The iPhone is Not a Smartphone

Just finished up with the live Apple Keynote blogstravaganza, mostly over at Engadget (opens in new tab), who caught the absolutely stupendous image over at the right. And I'm finding myself suddenly less worried about the iPhone decimating Windows Mobile than I was before. A lot less worried.

Here's the relevant quote from Engaget's coverage, straight from the mouth of his Steveness:

And so you can write amazing Web 2.0 and AJAX apps that look and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone, and these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, check email, look up a location on Gmaps... don't worry about distribution, just put 'em on an internet server. They're easy to update, just update it on your server. They're secure, and they run securely sandboxed on the iPhone. And guess what, there's no SDK you need! You've got everything you need if you can write modern web apps..." Weeeeeaaaak

Weeeeeaaak indeed. Like I said just a few days ago, "a smartphone is a platform, and a platform needs 3rd party apps (opens in new tab)." Jobs' reply: "There's no SDK you need!" In other words: No Apps For You! Use webpage and online apps instead.

Orly? How about security - sure, a web developer can secure a webapp, but it's easier to just depend on a phone's built-in security on an app that's housed on the phone. Or how about when you don't actually have reliable and useful data signal? Too bad, so sad. Or what about the fact that I like to use my phone a little differently than you use yours - so I can install a custom ToDo app, or a neat little shortcut hack, or whatever. Sorry - with the iPhone you can use any interface you want as long as it's the default.

No support for a real developer community means that Apple is releasing an appliance, not a platform. Without a platform, the iPhone is not a smartphone, Q.E.D. Just so we're perfectly clear here: It's looking like Blackberry has better third party support than the iPhone will.

And that photo... at first glance it is (among other things) yet another joke on Steve Ballmer; but if Apple really intends to lock out all genuine "on the phone" 3rd party development... Well then we'll probably see Ballmer smile like that on his own.

Update: phone different's (opens in new tab) OMGNOAPPZ (opens in new tab) series weighs in (opens in new tab) with a slightly more optimistic (though still troubled) take.

WC Staff
  • the true scotsman fallacy
  • so 'scotsman' here refers to.. "smartphone"? Shrug. I guess I'd say that's not a fallacy. "Safari" may be a "Platform", but it sure doesn't smell like a "smartphone platform" to me.
  • Who cares if the iPhone falls under the traditional category of "Smartphone"? Maybe it will create its own new "information accessory". The iPhone was designed to be non-intimidating and do multimedia really well. It also just happens to include a kick-arse browser and have PIM functionality.
    Personally I don't think I have heard anyone say that the iPhone is being marketed as a heavy duty productivity device.
    People seem to forget that the reason why Apple sold 100 million iPods was that it was insanely easy to use and probably more importantly offered a connect-and-sync way of getting your music to the device. The iPhone will do the same. I am sure it's just a matter of time (perhaps with the 3G iPhone) that OTA music sync or iTunes purchases becomes standard fare on the iPhone "platform".