November 14, 2009
@ 03:03 PM

Joe Hewitt, the developer of the Facebook iPhone application, has an insightful  blog post on the current trend of developers favoring native applications over Web applications on mobile platforms with centrally controlled app stores in his post On Middle Men. He writes

The Internet has been incredibly empowering to creators, and just as destructive to middle men. In the 20th century, every musician needed a record label to get his or her music heard. Every author needed a publishing house to be read. Every journalist needed a newspaper. Anyone who wanted to send a message needed the post office. In the Internet age, the tail no longer wags the dog, and those middle men have become a luxury, not a necessity.

Meanwhile, the software industry is moving in the opposite direction. With the web and desktop operating systems, the only thing in between software developers and users is a mesh of cables and protocols. In the new world of mobile apps, a layer of bureacrats stand in the middle, forcing each developer to queue up for a series of patdowns and metal detectors and strip searches before they can reach their customers.
We're at a critical juncture in the evolution of software. The web is still here and it is still strong. Anyone can still put any information or applications on a web server without asking for permission, and anyone in the world can still access it just by typing a URL. I don't think I appreciated how important that is until recently. Nobody designs new systems like that anymore, or at least few of them succeed. What an incredible stroke of luck the web was, and what a shame it would be to let that freedom slip away.

Am I the only one who thinks the above excerpt would be similarly apt if you replaced the phrase "mobile apps" with "Facebook apps" or "OpenSocial apps"?

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Saturday, November 14, 2009 11:02:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
No, you're not the only one - John Gruber's already commented on that
Stuart Dootson
Saturday, November 14, 2009 11:44:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The assumption Hewitt makes is that everyone has connectivity and doesn't need to use anything online. Living in Lagos, Nigeria, an iPhone (or Android, or Windows Mobile or Blackberry) would be useless to me without all those mobile apps I can use offline, that can cache or store data for me to use when I am not online. I actually don't use 3G or GPRS because my service provider is horribly expensive. I use my iPhone purely with Wifi when I am home. So I download stuff when I get home, then download again before leaving home.
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