You need a foundation before you take out the walls

I’m a web guy. I have been working on web products and web sites for many years and have grown used to the tools and platforms available to web developers. The mobile web is different. There are so many layers of technology which are still evolving. The layers of abstraction which make web development easy don’t exist in the mobile world so it’s difficult to unify experience across devices. I’ve been trying to put my finger on an easy to way to illustrate this and today I was pointed to a post by Mike Rowehl (who runs the Silicon Valley Mobile Monday events) that hit it home for me.

If I was looking to develop for PCs and had to join Dell’s developer program to get into about developing for Dells, and then Gateway’s developer program to make my app work on Gateway, and then Toshiba to make my app work on Toshibas – and then have to worry about differences between Comcast and Savis and Internap at the network level. Nothing would ever get done.

This is the current state of the mobile web if you’re a developer. It’s too damn difficult and if you’re trying to reach a global audience, you really need to pick and choose your platforms carefully to avoid death by one thousand exceptions. Thanks to the iPhone we can see the benefits of a tightly defined ecosystem. While I don’t believe in the restrictions the iPhone places around its device and data you put onto it, I hope that Apple’s example gives everyone a taste of what’s possible so that consumer demand will drive the industry towards common APIs that will make greater cooperation and thus innovation possible.

One thought on “You need a foundation before you take out the walls

  1. Mike Rowehl

    Hey Ian, happy you got something out of the post. I'm with you in hoping that Apple's example helps to motivate the mobile world to do things different, and that at least a part of that is a focus on what the customer wants (instead of the main focus now, which is reducing customer support calls, very much the wrong metric to use). – Mike

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