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And What About the Browser?

6:00 PM -- I have sat through more analyst briefings than I can count that featured some marketing twit spouting the most ridiculous pseudo-aphorism ever, to wit: people don’t want the desktop experience when mobile. No, they’d rather have crippled functionality and have to learn yet another way of getting their jobs done. This was little more than an admission by said marketing types that (a) they didn’t have the technology to package the desktop experience in a mobile platform, and (b) well, you gotta sell what you have today, or the outplacement program rears its ugly head.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)’s iPhone has once and for all put all that rubbish to bed. It’s not a question of functionality, but rather of interface. The iPhone is truly elegant in how it solves many common problems related to accessing and manipulating information in a mobile package. I remember experimenting with gestural interfaces when I was in college. But, as my friend and colleague Rick Martin has noted, new accessories are going to be required with a touch screen nonetheless. Nothing’s perfect… (See No Burritos Allowed.)

Irrespective of hand-waving, what Apple has done is to unequivocally declare that a Great Big Browser is what’s required when out and about. Part of this has to do with software and application compatibility, part with support costs, and part with training expense - but this is the way we’re going to go as an industry. As I previously mentioned, I’m still going to wait for 2.0 before I invest in an iPhone, and it’s very likely, as I noted last time, that competition is going to make this new smartphone era very exciting and even diverse. But no matter what you and I end up buying, it’s regardless going to have a very robust browser lurking within.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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