Guest Post: Apple is delivering the 'Mobile Platform' with iPhone OS 3.

by Ben Smith on 2nd July 2009

As the dust has settled on the recent announcements from Apple and Nokia of their latest devices, the launch of Nokia’s OVI store and Apple’s increment to the iPhone OS, friend of the site Julian Cooling considers why it was Apple’s software announcement that has him most excited.

I apologise to sensitive readers for the gratuitous use of the word ‘dooverwhacky’… it must be an Australian thing…

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WWDC 09 at the Moscone Centre - Image by Adam Jackson used under Creative Commons (Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic) license

'WWDC 09 at the Moscone Centre' by Adam Jackson used under Creative Commons license

The Apple World Wide Developers Conference… again I am blown away by the vision of Mobile as a platform. This isn’t about hardware nor about fancy swipes, pokes or even language support.  When the iPhone was first released, it was only a platform. In some ways I was surprised by how well the hardware did. It was slick, yes, but technically the competition trounced it.

The software platform, however, was a developers’ dream come true – so appealing that the initial restrictions were quickly hacked to open up the OS.  With release 2 (the 3G version) and official 3rd party application support, the developers haven’t looked back. The biggest failings, in my opinion as an OS and low-level guy, were:

- lack of management of the device from a low level perspective – you really do need tools to lock it down, clean it up, report it lost, restore it

- inability to extend the device to make it the centre of toolbox (some which won’t have been thought of yet)

- third parties couldn’t develop service oriented business models (as opposed to the simple sales model Apple provided through iTunes)

…and it was while following the Zip-Car demo that it became so very obvious why Ovi for Nokia is not going to have an impact on the market.  The whole drive of the presentation was about extending the software into niche markets: the iPhone remains mainstream but developers (including ones with large hardware R&D budgets) are being sold a method to make the phone the interface to whatever compelling dooverwhacky they want.

ZipCar iPhone App by Blake Patterson used under Creative Commons license

ZipCar iPhone App by Blake Patterson used under Creative Commons license

A Zip-Car is now an extension of an iPhone (the two ultimate modern symbols of portability tied together: the car and the phone). This is mobile utility at its best: locate the car, enter into a contract to hire it, walk to the car, click “I’m here”, it beeps and unlocks. Can an N79 do this? Of course. Is Nokia going to open the whole end to end shooting match up so everyone can see the vision: I doubt it – and certainly not yet.

Data encryption (yawn), the ability to clean the device via MobileMe and restore from your home computer, have moved these “enterprise” level services into run-of-the-mill everyday features. It also makes a compelling reason to buy into MobileMe which, lets be honest, it did need. (I wonder if enterprises will have to sign up each of their business users with MobileMe accounts – I hope not).

They didn’t announce a tablet reader (remember this is not about the hardware) but they have announced that every weekly paper will soon be on the iPhone. The News Corp reader could be a free download: the content be bought at $1 a paper/magazine inside of the application. The ability to market advertising is very obvious: you are using the Conde Nast reader to “flick” through Vogue and it shows the link to World Of Interiors ($3 for all of the related content in glorious colour across 4 issues). This is not 1c per “click through” advertising but converted sales. The Zip Car application is free, the hire contract is signed through iTunes. Ebay/PayPal may find that an iTunes-enabled classified advertising provider is going to start to eat its lunch

When, and I don’t think this is an if, the hardware for a magazine reader appears, the software platform and apps are ready. The hardware will catch up – or it will just be another device connected through their tethering peer protocol.

The future is bright in iPhone world.

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What do you think of Julian’s assessment?  Does the Apple approach speak to you or is it just another closed eco-system that happens to be flavour of this particular month?

Let us know your opinion in the comments, or drop us a line at enquiries@thereallymobileproject.com if you’d like to contribute your own opinion in your own guest post.

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