Although the data on mobile web surfing collected by analytics company Bango have been available for a few weeks the Bango Blog site has only just raised an interesting question about some of its results. What the results reveal is an odd fact - iPhone users are browsing fewer web sites than owners of other types of smart phone. What could it be that makes the difference?
The Blog speculates that when Steve Jobs first introduced the world to the iPhone he made a point of the fact that it could browse general web sites but he then went on to ban the use of Flash something common in "general" web sites.
The Safari web browser simply doesn't cope well with complex content and this is by Apple's choice rather than technical constraints.
The iPhone browser doesn't allow you to download content only stream it. You could justify this on the grounds of security but other phone browsers are not restrictive in this way. Of course you can't simply upgrade the browser to something else that does do downloads - that is forbidden.
Over the subsequenent months Apple made it attractive for programmers to produce iPhone apps and not web apps. As a result iPhone users tend to think in terms of "there's an app for that" and not "there's a web site for that". This boosts Apple's revenue as they get income from every app sold, including advertising revenue - not so for web sites. Apple clearly doesn't like the web!
In short Apple is distorting the market to make web sites less attractive than Apps because web sites aren't under Apple's control and don't make it any money.
From a programmer's point of view this might not be a bad thing in the short term - income from apps is higher than from web sites. But you have also to take into account the user's reaction. When the iPhone was introduced owners of other phones quickly developed App envy.
Now phones like Android and presumably Windows Phone 7 when it launches have enough Apps to level the playing field. Soon iPhone users will develop an envy of their friends and collegues who can surf the web and watch Flash movies (and sites) and have no shortage of apps to dazzle.
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