WebKit everywhere

by Jeremiah Foster

So is Apple saying "the network is the computer?" It sure seems so. WebKit, the guts of Safari, is open to developers, it lives on the iPhone and now on Windows. Apple is welcoming nearly anyone to hack it and make cool apps with the idea that with more applications more people will buy the hardware. This has been a successful strategy in the past.

What is interesting though is that Apple seems to be placing a lot of development energy on the group of protocols that are decidedly network-centric. Implicit in this is the idea that an operating system is irrelevant; no matter what type of device and what type of operating system, the browser will execute the application the same way on each.

This raises some questions. Is Apple changing its focus? Will it be less closely integrating applications with its operating system? After all, if all the functionality one needs is online, why work at optimizing desktop applications since network latency will mask any performance gains?

Clearly Safari on Windows is a strategic decision, especially considering that Jobs said that iTunes might be the last application written for Windows. The strategy looks to be develop applications that run over the network usable by any device to connect to Apple content. Revenue would be generated by selling content (iTunes), selling hardware to access the content (Mac, iPhone) and leveraging the ecosystem of software developers to create innovative applications which would essentially be the glue between content and hardware.

Will it be successful? Is the network-centric model ready as Apple seems to imply?


2007-06-12 07:47:02
I'm all for it.
it now makes sense to only have a small amount of ram and no hard drive.
if it's connected to the web, and you can work on files and acess content from your home computer and online. what more do you need?
it's like trading a (everything including the kitchen sink) gas guzzling winnabago for a compact car, and a motel room. What you save in gas you spend on motels, but much easier to park.
2007-06-12 08:09:36
Webkit was coming to windows anyway- Adobe are using it for AIR/Apollo, aren't they?- and it might well have been the basis for the integrated iTunes Store browser in iTunes as well.

So slapping a mac-u-like Safari GUI around it is a no-lose, really, and pretty much a no-brainer, I'd have thought.

2007-06-12 09:07:18
I'm guessing that this just makes it easier to evangelize Safari to webadmins that have trouble justifying testing on a browser platform with such a tiny market share.
2007-06-12 10:54:09
Well, Apple *did* change their name from Apple Computer to plain old Apple, so yeah, I'd guess it's a safe bet that they're changing their focus.
Simon Hibbs
2007-06-13 03:51:48
@D0n: it now makes sense to only have a small amount of ram and no hard drive.

And here's me pricing hard drives to store all my family photos and videos. People have been saying things like that for over a decade now and it's less true now than ever. I can't see anyone editing movies in an AJAX app any time soon.

Safari on Windows is about supporting iPhone development and apps. Everything else, including search revenue, is just icing. Don't get me wrong, I believe in web apps. I use Gmail for all my private email, and some of the other G-Apps too, but desktop apps and very rich clients will always have their place.