The iPhone Monoculture Is in Your Mind

February 21, 2012
by ZION Admin

Photo: Ariel Zambelich/

In the recent kerfuffle over the prevalence of the -webkit CSS prefix and the lack of corresponding prefixes for other browsers, we told you that the problem was with developers, not WebKit browsers. Instead of writing code that will work in any browser many developers are coding exclusively for WebKit and that’s a problem.

But mobile expert Peter-Paul Koch, better known in the web developer community as just PPK, argues that the real problem is not WebKit, nor is it even web developers’ fascination with WebKit. The real problem is the developer-created monoculture of the iPhone.

According to Koch, “web developers don’t care about WebKit…. They care about the iPhone.”

The interesting thing about Koch’s argument is that he doesn’t claim there is actually a monoculture of the iPhone on the web. In fact, he cites some of Mozilla’s web crawler stats which seem to say just the opposite. Instead Koch believes the problem is in our heads, so to speak.

“What we have here is an iPhone monoculture; not in the stats, but in web developers’ minds,” writes Koch. “This is the fundamental problem we must address.”

The cure, says Koch, is to diversify tutorials and examples. “Start talking about testing in mobile non-WebKit browsers (i.e., Opera),” he writes. “Start talking about other platforms besides iPhone (and Android). Start talking about mobile diversity, instead of showing the iPhone over and over and over again.” What do you do if the only phone you have to test on is the iPhone? Well, there are emulators available for most phones, including Opera’s very powerful mobile emulator which can simulate all kinds of phones and connections. And don’t forget that Opera Mini is available for the iPhone if you’d like to at least test your site in something other than Mobile Safari.



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