Tom Insam

Mobile platforms and application development

In the mobile world, what have we done? We created a series of elegant technology platforms optimized just for mobile computing. We figured out how to extend battery life, start up the system instantly, conserve precious wireless bandwidth, synchronize to computers all over the planet, and optimize the display of data on a tiny screen

Wow. Pity they never released any of that stuff and we had to put up with Windows Mobile and Symbian.

This doesn't undermine the core argument, though. Web applications suck on mobile devices - when you're underground, or there's no signal, you just can't use them. And mobile web browsers (other than the iPhone's) are nasty. None of this matters, because they're easier to write, easier to deploy, and I don't have to faff for 3 weeks to get a developer certificate to sign my app so it'll run.

Aside - last time I tried to get a Symbian developer certificate (naturally, the free ones are IMEI-locked and you have to pay money if you want to distribute something) the website was utterly broken, took minutes per page load, and eventually told me that they weren't giving out developer certificates this week and please try again later. When it's easier to jailbreak your iPhone and write apps for it than it is to legitimately develop for Nokia phones, something is wrong.

This is why I believe that the iPhone SDK will be nothing cleverer than off-line enabling of web apps. Recent buzz is sounding like it's closer to being a Real SDK, though. I think this would be a pity. I'd much rather have a standards-based platform that could be implemented by other phone providers at this point.