Services for mobile apps that shouldn’t need services…

This most recent RIM outage has pissed off Blackberry users again. For 3.5 hours in the middle of monday they lost their email because RIM was doing an upgrade gone wrong. Let’s put aside why RIM was doing a major upgrade on a monday afternoon as only a symptom of a greater problem. The greater problem being – why are there RIM servers at all in the equation?

Take another example – this new wave of mobile browsers. There was that Deepfish thing we chatted about here. Now another company is releasing the Skyfire browser which seems interesting, but again puts itself as a proxy service between the user and their target website. In an age where the iPhone just showed everyone that you can have all this without a service why is anyone creating these things?

There are already enough points of failure – connectivity, the cell network and someone’s servers to make it amazing anything ever happens on your phone. People need to start wondering why they need this extra middle man as yet another thing to go wrong. Subsequent to that wondering, people need to start understanding that they don’t need this middle man. They’re just there to make things go wrong and eventually go out of business, rendering that app completely useless.

I have to believe this is yesterday’s technology. RIM, thus can be forgiven, but not excused. Since their technology is from yesterday, they’re grandfathered in. Still, in an age with IMAP IDLE which works charmingly just like push, why should this continue to be necessary? New technology can be built that removes the middle man or at least decentralizes him.

The notion of a mandatory web proxy for your phones is an increasingly antiquated notion as processing power and bandwidth push ever higher in the mobile space. Anyone building browsers that require one is just making a fundamentally flawed decision, it seems to me. Building and maintaining all these proxy servers costs the technology providers’ money and the browser user is going to pay for that somehow. Whether it’s a subscription cost or some other interference with your browsing end needs – this yet another place where the technology loses it’s seamlessness (the other place is, of course, when their servers go down and takes your browser with it). The third place is your privacy – since this is a mandatory proxy everything you do online over your phone will be known to the technology providers. What will they do with it? Who knows.

I’m just saying. Smartphones are packing a huge punch these days and the carriers are rolling out (even if ever so slowly) faster and faster broadband. Anyone building to the notion that processor and download times are severely constrained is building to yesterdays specs and not tomorrows.

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