Developing For iPhone Nano Might Suck

Rumors of a smaller, more affordable iPhone have been circulating since the original iPhone was still in production. There were Photoshop mockups and even spec-sheets for the fabled gadget but rumors seemed to die around the time Apple began offering $99 last-gen iPhones. For whatever reason, rumblings of an “iPhone Nano” have been cropping up once again in the past couple days. Here are a few reasons developers might not so be eager for such a device to be released.

Fragmentation

One of the biggest annoyances in developing for Android is writing and testing for different hardware capabilities and screen resolutions. This is called fragmentation and iOS developers on the other hand have it relatively easy in that respect. An iPhone Nano would complicate development, and some apps simply wouldn’t work on a smaller device.

The App Paradigm

One of the most polarizing rumors regarding the iPhone Nano is about stripping out the onboard storage in favor of a cloud-based OS in order to cut costs. Being able to write offline, native apps is a huge boon to users and proven by the billions of App Store downloads. Having to stream your apps from the cloud goes against the entire app paradigm we’ve become so accustomed to. Besides UI design, the clear advantages of native apps over clunky mobile sites begin to diminish in the Nano-cloud scenario. I could see this being more reasonable if the Nano had 4G (and 4G wasn’t largely a marketing ploy at this point). Still- no iPod on the subway? No way.

Data Costs

While I’m lucky enough to have been grandfathered into an AT&T unlimited data plan, new developers might not be so. Testing cloud-based apps on 3G would be much more important on an iPhone Nano. This would invariably suck down bandwidth, which could unintentionally punish the very developers Apple’s flourishing App Store community relies upon.

On The Other Hand...

That being said, an iPhone Nano could be a good thing if done respectfully to users and developers alike. Perhaps we’ll see a 320x480 screen Nano with both onboard storage and fast mobile data- I wouldn't knock the cloud entirely, but also wouldn't rely on it completely. I suspect the timing isn't quite right from a cost-effectiveness standpoint, but then again, as Apple has been aggressively going after mass-market appeal pricing of late with products like Apple TV, this rumor could be ripe afterall, especially when you consider heavy service-provider subsidies. While smartphone sales continue to rise, they are still only about 20% of purchased cell phones and I'm sure Apple intends to change that.

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