Apple CEO Steve Jobs was so happy to show off the fact that the iPhone's browser lets users experience the "real" Internet that he forgot one important fact: The "real" Internet requires speed. As early reviews of the iPhone are pointing out in hordes, speed is one thing the iPhone doesn't have over AT&T's EDGE network.The video demos on Apple's site are surely rigged in some way and browsing the Web via Wi-Fi. It's just too speedy, and not in line with what we're hearing from the people lucky enough to have been given a review unit. Most reviews of the iPhone said browsing over Wi-Fi was acceptable, but that browsing over EDGE was torturous. Here's what New York Times tech writer David Pogue had to say:
When you're in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying. But otherwise, you have to use AT&T's ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times's home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo. two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.
After thinking about it for a few moments, it is obvious what makes Web browsing via EDGE so painful. The Safari browser. It pulls down the entire Web site (you know, the "real" version), not one optimized for mobile devices. Browsing the "mobile version" of the Internet via EDGE is painful enough. But at least the mobile version strips out unnecessary stuff in an attempt to speed up the browsing experience. There's a reason WAP sites exist. They may be crummy to look at, but at least they don't take 60 or 90 seconds to load.
By way of comparison, the S60 browser, which is based on Apple's Safari, pulls down almost-complete versions of Web sites much faster than the full version. The experience may not be the 100% "real" Web, but it works -- even over EDGE networks.
While accessing the full Internet is surely the ideal for mobile devices, it isn't practical for most mobile devices right now. The folks who developed the S60 platform's browser were smart enough to realize this. I guess Apple wasn't.