No Opera For iPhone

I’m not to thrilled to read this:

Mr. von Tetzchner said that Opera’s engineers have developed a version of Opera Mini that can run on an Apple iPhone, but Apple won’t let the company release it because it competes with Apple’s own Safari browser.

This isn’t news, it’s been known for a while. I’m honestly wondering why Opera invested the development time with this in mind.

Apple’s going to learn the hard way that if it doesn’t drop this clause it’s going to be subject to Android’s wrath. Android is going to take some time to gather steam (I’d guess at least 18 months before it can catch up to the iPhone due to it still being pretty clunky and limited in availability) but when it does it catch up, it could be problematic.

It would be great to see a iPhone version of Fennec, but until Apple wises up, it’s not going to happen.

I predict just like Apple initially had a “no third party applications” policy, this too will change once it becomes obvious that this will end up hurting them in the long run. The question remains: how long will that take?

Google For iPhone

There’s been a lot of talk today about Google’s launch of it’s services optimized for the iPhone.

It got me thinking. Is it really about the iPhone? Or is it about mobile standards based browsers (WebKit in particular). What I’m talking about is Android, who coincidentally also uses WebKit. Call be crazy, but Google’s launch of this offering isn’t really about riding the iPhone’s popularity. It’s about being in that new mobile space. You might even say this is being tested on the iPhone, before Android comes around. No longer is mobile limited by a basic WAP deck. This one uses the same technology the rest of the web uses, only designed to look and function well on a small screen by people with giant clumsy fingers.

This space isn’t limited to just WebKit. Gecko has made some headway into the market (mainly via Nokia devices), and is preparing to make a big effort in the near future to bring Firefox Mobile to your phone. Most iPhone sites look pretty decent in Firefox already, the main thing that makes some of them look a little funny is a css property or two it doesn’t support, for example -webkit-border-image which has become pretty popular for sites only targeting WebKit since it’s pretty handy. Some sites also use -webkit-border-radius, which is supported on Firefox, as -moz-border-radius both of which follow the border-radius specs as part of CSS3, but are still namespaced for the moment.

For once we don’t have to learn another silly markup, and be limited by lack of JavaScript which has made the web a better place… for the most part (think Gmail, Google Maps, etc.).

It’s some very cool stuff. I’m really interested to see what comes.

The Illusive Gphone

So the illusive Gphone is finally announced, but not as a phone but an alliance.

One should note it coincides very nicely with last months announcement of Firefox Mobile becoming a priority. Firefox has a nice share of the Linux browser market. Extending it to mobile seems somewhat natural. A real win for developers. The same browser on all major PC platforms, and many mobile devices (on multiple carriers by different manufacturers) creates one of the largest platforms on the planet for a high level language like JavaScript. It also means it will be easier to port existing web applications to mobile devices knowing the browser is of the same lineage and honors true standards. It’s also nice to know that other mobile browsers like Safari on the iPhone are also very standards friendly.

Obviously absent on the list of members in the alliance is Verizon, AT&T, and Apple. I’d be curious to know what Apple is thinking. Could this be another Mac vs. PC? Or will Apple “Think Different” this time when faced with a pending platform war? I know what I would do. I’d start hacking up a Wine-like API for running Linux applications on Mac OS X. Since Linux doesn’t need to be reverse engineered like Windows, development should be much easier. Mac OS X having strong UNIX roots would also likely be helpful. At the end of the day, you would then be able to run Android applications on top of the thin(ish) compatibility layer. Casual users wouldn’t know any better. I guess in a sense Apple has started down this road. There is X11 for Mac OS X. They can of course keep it all under the radar for a while, just like Mac OS X for x86 until they need to play that card.

Om Malik makes an interesting point:

  • Google (GOOG) says it’s open source, letting you download it and do whatever — except that carriers can create their own locked-down versions of the software with Android. That doesn’t seem very open to me.

It does make me wonder if Google is doing the heavy lifting and carriers will just fork it when done and ship a closed version of the software and take advantage of not needing to pay licensing.

Very interesting stuff, but still doesn’t answer my question regarding bandwidth becoming fast enough, and affordable enough to hit critical mass. It still seems that mobile data services are just too expensive for many people to justify. Will this encourage enough competition in the mobile space to drive prices down? Or is there going to be some incentives to offer lower priced data services?