I hate the iPhone. It is an MP3 player with a web browser and every time I see someone with it in their hand I can’t help but think they’re trying way too hard to be cool. Today, that changed.
If you haven’t watched the SDK announcement I recommend you do because maybe, just maybe, you’ll come to the same conclusions I have.
The App Store
A centralized database of every application available for a platform that can be accessed via a computer and on your mobile phone is an absolutely brilliant idea, on paper. If you watch the SDK announcement you will see Steve Jobs’ lame attempt at humor by saying pornography will be one of the criteria that will kick your application off the list, then a few other words popped up on the screen behind him. The phrase that stood out for me was “bandwidth hog” and the word “illegal.” Who determines what is a bandwidth hog and who determines what is illegal? I’m not sure I want to know, but this will be a limitation that few people will care about, until they see their work pulled because some company waved the copyright flag in front of their face.
This is a limitation that will stunt the growth of applications that, heaven forbid, use an operators network to its fullest extent. Bandwidth hog, because pouring all that money into infrastructure was to make sure text can move at a quick pace over a series of tubes.
The 70/30 revenue split seems excessive to me. 80/20 wouldn’t have made me make that previous statement, 90/10 would have made me stand up and applaud. The fact that if you want to get your application out there for free you have to pay nothing is huge and we will see all the major companies create applications as a way to further increase visibility to their brands.
Will Nokia copy this App Store method? They already do for Maemo, the Internet Tablet OS, and the Download! client on S60 devices is sort of, kind of, not really the same thing, but has the potential to be. This will be a space to watch.
The SDK and the OS
Again, watch the SDK announcement, because you’re going to see some development tools that are far more advanced than anything I’ve ever played with. I love Microsoft’s Visual Studio and Nokia’s Carbide had me crying like a 7 year old girl who found out there is no Santa Claus; Apple’s SDK looks remarkable. You have to own a Mac and pay a one time fee of $99 to become an iPhone developer, a small price to pay in the long run, but again, something just isn’t right.
Your buttons will look exactly like every other button out there because Apple wants to maintain that sense of uniformity. This limit will cause the first generation of iPhone applications to merely be offline versions of iPhone websites currently out now. The second generation of applications will be about letting the content be the user interface, similar to the music player application already on the iPhone. Mark my words.
The OS is full blown Mac OS X. I didn’t believe it the first times Jobs said it, but now I do. Open GL ES is a big deal, hardware accelerated everything is a big deal. How deep will Apple let developers dive into the iPhone’s OS has yet to be seen, but you can bet there are engineers all over the world just salivating for the opportunity to hack away at this.
What, if anything, did I like?
An American, home of the RAZR, sweet land of BlackBerry, got up on stage and said that mobile will be bigger than the personal computer industry. An American, from the only continent that seems to want to stick to using voice mail, made mainstream America realize that having a computer that fits into your pocket, a computer that is always connected and always knows where you are is a big deal.
I hate the iPhone. It is an MP3 player with a web browser, but it stands for the enlightenment period that is about to occur in the American mobile telecommunications ecosystem. John Doerr is seeding the fertile soil with $100 million to foster growth from the newly awoken minds.
For that one fact alone, today’s announcement earned my respect. Offer iPhone 2.0 unlocked and with 3G and I may just buy one, but don’t expect me to leave the house without my Nokia N82 and whatever Android powered device HTC releases this year.
Update: Apparently there are custom UI controls, wish Jobs’ would’ve demoed that, but anyway that changes my comment about all applications looking the same for the sake of uniformity. It also makes the month of June something to definitely look forward to in terms of seeing what people start releasing.