I was at a meeting before Christmas and someone from Apple was presenting on the application development capabilities of the iPhone platform. What was interesting from the session was that Apple was touting all of these developer-related features that really didn't differ from the capabilities of the other major mobile platforms. For everything that he mentioned (with one exception) I could point to the exact same capability being available on the BlackBerry and other platforms. I'm not sure what was going on here - I guess he assumed he wasn't talking to a Developer audience (he really wasn't) and could get away with it.
The one exception? Background applications. Yep, most other platforms do it (heck, the Palm platform finally does) but the iPhone doesn't. I finally figured out why Apple doesn't allow background applications on the iPhone - I hope I get time to write about it soon. No, it's not for the reasons they say. I was really, really surprised that the guy could explain away the prohibition against background applications with a straight face, but he did. I guess he earned his pay that day.
Anyway, back to the purpose for this post. Apple really doesn't care about the mobile network. As you'll see in a post I'm writing for posting (hopefully) tomorrow, it's in Apple's best interest to have the most compelling application platform (they do). What they want is everyone developing for the iPhone and being upset because the same applications (I'm talking about the web here) just don't work well on other platforms (they don't). They want to be the leaders in the mobile application space (they are) and really don't care how they do it.
So, during this session with Apple, they explained that there's this cool new application you can download from the App Store that allows you to stream video from one iPhone to another. WHAT??? They're promoting device to device streaming video? Imagine being at your kid's school play and streaming the show to your spouse who couldn't make it? Wow, that's cool - but think about the network! The iPhone is already killing AT&T's network and now they're deploying an application that allows even more saturation of the network? Yep, that's it - they really don't care about the network. Someone in the audience raised his hand and asked about the impact this would have on an already saturated network and the guy from Apple rolled his eyes, placed his hands behind his back and refused to answer. He just stood there for a little while until someone asked another question. Is that amazing or what?
Implementing any features that makes better (read 'reduced') use of the network would reduce performance for the user and therefore impact the user's overall experience with the platform. Users would get snappier applications, increased battery life and would ultimately be able to do more with their devices, but that's not 'cool' or market leading. Carriers would get less complaints about the network and more users would be able to get more done at the same time, but it only affects one Wireless Carrier in the US so how bad could that be?
The best thing that could happen to AT&T and iPhone users would be for other US Wireless Carriers to get the iPhone as well. When all Wireless Carriers and users are being affected by this disregard for the network I bet we'd see the market force some changes on Apple to make the iPhone (and soon the iPad) play nice with others.
Disclaimer: Recognizing that I work for AT&T, the content in this article is my personal opinion only and does not reflect the opinion or public voice of AT&T.