Mobile web monopoly
There’s a recent post by Peter-Paul Koch called The iPhone obsession about how Mobile Safari is being treated by web developers as the only web browser to develop for. PPK likens this to how we all used to only develop for IE6. Unfortunately, the article has lots of hyperbole and iPhone hate which significantly detracts from the actual message.
The fundamental point is that Mobile Safari is not the only web browser available on phones and if you are serious about providing mobile web to your users, then developing for the other 85% should be part of your modus operandi.
However (and there’s always a however!) it’s not easy. It’s trivial for me to have multiple web browsers and multiple operating systems on one computer for testing. It is not trivial for me to have 10 phones with different browsers and screen sizes. We don’t do enough mobile work to justify the costs.
What actually annoyed me was Rentzch’s response. Rentzch started by saying that Koch’s argument was “stupid/lazy/undisciplined” and then goes on to say:
I see a quiet revolution of mobile developers waiting for other phones to catch up to the iPhone.
I think mobile developers intuitively grasp that accommodating the insufficient software+hardware of non-iPhones out there will only prolong the status quo, extending needless suffering for developers and users alike.
That’s exactly what we all said when we wanted Netscape 4 to die because IE was so much better. Rentzch has made Koch’s point for for him whilst trying to disagree.
For what it’s worth, I think that any mobile device manufacturer who wants web developers to develop for their device’s browser, should provide hardware that doesn’t need a plan. It doesn’t even need to be a phone. Mobile Safari is the easiest mobile browser to test against as it’s available in the iPod Touch.