Developers miffed about Apple’s third-party iPhone apps solution

“Perhaps it’s playing well in the mainstream press, but here at WWDC, Apple’s ‘you can write great apps for the iPhone: they’re called ‘web sites’’ – message went over like a lead balloon,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball.

Gruber writes, “It’s insulting, because it’s not a way to write iPhone apps, and you can’t bullshit developers. It’s a matter of spin. What Apple should have announced is something like this: “We know that you want to write your own apps for iPhone, and we’d like to see that too. We love the apps you write for the Mac, and we’d love to see what you might be able to come up with for iPhone. We’re thinking about it, and working on ways that we might make that happen, but we don’t have anything to announce today. The good news, though, is that because iPhone has a real Safari web browser, you can write web-based apps that work great on iPhone.”

Gruber writes, “That wasn’t what the developers here at WWDC wanted to hear, but at least it wouldn’t have been insulting.”

Another reason why Apple developed and released Safari for Windows, according to Gruber, “is simply money. Safari is a free download, but it’s already one of Apple’s most profitable software products.”

It’s not widely publicized, but those integrated search bars in web browser toolbars are revenue generators. When you do a Google search from Safari’s toolbar, Google pays Apple a portion of the ad revenue from the resulting page,” Gruber explains. “My somewhat-informed understanding is that Apple is currently generating about $2 million per month from Safari’s Google integration. That’s $25 million per year. If Safari for Windows is even moderately successful, it’s easy to see how that might grow to $100 million per year or more.”

Full article, with more about Leopard, Jobs’ scant list of “top secrets,” that the new Dock that only works visually at the bottom of the screen, and more, here.


  1. Remember the promise of OpenDoc, write once play anywhere. Developers didn’t like that, sell small apps that do what you want rather than big apps that cost loads of money but most people only use 10% of the features.

    Remember Java, write once play anywhere. That got shafted too, mostly because of a developer, ie Microsoft.

    Maybe third time around.

    This is a way to stop the bad guys getting in, the viruses etc, work to standards that are enforced. Bloated apps leave holes.

    iPhone will be memory/storage limited too – imagine what would happen if the iPhone was truly ‘open’ and Microsoft ‘supported’ Apple by developing some software for it!

  2. The point is not whether the phone should or shouldn’t allow applications. It’s that they shouldn’t say that they support applications when they don’t.

    Don’t defend Apple treating people like idiots. We know the difference, we know what a browser is and what an app is.

  3. I’m excited about the idea of being able to use the same web apps on Windows, Mac and iPhone. I think people are generally resistant to change. I remember when I first moved to the Mac, OSX was just coming out and you would have thought it was the end of the world reading sites like this. Nothing but negative comments about NEXT and how it was ruining Apple.

    Well, here we are again, resisting change whether or not it’s change for the better.

    I think Apple will be first out of the gate with iLife and iWork that will work as Web 2.0 apps on all three platforms. Can’t wait.

  4. John Q. Public or even CEO Joe Blow won’t really care about who writes what app in what language (or on what platform) for the iPhone. All that is going to matter is will the darn thing work as advertised. All this discontent is for naught. I’m sure that a majority of the buyers of the phone will more than likely stick with the default application set and not even worry about (or even care about) if he/she can download some pick-your-nose-widget made by developer X.

    This is a nascent product, so let Apple have some time to perfect and tweak it before they let any old person with an iPhone SDK make crap that ruins the overall experience of owning an iPhone.

  5. Developers, that title is a laugh these days, like software ‘engineer’. It’s more like technical drawing than engineering. Like technical drawing most of the job is in error checking, not doing the drawing and checking it all afterwards like releasing betas but doing the checking on the job, as the work progresses. And then checking it all afterwards. Some software engineers/developers these days that I know don’t know real coding, it’s all object-oriented. I’d call it writing (as do many others), that’s what it is, a set of instructions within certain parameters.

    Most of the basic stuff was done way back, now it’s user interface stuff aka design.

  6. What’s the point of bluetooth and all the connectivity if you can’t use it. Imagine what you could do with a blue-tooth GPS. I can guarantee a website can’t access that!

    I agree though, the issue here isn’t apps or no apps. It’s about SPIN

  7. WTF?

    Developers needs?!?!?! This is an Excellent Solution! No troublesome code tweaking needed. Just do what you want. Easy+Fast+No Ridiculous Testing Needed+Cheap! SWEET INDEED. Wait a little = 2 weeks and READY! I Love It! I do not have to wait for another 6 months to get the app I need. Study more WebObjects and do what you what ever you LIKE!

    MDN Magic Word: Simple

  8. Safari for Windows is not simply for money.

    When window user use Safari,

    (1) More Web pages will be compatible with SAFARI.
    (2) Easy to sync with iPhone
    (3) More windows people can taste and realize the superiority of Apple software
    (4) Open opportunities for Windows people to create
    softwares for iPHONE.
    (5)Make easy to switch to Apple, definitely help switching.

  9. WRONG ! The Dock works on either side or the bottom just like Tiger. Jobs even demoed it putting it on the left side at one point in his presentation.

    As far as I’m concerned Leopard Rocks! And I for will be there when it is released in October to get my copy.

  10. Petey wrote:

    “Apple went with the web 2.0 option because it does not want to compromise the quality of the iphone user experience”

    did developpers ruin the UI of the mac ? i don’t think so.

    Apple did this for business reasons, because of AT&T, not for the users.

    Petey wrote:
    “Solution… write the game in flash”

    1 the web 2 UI will not have access to the hardware, no accelerometer

    2 the flash plugin (and probably any other web plugin are also banned from the iPhone.

    Halix wrote:
    “Anyone who sais that AJAX and web 2.0 technologies don’t allow full app development has no idea what he is talking about.”

    i have been developing software for 30 years, including web 2 apps.

    u can’t do photoshop with a web 2 app, or serious games, u don’t get access to the hardware, all u can do is what HTML allows u to do, no client side rotations, no 3D, no voice of video over IP, it’s slow (very very slow), the UI is limited.

    google made some great web 2 apps, they reached the limit of what can be done.

    none of the iPhone’s built in applications have been written with Web 2.

  11. Can you save a web page onto the iPhone, to use it like an application when you are offline?? If you can do that, then their golden.

    What are developers complaining about? Just what can you do with a native app that you can’t do on an AJAX type webpage?

  12. Wow! I haven’t seen this many posts since the $50 iBook fiasco.

    My take: Gruber is way off base with his statement: “It’s insulting, because it’s not a way to write iPhone apps, and you can’t bullshit developers. “ I could swear I saw an app demonstrated on stage that worked through the browser. WTF!

    So because The Steve doesn’t want to have the iPhone turned into an unstable POS, with JoeBlowHack “developer” having access to the iPhone’s innards, “developers” are miffed? Fuck ’em. (that expletive was for Mr. Daring).

    Rock on Steve!
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

  13. The safari thing and making money. Isn’t that why Apple is in business? You know, to make money. Hello? Stupid pointless gripe as far as I’m concerned. And I think jobs didn’t count out the fact that developers can’t develop apps on the iPhone. Just right now they want to make sure it’s secure and what does get on the iPhone won’t crash. To me that sounds reasonable that you want your product as reliable as possible.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.