As much as I wish we’d move on and get Apple off our radar, its decisions have a rippling effect in the industry and the future of various technologies. The next issue on the list? The Web versus App debate. This can be framed more specifically as a Mobile Web vs. Objective-C Web debate in the context of Apple’s mobile landscape, but as early discussions arise, it’s transforming into an interoperability vs. superior user experience debate. Cameron Moll, author of Mobile Web Design, writes:
At one point in time, J2ME (now Java ME) and WAP were the starting points for a discussion on mobile strategy and the web. Then, for a brief period of time, you talked about HTML/CSS. Now, for a growing majority of mobile strategies that don’t require a global presence on widely varying devices, the discussion begins with iPhone. Smart client is now iPhone app, and in many cases, the app is primary to the experience, not secondary to the browser. And iPad app may soon replace iPhone app as the starting point.
Frankly, as the adoption rate of iPhone increases and if iPad follows suit, it will become increasingly difficult to argue in favor of a starting point other than iPhone OS. The NPR iPad app, for one, provides a much more pleasant user experience than NPR.org.
Peter-Paul Koch steps in and plants himself firmly on the interoperability front, maintaining allegiance to the Web:
This is a total no-brainer when we’re talking about games and other entertainment apps. When it comes to complex, graphic games, vendors will opt for superior UX, and once you’ve done that, starting on iPhone OS makes excellent sense.
But if you build an integrated social media client, is superior UX still so important that you can afford to ignore non-iPhones? I don’t think so. I think creators of such apps would do better to create one in web standards so that it runs on all (well, many) devices. There’s stiff competition out there, and the wider your reach, the better chance you have of prevailing.
Meanwhile, Faruk Ates goes the complete opposite: rooting for UX, lamenting the existence of multiple browsers, and emphasizing the need to make a buck. The debate expands further and we see clashing ideologies of democracy vs. walled gardens, free vs. paid business models, and so on. All these further reinforce how Apple’s philosophies go against those of the Web.
With all its new moves, Apple has been targeting all sorts of corporate entities for its own gain: Adobe, Google, the whole porn industry…but now is it also hurting developers? consumers? the Web? itself?
Apple’s done a lot of things to stir the pot, and while such stringent practices have been known to yield revolutionary results, its actions continue to seem awfully ruthless. Choosing a more favorable approach to mobile development could very well be tainted by the company’s values.