Today may be remembered as the day the iOS platform became fragmented like Android. The announcement today by Telenav that its GPS app has been released for the Verizon iPhone may carry unexpected ramifications for apps on the iOS line of products.
Telenav makes the AT&T Navigator app for the original iPhone, and has released Telenav GPS for the Verizon iPhone only. The navigation app is similar to the original Navigator app for the AT&T iPhone, but works on the Verizon handset only. On the surface it may appear to be a new app version to deal with the difference in telco, but according to a conversation with Telenav that is not the case.
The Verizon iPhone required modifications to the Telenav app to make it work with the new hardware in the handset. The company did not elaborate which hardware differences forced the changes, but the primary difference in the two versions of the iPhone lie in the radios (GSM vs. CDMA) and perhaps the GPS chipset. The new Telenav app for the Verizon iPhone will not run on the original iPhone due to those hardware differences.
This required app change leads to the question if other apps that talk directly to the hardware may not work on both versions of the iPhone. App developers may be looking at producing a new version of apps as Telenav was forced to do, to make sure their app can run on the Verizon iPhone. Big Red is expected to sell millions of iPhones so this is a significant piece of the iPhone market developers can't afford to miss.
If two versions of some apps are required to work on both models of iPhone, this will fragment development and support for apps. Fragmentation is a nasty beast, one that Android developers must deal with to keep apps running on the bulk of the installed user base. Apple and its iPhone developer partners have enjoyed having a single model and the simplicity it brings. That may be short-lived with the second iPhone in customer hands.