Has Apple Lost the Plot?

So the WWDCApple Logo keynote has been and gone, and we’ve seen most of what Leopard has to offer. No great surprises (except for what’s missing perhaps) and a few tidbits about the iPhone and Safari on Windows. I wrote briefly about the Leopard details earlier, but now I’d like to look at the other, non Mac related announcements and ask the question, has Apple lost the plot?

iPhone

People are still very excited about the iPhone but personally, I don’t get it. The announcement Steve Jobs made on Monday regarding the iPhone’s application support, or lack thereof, is baffling on more than one level. Essentially, Steve Jobs said that the iPhone will not support any native applications, only web apps accessed through its browser. Ok, it looks as of there will be some integration with the iPhone’s phone functionality but there’s no reason that can’t be done on other smart phones. It would take literally minutes for someone to write an app that automatically turns addresses into Google Maps links, names into phone book links and phone numbers into call buttons. If you ported this functionality to a phone like the Nokia N95, you could even incorporate GPS, instead of relying on the user locating themselves.

The main problem, and the really baffling thing about this is the fact that Web apps rely on two things. Firstly, fast, always on connections and secondly a certain level of intractability. The lack of 3g poses a real problem then, with users stuck with the slower and less reliable EDGE network to do, well, everything. I can see that being a real problem down the line. Not only will there be no killer apps, but anything that even begins to resemble a killer app is going to be choked by the slower network. Adding to this is the fact that the iPhone won’t initially support Flash. This also really limits what you can do with web apps.

So essentially, Apple have decided that web apps are the way to go, but then decided to make the web app platform as unfriendly a place to use an app as possible. It beggars belief really.

Safari on Windows

This struck me as another strange decision. Yes, I can see that getting as many Windows users to start using Apple apps is a good way to get some new customers, but I don’t think Safari is the way to go about it. It’s easy to say that iTunes works as a handy trojan horse into the world of Windows users’ lives, but iTunes is so far ahead of the competition its not even close. Safari, on the other hand, even with the new features introduced in version 3, still doesn’t come up to the feature set of FireFox. Therefore, Windows users who compare the two probably won’t come away thinking Safari is worth their time.

There is another aspect to this.  Security.  Apple enjoys this halo of security, whether true or not, people believe that Apple Macs are secure, safe systems to use.  Putting Safari on Windows suddenly opens it up to a whole bunch of security problems, be they real or just perceived.  Either way, the safe and secure image that Macs enjoy will be tarnished the first time a security bug hits.  And we’ve already seen eight in just 24 hours.  People who aren’t knowledgeable in the world of OSX are already thinking to themselves, if they can find eight security holes in Safari in just 24 hours, how many are there in the rest of OSX.

Combining the poor user experience users are likely to get with the iPhone, fancy interface touches aside, and the quickly tarnishing Apple image and you have some potential problems stacking up for Apple.  Of course, there’s always Leopard round the corner…