Mobile Redirection Code & the iPhone

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UPDATED – For an up-to-date version of the Studio Hyperset PHP mobile redirect script, please visit SH‘s Google code project site. To read more about the script, please visit this hyper/boʊl/e post and the mobile redirect code discussion index.

Of course, this little marvel is dancing in the dreams of many a technophile right now, in advance of its 29 June, 6pm “local time” release. Learning of its highly functioning Safari browser and tinkering with the Studio Hyperset mobile site and mobile redirect code, and after our meeting with Adobe Engineers yesterday, I got to thinking about the future of mobile internet browsing, the future of the SH mobile redirection code, and generally the way hypermedia folks will accommodate mobile hardware after 29 June 2007.

Even among all the fetishized insanity and predicted rock-concert-style camp outs, I really am willing to label the date a watershed for mobile technology and the public dissemination of the internet. I believe there will be a definitive “before” when our cel phones and mobile devices were generally sufficient to make (yawn) simple phone calls and limp through an awkward version of the internet and a palpable “after” when our Moto Razors, Blackberrys, and LG phones will start to appear more and more “rotary” compared to the “touch-tone” iPhone. Plus, I think with Apple we’ve learned that the hype surrounding its products more than reflects the reality of said products in action.

The music and picture storage capability of the iPhone are course exciting lagniappes; but with a mere 8GB maximum storage capacity, knowing I can take my already-paid-for 60GB iPod with me to the gym and on long flights to Europe and back east will prevent me from handing over the $600 iPhone club initiation fee. Likewise, the fact that you can basically now make a phone call from your iPod is really, really cool, but my Razor fits nicely in my back pocket, rests ergonomically in my hand and on my ear, and doesn’t prevent me in any way from clipping the aforementioned iPod inside my pocket and sauntering on my way.

The iPhone’s internet functionality is another story entirely.

If the music, photo, and telephony capabilities of the iPhone are the skirt, its Safari browser is the legs and what’s between them: basically, the object of true desire. This and this alone makes me wonder how much change might be found in the couch and in the car, how I might go about selling a kidney, and whether or not my sleeping bag would provide sufficient padding for a concrete camp out. The iPhone’s internet capabilities, in other words, turn me into one of the rabid masses itching and drooling for the iPhone like starved curs infested with fleas.

After the release and widespread dissemination of the iPhone later this month, I think the mobile redirection code and the need for alternative mobile websites will begin to diminish rather quickly. As mobile devices begin to appropriate the iPhone and begin trying to live up to the new standard it sets (and to be sure, it sets a wonderfully ambitious new standard), alternative mobile sites and all the anxious energy I’ve poured into the redirection script will, like the cacophonous dial-up screech ca.1995, start to dissolve into the hoary heritage and archaeology of the internet.

People forget that this is what Apple has done since its inception: turned technological corners and brought technology to the masses. The 1984 Macintosh and its associated software made it possible for everyday folks to afford and use personal computers efficiently, after all. So its no surprise that again were in the midst of a constructive and even populist push forward led by Steve Jobs, &tc. (Anyone else think the playful Wozniak had a significant consulting role in the development of this groundbreaking product?)

I think it’s fair to label the iPhone a populist device because a) while its price is high, we live in a world where where the bourgeois — flush with credit and disposable income — pay $4 for coffee and b) it piggybacks on the popularity of the iPod, something the comparatively obscure Blackberry (arguably the iPhone’s most consanguine forefather) never had.

Having languished in the limited functionality of cel phones and PDAs and even drab grayscale Blackberries for so long, the mobile internet arrives with the iPhone. Interestingly enough, it’s nothing like what we’ve heretofore labeled the “mobile web” but rather a portable, highly-functioning internet: basically, the dream of business folks and techies since these folks began to conceive of a mobile version of the internet. Admittedly not “fully functioning” in the same way a laptop or desktop brower is, the iPhone Safari browser is nevertheless a long-legged step forward for the portable internet and computing and will, for most folks and most sites, prove to be essentially fully-functioning. From here, I expect we will see the development (probably by Apple for the iPhone 2.0) of a truly fully-functioning internet browsers and even operating systems: the latter the only real limitation I see in the current inception of the iPhone.

(I mean, can we really imagine the iPhone becoming the dominant mobile device of the future without at least being able to run MS Office for Mac?)

The mobile web as we know it, then, is dead; the need for alt mobile sites and codes to redirect handheld visitors there has passed.

The Studio Hyperset mobile redirection code, then, is frozen as it and will likely be completely pointless in 3-5 years. I’ll allow it to retreat into the history of the internet as a record of once was. Unable to find a script to meet my needs, I developed this script to satisfy the need for a free, effective, readily available mobile redirection script. Ironically, as soon as the script was developed and improved to functionality, it was no longer needed: undermining the work done in its name and justifying its absence in the first place.

Like a temple built to deities suddenly out of fashion, I’ll let the code sit and increase in obsolescence.

I guess the code came too late; and while I would have liked to develop the script more and more, I’m not all that sad to see the current mobile internet fade away. I’ve never talked to anyone who was ever really excited about it, who enjoyed surfing on their mobiles or Blackberries, who saw it as anything other than a stripped-down, less user-friendly version of the WWW we’ve come to know and love.

I say requiescat in pace, then, SH mobile redirection script. We hardly knew ye and will miss ye. But how can we doubt that the future without ye is indeed, at the same time, LCD bright?

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Quimby Melton

Founder/President

Quimby is the founder and president of Studio Hyperset. He started Studio Hyperset in 2006 after studying Transatlantic literature and culture, new media, and humanities computing at the Universities of Georgia (AB, 00) and Nevada, Las Vegas (MA, 03; PhD, 08). He has a background in literary studies, media production, front-end development, and project management. His current primary duties involve helping clients frame solutions that meet their needs; scoping and managing Studio Hyperset's growth strategy and business development pipeline; finding and developing talent; and, most importantly, supporting the SH team.