Mobile platform strategist, consultant and trainer Peter-Paul Koch has posted up a very entertaining blog post where he draws parallels between the current iPhone obsession and the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer version 6 back in 2000.
It sounds an unlikely premise for an informed rant, but inbetween the sweary bits and strops, Koch makes some very interesting observations about the state of web development on mobiles, and the current fad for focussing on iPhone optimised websites.
Here’s one of his opening salvoes (warning: naughty words ahoy – delicate wallflowers look away!):
Warning! iCandy will damage your brain!
Nowadays we live in a fantasy world that focuses exclusively on one platform, and does so exclusively for reasons of eye candy.
We laughingly disown every single principle the web standards movement has ever stood for in the past ten years in order to swoon and drool over Apple’s iCandy and happily accept the reality distortion field that emanates from it.
The iPhone has become an obsession. If we don’t pay attention, we’ll have a mobile web that only works on the iPhone. And then we’ll have the real mobile web that wasn’t made by us and doesn’t give a shit about web standards and best practices.
Worse, it seems web developers are happy with this state of affairs. It seems web developers are congratulating themselves on excluding 85% of the smartphone users. They certainly never bother to check their sites in S60 WebKit, the largest smartphone browser in the world.
We’re doing exactly the same as ten years ago. We now say “iPhone” instead of “IE6,” but otherwise nothing’s changed.
No, wait, there’s one more change: the iPhone has far less mobile market share now than IE6 had desktop share back then.
Koch complains that everyone now wants websites to look like an iPhone app even though the platform has only 15% of the sales market share, observing that no “’mobile web development specialist’ ever mentions Nokia”, despite the company selling more smartphones than BlackBerry and Apple combined.
Arguing that the focus on developing for just one browser is leading us back to the dark days when IE6 dominated the web, Koch implores developers to “take a look at their sites on a Nokia and a BlackBerry and fix whatever’s wrong,” insisting that, “supporting all browsers is the whole fucking point of being a good web developer, and I’m going to force you to do it even if I have to personally swear at each of you individually.”
Prepare to cover your ears, developers!