The first day of the brave new world was today - the release of the second iPhone. And more importantly the release of its version 2 operating system.
I can only judge this from the sidelines, but I think the release of the new operating system which enables third party applications is a big step. Quite likely the updated phone isn’t such a big step. And even the hardcore fanboys seem to think so as there wasn’t as much silliness in front of computer and phone stores this time around. A good thing I think.
As time goes by, the whining of people for whom the update didn’t work or for whom the many services connected to the iPhone - iTunes application store, Mobile Me - didn’t work will presumably stop and everybody will be shiny happy again.
And then we’ll have time to figure out what this really means. From my point view the whole application store model with Apple as the gatekeeper is a bit on the bad side. Even if not quite correct, the word ‘fascist’ keeps coming to my mind. So if you write an application, it is up to Apple to decide whether or not you can actually sell it.
Of course - if I were to put on my fanboy trousers - this is a brilliant thing. Because from inside those trousers I see Apple and their boss with his perfect taste. Suddenly ‘fascist’ turns into ‘benevolent dictator’ who is full of experience and good taste. And the iPhone application nirvana is close. Because all applications available for the platform will be well designed - hence easy to use, powerful and wonderful to look at.
Back in the real word, things are a bit different I guess. Here, Apple’s boss is the guy who can salivate without end over pointless features of the somewhat mediocre iPhoto on stage. Also, selling software makes money. Even better for Apple: other people selling software makes them money (kind of reminds me of that Scientology motto of
make money, make more money and make other people make money, but probably that’s just capitalism as a big equaliser), so they will love selling software. Even if its pointless and mediocre.
And at least the first look around the iTunes application store strongly suggested that the usual low quality level of software made it over to the iPhone as well. And that we won’t get the benevolent dictator who sends developers back into their basements if their software sucks.
While there is a fair amount of poorly done Mac software as well, it tends to live on the fringes and doesn’t seem to dominate the platform (if we can ignore MS Office and Adobe’s legendary installers at least). Now I wonder whether that will happen in the iTunes application store as well. Will there eventually be sufficiently many good applications to make the bad ones invisible. One could hope that - but I am sceptical.
Simply for the reason that the creepy business model of the iTunes application store is fitting the mindset of creepy developers from other platforms much more than the somewhat more open Mac software market. Mac users are superficial. If you write an application and don’t make an effort to make it somewhat usable and give it a pretty website, it will quite likely be ignored unless you have a monopoly on that kind of software.
But in the iTunes application store those people may have a better chance. Everything there has to fit into the same scheme which can be filled with legalese and marketing blurbs. And apparently there’s no good way to offer demo versions or give people refunds. So these people may see an opportunity there.
A final word on the applications I saw: A flashlight is amusing but rather silly. But what about tip calculators? Not only am I not a big fan of tips (it seems a bit like a decline of civilisation when one pays waiting staff so little that they need the tips, rather than just upping the prices of everything enough to pay staff a decent salary - one hears that in Japan people are more civilised in this respect) but how silly is it if people start getting out their pocket computers for that purpose. It’s an easy exercise in arithmetic, if there is a tip you should just know how much to give.
We’ll see how that develops. If its not unreasonable to assume that we have a 90% crud ratio everywhere (including iPhone customers), those apps should sell like hotcakes. Perhaps one can have a big review of iPhone tipping applications. You know, like for connoisseurs who use different tip calculators for different restaurants (to fit the atmosphere), or a tip calculator which uses GPS to find out which restaurant you are in and downloads a matching ‘skin’ from the interenets (OMG LOL!). Or the very ‘professional’ tip calculator which gives you a little form that you fill out (can smile, can read and write, can serve, nice tits, …) and reliably computes the corect tip from that. Oh man, I can’t wait. I want this as a TV show presented by Walt Mossberg…
So I’m posting this from a new phone, and I have to say I’m happy with it. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no phone fan, but this is the least painful one I’ve used. The 3rd party apps are promising, if all very “1.0”. I’m being thoroughly fucked over by a phone company, but that’s the usual default state of affairs for mobile phone usage on earth.
So, yeah, I’m happy to have the silly thing and quite ok with the idea of having the Internet in my pants.
quite ok with the idea of having the Internet in my pants
Heh, this just made my day start with a smile…