I stopped to read a post by Raju Vegesna about the iPhone's impact on web applications like Zoho (See, Techmeme sponsorships work). In it, Raju talks about how he's excited by the prospect of a "full fledged browser" on a mobile device:
I was particularly excited about the internet communications functionality part of iPhone. The reason is simple….when there is a device with a big screen along with built in Wi-Fi and a full fledged browser with very good ease of use, the chances of practically and regularly using web apps on a mobile device can only go up (considering my bad experiences with many existing devices). This can only be good news for web apps like Zoho as the reach goes beyond desktop.
One of my big criticisms of Ajax applications is their inability to have any kind of mobile presence. Whereas Flash applications could be ported to Flash Lite using the same skills, mobile versions of Ajax applications have been nearly impossible to implement and often require an entirely different code base to create. This was always a strong point for Flash; using the same developer resources you could easily build RIAs that were tailored for the mobile experience. Everything from the UI to the assets could be handcrafted for small screens. Ajax could never keep up.
Now the iPhone comes along and it includes the promise of a working browser. Is this going to mean that Ajax developers can depend on Apple to "mobilize" their Ajax applications for the small screen with no code changes on their part? Is the iPhone simply going to provide all the hooks for mobile versions of Ajax applications? If that's the case, and the iPhone makes Ajax applications viable on mobile devices, does that go even further to legitimize them as a full solution? I realize I'm overly critical of Ajax applications, but as the mobile space becomes more important in terms of branding and presence, I just don't think Ajax can keep up. But if the iPhone changes that game, it makes things a lot more interesting.