Why the iPhone is like Internet Explorer 6

I mentioned to a friend that I thought the iPhone presented the same dangers as Internet Explorer 6 did when it was released. I sense that this point is not as obvious as it seems to me, so here goes with a brief explanation of what I mean.

Internet Explorer 6 was a major advance on its predecessors as an application development platform. What’s more it was effectively ubiquitous – Microsoft gave it away with Windows and everybody had Windows.

In the corporate environment, this meant that IT departments could write client applications for the browser instead of using Visual Basic or worse, Java. These browser-based applications needed no roll-out programme and no desktop provisioning – both expensive headaches.

Whoopee! said corporate IT departments, and rushed to develop applications for the new platform.

Roll the clock forward to today and the folly of that approach is clear. Corporates are now stuck using those same client applications because either they can’t afford to develop new ones, or they bought a third-party application that is still business-critical, or the developers have left the company and they simply dare not touch the code. And those applications only work on Internet Explorer 6 because it turned out it wasn’t a de facto standard after all, it was a proprietary cul de sac.

So I sit every day at a desk in a bank, trying to use Internet Explorer 6 in a world where most people have given up trying to retain compatibility with this out-dated platform. And around the world there are millions like me whose employers or clients are saddled with this dinosaur because of an expensive mistake made years ago.

Why do I believe we are in danger of making the same mistake again?

The number of applications developed for the iPhone is astonishing. People develop for this platform because it is better than its predecessors. And although it is not quite ubiquitous, it certainly has a market share that makes the potential audience for an iPhone application very attractive indeed.

This has not escaped the notice of corporate IT departments. I imagine client applications for the company CRM system are being developed right now for the mobile salesforce of thousands of companies.

And so history repeats itself. The iPhone is a proprietary platform whose future is not yet clear. It could set a de facto standard for future mobile platforms. Maybe. I think it more likely that Android and Windows Phone 7 will go their own way. And corporates will have bought into applications for a platform that will go away before the business requirement does.

By all means buy or write applications for the iPhone, but please factor in the cost of replacing those applications in a few years. I don’t want to be carrying round a five-year-old iPhone in 2015 just because my company depends on an application that only runs on that old thing.


0 Responses to “Why the iPhone is like Internet Explorer 6”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This is not a riot

RSS What Dominic is doing

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Share me

Add to Technorati Favorites

Dominic's photographs

RSS My stubbornly unread reading list

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

%d bloggers like this: