Why iPhone won’t revolutionize the mobile web landscape

~ 10 January 2007 ~

…at least not in the short-term.

Mobile Web Design, a book by Cameron Moll

First things first: If you plan on buying an Apple iPhone this June, you better get in line in front of me, because I’ll have $500 ready to leave my hands the minute the first one’s available. I couldn’t be more elated about the announcement and more appreciative of the incredible development effort on Apple’s part.

Several people have pinged me asking my thoughts about how much the iPhone will change the mobile web landscape, seeing how I’m in the midst of authoring a book on the subject.

My reply? Hardly at all. Here’s my reasoning:

Content zooming isn’t new. Don’t get me wrong — the UI features in “Safari Mini” (or whatever the new name) are no doubt really cool, but the technology to see an entire web page and zoom in/out — “adaptive zooming”, “mini-map navigation”, what have you — has existed, to my knowledge, for some time now (at least a year?). Additionally, Opera has been developing similar technology for non-desktop browsers, notably of late in the version for Nintendo Wii (video). I really like the idea of viewing the exact same site on a mobile, but I question how practical it is for every site. (Nor is the idea of mobile widgets new, while we’re at it.)

Data costs will continue to plague subscribers. Take the NYTimes.com example shown in the keynote. We can probably expect “Safari Mini” to compress images and code to reduce download size much like other mobile user agents, but at the current NYTimes document size of +500 KB you could potentially pay $5.00 just to download the home page once, if paying per KB for data access. I’m currently subscribed to data plans on two different providers (Sprint, Cingular). One has unlimited, the other a 5 MB/mo cap. I surf endlessly on the unlimited plan, but I’m very cautious about web content on the other. Granted, iPhone owners will likely be unlimited plan subscribers, but still. (For the record, let it be said I expect unlimited data plan growth/affordability to continue to increase the next few years.)

Context is still king. At the end of the day, the iPhone is a device built for mobility. And with mobility, there are limitations and opportunities that should be addressed, both of which are roughly the same for iPhone as that of nearly any mobile device. Consider the Google Maps app, for example. Firstly, Google Maps Mobile has been widely available on a variety of devices for some time now. Secondly, if iPhone isn’t GPS-enabled, that is to say it can tell where I’m at rather than typing in my location, it doesn’t radically alter the existing experience anyway. The UI is slick for sure, but beyond that I’m still at the mercy of text entry.

iPhone owners won’t be the typical mobile web user. If the mobile web is to become anything more than rich internet access for elite phone subscribers, we must look beyond Blackberrys, Treos and yes, iPhone. Currently India is outpacing all other countries in mobile subscriptions growth (source), but don’t expect them to be iPhone owners anytime soon — or owners of devices with similar capabilities, speaking in terms of a subscriber majority.

All this aside, while the iPhone won’t revolutionize the mobile industry as a whole anytime soon, it will revolutionize the individual mobile web experience, and come June that’s about all that will matter for me.



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1   David Horn ~ 10 January 2007

I agree - I don’t think it will revolutionize the industry (yet), but it sure looks cool.

It might be worth remembering though that initial reactions are rarely good indicators of long term performance: check out this link from when iPod was launched. Some great comments there saying how disappointing that apple should launch such a mundane product:


(from xkcd.com)

2   Matt Turner ~ 10 January 2007

Have to agree there Cameron. If it’s just trying to emulate a desktop browser then how will it revolutionise anything?

I personally think the revolution is going to be along the lines of location awareness (secondarily). Once GPS in handsets becomes more mainstream it can provide websites with your location automatically (is there a standard for this already?). Then location aware services will be a smash hit!

But for that to really take of the bandwidth needs to be there, either in WiFi enabled internet devices on Metropolitan wide WiFis or better cheaper mobile data. One, or both of these is almost bound to happen, over the next few years.

My only gripe with the iPhone is the 2 year cingular lock-in. Are Cingular services typical of the US experience? My own experience with their service charges has not been inspiring (http://mtcodex.net/2007/ilovephone-ihatecingular/)

My first comment on Authentic Boredom this year - Happy New Year everyone!

3   Joshua ~ 10 January 2007

Great post Cameron! I was wondering if you were going to chime in with thoughts, especially after reading some reactions that the mobile web will no longer be relevant.

4   Michael ~ 10 January 2007

Cameron, so glad you posted this. I was thinking about you (hope that doesn’t creep you out) and your contributions to understanding the mobile Web as I followed the keynote.

While watching the announcements yesterday, I was wondering about this convergence of the desktop and mobile experience since, as far as the web browsing was concerned, the mobile was the desktop experience.

For the record, let it be said I expect unlimited data plan growth/affordability to continue to increase the next few years.

How do you think this will affect development for the mobile Web in the long run? Personally, I am more excited about using the Wi-Fi capabilities, sans a data plan, for my browsing, using e-mail, etc. As Wi-Fi becomes ubiquitous, won’t these data plans (and their limitations) become irrelevant?

5   Michael ~ 10 January 2007

Re: my post above, this should have been:

For the record, let it be said I expect unlimited data plan growth/affordability to continue to increase the next few years.

6   Ian Muir ~ 10 January 2007

Hey Cameron,

Thanks for being a voice of reason. It seems that everybody is forecasting the mobile revolution. In all honesy, it looks great, but I will likely stick with my current, simple phone.

One thing that really surprised me is that the iPhone comes with only 4GB or 8GB. With the widescreen format, I would think that this device is targeted towards video, but the small storage size would be a bit limiting.

7   Cameron Moll ~ 10 January 2007

Good point, Michael. I probably should have said something like “unrestricted web access” regardless of plan or wi-fi.

8   Keith ~ 10 January 2007

Revolutionize? No.

Change? For sure.

I think you’ve summed things up here, but if nothing else the iPhone has already brought a bit of buzz to the mobile web landscape. I think what it will do is increase interest among US-based developers, content providers and designers.

I’ve read from a few people that this means the mobile web isn’t really relevant and that the one web idea fits right in, but as you mention, none of this changes the context issue. As great as it is, it’s still a mobile device. Sure I’d love to get “the Web” on my mobile, but that doesn’t mean I’ll use it the same way I’d use it on a desktop. I hope people don’t see this as a way to get out of providing a mobile specific experience.

Anyway, I agree that it’s not going to effect sweeping changes or that the mobile web is now somehow irrelevant, but I do think it’s going to be a pretty big deal and you are already seeing the increase in interest in all things mobile.

9   Keith ~ 10 January 2007

Also, it may seem like more of a “revolution” to people who aren’t already so up on the mobile web. There are lots and lots of folks out there to whom this will be a real eye opener.

For people like you Cameron, this stuff is old hat and might be more like a “catching up” of the rest of the world. ;0)

Good post!

10   Andrew Hedges ~ 10 January 2007

Cameron, I have to disagree with many of your points.

Regarding zooming content, sure the feature exists, but how many people use it? That’s the value of truly great design. There were MP3 players before the iPod, but the market exploded once a super usable player arrived.

Regarding the cost of data services, you’re right. It’s too expensive. I expect the iPhone to revolutionize the industry because it will create demand for these services to the point where the economies of scale will allow providers to lower the price and make up the difference in volume.

After watching the keynote, I wasn’t clear on whether the phone is location aware. I think you’re right, there is no true GPS, but phones can be aware of your location by triangulation. Didn’t Google Maps come up with Jobs’ current location in the demo?

I feel bad for the engineers and product managers working on Treos and Blackberries. Those guys are in for a lot of sleepless nights trying to catch up with the iPhone (good luck!). This is another way this product will have an impact far beyond it’s own market penetration.

11   Mark ~ 10 January 2007

A few observations:

Has anyone else noticed that, with the claim that the iPhone has been in development for 2.5 years, a lot of its features have been introduced into OS X over that period of time, presumably to position them for the iPhone UI? I.e., Widgets, OS-based full-screen zooming.

Data costs, context…I see where you’re coming from, but won’t the iPhone change the mobile industry the way the iPod has changed the portable music industry? I use a T-Mobile Sidekick II. I pay a flat rate for bandwidth. It uses a proprietary browser that doesn’t read mobile styles; it pulls down complete web pages like on the desktop. When I was taking the train to work, I’d cycle through content from Google News, MSNBC, my Backpack homepage, local newspapers, etc etc.

And I think the typical mobile web user will be something new as well. I remember taking the subway when the iPod debuted, and a sighting was something to note. Everyone in every shape and form has iPods now, not just music afficionados, not just geeks, not just technophiles.

12   Cameron Moll ~ 10 January 2007

but won’t the iPhone change the mobile industry the way the iPod has changed the portable music industry?

At a subsidized starting price of $500?

13   Ethan Allen Smith ~ 10 January 2007

While I agree with everything you point out in the article, I have to disagree with your conclusion for one simple reason: The iPhone works the way everyone wants phones to work - simple, cool, and beautiful. In an enthusiastic 60 minutes, Steve Jobs just made the job of every phone developer in the world 100 times harder. Consumers who didn’t even know they wanted these features yesterday will begin demanding them by the end of the year.

The iPhone itself may be a drop in the bucket, but Apple doesn’t even have to sell a single one before every other phone maker steps up their own R&D.

14   Andrew Hedges ~ 10 January 2007

The iPod was labelled overpriced on its debut as well. The thing people forget (including you, this time, Cameron), is that people will pay for quality. The reason mobile providers have to subsidize phones so heavily is that most of them are crap. To steal a line from my good friend Mark Bixby, this could end up the most puchased phone in history. Yes, yes, call me an Apple fanboi, but I think he’s right.

15   Ethan Allen Smith ~ 10 January 2007

I forgot to point out that the RAZR started out at $500 and a Cingular-only product, but we, the consumers, created so much demand for it that not only did every other carrier have to find a way to offer it, every other phone maker started making phones that were thinner and cooler.

And the RAZR was just a phone.

16   Mark Bixby ~ 10 January 2007

“To steal a line from my good friend Mark Bixby, this could end up the most puchased phone in history.”

Granted, you could fill an 8GB iPhone with what Mark Bixby doesn’t know about the mobile web. ;)

Good post Cameron! Truth be told… I’ve never owned a PDA or used the web browser on my phone (I know, I will repent). And today I wake up to the reality that I can’t live without an iPhone. So while content zooming isn’t new, I think this device will bring the mobile web to the masses in a way no other mobile device ever has (even at it’s introductory price-point).

I wonder how many other people have been on the fence about jumping into the mobile web, and now see this as an obvious, and irresistible first step?

17   Andrew Hedges ~ 10 January 2007

What he said. ;-)

18   Cameron Moll ~ 10 January 2007

The iPhone itself may be a drop in the bucket, but Apple doesn’t even have to sell a single one before every other phone maker steps up their own R&D.

Good point.

19   Greg ~ 10 January 2007

I read this in another post, but the answer wasn’t certain. The question had to do with if you have to have the cell service in order to use the device. Meaning can I just use it for the iPod and mobile computing functionality without the phone access.

The answer there made it seem like you needed the cell service as well or it wouldn’t work.

Anyone heard anything about that?

20   Mike D. ~ 10 January 2007

At least now I don’t have to watch my mouth around people like yourself and Brian Fling anymore. :) I’ve always despised the mobile web and all design work that goes along with it, but now it’s no longer a ghetto to me. Respeck’!

Also, I was under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that the iPhone’s location-awareness came from cell-tower triangulation. Sure it’s not as precise as GPS, but if it can base my search results on a general area it detects that I’m in, that’s pretty good eh?

21   Nate K ~ 10 January 2007

I think it will change - only in the sense that it would seemingly render than other mobile devices. Kinda like the browser wars that want you to use their software, so they begin with proprietary stuff. Now, I dont see that happening with apple - but with so many different providers and services, is there going to be a surefire way to target mobile devices?

The NYtimes.com was not showing a WAP version, therefore if there WAS a WAP version with a specific interface for a mobile device, then it would be invisible. Some may like this, some may prefer the pared down WAP version.

I hate the idea of building separate sites - but I also hate the idea of having to download EVERYTHING onto my mobile device when all I want to do is a specific task (not really ‘browse’ the web).

What about plugins and applications that require flash/JS/etc - how do you see those being handled?

I know its adoption won’t be widespread at first (it is somewhat cost prohibitive), but I still think its important to understand the best methods for designing for mobile devices.

Just as we wouldnt show navigation, forms, and clickable items in a print stylesheet - there are other elements that we would want to eliminate from a mobile media as well - mostly to make sure the interface is neat, tidy, and small in size (but yet still let you achieve your tasks: email, stocks, scores, etc).

22   Nik Steffen ~ 10 January 2007

I honestly think that the iPhone will have a two-way effect on the mobile web world.

The new phone allows great mobile browsing, which means that finally mobile-browsing will become enjoyable even on websites that don’t care about mobile users, ergo more mobile web users and more attention drawn to the subject (this is ignoring the argument that alot of the iPhone customers will be technological savvy and will have a grasp of the subject anyways)

On the other hand, the new browser allows webpages to viewed “like they are meant to be”. That defeats the basic motivation behind making mobile-only stylesheets for your websites. If the page will show the way I coded it for the web anyways, why bother? Of course this feature is mostly iPhone-only at the moment, but it will not take long for other manufacturers to catch on.

23   Andrew Hedges ~ 10 January 2007

It will be interesting so see if the user agent string for Safari is different on the iPhone and whether it consumes the “handheld” CSS media type.

24   Kevin Tamura ~ 10 January 2007

I tend to disagree. Apple has given the mobile device industry a swift kick in the arse and told them you can and should be producing better devices. Consumers will look at their mobile devices and start asking for more as well. The industry will have to respond.

Let’s not forget that this could just be the MacBook Pro of iPhones. There’s probably a stripped down version in the works that will debute in the future. If so, the industry will have to respond.

As for the mobile web, it puts it into the forefront for consumers and makes it more tangable. Up till now the mobile web has been a bit too ethereal for most, much like the web was 10+ years ago. Apple is bridging the gap.

This is not to say that context isn’t important or shifted, because it is and will continue to be for some time to come.

25   mimo ~ 10 January 2007

Hey Cameron. Do you know the picsel viewer. Theyr pan and zoom technique is about 4 years old. Look at: http://www.picselpowered.com/-

26   Brian Fling ~ 10 January 2007


I have to disagree. I posted some of my thoughts to the contrary last night (http://www.blueflavor.com/ed/mobile/the_iphone_impact.php) Every expert in the mobile community has always speculated that something needs to happen in order for the expectations of the consumer to shift that take mobile seriously as a medium. I know your comments are mostly focused on the mobile web, but consumers need to understand that mobile devices are more than just phones.

That hasn’t happened. Anything beyond making phone calls has been strictly bleeding edge, targeted at a small percentage of users. Mobile as a medium has always been a chicken before the egg scenario.

There are no good devices for viewing mobile content, therefore no demand for good mobile content, therefore no good mobile content, therefore no users, therefore high data prices, therefore no consumers, therefore no good devices…. etc. We are caught in a chain of low demand no supply that no one has broken out of. Similar, but not exactly the same as MP3 player market prior to the iPod.

Mike D.’s comment above is a perfect example of why the iPhone is the start of something. Developers are standing up and taking note. The mobile industry is a flame, everyone wondering how every device manufacture and mobile service provider will respond with a competitor. Average consumers are looking at buying a smart phone for the first time in your life.

I’ve been in mobile for a long time and trust me this is the biggest thing to happen to it. We can only speculate to the outcome over the coming months and years, but the iPhone goes beyond buzz and shifts perceptions of what the a mobile phone can be. The mobile web cannot exist without mobile devices and it will not exist without consumer demand. Consumers will drive the market and everyone else will follow.

Count me in the camp that the iPhone will revolutionize.

27   Charlie Park ~ 10 January 2007

I believe that, in terms of data download, if there’s WiFi available, the iPhone uses that. It only cuts to the phone’s data transfer if there’s no WiFi available. And I imagine that there’ll be some clean icon / indicator as to whether WiFi is available or not.

28   Amanda Kern ~ 10 January 2007

Way to calm the excitement Cameron! But I agree with your points. My first reaction was that the hefty price will probably not change things that quickly – but we can all dream…right. It certainly is going to make an impact on mobile industry.

29   Michael Dick ~ 10 January 2007

Exactly what Mark said at post #16. I have never used email, browser, calendar, or anything else on my Treo except the phone feature, but I don’t think I’ll have a good nights sleep until I get my hands on one of these!

30   sharaf ~ 10 January 2007

I think the iPhone revolutionizes the phone industry with one thing: User Interface.

Nothing else. All other features have been implemented one way or another in different “smart” phones or pocketpcs. Apples just does a better job in UI and simplicity in design.

Simplicity is one of the keys to success as can be seen in Google and Apple products. Less is more.

31   DarrenM ~ 10 January 2007

It raises the bar to a new level but let developers in. Please! My only concern is how closed shop all is.

32   Dan Gordon ~ 10 January 2007

To me it looks like Apple have built something “cool enough” to win over their fanbase. These Apple evangelists are going to adopt and praise and promote this “ultra cool device” as “technologically revolutionary, innovative” when its really just a different interface for the same old technology. Apple have designed this product with a fast and smooth ride to the tipping point in mind, and it will probably happen.

No technological revolution, just great marketing and brand strategy.

33   Jens Meiert ~ 10 January 2007

Just a litte bit off-topic: The demand for the iPhone will be enormous, that’s for sure. And since it brings the mobile market to another level, several issues won’t (and must not) be endorsed. Interesting scenario anyway, ain’t it.

34   Nate K ~ 10 January 2007

RE: Dan (#32)
That is exactly what Apple did with the iPod. There were other MP3 players on the market, the iPod just fixed their clunky interfaces. I see it as somewhat of the same scenarios here. Mobile phones have been around for a while, but what Apple just launched fixed the crappy interfaces of the other phones. It is innovative, I don’t see other phones doing anything like that yet - not to the standard that Apple has just taken it to.

I think it is more than marketing and brand strategy - I don’t see anyone that can compete with what the iPhone has to offer, thats a huge advantage in and of itself.

35   njyo ~ 10 January 2007

“I feel bad for the engineers and product managers working on Treos and Blackberries. Those guys are in for a lot of sleepless nights trying to catch up with the iPhone (good luck!).” …further above.

I don’t - they were the ones keeping the development frozen to the status quo. As an interaction designer in this field I totally love it. Now we hopefully get some momentum to change some things. Get away from those nasty conventions that nobody really sticked to and having someone showing the market how things could be if user experience would be valued. From that point it definitely changes business.

And then there is just the wait until you can access the iTS from it and Apple will show that there is money to be made on mobile customers which hopefully will inspire other companies to follow and create good mobile solutions. Sorry Cameron, for once I too have to disagree.

36   Cameron Moll ~ 10 January 2007

Some first-time disagree-ers coming out of the woodwork here!

[Mike D] I was under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that the iPhone’s location-awareness came from cell-tower triangulation.

There you go. That’s the phrase I was searching for when writing this — “location aware”, not GPS. I don’t know the specifics of the iPhone, but you could be right about it be based on cell towers rather than GPS.

[Nik Steffan] On the other hand, the new browser allows webpages to viewed “like they are meant to be”.

This is a desktop-mentality approach — that sites are viewed “correctly” first on the desktop, and that they should then be viewed the same on anything else. What if the web had hit mobiles first before desktop machines back in ‘94? That might sound foolish, but truth of the matter is it’s happening today with some regions of the world, where access to the web is done first and only through a mobile device.

[Brian Fling] There are no good devices for viewing mobile content, therefore no demand for good mobile content, therefore no good mobile content, therefore no users, therefore high data prices, therefore no consumers, therefore no good devices…. etc. We are caught in a chain of low demand no supply that no one has broken out of.

I like the thinking here, the idea of breaking the chain. I still don’t believe the iPhone is the end-all solution for breaking it, but it can certainly be considered a catalyst for such.

Related to the topic at hand, don’t miss Kelly Goto’s thoughts on similar issues being discussed here.

37   Yani ~ 10 January 2007

As a Mac user and an owner of a 2G phone, I’m looking forward to seeing a phone that can sync seamlessly to my computer and save me from firing it up. But the quoted battery life has put an end to that. Five hours of browsing? Thats not even a full day from something that I would expect to use alot of the features.

Mobility is very limited as you would have to carry around a dock or cord, which I would not want to do. There isn’t even the option of swapping the battery as every other phone can do. Personally I’m looking forward to the 2nd generation.

38   Bert ~ 10 January 2007

The phone IS now the computer. You and those that agree with you are overlooking a small detail. Apple is revolutionizing the computing industry and using the mobile communications industry for it through its awesome pricing models. Apple has become a Pacman nibbling away crappy technology. 5 years ago you’d still pay $2500.00 for a 15GB hardrive. Thanks to Apple, you get a gig for 40 cents these days. The initial high cost of whatever, will be driven down by the fantastic economic models designed in Cupertino, and you thought that they only designed awesome computers. Ha!

39   Mark ~ 10 January 2007

I have never owned a smart phone or a PDA (with the exception of an old Palm Pilot that was given to me way back in the day) and I have never wanted one. Until now! Too bad I’ll have eat my own words, swallow my pride and crawl back to Cingular.

The price alone will be a barrier to widespread adoption by today’s common mobile device user, but I think this could create a new type of user and possibly begin to drive new usage habits. My great desire is to someday have a battery-powered mac mini that I can stuff in my pocket and take with me anywhere I go. This is a step in that direction.

Even so, for me at least, the small screen is just something to get me by until I can make it back to a full-size monitor. That means I would like the ability to plug my mobile device into a keyboard/mouse/monitor when they are available to me, and no, I don’t mean synching my mobile device with my desktop. I want my mobile device to BE my desktop. So really, yeah, I want the mac mini with a small screen that fits in my pocket. Perhaps this is too foward-thinking.

40   Joshua ~ 11 January 2007

Sorry Cameron, but I have to join the ranks of dissent.

I understand your perspective based on the mobile web as it exists today: the necessity for quick & relatively cheap access to extremely specific & contextually relevant information over a mobile network that lacks the infrastructure to deliver rich content to current mobile devices, which lack the UI to allow meaningful user interaction with said rich content.

However… that is the whole point. When a product revolutionizes an industry, most or all of these requirements & restraints disappear. Paradigms shift. Consumer expectations and desires radically evolve in a relatively short period of time. (i.e. what they are willing to spend on a specific technology, how they use said technology, and how it impacts the way they work & live.)

Consider the original iPod: who would have thought when Apple released a portable mp3 player at a price point of $400-$500 in 2001 , that consumers would pay near that amount for a new music experience. You have to remember the portable music player industry at that point had a competitive price point of $100-$200.

The iPhone is the convergent device we have been waiting for. (or at least a huge leap in that direction) Within the next 2-4 years, the whole mobile industry, including the mobile web, will transform because of it.

41   njyo ~ 11 January 2007

Well said, Joshua!

Suddenly the mobile internet is a big thing for its own and not only a workaround (talking about MiniMap or adaptive zooming). And unlike WAP it does not force to have a second web but only encouraged designers to make something better for that device. Of course, if the handset makers could finally agree on some screen sizes and resolutions, it would be very supportive.

42   Cameron Moll ~ 11 January 2007

Within the next 2-4 years, the whole mobile industry, including the mobile web, will transform because of it.

Exactly. It’ll be a couple years before that happens (and I don’t argue otherwise). Recall that I led my thoughts by stating it wouldn’t happen in the short-term. The iPhone is no doubt a catalyst, but if developers and users alike suddenly expect the mobile web landscape to change drastically come June, or even come January 2008…

43   Michael Dick ~ 11 January 2007

Cameron, I agree…Steve Jobs agrees, in his Keynote he even mentioned (don’t quote me on this) that the biggest impact is going to be when they can have a full year in the market (all of 2008), and by then he expects to have only 1% of the market share, which is still outrageous. Things can’t change with only 1% of the market share, or at least I think so?

44   Ian Adams ~ 11 January 2007

RE: Data costs will continue to plague subscribers.

We don’t know the details of the plan yet, so it might just be that unlimited web access is part of it. I hope so. It would seem silly if it didn’t. But even if it’s not, couldn’t it just access pages for free via 802.11 if you’re connected to a network? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, though.

45   cristinamarie ~ 11 January 2007

The whole idea seems pretty cool and totally better than the crackberry idea. Even though I already have a new phone with a new contract (Verizon) and a newer iPod, I don’t think I’d jump to shell out the $500 for the iPhone, even though the idea of it is pretty cool… and because I was looking for a new handheld, but if it was just a handheld not a phone, then maybe I’d be more attracted to it.

46   Justin ~ 11 January 2007

Maybe the iPhone will revolutionize the industry simply because it’s a mobile device that people will actually use. That definitely describes me, anyway (at lease I think it does - we’ll see come June). I was really interested in Dan Cederholm’s post about the BlackBerry Pearl, but still wasn’t convinced about the device. This, though… I can hardly wait till June. And it sounds like I’m not the only one.

47   Elle ~ 11 January 2007

Just a question about media support on the iPhone that has been in the back of my head since Apple announcement.
At the moment, media “handheld” doesn’t have a very good support. I have seen PDA’s trying to apply my screen and handheld stylesheets together.
Which one will the “Safari Mini” support?

48   shawn ~ 11 January 2007

There impact should also be considered in the big plan. They just rolled out the flag ship with one hell of a media frenzy. I have never heard of a phone launch turning that many heads. This time next year comes alon iPhone 2G and his little friend iPhone nano. The iPod made the headlines then iPod mini then nano showed how much money could really be made.

Apple really has set the stage to come crashing down on this industry. Did you see those numbers, one percent of the market would send 10 million units out the door. That is a big market.

49   Cameron Moll ~ 12 January 2007

At the moment, media “handheld” doesn’t have a very good support. I have seen PDA’s trying to apply my screen and handheld stylesheets together. Which one will the “Safari Mini” support?

I don’t believe they’ve released that data yet.

This time next year comes alon iPhone 2G and his little friend iPhone nano.

If you’ve made a cardboard mock-up like Kottke’s (someone at work did), then you know a nano will definitely be needed. The current size won’t make for a comfortable carry in a jeans pocket.

50   Blake Fox ~ 12 January 2007

I believe that the iPhone will revolutionize web use on mobiles. I agree with some of your points. But I believe some web content issues will be addressed with RSS feeds and additional resources. Six months is plenty of time to prepare. I currently own a Sony Mylo which is one of the devices Steve Jobs mentions as a comparison to the iPhone. I dropped my cell service three months ago and use my Skype on my Mylo as my only communication device using free wireless. I do not think Steve Jobs looks at the iPhone as a cellular phone. It is a communication/internet device. Going with Cingular is only one step in the market towards the goal of changing how devices connect as a whole. WiFi provides a new link to information I believe Apple will pursue as it become adpoted. Especially considering Googles free WiFi rollout. Remember Apple’s early information tablet? Apple has bigger plans than just a phone device. They will change how a phone works with online information in a way that is seemless to the user. It may not be like sitting in front of your computer browsing, but it will revolutionize how content is made available to users. AppleGoo.

51   Ian Adams ~ 12 January 2007

If you’ve made a cardboard mock-up like Kottke’s (someone at work did), then you know a nano will definitely be needed. The current size won’t make for a comfortable carry in a jeans pocket.

I’m not so sure of that. While I don’t always carry around my iPod Photo in my front jeans pocket, I sometimes do, and it’s not entirely uncomfortable. And the iPhone, while being taller, is much thinner than the iPod Photo.

52   Angelo ~ 13 January 2007

Eesh, what a debate. I think one of the only givens about when Apple releases a new product is that there’s going to be some huge uproars and disagreements.

The iPhone is a phone. And a browser, and a bunch of other obviously neato things. But it won’t do much for the web unless we start to think about coding specifically for mobile devices.

53   Ian Adams ~ 13 January 2007

“But it won’t do much for the web unless we start to think about coding specifically for mobile devices.”

I think another thing is that we simply don’t know how Safari for the iPhone works. For example, if it doesn’t even recognise the “handheld” media type, then it really won’t make an impact. But if it does, then people can design their sites for it, and then we might be able to collectively make an impact in the “Mobile Web.” But that, of course, assumes that it’s also going to be widely adopted enough.

‘Makes me wonder what the User Agent string is going to differentiate the mobile version of Safari from its “big brother.” If not, then we’d not really have a way to tell how much of our visitors are Safari Mini users or not.

54   Mark ~ 18 January 2007

Thanks for the look into the changing landscape. Even though most of the comments here seem to agree with you I would like to draw your attention to the fact that things change.

People are only to eager to enter the new generation and be seen as part of the tipping point. Weather or not you own a Treo or a Blackberry, you will certainly agree that people are sheep and want other to see them as part of the ‘cool’ crowd. Sheep now need to be connected and receive mobile emails, that is a revolution that was not around before the Blackberry.

The trends create the devices and then they sustain themselves by popularity.

People wanted 3G data speeds on their phones and they got it - perhaps a little slow in the US but the rest of the world has really got serious mobile data speeds. Price is not important because just like nature, technology strives to reach an equilibrium. Prices will come down when the need goes up. Enter iPhone stage left.

We now have the device that we have all been looking for. Who is not going to go for it?

That is the nature of trends and fashion. Just look at the subway of any international city to get a glimpse of what is actually happening out there. What are the white earphone wires connected to in those pockets? How long did that take to reach the point where a black earphone wire is considered uncool? Almost immediately!

Has any one stopped to think about those spoof designs that were floating around on the Internet before the actual release of the iPhone? Those devices looked cool and everyone wanted them (sheep). Now that this device is so much more then those postulated hybrid cellphones people are reluctant to go for real thing? Not lightly. Consider people going to go for the old clunky brand with the mp3 player and 2-megapixel camera glued to the back of it? Nope, your going to go for the wide screen, funky iPhone.

I would be more interested to see the reaction of the rest of the market - what are they going to bring out to try to compete? That is where the innovation is going to be soon. Apple have done a really good job of listening to the public, researching the trends and acting accordingly.

The iPhone will get a whopping part of the market when the cellphones are offered as part of a contract just because Apple have their eyes and ears open.

55   Chris Robinson ~ 18 January 2007

Great post.

I was ex tactic to say the least when I found out about the new iPhone, only to be let down when I heard it’s a Cingular only product at the moment.

I hope to GOD Verizon see’s the potential in this fine piece and picks it up. However it’s unlikely as they have a standard menu system across all their phones. Who knows maybe the corporate fat cats will make an exception for this got to have item, that could potentially make them truck loads of cash.

56   Corky ~ 20 January 2007

I am not sure how people can miss the most ‘revolutionary’ features of the iphone. Putting a ‘Minority Report”-esque interface to a computer is revolutionary. The mouse and keyboard are the most archaic tools to interact with a computer. A keyboard is great for typing a document, or email, but it is a lackluster interface to Photoshop, Final Cut, etc… The interface (i.e., keyboard ‘setup’) should depended on the application being used. This would _dramatically_ increase productivity.

The iPhone is the first major device to impliment a techology that changes the way we think about interacting with the device.

After seeing the iPhone, it’s hard to look at smart/pda devices in the same way.

57   JJ ~ 20 January 2007

Folks, it is not what features iPhone has, but how it does. Believe me, I just got RAZR V3 from T-mobile (I know, I know, after such a long time it has been in the market), a phone which as been hailed as an invention of last 50 years in, I guess, Time magazine or somewhere. I went after its slick design. Guess what was my reaction when I worked through its interface: wanted to crush it under my cars tires; complete piece of clunky ****** crap. Its even worse than what I had on Sanyo multimedia phone (I guess MM6400 or something) from Sprint - Devil’s cellular service . Phonebook is ATROCIOUS! (puts every phone subentry separately, etc, etc) So much so that I chose to enter all the numbers on my powerbook and then feed it to RAZR phone to get icons (work, home, etc) displayed along side the phone numbers. Now geeks from you can figure this out fast, but I don’t have the time to fiddle with it for too long. I want a simple working interface that just works. Now on that itself, I am sold to this iPhone. Only that I have to see what do I do with T-mobile contract.
Again, you could use t-zones or other clunky web-browsing thingies on phones, but after one or two tries, people like me just give up after the new phone craze fades away.Now that browser on iPhone, especially the ease with which it seems to work, will probably get me hooked to it (I have WiFi for quite a number of years now). Even if the EDGE speed is slow, who cares when the clunky menu options makes it even harder to access. Guess what, there are people who are still using dial up and happy with it. I had to sometimes use phone (on airtime minutes) for finding out on internet some directions or email while on road. Even though I hated the speed, I hated more the interface of connecting (too much fiddling) and reading on those phones. Hopefully, iPhone will help during such occassional uses and if its really simplistic to use and if the speed is fairly okay, hey, who knows how much I will use it then?!
And as many people noted before, mp3 jukeboxes were more for geeks than for regular masses until apple entered the stage. Even though Jobs compared iPhone to those business phones, he is targeting on regular users through its easy interface which is what regular use like or at least I like). So I dont think iPhone will eat into corporate phone market, but will try to create of its own in 200-500 bucks category. So people like me definitely will pay initially those 500 bucks so as to get things work as they are supposed to be. I dont mind 4GB. Even if other smartphones offer additional slots, tell me how much does that memory cost when many smartphones only offer few megabytes on-board. And whereas most manufacturers have not aggressively advertised these smartphones for general public, clearly that’s where apple is heading to (at least that’s what I see). So I will be one of the first buyers. The fun is now when its so scarce otherwise.

58   Soo ~ 21 January 2007

Hi Cameron, I’ve been following your blog since 2004, and I’m glad that as a designer who understands the mobile industry you put up some very valid points about the iPhone.
Like you, I have similar questions (I’m a designer of mobile apps & services in India) specially about Open source. But nevertheless I would love to get my hands on an iPhone. If you’re interested read my blog post at http://rethinking.wordpress.com for my questions about the iPhone.

59   Kevin ~ 23 January 2007

This ones is tricky as far as who the target market is. So far the iPhone is definitely not ready for Enterprise, but almost EVERYONE else including small businesses are potential buyers. Considering this is the first phone (can you really call it a phone?) to grab consumers attention in while it has alot going for it. And lets not forget, Apple is all about Design and Designers everywhere WILL have this phone. Apples only mistake is calling it an iPhone considering its potential. Sensors reacting to phone positioning, multi-touch screen (i did say multi), GPS (just how much G P & S?), and my personal favorite..The ability to view/listen to voicemail in any order is more than enough to attract a large piece of the mobile industry. As for revolutionizing the mobile industry? You have to say crap like that when you’re comming into a entirely new field like Apple is. Bottom line is many people are going to buy this phone, Apple will make tons of $$, & mobile phones will keep getting better & hopefully cheaper to keep up with competition.

60   Phil ~ 24 January 2007

Everything out there right now looks like dog excrements next to the iPhone.
Usability is years ahead of anything comparable.
I have been speculating that if someone is going to make a usable cell phone ever, it’s got to be Apple. And they definitely exceeded my expectations.
I have a RAZR V3 and it sucks at best. It manages to save 12 SMS messages and then it’s alerting me its memory is full. Sure enough, the 4MBs of memory are reserved for crappy photos, crappy ringtones only.

Apple will surely run into supply problems with iPhone. And, yes, it will change the market.
Or can anyone name any other phone-like device that ever made any kind of press like this?

Greets from Appenzell, Switzerland (the guys with the real swiss cross ;-) )

61   Cameron Moll ~ 24 January 2007

Hey… My mother’s father is Swiss, I still have family living in CH, and I’ve been back to the country twice… So I feel entitled to some swiss cross-ness, too :)

62   Mobile Technology Rx ~ 04 February 2007

Mobile is the next generation of technology. Every device in the next year will have a mobile version.

63   Alvida ~ 20 February 2007

Only if they came up with these features …

64   C. Enrique Ortiz ~ 26 May 2007

good write up…

the iPhone will not revolutionize mobile web per-se, but will have a great influence on the mobility industry…

and it will have a great influence on what we call the “mobile user experience”.


65   Kevin ~ 02 June 2007

The iPhone debut demo was a subtle marvel of misdirection. It has no GPS or other locating ability, yet by previously going to San Fran spots before going live, the impression was left that it knew where it was. Clever.

The same with multi-touch. Used only for zooming, yet people talk about it as if it were something core to the iPhone. It’s not.

The same with talking about not need a stylus. None of the touchscreen devices I own need one either. Of course, Apple fans haven’t had the luxury of dozens of modern touchscreen devices, so how would they know?

The same with claiming no need for hardware buttons. Oh, except for a main menu one. And an on/off button. Oops, also better have dedicated buttons on the side for volume, or people will scream.

The on-screen keyboard with auto-word-guess is common to many touch devices (because that kind of keyboard is so hard to use), yet he acted like it was something new.

The UI is quite normal in most respects. You still click on menu items, and you still only see a screen at a time, and you still need a Back button to go up one level of menu. But the extra eye candy (sliding the next screen in, instead of just showing it) makes everyone think it’s something unbelievably new. Slick.

The GUI has rules, if you watch. Common items (keyboard, etc) pop up from the bottom, for example. If you’re on a screen with finger scrolling, you can only ever choose an item, not grab it, since that’d be too hard to figure out.

The phone access to the web is not going to be fast. That’s why he used WiFi instead. A little deceitful there.

In other words, by carefully not showing certain situations (like scrolling a huge file or having more than a screenful of icons, etc), it looks far better. And that’s okay, that’s just good marketing.

I like the device a lot, but the demo left a lot of incorrect assumptions in people’s minds.

66   Kevin ~ 04 June 2007

Someone mentioned Verizon. I think it’s too late, they’re going with the Prada rumors say.

I think Apple made a giant mistake by signing an exclusive 5 (?) year contract with Cingular. That’s about 4-1/2 years too long to be safe.

That means the other major carriers will come out with their own, cheaper, more capable models. They’re used to bringing out new models quite often.

Furthermore, they will have no qualms about having models with slide-out keyboards and dedicated phone buttons, which will be attractive to many. Not to mention better coverage and far faster speeds.

Actually, that mostly describes today’s phone landscape. There are many touchscreen + keyboard models available even now. All that needs changing on them is to add a little eye candy to the UI.

Upshot: it’s a shame Apple was too greedy to sign a regular deal with Verizon. It’s going to backfire on them in the long run, I’m afraid.

67   jon ~ 07 June 2007

text entry alone is something which apple needs to make sure it gets right - touch screen for dialling a number is good but texting is an important part in mainstream mobile users comms.

68   kevstelo ~ 11 June 2007

I think I’ve read something simillar a few days ago. I don’t remember where, might have been on digg.com or slashdot.

69   Charlie Felrath ~ 14 June 2007

This one makes sence “One’s first step in wisdom is to kuesstion everything - and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”


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