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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
June 22, 2007 -- The Google Connection
Status: [CLOSED]

If you were there for the handover 10 years ago (I went for a last visit just a couple short months before the handover myself) you probably remember ho rude the Chinese were about it. They were supposed to wait and not launch the fireworks until the yacht was over the horizon. Of course they didn't. One final insult at the time, and I'm not sure they've gotten any better since, sorry to say.

David | Jun 22, 2007 | 1:53AM

finally Bob writes about something I know a bit about!

Firstly, Winfari does have a revenue stream, it's called google search

Secondly, who writes ajax apps from scratch? Not many people. There are loads of librarys out there to abstract that pain

Nick | Jun 22, 2007 | 1:57AM

GWT produces significantly larger amounts of client-side code than do pure-JS solutions. One amusing example I've seen noted that a twenty-line "Hello world" program in Java had expanded by two orders of magnitude when GWT was done with it -- over 2,000 lines of HTML and JavaScript, just to pop up an alert.

Now, the obvious counterargument is that much of those 2,000 lines are bootstrap code -- browser detection and repetitive declarations of features for different browsers -- but GWT appears to generate a fresh, uniquely-named copy of the bootstrap for each new application, which means you can't slap one copy of it on a CDN and rely on client-side caching of common code all your apps use. Again, that cuts into precious bandwidth

GWT also lags -- characteristically for Google in the arena of client-side code -- far behind the state of the art for dealing with cross-browser incompatibilities (by relying on extremely brittle user-agent sniffing as opposed to more robust and reliable methods such as feature detection). Add to that a lag behind best practices for degradability, and you get a toolkit that only a marketing executive could love.

But I guess that's the point, isn't it?

James Bennett | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:16AM

Adobe? They have Flash Light available, but almost no cell phone maker uses it since it licences for $1 per phone and companies like SonyEricsson will never ever pay for and use it. Adobe is a bloated turd and new-new media companies are not happy.

The Director | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:23AM

This is a problem with almost every Google product - they change the language based on the physical location of the user bypassing the existing settings.

Just append /?hl=en to the URL and it should work fine.

Amit Agarwal | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:54AM

Why use web based apps? Seems that would be problematic in the long run and we all know Google is a data mining company, being deemed the worse company in protecting user's privacy.


http://www.privacyinternational.org/

Raul Garcia | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:58AM

Google Docs in Chinese? I'm running an English OS and all my preferences are set to English within Google... They assume that 100% of the population of Ulsan speaks Korean... My Google Docs run well enough but my IGoogle is entirely in Korean and I don't know why?!?

But I'm just a lonely Canuck in Ulsan, South Korea...

Martijn Koldijk | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:06AM

Google Docs in Chinese? I'm running an English OS and all my preferences are set to English within Google... They assume that 100% of the population of Ulsan speaks Korean... My Google Docs run well enough but my IGoogle is entirely in Korean and I don't know why?!?

But I'm just a lonely Canuck in Ulsan, South Korea...

You get what you pay for...

Martijn Koldijk | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:07AM

Why would Apple use a browser - of all things - to provide a user interface on a phone? Because you can also run a browser on your other computers, and people who pay $600 for a phone will demand to run their phone apps anywhere (can you play your iPod music on your other computers?)

But why Safari on Windows? Apple only does Windows when it needs control. Like iTunes for Windows, Safari will contain some DRM dongle that stops Joe Hacker screwing around with the cellular networks.

Kelvin Burnside | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:17AM

You'd think that having an account on Google would enable you the ability to customize the language you want to use for most apps since most of the time it is the same. Unfortunately, switching languages is not deemed very important in the google framework and one has to look through several menus to correct that with the right switch. It is annoying not just on a personal level but also when you are inviting people to join documents on google apps (docs, blogger,...). If you happen to be in a country where you know the language (and are able to navigate thru the apps) and invite people to join these docs/blogs, the invitation are in the language of the country where you are sending your invitation from. Good luck with that Mandarin Chinese invit.

Another issue seems the wasted opportunity in not enabling services like blogger or even docs to produce automatically translation in another language. If I am proficient in a language other than english, I am very likely to refine that translation better for my own consumption. In turn google could use that to do a better job at doing translation and even enable translation into a third language.

Because of the English-speaking centric nature of the company, I fear though that these hints will remain "lettres mortes" for a long while.

Igor.

IgorCarron | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:18AM

Bob, don't forget about Google Gears. This is a browser plugin from Google to allow those Google applications like Gmail and Google Docs, work in offline mode when you don't have a network connection.

The Safari version is under development at the moment, so I reckon it's only a matter of time before it's on the iPhone.

Looks like Google could be looking after the office suite for the iPhone.

Larry Larrigan | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:19AM

I have this theory that developers code for their own working environment, and you can infer how teams work by how they fail. Microsoft are all single site, and outlook cannot handle moving across timezones in a sensible way. Sun dont have many laptops, and work from well-managed networks, which is why java is so unfriendly to laptops and cannot handle rapidly changing networks.

The behaviour of google docs when you travel (I've hit it in europe, very silly) is a sign that the teams don't do enough international business trips.

Steve Loughran | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:40AM

Where does Apple's Web Objects fit into all this? At one point they sold this and then it became a part of the free developer tools download. It seems to bring an Xcode-like set of tools to web development, although I will admit I have never loked at it very hard.

John Raines | Jun 22, 2007 | 6:18AM

Whaddayado? Introduce a Windows version of Safari, get a million people to download it in the first week, and scare developers into moving Safari customization higher on their AJAX priority list.

Non. That's shockingly naive. The bottom line is that Safari just doesn't matter. A million downloads in the first week (and projecting forward from there) isn't even a microscopic scratch on the total number of IE and Firefox browsers surfing the Internet. Half of Google's applications don't work well with Opera yet - and it's a browser which has a substantial number of users, most of whom are more likely to be heavy users of Google's application services.

Besides, how long has Safari for Windows been around? 3 weeks? And it's about another week to the iPhone launch. That's simply not long enough to gain traction. For Safari to make any sort of difference, it'd have to be launched at least a year ago, and promoted heavily by Apple, a la the community effort by the Firefox junta.

So why launch Safari for Windows after all? It's simpler than most commentators are making it out to be. Hark back to my post last Friday. The iPhone is cool enough for developers to want to develop applications for it anyway. Safari for Windows gives them a browser to test compatibility on with without having to invest in iPhones and/or Macbooks. Jobs stressed in his Walt Mossberg interview at the D conference about the OS and browser being the same Mac applications:

.. It's REAL Safari, REAL OS X. We put a different user interface on it to work with a multi-touch screen... it's an amazing amount of software.

It's about dramatically lowering the entry barrier for developers to write applications for the iPhone, not compelling them to be compliant with Safari on Windows.

Rahul Gaitonde | Jun 22, 2007 | 6:19AM

Regarding ForWord: I hate predictive text input methods.

(1) only the most popular languages are supported, not the language I use in my little corner of the word to do most of my texting. There's no way to add your own language, even if free word lists have been floating on the web for ages.

(2) For some types of creative writing, even if it is the next American Novel, one is bound to want to use words that are not standard english (neologisms, words mimicking sound, text including extended characters as has become common with SMS and e-mail...)

Just yet another feature on my mobile/camera/dictaphone/walky-talky/tv/moneysucker that I hardly ever use.

Fred Smit | Jun 22, 2007 | 6:26AM

Because lousy bandwidth is being viewed inside Apple as the very reason for the iPhone's probable success


I usually disagree with most of Bob's statements - but someone wrote already about the Safari so that leaves me with the 2.5 G quote.

I think this is also failry simple to explain, the US and especially Cingular are just not there when it comes to 3G. So Apple could produce a 3G phone (or the phone might already be able to use 3G and it's just not advertised) but ultimately in the current environment you would end up using EDGE 90% at the time anyway.


You could also ask the other way around, if 3G was well established would Apple still deliver 2.5G (note: this is a rethorical question and only applicable for Cingular since Verizon and Sprint afer far more advanced in that category). I don't think so - however, having said that, we might see an iPhone in Europe with 3G about the same time that we'll see iPhone v. 2.0 with 3G in the US.
The iPhone is now in the driver seat and is an incredible incentive for Cingular to get its 3G-act together.

Urs Gubser | Jun 22, 2007 | 7:12AM

I think the decision to use EDGE is all about the battery life.


My T-Mobile Wing uses EDGE and routinely gets twice the battery life of "faster" 3G Windows Mobile devices by Verizon, which only last a full day if you never talk on the phone and don't get a lot of email. Generally the EVDO devices have about a 4 hour battery life, unless you opt for one of the awkward "humpback" extended life batteries, then you might get 6 hours, and an unsightly bulge on the back of the phone. Battery technology hasn't progressed at anything near the same rate as other mobile technologies. For email (which is fetched in the background) EDGE is just fine. other web technologies like Google Maps are painful to use. Let's hope Bob is right about moving most of the data processing onto the phone, keeping the data transactions to a minimum.

bil castine | Jun 22, 2007 | 7:58AM

Or maybe that's the Reality Distortion Field talking.

...or maybe it's the commentaries from last week...




I think the partner benefiting from this move is Google, not AT&T. Google desperately needs a platform to popularize its suite of existing and future web applications, and the iPhone is the perfect fit. Apple and Google can work together to make Google's apps and Safari work as one - something Microsoft would never be willing to do.

Perhaps what Apple will get in return is the much needed distribution network for high-def video and IPTV through Google.

mika | Jun 14, 2007 | 11:11PM

Well, I suppose it's good to know that someone reads these posts.

mika | Jun 22, 2007 | 9:18AM

Fred Smit is absolutely right about ForWord, and all other predictive methods. They all stink, because how could a stupid program possibly know what word I am thinking of? I've tried several of these, including ForWord, and they are all wrong more than 50% of the time, making them pretty much useless. Of course I write a lot of technical stuff...

As for the CPU in the iPhone, it is widely believed to be an ARM CPU, running a heavily-stripped-down MacOSX. It's like uclinux as compared to Ubuntu.

I'm not buying an iPhone until (a) battery is easily user-replaceable, (b) development kits for native apps are available, and (c) price comes down. Probably about a year.

Rick | Jun 22, 2007 | 9:35AM

I work at an Apple store and one of the ways I've been pre-selling the iPhone is that it's not a really expensive phone, it's a really cheap laptop. That's been less effective than I would have thought, because there's no support for USB devices or optical drives. From a public perception, the iPhone will never be a full computer, despite the fact that for most functions it can work just as well as one. This is the same reason the network computer never became popular. So I don't think apple is worried about it becoming a real competitor to their Mac lines.

So why the EDGE network rather than the faster 3G? A few reasons: battery life, as smarter people than me have described, but also the wi-fi card. When the iPhone becomes available with more cell phone companies, people will be less concerned about which one they go with, because the real speed will be when they are near hot spots, regardless of whether they're using Sprint or Verizon. What the real effect of only supporting the slower standard is to take the emphasis off the cell phone company and put it on the phone itself. People aren't losing that much functionality, because there are hot spots all over the place. In fact, look for Apple to support more municipal wi-fi, probably after they license it to other carriers. And the cell phone companies win as well, because their bandwidth is freed up, so they can add more customers, on any phone, without adding infrastructure, and without sacrificing speed.

rob kay | Jun 22, 2007 | 9:36AM

Where's Adobe in all this? Can you say AIR? (The development platform formerly known as Apollo) Now, the idea of a web deve platform that provides services on AND OFFLINE makes even more sense when looking at it through the filter of the bandwidth hobbled iPhone.

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but you have to wonder if there wasn't some big conerence room somewhere in that reality distortion field populated by all the major players in this little a SOAP opera (pun intended).

Robert Anthony Pitera | Jun 22, 2007 | 9:57AM

And BTW; NO VOICE DIAL?? Apple may sell millions of these phones, but they'll probably lose half of those users in the first month to car accidents!

Robert Anthony Pitera | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:10AM

GWT isn't the only rich web application framework out there; Yahoo! UI and OpenLaszlo both work on Safari and are capable of producing the same kinds of applications that GWT is meant for.

There are also many smaller Javascript libraries that handle part of the work - Prototype, moo.fx, Scriptaculous, jQuery... all of which have the stated goals of abstracting AJAX plumbing and other gruntwork, and eliminating cross-browser issues.

The iPhone is not going to give GWT an advantageous position over the others; the most it will do is give developers another reason to develop for the web instead of the desktop. A new application is just as likely to be built with one of the other frameworks as with GWT.

However, Google's applications will definitely benefit from the iPhone - especially Docs & Spreadsheets. If they get it working in Safari, then it will be the de facto word processor for the iPhone - an excellent place to be.

So while part of the point is true - you will see increasing emphasis on Safari support among web developers - it won't necessarily get people flocking to GWT.

tony | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:13AM

I don't think Apple is worried about the iPhone eating into Macintosh sales. Has anyone ever sold off their desktop system because they got a Blackberry instead? Smartphone/PDA web browsing is handy when you're away from your desk, but it's equally annoying as well.

On the contrary, though, I'm sure Apple would LOVE for the iPhone to become a replacement computer for most people. Macs control 5% of the market, and many of those are creative developers who need a nice, big monitor and several gigs of RAM, so most of the switchers from desktops & laptops to the iPhone would have to come from the PC market. The Mac switchers who would forego a desktop for an iPhone would probably come from the low-end of the Mac market, where Apple's margins are thin, anyway.

But, I think that Apple realistically understands that the PC market and the smartphone market are completely separate, hence the reason there's no USB support.

Jobs said ten years ago that he was going to ride the Macintosh brand until the next big thing came along; he also said that something about portable electronic devices being the future of computing (forgive me, Apple fans, for not remembering the exact quote!), so basically, Jobs is just following the business plan he outlined when he returned to Apple.

charlotte web | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:13AM

The iPhone could already be using InkWell if Apple wanted it to.

InkWell is what used to be rosetta on the Newton, and has been available in Mac OS X for quite some time now.

Tim Senecal | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:36AM

I had a similar problem with Gmail when I went to France. It detected I was in France and came up with the French version. I did find the button to go back to the English version, though. MySpace did the same thing, but continued to serve me French ads after I selected the US version of the site. As far as I'm concerned, unless I go to google.fr, I don't want the French version. Same thing applies to google.cn.

Speaking of browsers... I tried to vote on the iPhone poll on this page and it failed to work in Opera, Firefox AND Safari. So here's my comments... I vote no, by the way.

There's already been a WebKit browser out on the Nokia phones for over a year now. Did it transform anything? No. Opera's been available on phones for years. Transformation? No.

There will still be too many cell phones out there with crappy browsers and tiny screens. The iPhone won't change that.

No Java? No Flash? Come on... seriously?

And why are Google and Yahoo the only two companies that get to make REAL applications for the iPhone?

Gabriel Ricard | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:52AM

I had a similar problem with Gmail when I went to France. It detected I was in France and came up with the French version. I did find the button to go back to the English version, though. MySpace did the same thing, but continued to serve me French ads after I selected the US version of the site. As far as I'm concerned, unless I go to google.fr, I don't want the French version. Same thing applies to google.cn.

Speaking of browsers... I tried to vote on the iPhone poll on this page and it failed to work in Opera, Firefox AND Safari. So here's my comments... I vote no, by the way.

There's already been a WebKit browser out on the Nokia phones for over a year now. Did it transform anything? No. Opera's been available on phones for years. Transformation? No.

There will still be too many cell phones out there with crappy browsers and tiny screens. The iPhone won't change that.

No Java? No Flash? Come on... seriously?

And why are Google and Yahoo the only two companies that get to make REAL applications for the iPhone?

Gabriel | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:55AM

To rob kay:
To use an iphone as a full computer seems a bit strange. The problem is not the keyboard. To build a bluetooth keyboard could be possible. I'm quite sure that the dock contains a USB interface for data exchange (and probably battery loading as well), So an Adapter would be great.
Probably keyboard and mouse functions are not even disabled by apple...
The problem is the screen which is reeaally small for most work.

Tom | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:05AM

I'd like to know more about "ForWord Input", but can't get any hits when doing a search on it. Anyone have the link?

For those of us who touch type much faster than 50wpm, ForWord Input may not seem like much, but on a portable device that's extremely fast. I imagine it's a lot more comfortable than using a reduced-size qwerty or Blackberry keyboard as well...

Bill Loguidice | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:26AM

Wouldn't you want to write that great american novel using some speach-to-text tech. It is a phone after all. You'd think they'd come up with something.

The reverse would be nice as well. I'd like to have a way to have voice-mails converted to text messages and sent to the phone instead of having to dail into the password protected voicemail service and listening to the "umm, ahh, call me". At least as an option.

It seems the iPhone with it's processor speed might be well placed to take advantage of the ideas.

Rob | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:27AM

Safari on Windows makes some sense when it comes to switchers. If the major applications you use are all Apple products a switch becomes easier to justify.

A faster more secure browser is just one of the applications Moms and Grandmas use all the time. If Apple can manage the non-compliant Java issues that force Safari users to pull out the dusty old copy of Internet Explorer that is.

Rob | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:34AM

In this Web 2.0 era, Javascript is not as hobbled as you describe. There are Javascript libraries, in particular the popular Prototype library, which handle automatically the cross-browser compatibilities that you mention.

If a Javascript coder is spending their effort writing custom code to handle cross-browser issues instead of writing cool applications, then they're wasting their time. The only coders oblivious to libraries like Prototype are probably working for Windows-only shops. But who is stuck anymore because of Windows-only web applications? Thankfully, due to the diversity on the web today and the hard and diligent work of non-partisan developers, hardly anyone is anymore.

HG | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:38AM

I'd be surprised if it were a Gigahertz processor, but then again, the iPhone sure has to do some processing to make them purty graphics.

I agree with the other comments about battery life. My experience (via a Treo 650) with the EDGE network (2.5G) is that it is horribly slow for browsing of the internet. Without a WiFi connection, I can't imagine users will enjoy the dial-up like speed when viewing the graphics and flash-heavy pages of today. I would be surprised if the 3G connection were chosen for anything other than a purely enginnering (non-marketing) reason. That is, the off-the-shelf EDGE modem or chipset Apple used was probably the only one available at the time of needing to go into production that could meet their space and most importantly their power needs.

Regarding the thought about the iPhone becoming "the" PC, with support one of those collapsible BlueTooth keyboards could be a very handy tool for anyone on-the-go. The huge accessory market will surely be providing support soon. But, until I can use the iPhone to play my Friday afternoon game of "Call of Duty" with my co-workers, I don't think it will be a replacement. :)

I always enjoy your articles, Bob!

AJ | Jun 22, 2007 | 12:04PM

Two follow-on comments:

1. good thing your column is technically interesting, not politically so or you would have had trouble doing your research.

2. if you pre-flavoured your google access, you would be able to read things more directly. e.g. www.google.de would give you access in German, www.google.com.au will get you to the (English-speaking) Australian version. Your preferred language will be re-detected after you sign in. 没有问题 (babelfish Simp-Ch of "No problem")

But your problem is why I'll never be a fan of on-line apps.

Keep writing -- even when I disagree with you, I enjoy reading your take on things.

cheers...ank

Arthur Klassen | Jun 22, 2007 | 12:13PM

What I want to know is if the javascript container in safari provides an interface to the services on the phone itself. If so (and from the demo it sure looks like it), then apple is providing a whole new path to building software for phones that cuts the network provider out of the process and let's you build apps for all safari browsers out there. Apps that can take advantage of the host platform in a secure way (maybe!).

So it's kinda hard for apple to lose here.

I'd imagine that Sun has got to be working overtime to get apple to include a mobile java environment. Seems to be an ideal way to do secure apps.

dave | Jun 22, 2007 | 12:14PM

I have heard that the iPhone will be locked in the US as all at&t phones are. Can anyone confirm?

BT | Jun 22, 2007 | 12:18PM

Sun can work 25 hours a day, and they still wouldn't have a prayer of getting Java on the iPhone. Java is a bloated mess, and Apple isn't in the business of propping up failed platforms.

Some Guy | Jun 22, 2007 | 12:49PM

GWT is a mess; even Google doesn't use it for their AJAX-based services. I know of no professional company that does use it. But of the frameworks that are widespread (e.g., Y!UI), Safari support has been available for years.

Most of the heavy lifting for Safari on Windows was done by Adobe, which uses WebKit as the engine for their AIR née Apollo product. Apple simply put a lightweight wrapper (and it isn't Cocoa) around the result.

No grand conspiracy here; Apple simply wants JavaScript compatibility and sane CSS layout. The only reason we're even talking about this was that Jobs needed something novel to present at WWDC 2007.

Rob Menke | Jun 22, 2007 | 1:13PM

Once again, Cringley is missing by a mile. Yes 2.5G helps battery life, but the real reason for not going 3G on iPhone is to make users depend more on the built-in wifi. Data transferred over carrier switched networks is a dead end - the future is IP. Remember, iPhone is not really a "smart" phone, it's like the UMPC concept, but with a decent OS and a future. Think of iPhone as the first step towards Alan Kay's Dynabook.

hms | Jun 22, 2007 | 1:36PM

Whatever happened to the original "I, Cringely"? Is that name just a product now, like "Coca-Cola", or "Kleenex"?

Bob Deliuin | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:05PM

What kind of dinosaur publishing system doesn't support Safari? Just tried to "vote" on front page of this article. Welcome to the totalitarian website! Get a clue Cringely...it's 2007!

Elvis | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:07PM

Why doesn't Safari use the exact same JavaScript implementation as FireFox? At least on a behavior level, wouldn't it make sense for Apple to make sure their browser is a 100% mimic to the one browser they can see 100% of the internals of? Then there wouldn't be any distinction between the two, and AJAX "tweaked" for FireFox would work just fine on Safari.

I can't believe that Apple really thinks its a good investment of time & money to get into "the browser wars". There must be something deeper here.

Just as the iPhone implements features that the cell phone companies were two lazy/shortsighted to do (like random access voice mail), something tells me that Safari is being positioned as a platform for Google/Apple to do things that the IE/FireFox browser platform doesn't do well (or at all).

AJAX is an accident. Maybe Apple has a plan for a not-accident technology to replace it.

Ryan Dancey | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:17PM

What might be they building ? Here's what I thought the other day about this.
Location- aware web & mobile service ( call it whatever you like ) that will serve as a glue between physical and virtual locations ( via object hyperlinking, sort of, call it information nuggets, placemarks etc. ) .
Suddenly, iPhone user could be having a '' cloud '' and exchange information with the surrounding ( other people, places etc. ).
Here's how; It could be just picture you take outside of your favorite caffe or some other public place in US.
The rest is ''magic'' inside device. Combination of image recognition and data lookup services ( Google bought the company Neven Vision last year, remember ? ).
If we go more into details, then we can imagine automatically adding 3D building detail and for increasing the resolution of Google Earth imagery ?

Zec | Jun 22, 2007 | 2:26PM

First of all, the JavaScript in Safari is not Apple's. It's just the JavaScript engine form KHTML on Linux. Apple took that, updated and extended it, then gave it back to the KHTML community as an opensource project. That's called Webkit. Apple uses, KHTML on Linus uses it, Nokia uses it on some of their phones. It's a robust opensource library, just like Mozilla. You can download the source code and do what you like with it, just like Mozilla. Webkit is on Mac, Linux and Windows, just like Mozilla. What's the problem? They made their choice because they wanted to have their own browser and not be dependent on Microsoft or Mozilla. By the way, Mozilla on the Mac is not Mac-like, and it's slow.

Robert | Jun 22, 2007 | 3:37PM

A few words on GWT, if I may.

First, thanks for your kind words, Cringely. We sincerely hope to aid developers in building applications for all browsers, including the iPhone. That's our goal -- to give developers good tools for building complex apps for every browser we can reasonably support.

To the question of GWT code size: The first commenter suggested (correctly) that the reason a HelloWorld GWT application is fairly big is shared bootstrap code. The increase in size as you add more functionality drops off very rapidly. While it is true that this keeps you from sharing common code among multiple applications, we've observed that this tends to be a bit of a red herring in practice, as most applications have their own copy of shared code (witness the large number of copies of some.random.site.com/prototype.js in my cache.

To the question of browser detection vs. 'feature detection': This is also a bit of a red herring. It would be nice if it could be done across the board, but this is simply not the case in practice. 'Feature detection' is only useful if a 'feature' is 'detectable', which they often aren't. All complex javascript libraries perform browser detection in some places, and as soon as they do, they become equally 'brittle', as they stand a roughly equal chance of breaking on new browsers.

Finally, to the assertion that 'Google doesn't even use it for its own Ajax apps': GWT is relatively new, and most of the Ajax code here predates it by quite some time. Google is not the kind of company that forces people to use a particular 'standard' technology, so every team will use the technology they feel is appropriate, and make changes when they deem it appropriate. That said, a number of existing and forthcoming Google applications do indeed use GWT, including Image Labeler, Google Base, Google Checkout, Google Mashup Editor, and a few others.

We have built, and continue to improve, GWT to help developers build complex web applications. Not everyone will agree with our philosophy on every point, and there are cases where it might not be the best solution. But we honestly believe it is a good approach for a wide variety of use cases, and we are listening to your feedback (and contributions!).

Joel Webber | Jun 22, 2007 | 3:44PM

That ForWord Input stuff is crazy!!! I wonder when it will be installed on the iPhone without Apple's permission. I should would like a hack that puts that on the iPhone that I will buy within the next few months. Thanks for writing about that.

Jeff | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:26PM

What does not being statically typed have to do with the quality of JavaScript?

Joseph Scott | Jun 22, 2007 | 4:43PM

To add to Robert's comment, I would say another reason Apple choose WebKit over Mozilla was the footprint and resource usage. It would take a lot of work to squeeze that code into iPhone.

Also, I think Apple is planning on using Safari as an engine for other things on Windows. For example, dashboard is built on Safari, and they just introduced dashcode for widget development. It not a huge stretch to imagine making these work for iPhone, and you'd want your development environment running on Windows because of the large installed base.

Plus, Apple can make rich graphics available through it's Quartz interface, and we might see ajax-like apps using cover-flow and core animation on the PC. It would be ironic if MS had to start playing catchup on it's own OS.

C | Jun 22, 2007 | 6:03PM

Can we have a link for ForWord

andrew | Jun 22, 2007 | 6:27PM

Minor comment here just cuz I've never seen it acknowledged anywhere: if people will want to use their iPhone as a PC (and with a good input device instead of the crappy teeny-weeny keyboard or numberpad, I'm one of them), then the phone has to turn off while leaving the puter and iPod parts on.

If I'm on an airplane, and I've got to turn off phone, iPod, and puter because the phone needs to be off, I'm going to be a bit peeved. Especially since quite frankly, my 60G video iPod is almost the only thing that makes transcontinental flights tolerable at this point.

Hope Apple's considering this or else they gon' be some ticked off newbie iPhone users getting off the planes at Kennedy and LAX. :-)

Janis | Jun 22, 2007 | 6:35PM

there is a airplane mode.
it is shown along with a few more details in the new 20 min video explaining features on the iPhone page of the apple.com site

what i still don't get as to input and function is why apple has not tapped the voice recognition features of other phones, not to mention apple own os already

Rivka | Jun 22, 2007 | 7:13PM

Janis: you might want to watch the 20-minute iPhone video Apple posted today, complete with a brief demonstration of "Airplane mode" that turns off all the wireless functions in one shot.

Seth | Jun 22, 2007 | 7:19PM


In regards to the iPhone being a PC replacement, I had written similar comments as Bob back in the beginning of May. It's a little long winded and in specific jargon to "disruption" over on the Innosight weblog, but thought people might be interested:
(see comment #2)

Rich Ramos | Jun 22, 2007 | 7:27PM

There is no need for GWT, most javascript libraries already support Safari very well. Apple already use 3rd partly js libraries on their web site, not GWT.

Saying the iPhone is a desktop replacement is like saying an iPod is a replacement for your home stereo. The iPhone is a mobile computing device that integrates with your desktop and applications. Remember Job's mantra: for Apple to win, others don't have to lose.

Robert Green | Jun 22, 2007 | 9:09PM

There is no need for GWT, most javascript libraries already support Safari very well. Apple already use 3rd partly js libraries on their web site, not GWT.

Saying the iPhone is a desktop replacement is like saying an iPod is a replacement for your home stereo. The iPhone is a mobile computing device that integrates with your desktop and applications. Remember Job's mantra: for Apple to win, others don't have to lose.

Robert Green | Jun 22, 2007 | 9:09PM

If bluetooth keyboards don't work with the iphone I'll buy your story, but I think the Mac discriminator is that's a closed device.

If bluetooth keyboards work with the iPhone Apple will be selling a computer for all those people who've been defeated by the insecurity and fragility of open computing environments.

John Faughnan | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:17PM

As already mentioned in a comment there is a revenue model for desktop browsers although the software itself is free. And they have even higher target lines than selling software or adware. It's a much smaller price tag which now is payed by online companies instead of users but the number is simply very very much higher. For example Mozilla foundation got that much money from Google they didn't know what to do with all the bucks at the first time (well, actually they had a special deal where Google paid 1$ for every simple download of Firefox). And Opera's strategy to deliver a (ad- and money-) free browser to the users seems finally to work out (beginning with Q1/2007) and generates higher revenues as with the old business model. I'm pretty sure that besides iPhone as reason for Winfari Jobs and Apple exactly know they could earn a hell of money if they could transform a growth / hype like with iPod, iTunes and iPhone onto Safari.

For the part of Google: Google and other website owners and providers of online services will support Safari simply because market share is already high enough and especially as owners of iPhones promise to be good customers.

That said your analysis adds some good reasons for Apple to do it and how they do it.

___

For me it seems well possible that the next browser war will be on mobile devices. There is already a nice video comparing small, free and available Opera Mini with the expensive forthcoming iPhone ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jj4pkVoV9A ). But kind of I doubt that Apple will react in any direct public manner towards this video and towards all the complaints about false announcements of Safari on iPhone being the first real browser on a phone or the benchmark used for Winfari as it is not only inadequate and misleading but simply wrong (as Safari is the only browser not waiting until HTML+CSS is rendered and all images are loaded before firing JS onload event - more about this on www.howtocreate.co.uk/safaribenchmarks.html).

___

By the way, Opera has a pretty similar platform strategy and already two browsers (Opera mobile and Opera Mini) working on a huge number of phones and is delivering since years nearly everything Safari on iPhone is told to bring. Well, besides the cool fashion style and the price of course. Just some days ago a beta version of Opera Mini 4 was released with similar full page view and easy zoom to read (which Opera already delivers on Nintendo Wii's Internet Channel) - while working on nearly any phone capable of Java (even cheap prepaid ones). Due to a proxy stripping down the complex content to a smaller webpage better fitting to the small phone screens it is even fast enough on lower bandwidth connections.

I wonder why Apple didn't choose Opera as it's browser for the iPhone as is has proven to work reliable and fast on low power devices (e.g. on Wii and even on Nintendo DS) as well as on high end machines (what it is not really a problem). The choice for iPhone would not have been Opera Mini of course (in spite of the advantages with bandwidth) but Opera Mobile which is driven by the same rendering core as Desktop Opera. Opera Mobile 9 will bring the platform strategy to real life empowering Phones to run Widgets (while Opera Platform is around for some years without lots of interested companies or users - remarkably it does not only have the same wording "platform" in its name but it all is about quite the same as the plans on iPhone, even enabling certain API for functionality of the phone itself).
And no, I don't need answers and explanations for Apples behavior - there are thousands. I just look forward to see yet another powerful browser on a mobile device delivering nice new ideas and influence the whole market (I am sure although iPhone will be a blockbuster there will be even more phones around without Safari).

___

Safari on Mac, Windows and iPhone will hopefully help to deliver standard conform pages and services on the Internet. IMHO even Ajax will not very long keep the state of being cutting edge technology but I think in some month or few years there will be common standards that are enough for most purposes. Pages will not need to have separate Ajax code for every single browser any more but there will mainly be just two code lines - one for IE and another for all the other more important browsers (Firefox+Co, Safari+Co, Opera, KHTML and more) that all do care about web standards and compatibility. This already now works pretty good if you design your HTML+CSS along standards and make it work in two out of this browsers (two to avoid specific bugs): your page will most probably simply just look great in all other browsers (and even on lot's of phones) - well sadly not in IE. The same for Ajax in future: I'd expect that only minor tweaks will be necessary to get around those single bugs that every browser has built in for most (to all) non IE browsers. I could imagine that Google's GWT could really help and make a difference in defining a common(!) standard (speaking in code modules this would be to deliver one codebase towards all capable standard oriented browsers, another one for IE of course and finally a nice fallback for less capable browsers - just remember, less capable phones are coming to conquer the Internet and I love Gmail greatfully degrading on my PDA). We have to wait and we may see progress in GWT2, although the past experiences don't let me expect too much from Google.

___

Z1 ForWord input sounds interesting. I looked around on forwordinput.com and if it could do what it promises that could just be another breakthrough for mobile devices. Yet I have my doubts as the visual feedback seems to be quite limited when you are hiding the letters on the keyboard with your fingers. Blind writing on QUERTY keyboards is a thing you have to train hard - and you do not automatically know where the keys are visually.

___

Gabriel Ricard wrote (Jun 22, 2007 | 10:52AM):
"Speaking of browsers... I tried to vote on the iPhone poll on this page and it failed to work in Opera, Firefox AND Safari."

The vote and comments work although it doesn't look like as there is no change on the page. Just use "Skip this one and see results" and you can read your comment on top of the list. But as there is no feedback and no working restriction to vote more than once lot's of comments are there multiple times.
Robert, this should be fixed as it seems difficult to get reliable results even after deleting repeated comments (and votes?).

___

Sorry for not being to funny with my first comment on your blog, but I suppose you know that Germans are too serious for such stuff ;-)

Greetings from Germany
Christian

ResearchWizard | Jun 22, 2007 | 10:35PM

I wonder if someone at Apple read the Sept 30th, 2004 Pulpit and said out loud, we can do this.




http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2004/pulpit_20040930_000460.html


John | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:06PM

This is so SAD! Come on! Wait a little! Only one week to go!
Then you can start the whining.

Vertti Koskinen | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:49PM

Robert, welcome to Hong Kong.

I'd like to invite you for a drink up at the Foreign Correspondents' Club if you are able, either Saturday or Sunday. (I'm going to Beijing Monday morning).

All the best.

more funny....ha ha.

DickStock | Jun 22, 2007 | 11:49PM

A long time ago I recall a Guy Kawasaki column that said people don't want phones that are computers, they want computers that are phones. Here we are.

Rick Wightman | Jun 23, 2007 | 1:29AM

For those interested in ForWord Input and Z1, a new website went live late in the day. This article took us a bit by surprise, and the large number of downloads of the video referenced by Bob nearly shutdown our server. Due to bandwidth considerations, the 10-minute video has been removed, and a properly functioning website has taken its place (which includes excerpts from the video). Please see www.forwordinput.com. (Don't forget to refresh your browser if you've already been there earlier today).

FYI - this is the first time our technology has been in the public domain. Thanks to everyone who took the time to visit our site today, and to Bob for mentioning us.

Randy Marsden | Jun 23, 2007 | 2:59AM

iPhone/ Future of Computing/ Steve Jobs

Sitting here and typing will be injustice, if I dont write a comment or two about iPhone. I think iPhone is not new phone or music player or internet player.

iPhone is keyless keyboard device with QWERTY interface. If a person can think 5 years in future, following may happen:

1. QWERTY keyless keyboard is successful in iPhone. People adapt to change, which is possible as it is still QWERTY but without physical keys.
2. People start to anticipate that there will be another Halo effect for MAC, which is not true.
3. MAC's future was kept in full perspective during iPhone development.
4. All MACs and notebooks start coming with dual screen as Ninetendo DS with keyless keyboards.

Here apple brings another change in computing market and challenges PC market so fast that PC vendors are left not to play catchup but have serious trouble in adjusting to this paradigm shift. Mouse and GUI took many down. Web2.0 is taking down many. This change will take many more down.

dhiraj sehgal | Jun 23, 2007 | 3:00AM

You're asking for Adobe.

They're fine with Flex (formerly Macromedia), I guess. Flash apps can be programmed with Flex and ActionScript and they run just fine with Apple's Safari. You can also create them the size of the iPhone screen.

Very cool, indeed.

Tomas Sancio | Jun 23, 2007 | 8:10AM

Apple a Windows small software player? Ever heard of iTunes? :)

Neil Anderson | Jun 23, 2007 | 11:42AM

Now if only Apple would get iSync to work with that obscure mobile OS known as Windows Mobile. I have the Mark/Space product, but it doesn't support Mac Mail -> Windows Mobile mail. Lame...

As an AAPL holder I'd like to see them just once go for marketshare rather than fatter margins by cutting the low end iMac and Macbook prices below $1000 while all the iPhone hoopla is going on.

Oh, and whatever limitations there are initially with the iPhone remember it's only Version 1.0. Shortcomings like no 3G or the closed OS could probably be remedied in short order if Jobs has the will and sees the need.

John Reece | Jun 23, 2007 | 12:24PM

Why release Safari? Why is there no developers kit for the iPhone? Simple...
Web 2.0/whatever IS the platform for the iPhone. Your development kit is the Safari browser on Mac and Windows, since it uses the same rendering engine, with the exact same benefits/limitations/features that are present/required for the iPhone. CSS? Check. JavaScript? Check. HTML/DHTML/XHTML? Check.
Apple and Mr. Jobs do not want you to create 'native' apps - then you would have to rewrite everything again for the next iterations. This is their way of 'locking' you in to the begininning of this platform lifecycle. To not have to rewrite anything, that 'it will just work' is the whole ball game.

Don Reese | Jun 23, 2007 | 1:10PM

Comment on the poll (which didn't "stick") - I don't think the iPhone is going to transform things so much as stabilize things. Right now, as a developer, I have a nearly impossible time trying to develop web applications for mobile devices because I simply have no way of being positive that what I write will work portably enough, while at the same time looking attractive enough to the "gadget-crazy" to make them *want* to use my interface.

Palm TREO, Blackberry (black and white and the new color), iPhone, cell phones running CE, and of course everybody else's cell phones that don't follow a particular OS - they're all different in the standards they support, how well they support them, whether or not they'll be upgraded (without buying a new phone), etc.

If iPhone is "huge", then it will finally be the killer app to set a true graphical application standard, just as Netscape 2.0 had done with tables and frames and background colors. Then and only then will there be a sense of maturity in the web-based software applications that are accessed through these devices, and I'll have a much easier time of it.

So much easier, my company might actually bother with it. So far, the lack of standards has pretty much eliminated any mobile software save sending email messages to cell phones for alerts and updates.

Joe Shelby | Jun 23, 2007 | 3:13PM

"The iPhone has real browser support, which is good, but remember AJAX is based on JavaScript, which in this case is not so good. JavaScript isn't statically typed and each browser has its own version of JavaScript. Developers are typically forced to hand-code different versions of their AJAX apps for different browsers."

Are you kidding me? The lack of static typing is one of the things that makes JavaScript an exceptional and flexible language to work with. JavaScript is a beautiful language that offers amazing flexibility, and it is probably the world's most widely used language. But GWT is not the only option to simplify cross-browser compatibility issues . The power and flexibility that comes with writing in JavaScript is available with our widely used Dojo Toolkit, as well as a number of other popular projects including Prototype, jQuery, YUI, Moo, and others.

The belief that JavaScript is not a great programming language is so 1999 :).

Dylan Schiemann | Jun 23, 2007 | 4:19PM

A gigahertz? What are you smoking? My PowerBook is 1.5 gigahertz, and it puts off a ton of heat. I know there have been advances in power consumption (which makes a 1 GHz processor put off less heat today), but I still think the iPhone would be like a hot potato if it's got a gigzhertz.

segfautl | Jun 23, 2007 | 6:39PM

Bob,

Next time download OpenOffice when you need access to industrial-strength Office apps on the road...

BillShepp | Jun 24, 2007 | 12:42AM

Bob - next time download OpenOffice when you need access to industrial-strength Office apps on the road...

BillShepp | Jun 24, 2007 | 12:43AM

I think everyone is forgetting the big reason it is the slower EDGE network. It has nothing to do whether Jobs thinks EDGE is good enough. It has to do with the fact that's all AT&T has in most of the country.

AT&T's BroadbandConnect coverage is still scattered at best. In NYC, the ability to connect to the BroadConnect network is iffy because there isn't enough capacity as of yet. And, according to AT&T's coverage map, my area is suppose to have BroadConnect coverage, but I don't know anyone who is able to actually use it. Bet you by this time next year, AT&T's BroadConnect coverage will be better, and all iPhones will suddenly be able to use it.

The lack of an interface except through AJax is easy to understand. I know that my Palm has to be rebooted a few times each day, and that certain applications cause problems with the screen mapping. I have learned to live with it, and I know enough to get around it. iPhone is not for the ubber-geeks but for the masses (At least the masses who have a few 1/2 dozen C notes burning a hole in their pocket). It shouldn't have to be rebooted. It shouldn't sort of function. It should work.

I have my doubts about ForWord. (I also have my doubts about iPhone's virtual keyboard too). The movies show them using a stylus (although you say it could be a finger), and dragging a stylus from one letter to another looks like an iffy way to enter data. I don't know if I have the manual dexterity to swoosh my finger from one letter, land right on top of the letter I intend, and then quickly change directions, and swoosh to the next letter. Besides, what happens when you have double letters? I am rather suspicious that ForWord didn't develop a Flash demo for us masses to try and be impressed with. Palm did it with their Graffiti. Matias' Half Keyboard has one. Even

David W | Jun 24, 2007 | 11:16AM

David W:

I don't blame you for being skeptical about Z1 & ForWord. We've all seen our share of "fake-outs" in the technology world. But let me assure you that this isn't one of them. (I'm the guy in the video, actually entering text). We have pain-stakingly addressed the concerns you have rightly expressed. You don't have to be precise - in fact you can completely miss letters and it still gets it right. Double-letters are easily entered by a quick back-and-forth motion over the letter in question. We've thought of those two problems plus many more, and have solved them. (And the video most definitely isn't a Flash demo - the third video snip tries to show that by including the user's actual hand in the image). It is real.

We'd love to demonstrate Z1 with a fingertip instead of a stylus, but until the iPhone, there just hasn't been that many true fingertip touch devices out there to develop for. Hopefully that will change.

In the end, you'll just have to try Z1 for yourself to be convinced. I don't expect you to take my word for it. Hopefully, you will get that opportunity.

Randy Marsden | Jun 24, 2007 | 3:52PM

It's been said in another couple of comments, but I want to elaborate a bit more about this: When Apple says the iPhone will run Mac OS X, they're intentionally misleading laypeople, many of whom will assume that this description means that the iPhone must be very powerful.

However, all it means is that they've ported the Mac OS X kernel to the ARM architecture, where it is being used in the iPhone. This is exactly equivalent to devices like the Nokia 770 and Neo1973 that run a full-fledged Linux kernel, on ARM CPUs that have a clock frequency of 250Mhz and 266Mhz repectively (according to Wikipedia). The kernel itself doesn't usually cause an OS to have high system requirements.

Simon80 | Jun 24, 2007 | 4:44PM

So what happens if you are relying on doing all this work on your iPhone and the interface switches to chinese when you step off the plane in China ;-)

David L | Jun 24, 2007 | 11:13PM

To The Director,

Actually, Flash Lite (not Light) *is* licensed by Sony Ericsson for some of their phones, as well as Nokia, LG and other companies and it does *NOT* cost $1/license. As for Flash Lite being bloated - I don't know. New media companies love Adobe - Flash Video is the fastest adopted video format in the history of the Internet. Get your facts right.

John

John | Jun 25, 2007 | 3:15AM

> Why hobble with lousy bandwidth a $500 cell phone?

So people will use Wi-Fi, so people will build Wi-Fi towers.

> Developers are typically forced to hand-code different
> versions of their AJAX apps for different browsers.

No, they're typically forced to make one version for Safari/Firefox and one for IE Windows, because IE Window is so different than everything else and such poor quality. That is the hold-up. All the JavaScript I write for Firefox just works in Safari. We hide the scripts from Explorer it is a fallback browser now, it gets Web 1.0 which is all it can handle.

What you're describing was what killed Web 1.0 at the Web developer level. You couldn't build each site 2 or 3 times over and test in all funky configurations. We've spent years now developing a way out of that and we have seen it working in Safari and Firefox on the Mac and there's no going back.

Once you go to devices like iPhone and iPod and AppleTV and Wii and PlayStation3 all having Web browsers you can't test in all of that. They will be the majority of the Web in no time.

The only way to go to Web apps is if there is one thing called a "Web app" which people can write, deploy and maintain cross-platform and cross-vendor. Well, it has been defined and the tools have even been built and are even mature, e.g. Safari and Firefox at 3 and Ruby on Rails even is like an old friend to many developers now. This has all already happened, it just hasn't reached the sticks yet (Windows PC especially running IE). 25% of the Web is already enjoying enhanced content you can't see in IE Windows, it is only going to get worse when the next Flickr won't run in IE, or if Flickr 2.0 won't run in IE, you are going to see people switching their PC to the iPod browser to get the lushness just like we all got Netscape 3 to see those newfangled "rollovers" everyone was talking about.

> Flash Lite
> Flash Video

Flash Lite does not have Flash Video. Running Flash on a phone is like running Flash 5 on a Mac/PC. Flash Video is Flash 9 and the H.263 video codec (the standard before the iPod, HD DVD, Blu-Ray's H.264) it requires a large general purpose CPU to decode. With H.264 you have a dedicated chip in the device, you can put H.264 on a phone or set top, and the video is much smaller you can fit it over the Internet even more easily at high qualities. And it scales up to HD as well.

Google is moving YouTube from H.263 to H.264, that is all you need to know about Flash video, kiss it good-bye. H.264 is everywhere.

When I hear people talk about Microsoft or Flash I wonder how they missed that Microsoft took 5 years off from Web browser development and Macromedia no longer exists. That is how relevant Microsoft and Flash are.

Fred Hamranhansenhansen | Jun 25, 2007 | 5:47AM

Am surprised this chinese/google thing is an issue to you guys......writing this from Nigeria and am using an ISP in Israel.. each time I connect to google with a new pc, am presented with some hebrew scripts. there is always a 'google in english' option though.

Akpoma Akpoguma | Jun 25, 2007 | 7:21AM

If I'm not mistaken Google merely reads the user's language preference from the browser. Since you were on a borrowed machine I'm guessing Google had no idea where you were physically located; rather they were just doing what your browser instructed.

I just tested this by setting my preferred language in Firefox to Japanese and I was served the Japanese page from Google docs.

It's simple enough to override this even if you are only going to do it for a single browsing session.

Tony Coffman | Jun 25, 2007 | 9:14AM

For a while the story on 3G/EDGE was that Cingular insisted that any devices on its 3G network include a client for its $3/song music store, an iTunes competitor, and Apple couldn't get an exception. I have no idea if it's really that expensive, or if this is true, I'm just relaying third-hand.

I'm not getting an iPhone because Cingular doesn't even have decent EDGE coverage in this part of the country, so the bit about 10% 3G coverage is also believable. There's a new Linux-based Palm phone in my future.

Bill McGonigle | Jun 25, 2007 | 10:20AM

There's another internet platform that most folks don't know about -- handheld game consoles.


The Nintendo DS Lite is a small clamshell handheld device with two screens, one regular and one supporting touch-screen input (typically with a stylus). It's similar in size to many PDAs and has a microphone and 802.11 wireless capability. There is no hard drive or flash drive available by default (available 3rd party) since Nintendo prefers to use only "cartridges", which are typically the size of an SD card.


But just a couple weeks ago Nintendo and Opera released a version of Opera Mobile that will work with WEP 802.11 hotspots and home wireless networks. It doesn't support Java and I think Flash support is limited (nonexistent?), and it's not terribly fast, either (don't expect to watch NerdTV on it), but when you consider that you can buy a DS Lite for $130 list and the Opera Browser for $30, that's a pretty inexpensive way to get on the internet and read "I, Cringely" and other blogs, do web searches, etc.


Nintendo has been refining the Game Boy line, of which the DS is a major jump, for many many years, and will sell more units of the DS Lite than the iPhone in any given quarter for some time to come. Nintendo has been focused on games, especially kid and family friendly ones, for a long time, and the DS Browser is both experiment and a first cut at what could be multiple new markets for them, especially with Google's help.


Nintendo's high quality, low price, and great user interfaces could easily put them into competition with Apple and everyone else in the mobile space, and one that they could make a tidy profit in, if not duking it out for number one.


Oh, and did I mention you can play some pretty good games on it, too?

Gerry | Jun 25, 2007 | 6:03PM

There's another internet platform that most folks don't know about -- handheld game consoles.


The Nintendo DS Lite is a small clamshell handheld device with two screens, one regular and one supporting touch-screen input (typically with a stylus). It's similar in size to many PDAs and has a microphone and 802.11 wireless capability. There is no hard drive or flash drive available by default (available 3rd party) since Nintendo prefers to use only "cartridges", which are typically the size of an SD card.


But just a couple weeks ago Nintendo and Opera released a version of Opera Mobile that will work with WEP 802.11 hotspots and home wireless networks. It doesn't support Java and I think Flash support is limited (nonexistent?), and it's not terribly fast, either (don't expect to watch NerdTV on it), but when you consider that you can buy a DS Lite for $130 list and the Opera Browser for $30, that's a pretty inexpensive way to get on the internet and read "I, Cringely" and other blogs, do web searches, etc.


Nintendo has been refining the Game Boy line, of which the DS is a major jump, for many many years, and will sell more units of the DS Lite than the iPhone in any given quarter for some time to come. Nintendo has been focused on games, especially kid and family friendly ones, for a long time, and the DS Browser is both experiment and a first cut at what could be multiple new markets for them, especially with Google's help.


Nintendo's high quality, low price, and great user interfaces could easily put them into competition with Apple and everyone else in the mobile space, and one that they could make a tidy profit in, if not duking it out for number one.


Oh, and did I mention you can play some pretty good games on it, too?

Gerru | Jun 25, 2007 | 6:05PM

"Now imagine you are the developer of an AJAX application and you suddenly have an urgent need to support Safari for Windows. The easiest way to accomplish that is through GWT."

Rewriting an existing ajax app in java (GWT) would probably be far from the easiest way to support Safari.

grady | Jun 25, 2007 | 7:17PM

Bob you have to remember that the US is behind the curve in mobiles and has been for many years. The real innovation in mobile has been coming from the far east. In Europe we are a bit behind, but the US is a long way behind. Apples iPhone is not due to be released in Europe for quite a while yet.

Stuart Ward | Jun 26, 2007 | 9:56AM

ForWord Input sure looks a lot like IBM's SHARK Shorthand: http://www.almaden.ibm.com/u/zhai/topics/virtualkeyboard.htm

Dave Marney | Jun 26, 2007 | 12:34PM

Inkwell!

otis wildflower | Jun 26, 2007 | 8:58PM

Even easier to remember - the Google.com "No Country Redirect"



http://www.google.com/ncr />

We English'ers use it here in Blighty to avoid being bounced into the Google UK ghetto.

Sarah Fenton | Jun 27, 2007 | 8:19AM

Even easier to remember, the Google.com "No Country Redirect"

http://www.google.com/ncr

Sarah Fenton | Jun 27, 2007 | 8:31AM

As an alternative to GWT some will definitely consider Morfik (http://www.morfik.com), which just announced a version of their flagship WebOS AppsBuilder product for iPhone development: you get a complete integrated development environment to code in Java/C#/Pascal/Basic...

piprog | Jun 27, 2007 | 9:57AM

Borrowed, brand-new computer lacking favorite software? Solution: U3

www.u3.com

jsc2000 | Jun 27, 2007 | 10:39AM

It is an article that articulates most of the things I thought of while hearing Steve's keynote at the WWDC.

I could add one more thing...

Safari on Windows will be a conerstone of their platform strategy as you suggest. However, the cost is almost none. Apple already has iTunes on Windows. iTunes utilizes WebKit. That is, they have to have a Cocoa APIs, specifically WebKit, on Windows anyway. As a matter of fact, they already have a bunch of DLLs to implement them. It is a great freebie for Apple.

Shinji | Jun 27, 2007 | 2:43PM

I'm not so sure it's such a huge coup for Google-VALIDATION for the GWT, sure, but other Javascript toolkits such as Dojo already support Safari. I haven't looked at the Safari Javascript support, but I hope the deviations Apple made from existing Javascript support in IE and FireFox was for some pretty darn good reasons, such as making the Web work well on the iPhone.

Jason Kolb | Jun 28, 2007 | 11:38AM

Bob, you should try Virtual PC. Install all your apps and get all your settings right inside a virtual machine. Now, you can back up the entire VPC to a DVD-R and/or move it to another computer whenever you want, without reinstalling anything. If it gets corrupted, reload it from backup.

Rick | Jun 29, 2007 | 9:23AM

There must be something in the air. ForWord's Z1 text entry system, Ilium Software's InScribe and IBM's now defunct SHARK text entry system are all "slide from one letter to another to enter text" systems.

(According to its web page, IBM has spun SHARK off to ShapeWriter Inc. So, presumably, it will return in some form.)

How many of these do we need?

I don't mean to imply they are identical. I'm sure each system has its advantages and disadvantages. I'm just saying that the idea of sliding from one key to another is not new. Each one of these systems may have its own unique way of doing it which gives it an advantage over the other ones. However, the field is more crowded than I had expected.

I had SHARK installed on my Tablet PC about three years ago. I had an easier time with WinXP Tablet's handwriting recognition, so I never used SHARK much.

JC | Jun 29, 2007 | 10:32AM

For portability, nothing beats portableapps.com: firefox, thunderbird, openoffice, gaim, vlc, encryption, and more available on a thumbdrive for any windows-based PC. Stores your prefs and your data.



The only downside with this is that, outside of work, I'm primarily a linux guy, and there's not an obvious equivalent for that (or Mac OS X).

Jordan | Jun 29, 2007 | 11:21AM

Bob

Interesting article, but you may need to rethink your Safari analysis keeping in mind that the iPhone will soon be the primary Safari platform.

If you look generously at Safari's browser share, it's about 3% in the US, or about 6 million users. There's a good chance there will be double that many iPhone users within a year.

Apple used the iPod to get iTunes software installed on 300 million PCs, making it the dominant force in Internet media. Expect to see Apple try to use iPhone Safari as a beachhead to establishing Safari as dominant force on the Web.

jlewin | Jun 29, 2007 | 12:14PM

According to one of those warranty-killing websites, the CPU in the iPhone is 620 MHz ARM processor.

Mark Clark | Jul 01, 2007 | 5:51PM