I was not one of the folks who had the pleasure of being at WWDC07 today, however I followed closely what was being said through the variety of websites who were live blogging Steve Jobs’ keynote.
I was expecting a little more in the way of announcements today but got very little of that. Cool insight into what Leopard will look like in October and much needed improvements to .Mac. The biggest “read between the lines” moment came when Jobs announced that there is no SDK for the iPhone and, in fact, Safari 3 would be released for Windows (available for free download now for both Mac and Windows users) and would be deployed in its fullness on the iPhone.
What does this mean? It means that Apple has single handedly created the OS of the future and it is Safari. Notably, don’t ignore Google who seems to be Apple’s latest bed-buddy, and is poised to benefit the most from this move – particularly since there has been long standing rumor of the Google OS which has been vaporware so far but could very well blossom on the Safari Platform.
Yes, I did say Safari Platform. If the “read between the lines” moment was the intuitive announcement that there is no SDK for the iPhone and, in fact, web apps are the means of deploying iPhone software, and in fact Safari will be available to the vast majority of folks, there is no reason to believe that Safari is not the new OS platform.
“We have been trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of iPhone by letting developers write great apps for it, and yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure. and we’ve come up with a very sweet solution,” said Jobs.
This capability is being exposed through the full version of Safari that will run on the iPhone, said Jobs, using Web 2.0-style technologies like AJAX that will enable developers to create content that “looks and behaves exactly like apps,” integrated with the iPhone and iPhone services.
“They can make a call, they can send an e-mail, they can look up a location on Google Maps,” Jobs added for emphasis. What’s more, distribution is simple because developers can put them up on their own servers, update the code themselves, and incorporate the built-in security that Web 2.0 applications provide.
“They run securely on the iPhone, so they don’t compromise its reliability or security. And guess what? There’s no [software development kit]. You’ve got everything you need, if you know how to write apps using existing Web standards,” Jobs said. (Macworld)
There is no barrier to entry to building software for the next generation smart phone and considering that the iPhone is locked into only AT&T here in the U.S. as the sole provider of the device for the next 5 years, it’s not unreasonable to assume challengers from other manufacturers and providers will emerge. In fact, Verizon Wireless is already talking about their own device in the fall.
If the challenger devices don’t have the same features as the iPhone, how are they challengers? Expect new mobile browsers that display “the real web”, and perhaps even device that ship with embedded Safari (don’t know the legalities of that so feel free to correct me on that!).
If Web apps are the future, there’s really no reason to assume that everyone won’t follow suit and that *ahem* Google *ahem* won’t be marketing Gmail, Documents and Spreadsheets, YouTube, Google Calendar and the plethora of other web based software that is already available to smart phone users.
Before you know it, Apple and Google will have created the world’s first OS in such a format.