Apple's iPad will kill the iPhone -- and the mobile Web

Who needs an iPhone if you have an iPad? And who needs the mobile Web if you don't have an iPhone?

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In about a year, users went from reading the New York Times in its full Web glory on an iPhone to reading the New York Times in its full iPhone glory on an iPhone app. The ability to scroll regular Web pages was no longer so cool -- in fact, it was annoyingly awkward. It wasn't too surprising that the push for mobile Web versions of sites began soon after the iPhone became a hit product.

But even the mobile Web lost its appeal pretty quickly, as those small Web pages were too limited in what they could do. The singular focus of the iPhone's small screen turned out to be more suited to specific tasks than to general-purpose Web browsing, and the Web "apps" that were developed reflected that fact. So 15 months after releasing the original iPhone, Apple introduced the App Store and the iPhone SDK -- Jobs was clearly wrong about the mobile Web being able to provide the application-style functionality he originally promised, and without admitting it, he admitted it.

And poof! In just a year, there were thousands of iPhone apps, with more than 1 billion downloaded. And 2 billion more within 18 months! Magazines and the local TV news were brimming with "how to get rich quick by discovering the next fart-generator iPhone app" stories, and it became assumed that whole industries -- TV and newspapers especially, but also airlines and banks -- not only needed to offer their content and services through iPhone apps (or at least iPhone-friendly mobile sites), but they could reclaim much of the revenue lost to the Web through mobile-delivered services.

In spring of 2009, Apple added subscription-delivery capabilities to the iPhone OS for that very purpose, and again several industries quickly began adapting to it -- abandoning the mobile Web in the process, since it offered no payment model or other values, such as capturing location information.

Today, apps already rule over the mobile Web. But many Web sites are still frustrating on the iPhone -- they don't yet have appified or even mobilized versions. With the iPad, they don't have to. Websites can be Websites again, and apps can be more like what you already know and love in Windows or Mac OS X.

As Web surfing moves from the iPhone to the iPad -- indeed, as users make the move -- what's the rationale for continued mobile Web development? Neither BlackBerrys nor Windows Mobile devices can really handle the Web, and the number of Droid and Pre users isn't enough to take up the vacuum the iPad migration will create.

The surprise winner (besides Apple) in all of this: RIM
So, in 2011 the iPad will have displaced most iPhones, caused Google's Chrome OS Web appliance to be stillborn, and sucked much of the momentum behind the wannabe iPhone-killers suddenly fighting a war no one is contesting or cares about.

In that world, Research in Motion will be unaffected. Its BlackBerry never made it to the Web, mobile or otherwise. So as the idea of accessing the Web on a phone-type device goes away, the BlackBerry is unaffected. After all, for most of its users, the BlackBerry is a phone and messaging device -- period. BlackBerry users don't access the Web, nor do they seem to want to. And as people migrate to the iPad, a phone and messaging device is what they'll want in a phone-sized device. By not having adapted to the new world the iPhone created, the BlackBerry will have lucked out and missed both the rise and fall of the iPhone paradigm.

I'll amend what I wrote earlier in this blog post: After you get an iPad, you'll drop your iPhone data contract for either a regular cell phone or for a BlackBerry, depending on how much messaging you do every day in taxis and under the conference table.

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This article, "Apple's iPad will kill the iPhone -- and the mobile Web, too," originally appeared at Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, the iPad, netbooks, and Google's Chrome OS at


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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