The March 6th event of Apple introducing iPhone software roadmap is interesting for many reasons, but what I found most impressive was a piece of statistics that Jobs presented at the first 10 minutes of the presentation or so, regarding the usage of web browsers on mobile devices. According to it (source: Net Applications) 71% of all mobile web browsing is done via the Safari browser, which is another way of saying that 71% of the time people are browsing using the iPhone. This is for a device which is less than a year since its launch.
While I find this figure quite exceptional, it doesn’t come to me as a real surprise. As an iPhone holder myself, it is very clear to me how it stands out among the other so-called smart phones as a real mobile computing platform. It is the touch screen with its high resolution. It’s the accelerometer. It‘s the rotating and the pinching. All come together, it is the understanding that a mobile device needs a designated user experience; the PC equivalents of mouse and “drag&drop”, if you will. Something which most Mobile players from Nokia to Microsoft have missed, but Apple understands very well.
It goes much beyond browsing o’course. With the introduction of the iPhone SDK, Apple really brings the power of the Mac OS X into mobile computing. This is the most important point here. See - the phone is merely a side effect. It is a new computing platform which is as powerful as a PC, as mobile as a laptop and as elegant as a cellular phone. And why is that so revolutionary? - it all boils down really to a simple math.
There are less than billion PCs in use worldwide, compared with more than 2.5bn Mobile subscribers. It is fair to assume that 5 years from now; at least 75% of these phones will be smart phones. Apple is already 28% of the U.S smart phone market and growing. The big rival RIM/Blackberry with its poor excuse for UI is not a real alternative (remember, it’s not about making calls or reading mails, it’s about computing in a phone form factor). Apple is in the best position to take (or take back, us 80s geeks say) dominance in the compute market.
What a brilliant strategy - iPod and mobile music as the beachhead, followed by iPhone as a prototype for mobile computer, and whatever comes next as the real thing.
Vista has never looked so pale. Let’s just hope they won’t screw it up this time.