fundamental problem on the iPhone is not Apple’s App Store approval policies, but the iPhone developers’ arrogant disdain for Web technologies.
It was only last Friday I told a roomful of Web developers that Apple is evil, and a spontaneous applause erupted. Since then, however, I have changed my mind completely. The Web developers and I were wrong.
Apple is not evil. iPhone developers are stupid. Their problems with the App Store approval process are entirely their own fault and they deserve no commiseration.
I hope the App Store approval process sticks around for a loooooooong time.
Update: I was wrong about Web apps being able to replace native apps right now. I was wrong about the iPhone developers’ mindset. They aren’t stupid. Read my follow-up post.
When I reviewed the reactions to my There is no WebKit on Mobile post, it became pretty clear that few had expected its conclusion that there is no single WebKit on Mobile. Overall, it seemed that most people were pretty surprised, and hurried to revise their ideas of the mobile browser market. That was the point of the article, so I was happy.
(I’m still tinkering with the interface, by the way, and I didn’t have the time to finish my current revision. So the coloured bars are temporarily gone, but they’ll return in the future.)
Last week I spent a lot of time on WebKit in order to produce a comprehensive comparison of all WebKits. My purpose was to prove there is no “WebKit on Mobile,” and to gain some more insight in the complicated relations between the various WebKits.
Therefore I now present the Great WebKit Comparison Table. In it I compare 19 different WebKits on 27 tests.
Yesterday I walked into the local phone store because the “Temporarily Unavailable” sign had been removed from their “Get your iPhone here” poster. To my utter surprise they had six (6!) entire iPhones for sale, and no, there was no waiting list. I walked back home with a shiny new gadget, impatient to start testing it.
Meanwhile I’ve done some tests; now it’s time for a report.
Before we continue, let’s get the bad CSS news out of the way: Safari on the iPhone does not support
position: fixed. Certain Other Browsers were ridiculed for this lack; Safari won’t be.