Is the iPhone wrecking the web?

Is the iPhone wrecking the web?

Summary: Scott Gilbertson, writing at Compiler on Wired News posted a pretty inflammatory piece titled "The iPhone is Internet Explorer 4 All Over Again". As you might imagine, the comment thread is long, heated at times, and populated with the expected mix of "you're an idiot!" and thoughtful replies both positive and negative. Gilbertson is essentially trying to argue that Apple gets a pass on stuff that would (and has) gotten Microsoft into big trouble and unloved.

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TOPICS: Browser, iPhone, Mobility
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Scott Gilbertson, writing at Compiler on Wired News posted a pretty inflammatory piece titled "The iPhone is Internet Explorer 4 All Over Again". As you might imagine, the comment thread is long, heated at times, and populated with the expected mix of "you're an idiot!" and thoughtful replies both positive and negative. Gilbertson is essentially trying to argue that Apple gets a pass on stuff that would (and has) gotten Microsoft into big trouble and unloved.

While I think that there's the germ of a good question in his piece, it was asked in far better fashion by ScottMcNulty over at TUAW. My response is that Gilbertson is barking up the wrong tree and makes a horribly flawed analogy. Here, in a nutshell, is why I think so:

  • The iPhone is a fringe device used by a couple of hundred thousand people. IE4 was one of the dominant browsers of its day on the dominant operating system platform that, through the implementation of proprietary tags and features, broke the browsing experience for Netscape users (the other big gun at the time). Netscape "lost" as a result and IE became the dominant browser. There is zero chance that optimized for iPhone web sites will have the same effect on the market.
  • Most iPhone websites/apps are variations on existing web properties so no one is being excluded. When they do provide something unique, it's generally (in my experience) been to address the perceived deficiencies in what Apple has shipped in version 1 of the iPhone and so of little or no interest to users of other mobile devices.
  • You can view an"optimized for the iPhone" site in any browser unless the site designer has specifically chosen to prevent this which is their prerogative (unless they're providing an essential service that cannot be accessed in any other way which would be a ludicrous decision for anyone to make).
  • Aside from Flash and some JavaScript, the WebKit-based browser on the iPhone is highly standards compliant. The optimization being done for the iPhone is largely visual enhancements to make the touch screen UI experience better.

What do you think? Is Apple guilty of the same sort of behavior Microsoft engaged in back in the IE4 era? Are they forcing anyone to do anything to ensure their web presence is viable? Do they get a pas just because they're "cool"?

Topics: Browser, iPhone, Mobility

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  • In answer to your question: No

    For the most part, Webkit on the iPhone is very good at dealing with the internet as
    it's represented today, and it will only get better.

    What's interesting is that iPhone is bringing attention to the standards: Javascript,
    CSS, HTML and H.264.

    The iPhone's lack of Flash support can hardly be considered non-compliance
    toward standards, since Flash is proprietary. The proprietary technologies
    presented by Microsoft and Adobe are the ones not in compliance with standards.
    YinToYourYang-22527499
  • How someone could compare the iPhone to IE4 is truly outstanding...

    IE4 broke the web. iPhone brings more users TO the web. Ok, so a few sites may be hideous in desktop browsers because the designer decided to only support the iPhone, but the fact is those sites will still be viewable in desktop browsers, thus nothing broken.

    End of story. I'm all for keeping Apple honest, but this is ludicrous.
    Scrat
  • iPhone

    Doesn't bother me, my web site is optimised for no one. In fact, on the front page is states "This site best viewed with eyeballs."
    Kenoscope
  • Face it. All mobile phones/small devices require special treatment.

    Small devices like phones and pda are awful are displaying standard web pages. IPhone is needing nothing really new. No, I don't own one or have any plans and yes, I develop web pages. IPhone is still okay in my book!
    scoobydoozie
  • Does MSNZD require a GED to secure employment writing for them?

    jesus.
    It must be a slow day on MSNZD;
    -----------
    [b]read more on this subject on ZDNet:[/b]

    *Do APPLE computers cause cancer?
    *How an iPhone brought me to financial ruin
    *iPod malfunctions, catches fire-burns down 30 story office
    building in LA, 300 dead
    *Why the new Macbooks may be secretly financed with Al Queeda
    money

    IT appears that an IQ or an education is NOT a prerequesite to
    work at ZDNet-(or MSNZD as i like to dub it)
    only a signed loyalty oath to Gates-no matter the news reports
    on his products massive failures come out......

    oh-and a pulse (optional);
    No I am not against Mac criticism pre se
    But having studied both advertising and propaganda techniques
    (used in
    WW2, Russia, China) -as well as in current advertising , at school-I can spot
    agenda filled/colored BS writting a mile away.
    MS massive # of failures get more of a -"well-he's my kid-ive done what I can-
    God knows with no results -so I just let my little jonny be little jonny-ill always
    love the 'lil guy no matter what" kid glove treatment

    While you build up APPLE as the place where Saddam Hussein REALLY
    stored the WMDs...
    gennx30