June 24, 2009
The original iPhone was for
suckers hard-core gadget enthusiasts only. But as I predicted, 12 months later, the iPhone 3G rectified all the shortcomings of the first version. And now, with the iPhone 3GS, we've reached the mythical third version:
A computer industry adage is that Microsoft does not make a successful product until version 3. Its Windows operating system was not a big success until the third version was introduced in 1990 and, similarly, its Internet Explorer browsing software was lackluster until the third version.
The platform is now so compelling and polished that even I took the plunge. For context, this is the first Apple product I've owned since 1984. Literally.
I am largely ambivalent towards Apple, but it's impossible to be ambivalent about the iPhone -- and in particular, the latest and greatest iPhone 3GS. It is the Pentium to the 486 of the iPhone 3G. A landmark, genre-defining product, no longer a mere smartphone but an honest to God fully capable, no-compromises computer in the palm of your hand.
Here's how far I am willing to go: I believe the iPhone will ultimately be judged a more important product than the original Apple Macintosh.
Yes, I am dead serious. Just check back here in fifteen to twenty years to see if I was right. (Hint: I will be.)
There's always been a weird tension in Apple's computer designs, because they attempt to control every nuance of the entire experience from end to end. For the best Appletm experience, you run custom Appletm applications on artfully designed Appletm hardware dongles. That's fundamentally at odds with the classic hacker mentality that birthed the general purpose computer. You can see it in the wild west, anything goes Linux ecosystem. You can even see it in the Wintel axis of evil, where a million motley mixtures of hardware, software, and operating system variants are allowed to bloom, like little beige stickered flowers, for a price.
But a cell phone? It's a closed ecosystem, by definition, running on a proprietary network. By a status quo of incompetent megacorporations who wouldn't know user friendliness or good design if it ran up behind them and bit them in the rear end of their expensive, tailored suits. All those things that bugged me about Apple's computers are utter non-issues in the phone market. Proprietary handset? So is every other handset. Locked in to a single vendor? Everyone signs a multi-year contract. One company controlling your entire experience? That's how it's always been done. Nokia, Sony/Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM -- these guys clearly had no idea what they were in for when Apple set their sights on the cell phone market -- a market that is a nearly perfect match to Apple's strengths.
Apple was born to make a kick-ass phone. And with the lead they have, I predict they will dominate the market for years to come.
Consider all the myriad devices that the iPhone 3GS can sub for, and in some cases, outright replace:
- Netbook (for casual web browsing and email)
- MP4 Video Recorder
- MP3 player
- DVD player
- eBook reader
Oh yeah, and I heard you can make phone calls with it, too. Like any general purpose computer, it's a jack of all trades.
As impressive as the new hardware is, the software story is even bigger. If you're a software developer, the iPhone can become a career changing device, all thanks to one little teeny-tiny icon on the iPhone home screen:
The App Store makes it brainlessly easy to install, upgrade, and purchase new applications. But more importantly, any software developer -- at the mild entry cost of owning a Mac, and signing up for the $99 iPhone Developer Program -- can build an app and sell it to the worldwide audience of iPhone users. Apple makes this stuff look easy, when historically it has been anything but. How many successful garage developers do you know for Nintendo DS? For the Motorola Razr? For Palm? For Windows Mobile?
Apple has never been particularly great at supporting software developers, but I have to give them their due: with the iPhone developer program, they've changed the game. Nowhere is this more evident than in software pricing. I went on a software buying spree when I picked up my iPhone 3GS, ending up with almost three pages of new applications from the App Store. I was a little worried that I might rack up a substantial bill, but how can I resist when cool stuff like ports of the classic Amiga Pinball Dreams are available, or the historic Guru Meditation? The list of useful (and useless) apps is almost endless, and growing every day.
My total bill for 3 screens worth of great iPhone software applications? About fifty bucks. I've paid more than that for Xbox 360 games I ended up playing for a total of maybe three hours! About half of the apps were free, and the rest were a few bucks. I think the most I paid was $9.99, and that was for an entire library. What's revolutionary here isn't just the development ecosystem, but the economics that support it, too. At these crazy low prices, why not fill your phone with cool and useful apps? You might wonder if developers can really make a living selling apps that only cost 99 cents. Sure you can, if you sell hundreds of thousands of copies:
Freeverse, one of the leading developers and publishers of iPhone games, sold the millionth copy of its Flick Fishing game over the weekend, making Flick Fishing the first paid application to reach the one million download milestone. Flick Fishing, which costs 99 cents, allows iPhone and iPod touch users to take a virtual fishing trip with the flick of a wrist. The game uses the iPhone's accelerometer to recreate a casting motion, then a combination of bait choice and fishing skill helps players land the big fish.
Preliminary weekly reports for the period from 23 March to 19 April indicate that Flight Control sold a total of 587,485 units during this time. We estimate total sales are now over 700,000 units, with the bulk of sales occurring in a 3 week period.
That's an honorable way to get rich programming, and a nice business alternative to the dog-eat-dog world of advertising subsidized apps.
I love nothing more than supporting my fellow software developers by voting with my wallet. it does my heart good to see so many indie and garage developers making it big on the iPhone. (Also, I'm a sucker for physics games, and there are a bunch of great ones available in the App Store). I'm more than happy to pitch in a few bucks every month for a great new iPhone app.
If this has all come across as too rah-rah, too uncritical a view of the iPhone, I apologize. There are certainly things to be critical about, such as the App Store's weird enforcement policies, the lack of support for emulators, or Flash, or anything else that might somehow undermine the platform as decided in some paranoid, secretive Apple back room. Not that we'd ever hear about it.
I didn't write this to kiss Apple's ass. I wrote this because I truly feel that the iPhone is a key inflection point in software development. We will look back on this as the time when "software" stopped being something that geeks buy (or worse, bootleg), and started being something that everyone buys, every day. You'd have to be a jaded developer indeed not to find something magical and transformative in this formula, and although others will clearly follow, the iPhone is leading the way.
"There's an app for that." Kudos, Apple. From the bottom of my hoary old software developer heart.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Nick - next time actually read the post before making a comment on it.
@ Andrew Ducker
>On Windows and Nokia handsets you can install _any app you like_.
>And this is why I won't be moving to an iPhone. Lovely as they are I >object to being constrained to running the software they deem is >acceptable to them.
I run any apps I want on my iPhone. and if I can't find an app that suits me, I write my own with no problem. You are not locked to Apple approved applications
I think many of you are completely missing the point of the blog. The iPhone isn't better than Android, it'll just be used differently, that's all. If you can't see that iPhone's, "we'll take care of the hard stuff, you just use our cool phone" is more attractive to the masses than Android's "I can control every facet of my phone's OS" than you really need to understand more about the world outside your computer screen. Most people out there don't give a crap about doing what Android can do, that doesn't diminish what it is, it's just that people like my 73 year old father don't care.
iPhone is more than technology, or the App Store, or the $99 fee to release a product, it's the definition of simplicity that let's you make phone calls. Most people love that kind of stuff.
Also, for what its worth, Apple approached Verizon about being the US carrier to the iPhone, but they were turned down because they wanted to release their own phone. AT&T was the Plan B.
"I predict they will dominate the market for years to come"
- They're technologically behind the competitors (3mp camera while almost all other phones have at least 5mp; they added video only in the latest version, etc.).
- Their product costs about 700€ here, while N97 is just 500€
My slightly moderated opinion is that iPhone will be for mobile telephony what Mac is for computers: a "niche" or "trendy" product for fanatics.
YEAH: I hate Apple!! And i don't care for mobile phones either - I can call with it and send sms with it, what else do you wanna do with it? You can't have sex with it, or eat it or drink it - then I think it's completely rubbish!!
PS. I hate not only Apple, I also hate every major corporation like Microsoft and I hate Linux and the open source world for their superior "free" beliefs - quite frankly I hate everybody - including myself - I hate myself a lot for my incompleteness to be become a jedi programmer in half-dozen programming languages at least. But the only thing that's adding up in my work is the toilet paper I'm using when I'm at work shitting and all the coffee I'm drinking which makes me shit even more, so these are the confessions of the 'shitty' angry programmer... And the IT industry makes me more angry - it's so full of crap, that decent hard(?) working programmers are left for the words of managers and sales man (that are full of crap, and without of a clue, which obviously is an advantage because their lies will be a lot more believable if they don't know the actual subject.. or such..). FUCK 'EM ALL!!! HEAVY METAL ROCKS!!! ANARCHY FOREVER!!! CRAP SMELLS LIKE SHIT!!! AND JEFF LOOKS LIKE A GOAT WITH GLASSES!!
... and you should own a Mac to develop an iPhone application. Nah.
This is the first post ever on this blog that I can agree with 100%.
iPhone is a brilliant device - it is a gaming platform, a phone, an application platform (graphics, API, your choice). It is also hackable which makes it worthwhile for me, at any price :)
The real question is why Microsoft is not capable of bringing such breakthroughs (in software, let alone hardware). Bill retired too soon, IMHO and might have to drop the World Peace to play catchup with iPhone because it is changing the game, in OS markets, in gaming markets, in phone markets - and mobile application development.
@code monkey: dude, have you tried adding memory to your system or upgrading the OS or finding another job? You can do some web 2.0 pushups too. :))))
iPhone replacing these devices???!! My eyes, the goggles do nothing!
The iPhone/iPod Touch will do things in the background for you - carefully vetted Apple supplied things, but background none the less. Email notification, voice memo recording, audio playback, app update notifications, and the Nike+ exercise app come to mind.
Those of you that do not want to pay for a data plan, you can develop on a cheap, used Intel Mac from Craigslist, using the iPhone simulator that comes with the SDK, and not use a device at all. A refurbished iPod Touch will do fine if you want on-device testing.
Apple has rules and the dreaded approval process partly for control, partly for compliance with carrier requirements, but mainly for preserving the quality of the user experience on the platform. I wish more companies had this on their priority list.
Maybe some one said this already, but I'm not reading all those comments. :)
Your 18 months behind Jeff. I bough the first iPhone model and had the same revelations. I jailbroke it on day one and had a powerful Unix machine in the palm of my hand. It was mind-boggling.
I didn't upgrade to the 3G, but I have the 3GS and I agree it is another leap forward. But the real breakthrough honestly came 18 months ago. Glad you caught up. ;)
It certainly shook the house, forcing the players of this market to wake up and compete. It is clearly a fantastic peace of technology.
Reasons why I don't own an iPod:
* I refuse to pay twice as much monthly for my phone as for my home internet connection
* Objective C
* License forbids anything that resembles a framework
* Apple can do a number of other things no app developer is allowed to do
* The I'm a Mac ads
You know what there aren't apps for?
The two I really looked for and couldn't find, as of about a week ago:
- Aikido martial arts (I was thinking maybe a virtual handbook or something)
Granted I _COULD_ create the apps myself, but it would cost me the $99 for the developer software, and then there's also the pesky problem of having to own a Mac computer. Yeah, I'm not dropping that much on a name brand, when the computer I have built cheaper can outperform it in anything BUT what Apple specializes in.
My plea: Apple, let Microsoft users develop for the iPhone too!!!
I said all this years ago, when the iPhone was first released, and got laughed at :(
My iPhone3G is awesome!
I replaced my crappy Palm Treo720W phone that I bought 3 years ago. It was a pain to use as a phone. Using the stylus sucked! Have you ever hit a button during a call while driving and tried to hit the freakin' "X" in the upper window with your finger. A pain in the butt!
There is nothing I dislike about the iPhone except I wish it had more memory! Even the new 3GS with 32GB is not enough for me. I want to totally replace my iPod with the iPhone.
Development for the iPhone may be a bit old-school, but the applications on it and the ease-of-use blow Windows Mobile away!
A brief comment on how I came to feel about my old phone (Samsung Blackjack I):
But to be fair, I ran it until the batteries literally died. Mobile phone years are like dog years: each one is like 7 years of clock time.
And this year is the year of Linux on the desktop, too.
Too much excitement for this product. It's an ok device, alright; but not such a big hit in regions that are known to be far more advanced in telecom and mobile devices than the U.S., such as Japan.
My personal opinion on the iPhone is: It is a great product. It is a whole computer packed into a mobile phone. There exists amazing software for it. Development is easier than for every other mobile phone ever before.
However, for me it is just a tech toy. It is too expensive, I have no real use for it (what I need is a phone to call people and send SMS, that's it), if I want a mobile computer I rather buy a real laptop, if I want mobile Internet I rather buy a UMTS stick for the notebook. It's not the kind of toy I'd be willing to pay for. But it's great nonetheless.
Phone = a device for making telephone calls.
Computer = a general purpose device.
i"Phone" = see "computer".
I little perspective from half globe away from Apple home market.
- contracts are hardly worldwide, in some countries rules are prepaid and rapidly switching operators whenever one of them makes better offer;
- there are sure signs that phone manufacturers brace for impact when total lockdown won't be an option anymore - for example for the first time in years Nokia talks about Linux as one of their pillar platforms;
- iPhone might be fine device but Apple has no product line - there is a limit to how much you can refresh single model before buyers get bored. And it is quite expensive device unless heavily subsidized.
- most phone owners couldn't care less about apps, many people don't even bother to know that they bought smartphone.
Apple is good at marketing. Apple is good at creating niche for itself. Apple completely sucks at influencing anything on worldwide scale.
> Apple completely sucks at influencing anything on worldwide scale.
What? Are you actually serious?
The iPhone is not a phone, well it can be used for makin calls as well, but its a personal computing platform.
This platform has captured the essence of having an electronic swiss army knife -you can do with it almost all of the functions you might need.
The real break through it creating a real usable user interface suitable for smalls screens.
Blog on system engineering
@Rarst: Why do they need to influence the world? They're doing quite well right where they are.
No, not everyone signs multi-year contracts for their cell phone. I never have and never will. Most definitely not when it means inflating my cell phone bill tenfold. No matter how cool the device it's bundled with is.
> Apple completely sucks at influencing anything on worldwide scale.
> > What? Are you actually serious?
Living in a country where Apple mostly perceived as money wasting toy, country officially discarded by Apple as any kind of market, country where iPhone (even first one) wasn't ever officially released...
I absolutely am.
Apple likes to present itself like a planet-sized phenomena. In reality it focuses on markets that are convenient and couldn't care (or matter) less for rest of the world. :)
On Windows and Nokia handsets you can install _any app you like_.
And this is why I won't be moving to an iPhone. Lovely as they are I object to being constrained to running the software they deem is acceptable to them.
Have you actually _used_ OS/X on a Mac? It's not locked down at all.
"...they attempt to control every nuance of the entire experience from end to end. For the best Appletm experience, you run custom Appletm applications on artfully designed Appletm hardware dongles."
OS/X is Unix and Cocoa is Objective-C. You can crack open Application bundles, manipulate plist files, inject code into applications, and do all the things you normally can on Unix. The configuration files are text files, you have access to DTrace, you can add kernel extensions, etc. Now, theming support is non-existent and the replacement of the Finder with a third party app has a lot of rough edges.
Windows (with the exception of theming) is far more locked down then OS/X is.
Where this comes from is that they control the hardware. They control the experience not by locking down the software (you don't even enter serial numbers when installing OS/X), but by limiting the amount of hardware they need to support. Theoretically this means that their drivers should be polished and perfect. In reality it just means that they're very good. The lack of true lock-in can be proved simply by looking at the number and variations of Hackintoshes.
>Why do they need to influence the world? They're doing quite well right where they are.
That was to post's:
>I predict they will dominate the market for years to come
I am assuming mobile phone market as whole is implied.
And yes, Apple is doing most excellently where they are. :) However that place is considerably smaller than it seems, especially in worldwide mobile phone industry dominated by Nokia.
I don't have much comment on the iPhone, but I have a little doubt on this "But a cell phone? It's a closed ecosystem, by definition, running on a proprietary network.".
The mobile network is not as "proprietary" as you think. In theory, you can make your own mobile to do whatever you want as long as it can communicate with others on the network. The specifications are online and free. For UMTS the specification can be found under http://www.3gpp.org/specification-numbering , for EV-DO, check 3GPP2 website.
If mobile network is proprietary, then the internet is also running on a proprietary network as well.
How much did Apple pay you to write this? Oh well, one RSS feed less to read. Thanks!
"its Internet Explorer browsing software was lackluster until the third version"
You could argue that it still is lacklustre!
I work at Microsoft. Over the years I have been proud of some things MS accomplished, but not all. A month ago I purchased an iPhone and was amazed, not just by what it can do, but by how intuitive the UI is--my 3-year-old can use it! She comes and asks to use the iPhone, turns it on, navigates to a game, and manipulates it pretty well. What a testament to great UI design!! I know that MS has made gains with WinMo, and at one time I would have wanted one, but it really doesn't fill my needs as a consumer like the iPhone.
As a side note, MS library offers employees access to Safari books online (tech books). They just started listing, at login, the most popular books by other Microsoft employees. The top two? Developing iPhone apps and objective-C.
1. That iPhone image is such a photoshop disaster ( http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/ ). The reflection misses the bottom button.
2. Does the new iPhone support Flash? Because I don't get how someone can get excited about a device that doesn't support YouTube or anything flashy.
"It's a closed ecosystem, by definition, running on a proprietary network."
Id you mean the carriers network, it may me true in the US where it seems every handset ever sold is tied to a subscription. In the rest of the world however this is far from the norm, as Rarst maybe pointed out. I don't really see anything proprietary about the Symbian platform for example. There is no app-store to be approved for, no lock in to a particular developer stack, or to a handset manufacturer or carrier.
The closed ecosystem seems, to me at least, a very US market-driven way of working.
You forgot to add the following things that the iPhone can replace:
* PDA (kinda of obvious, no?)
* Tape/voice recorder (very important for journalists)
oh yeah, and it also has a calculator ;)
Perhaps you don't keep up with phone and smart phone trends but there is actually very little about the iPhone that is new. Smart phones have been very incremental for the past 10 years or so, with great ideas along the way that were embraced by all players.
What has Apple truly done that was novel?
1. Marketing - they've marketed their device to the world, not just executives or geeks or kids but to everyone.
2. App Store Development - they've convinced hundreds of developers to author apps for their platform, but that's it - everything else about their App Store had already been done before, why hadn't you heard about it? See #1
3. Made it sexy - sure they've brought together a nice set of pre-existing technology in a nice package, but what makes it truly sexy? See #1
So perhaps in 10-20 years we'll look back as business people and use the iPhone as an example of what really really good marketing can do, but as a technical revolution? Product revolution? I'm not buying either.
A more important product than the Macintosh *for Apple*, maybe. For the rest of the world, it will very likely just go the way of the Wii once the shiny wears off. Perhaps I am just old and jaded, but I don't really believe the world lives on their goddamn cellphone like the iPhone enthusiasts do.
The invention that changes the world will not be a phone, it will be the device that shows up the phone for the irritating failure that it is.
"Because I don't get how someone can get excited about a device that doesn't support YouTube or anything flashy."
The iPhone has YouTube support built in. It does not support flash yet, but to be honest I have yet to find a Flash website that I actually want to visit.
Too bad the iPhone works only with AT&T. AT&T is evil. They must die.
@Richard on June 25, 2009 5:09 AM:
"How much did Apple pay you to write this? Oh well, one RSS feed less to read. Thanks!"
And one less developer to compete with. Thanks!!!
the first 2 iphones were pretty kick ass too. BTW, OS X kicks the crap out of ANY...and I mean ANY existing operating system.
Apple made 2 moves that other companies would never have the balls to make (microsoft needs to do this first one). 1) re-write OS from scratch and do not support old OS, 2) re-launch entire line of computers on intel platform. BTW, they also created the iPod...no biggie. All of these are precursors to the iphone...but doing bold things is part of apple. It's a shame that this is your first apple product since 1984.
"What has Apple truly done that was novel?"
Brought down the whole operating system stack from the desktop platform. Compare and contrast to Blackberry development where you get bare bones functionality and have to roll everything else yourself.
The interesting part of this is that many of the technologies in OS/X couldn't just be shoved onto the phone (QuickTime anyone?) so they had to rewrite them for the phone. Now they're porting them back to the desktop (QuickTime X). It's one of the reasons why the next version of OS/X (Snow Leopard) is smaller and faster.
"...(microsoft needs to do this first one). 1) re-write OS from scratch and do not support old OS"
Don't you think that will damage their sales to businesses? When a company wants to upgrade, they have to make sure their programs work on the new stuff. Many companies have millions invested in software. I think Win7 with the download to run a XP VM is step in the right direction
I've been an iPhone fanboy since the first day I got my fingers on mine. It syncs to my work and home calendars, it allows me to keep up on my email whether I am in the office, at home, or in a long meeting, it helps me do my job. I am a software engineer, but for the mainframe, not pc. And yes, there is a 3270 app, but it basically sucks, not that you could do it better given the size of the screen. My wife has made a few remarks about when I get bored of it, that she will take it, but I'm afraid this is one phone that I will use until it wears out, then replace it with another.
Nokia is the worldwide leader because they make a lot of cheap phones with few features. Comparing the worldwide market shares between Nokia and iPhone is not particularly useful. People worldwide that have money to spend and like the idea of a handheld computer buy the iPhone too.
The only phone on the level of the iPhone that has a greater worldwide market share is the Blackberry, which had a big headstart, and iPhone has caught up fast.
hehe, welcome to the real world. at least :)
Apple has made tremendous innovations in user interface. Furthermore, since they've sold so many units, app development is lucrative and there is a myriad of cool apps available at your fingertips (I won't get into the average apps lifespan). However, your "closed ecosystem" comment misses the mark completely. My custom ROM on my TyTN II allows me to have cutting edge software on, albeit, aging hardware. Until my phone's hardware can't handle the latest software, I really have no need to upgrade. My 2 year old phone literally does everything the 3GS does.
Maybe StackOverflow will get mobile-friendly now, e.g. text with "code" Markdown will be visible even if the lines are long.
It is an amazing device. After getting one for my wife she has pretty much abandoned her shiny new computer for the iPhone. Sits upstairs and surfs, games and checks her exchange mail.
It is the first real glimpse of the future of personal computing.
>I think Win7 with the download to run a XP VM is step in the right direction
It is the right direction...Apple did the same thing with an OS 9 VM in OS X...that is how MS could accomplish the same thing..but instead, win 7 is just a re-hash of Vista with a few improvements. BTW, which is more costly for MS...I work at a company that still runs XP because they see no point in "up" grading (I use the word "up" loosely). MS needs a vision badly
Almost convince me to buy one, you do.
To say that Apple hasn't done anything new or novel, or to say that it's just slick marketing, COMPLETELY misses the point. The revolution is in the way we use our cell phones, and in the way Apple has brought together a real all-in-one device into the palm of your hand. And they did it in a way that MS, Motorola, RIM, et al, couldn't.
Cue Codinghorror gaining an influx of Apple Zealots who fill the comment areas on any Windows related posts on a million reasons why everyone who uses a Windows OS is wrong.
Now you've opened Pandora's box there's no going back.
btw @fishstick_kitty proves my point nicely.
i have an app that has been on the app store for several months now and it has been selling consistently, but nothing remarkable. the app store only makes the distribution part easy: marketing is what drives sales, though. my app has received good ratings and many of the users tell me they love it, but i am not very good at marketing (yet) so my sales are not growing (and i haven't seen a penny myself... apple holds on to your money per territory until you get to certain threshholds). the biggest boosts in sales come from releasing new versions and getting onto the newly released list, but the itunes store is so glitchy that more often than not your app won't show up until it's already 3 pages back.
developing for the iphone is not really any different from developing for the desktop platform, it turns out. the gold rush came, and now we are mostly just a bunch of starving prospectors...
I read that the OS is finally somewhat responsive, wowzers. I'm still not confident with Apple's censorship, I like to decide myself what apps to intall. But I read that it even got an 3mp camera (hahaha).
S.Jobs then: "no place for video on the iphone". Now: "video, omg!1"
Apple ads define products and fanboys alike. F*** them...
I don't know about you but my "computer" can run more than 1 app at a time.
> it will very likely just go the way of the Wii once the shiny wears off
Do you mean it will keep on selling truckloads more than their competitors, or that it will still be a fun thing to use?
Android can do everything the iPhone OS can.
$100 per year?! I spend $10 a year - and that's only because my wife occasionally borrows my phone. Did you know that pay-per-minute expires after 6 months? It does, and I only recharge it the minimum each time. I've got about $30 right now. :-)
The iPhone has 2 annoyances for would-be hackers. You can't test your own code without paying Apple for a licence and you can only create applications using a Mac. So that's $1500+ if you want to see your "hello world" app on your iPhone.
As a Free Software weenie I couldn't buy an Apple product to use as a hacking gadget, even if I never wanted to put my app on their download server. I'd rather buy an Android handset - though that too is locked down AFAIK.
Is the phone market a closed market by definition or is it that way because it has always been? Early on, computers were a closed market too. It only took a little open-ness on both hardware and software side for the alternatives to appear.
What do you make out of Android? Sure, it's not as polished as the iPhone, no one even pretends that, but for how long?
There is also OpenMoko (http://www.openmoko.com/) with much less visibility.
How long will the cell phone market remain closed?
"The original iPhone was for suckers.." er.. dude, for someone who is meant to be a Technology freak that shows stupidity.
My first iPhone was an amazing piece of kit, that I quickly Jailbroke and started to hack. I am still constantly amazed how it beats the competition - the fact that you waited two years to get one shows how behind you are dude.
There's nothing wrong with Apple, its just another multi-corporate software giant that believes in innovation. All developers MUST believe in innovation, otherwise we would all be sitting here writing COBOL on green screen dumb terminals.
Can't believe it took you so long, but learn to live by your mistakes dude - I couldnt survive without my iphone.
Go Jobs Go!
I've never owned an Apple product. About 8 months ago my whole team got an iPhone. I decided to hold out for the N97, but when I finally saw real-world reviews following last Friday's launch, I knew the 3GS was the way to go.
As for Flash support - most of us only really use Flash for YouTube, and the YouTube app on the iPhone is perfect, so no gripes here. (Yes, I know there's the odd Flash game, and other video sites, but hey, I'm "them asses")
CAPTCHA: peekaboo :)
ahh bless, he's all excited because he's finally got an iphone, don't worry it'll wear off soon, as it has for many of us 'suckers' that have had one for a while.
"btw: As I predicted..."
err... iPhone has been a massive success ever since its launch - what are you on about?
Well said Jeff.
I'm coming from pretty much exactly the same place. I am no Apple fanboi. In fact I actively dislike some of their practises. But in the context of the iPhone they just work.
The device itself has fundamentally evolved the way I view and use the web. I've worked in telecoms monitoring software and I was previously extremely sceptical of the "mobile web"/3G/UMTS as the take up rates were incredibly small.
There were plenty of Nokias etc that could do it - but it was painful to use and the reserve of geeks. A recent survey by FoneBank suggested 61% of users think their phone is too complicated and that most people don't use most of the features on their phones.
iPhone has changed the game by taking a HUGE step forward in usability.
@Kearns - So creating a good user experience is just down to marketing?
Hey Now Jeff,
It's amazing too how the percentage of page views are increasing from the iphone too.
Coding Horror fan,
I find the fact that Windows Mobile (or developers of it) had never really thought about a finger friendly interface until iPhone came out even though it existed many years before. It's like "Dude, it's touch screen! And you still need a stylus to touch! Wake up!"
I am stunned by what games can someone develop for it but in no way I would think that it is a Gameboy simply because there are no buttons. Seriously, one of the main reasons I still hesitate to buy an iPhone is the lack of a QWERTY keyboard. Finger friendly can only take you so far. My TyTN not only has a slide out keyboard but also has 15 shortcut buttons, 1 DPAD and a jog dial! You can't imagine how convenient this is. It's almost one press for every thing I do. Not to mention the speed and ease of typing. I would like to mention here that I use my phone as a..phone... So yes, typing a Text Message and a Note is essential to me.
For a while HTC was going in the iPhone direction and not making any keyboard versions until recently (thank god!) it announced the HTC Lancaster. Phew!
If iPhone will ever release a version with a keyboard I'm gonna be the first one to buy it, although (sadly) I don't see this happening in the future.
I've been writing iPhone software for over a year now, and it is loads of fun. I haven't made a boat load of money; what I have made is via custom development and not from my slow selling personal apps.
Things to like:
Nearly legacy free APIs and framework. Unlike desktop OS X, where there are a huge number of APIs in various states of deprecation, there are comparably few bits of deprecated cruft to waste your time or tie you down. In my day job, I am moving an app originally written in 1988 (an continuously updated since) to 64-bit Snow Leopard, and that is going to be a lot of grunt work.
It may be an acquired taste, but Cocoa+Objective C is a lovely, elegant way to write an application.
Despite what you hear about fart apps, you really are competing to make apps of quality and polish that would be unheard of even 2 years ago. If you want to develop a mobile app on a competitive platform today, you had best make it pleasing on the eye, performant, and responsive. (It's nice to see that Palm has released such a quality competing product.)
The performance tools (Instruments) are very good. And for someone who likes to optimize for speed, and hates leaks, that's a good thing. Also the new Clang static analyzer is amazing. You really have to go out of your way to leak memory even without a garbage collector. (And yes, it would probably be nice to have automagic garbage collection.)
Things not to like:
Worst part of the iPhone development process is dealing with rejections based on hard to figure out or anti-competitive strategies by either Apple or the big carriers. Not fun spending months writing an app, and then spending 6 months waiting for it to get into the store.
App signing is a colossal pain. The hours I've wasted trying to figure out what is wrong with my certificates or project settings.
Having to be a marketer when it'd be nice if people just recognized you for writing the best app.
"But a cell phone? It's a closed ecosystem, by definition, running on a proprietary network"
doesn't that only apply in the united states?
Do other countries carriers cripple phones to force customers to stay on their networks?
I'm under the impression that is more of a USA kinda of thing.
I own an iTouch which is the iPhone without the phone. I'm not going to develop any applications for it because Apple screws you but I may create some web applications for my own use. The stupid device won't even allow you to transfer any text files to it so I need to create web pages which can be saved just to store information on it.
But u cant even bluetooth send a mp3 with this phone?
Your list of devices the iPhone subs for/replaces is exactly the reason I don't want one.
I carry around my cell (much smaller than an iPhone), my MP3 player, and my PDA. And guess what? When the battery in my phone runs dry, I can still listen to my music. Or look up someone's address. And the battery life on all 3 gadgets *individually* is still superior to an iPhone.
On top of that, there is no way in *hell* I'll pay those data fees (see: extortion).
No thanks, I'll pass.
Nice article! I love Coding Horrors!
I believe the "censorship" we have seen in the app store will decline with the addition of parental controls to iPhone OS 3.
@Rarst: "Apple is good at marketing. Apple is good at creating niche for itself. Apple completely sucks at influencing anything on worldwide scale."
"Apple likes to present itself like a planet-sized phenomena. In reality it focuses on markets that are convenient and couldn't care (or matter) less for rest of the world. :)"
Are you just disappointed they are not selling the iPhone in your country? Because they clearly presented a list of countries and release dates in the keynote, it did not say 'the whole planet'.
Also consider how many yahoos are trying to submit apps to the App Store everyday. Aren't you kinda glad Apple is 'weeding' out potentially malicious(viruses) and plain, broken apps for you - especially since you can't preview an app before purchase. I think most people focus on the negative aspects and not the good.
> From what I've heard iPhone development is a real pain.
And that guy did not know what he was talking about. As it happened, I sent an (unfortunately perhaps too over the top) e-mail to the .net rocks hosts, and in response they've asked me to be on the show to present a counter argument. Listen for it in a couple months.
1) Objective-C is a pleasant, light weight language. It is different in syntax from C#. It has a different set of features from C#. A professional engineer with a good attitude should get reasonably proficient in a month or so.
2) The mobile version of Obj-C does not include garbage collection, but you can use Clang to find all your leaks, so you have no leaks and no garbage collection overhead.
3) The Instruments package make optimization fun and easy (if you are like me and get an endorphin rush when you get a 20% speed up). I happen to think Instruments on the Mac or iPhone are much better than any performance tools I've seen included with Visual Studio, but I will admit I have just moved to VS 2008.
4) XCode is rapidly improving. It was pretty good in version 3 before the iPhone, and has become markedly better since, while still only being at 3.1.3. It's gained useable code completion, better compile times, somewhat more comprehensible code signing, better device management, etc. I've always liked XCode better than Visual Studio (which I use every day) but I understand that PC programmers tend to like Visual Studio better. Hopefully, open minded PC programmers will accept that XCode is not half bad and has gotten better.
I believe the iPhone will go down as Apples biggest missed opportunity.
Things that will keep it from growing.
1. $99 to develop for it
2. Apple takes %30 of the sale of your app
3. Draconian app approval process
4. Re-approval process just to submit an update for your app
5. No flash or silverlight
6. Apple forces the market to under price your app.
Read "Conclusions and Lessons" from your link.
To me this is just not worth the effort if your a single or in a small team of developers.
If Apple keeps this type of "control freak like mentality", they will lose the mobile market like they did the Desktop Computer market.
Jeff, never mind that fishing game - you need to get your hands on Flight Control! Current office record 119 aircraft!
I took the plunge earlier this year (http://trickylaughter.livejournal.com/2008/12/28/) and I haven't regretted it for a minute, even when 3GS came out and made my 3G semi-obsolete. My original justification was to consolidate my phone and media player, with the added benefit of having a nice sized display to use as a portable portfolio for my photography. The availability of productivity apps was a distant third.
Since I've had the iPhone, I use my laptop about 1/3 as much as I used to - and I'll probably drop that even more when I find an rss reader that has the features I want. It's just too handy to check email, keep up with a few sites I check daily, and get a cheap gaming fix. The most I've spent on an app was about $5 (for the Iron Man game... it just looked too slick!). And popular apps drop their prices all the time - what used to take 2-3 years in the desktop world happens in months on the iPhone.
I had stopped buying games for the desktop and console, but when groundbreaking games like Myst are showing up on the iPhone, how long will it be before handholds are leading the way in graphics and game design? (Clue: only the Wii has competing gesture input, and the other consoles are rushing to catch up.)
I totally agree about the iPhone being a "career changing device". 6 months ago I was spending all my time with ASP.NET (I even wrote some books about that) and a dozen other MS technologies. Then I got caught by this iPhone revolution, and now about 60% of my times goes around it. My job is more pleasant, I can create apps that even the least tech-savvy users won't have problems to find-install-use (our last app is Postino, to print-send real postcards from your phone)...and there are a lot of clients showing interest in custom-made apps to integrate into their business apps. Go Apple go!
So how does everything you're talking about compare to an Android phone? I was thinking of getting one of those... but you're making a compelling case for the IPhone and now I'm confused. ;)
So how does everything you're talking about compare to an Android phone? I was thinking of getting one of those... but you're making a compelling case for the IPhone and now I'm confused. ;)
(Also, your captcha may need some tweaking... I've failed 3 times now because it's hard to tell what some of the letters are...)
"All those things that bugged me about Apple's computers are utter non-issues in the phone market. Proprietary handset? So is every other handset. Locked in to a single vendor? Everyone signs a multi-year contract. One company controlling your entire experience? That's how it's always been done."
So since "everyone is doing it" we should hop in and support it by buying the most expensive phone and one of the most expensive plans on the market?
I might be in the minority here, but I only pay about 45 bucks a month for my phone bill and that's far too much IMO. When I look around at the financial state of the average person and what they are doing to cut costs, I literally laugh in the face of everyone who has their expensive phones / plans. Somehow paying 40+ dollars just to have the ability to give and receive calls seems a bit much.
Anyways to circle back, just because "everyone's doing it" doesn't mean it's a good thing to support. I'll go back to my mother's basement and play on my linux box now. (That *was* a sarcastic remark for anyone wondering).
Fight the good fight, my friends, or no one will.
Sorry but no thanks. Not for me. I just bought a HTC Touch Diamond2:
- 800x480 screen resolution in a gorgeous display
- Windows Mobile on which I can install ANY app I want (not just what Apple allows me to) for example:
- Skype over 3G
- iGo (do you even HAVE that for iPhone)
- works on ANY carrier not just the Apple-chosen ones
Other nice perks:
- FM radio
- 5MP camera
And now I can develop software for this device without having to give Apple 30%, just the regular 5% fee to my payment processor.
I'd like to note that, on a global scale (esp. in 3rd world countries), phones easily eclipse computers as connectors to the world. So yes, a computer in the palm of your hand is a big deal.
>Proprietary handset? So is every other handset.
>Locked in to a single vendor? Everyone signs a multi-year contract. >One company controlling your entire experience? That's how it's always been done.
Well, no, there exist the OpenMoko Neo Freerunner which is absolutely free and all opensource. Anyone can develop anything for it/ And installing applications is about as easy as it gets - you just click on app's name and it gets downloaded and installed.
Unfortunately,Neo is not particularly usable as a phone (-8
Wow, way to embrace the status quo.
> Proprietary handset? So is every other handset. Locked in to a single vendor? Everyone signs a multi-year contract. One company controlling your entire experience? ...
None of this needs to be the case, unless everyone drinks the same tainted kool-aid you just did. I hope the competitors, and they exist, keep pushing open standards and platforms for people who want real freedom.
> at the mild entry cost of owning a Mac, and signing up for the $99 iPhone Developer Program
I have a computer, why can't I write programs now? There are android developers, j2me developers, palm pre developers, openmoko developers and mobile web app developers who can all use their existing hardware. I understand there are technical reasons why that's the case, but it's also clearly a conscious design decision where other vendors have consciously erred on the side of openness.
The iPhone is a nice bit of kit by all accounts, but I treat all it's carefully obscured downsides that you play down as serious barriers to my accepting it as a consumer and a developer.
I would love to make apps for the iPhone, but I refuse to buy a Mac. Does anyone know of a PC version of that software or a good free Mac Emulator?
The only problem with the 'Apple is great for this market' is that the market is changing. It's necessarily closed anymore. As mentioned more than a few times in the comments, if you want a 'computer' in your hand, go with Android.
With an Android Dev phone, there's not much you can't do. And whatever that is, someone will probably find a way to do it.
@Andrew Ducker: Good point, I can write and install ANY app on my WM phone.
The other problem is that the iPhone is attached to the giant AT&T "dongle", just like Mac OSX is nice, but it's also attached to a big "dongle."
I have friends and clients with the iPhone 3G and they all love the apps and all features of the phone, except for its ability to stay connected during a call. I don't know if it's the phone or the network, but all of them have frequent problems with dropped calls. If a phone/device fails in its primary purpose then I'm not interested in it. Some of them don't really care since they mostly use the phone for everything other than talking. I haven't heard yet if the 3GS is better at phone calls.
Last time I checked the Amazon top book seller list, Objective C books were 3 of the top 20, which tells me that there seems to be a lot of prospectors still trying to make the rush.