Developer: “Mobile Safari Is Today’s IE6”

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Peter-Paul Koch is a man with opinions about the mobile web. And his latest opinion is a trifle controversial: Mobile Safari, he says, is this generation’s Internet Explorer 6. All the rage now, but destined to be hated by webdevs of the future.

Why so?

Because, says Peter-Paul:

“The iPhone has become an obsession. If we don’t pay attention, we’ll have a mobile web that only works on the iPhone. And then we’ll have the real mobile web that wasn’t made by us and doesn’t give a shit about web standards and best practices. Worse, it seems web developers are happy with this state of affairs.”

And what’s more:

“Mentioning Nokia is the mark of the rude boor. The man of discernment mentions the iPhone. And mentions it and mentions it and mentions it. And then mentions the iPad, to show he is open to non-iPhone devices. The bigger the better.”

It’s time to switch off the reality distortion field, says Peter-Paul. Too many people are concentrating all their efforts developing or optimizing solely for Mobile Safari, to the detriment of all other platforms and browsers. That’s what people did back in 2000, when IE6 was the most popular browser on the desktop. Today, developers are campaigning for IE6 to be killed off as soon as possible.

Some commenters have taken issue with Peter-Paul’s swear-strewn ranting, and some with the statistics he cites, but his point is a fair one: the web was always supposed to be an open experience. No matter how much better the iPhone/iPad/iPod might be as a mobile browsing experience, developing content that only works on those devices, ignores everything else, is a backward step.