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The Talk Show returns

After a “two week” hiatus Dan Benjamin and John Gruber are back with a triple venti-sized episode of The Talk Show, one of my favourite podcasts.

Near the end of the ep (around the last 8 mins) Dan and John discuss the possibility of Apple customizing the iPhone for multiple carriers, especially with regards to Verizon. Dan sees Apple conceding a “Verizon settings” app and John says no way. I would have to agree with John that Apple would not separate the system software by carrier. Here are two pieces of evidence from Japan that I would like to submit regarding the monolithic character of Apple’s iOS:

1) Keitai email: When the iPhone was released Softbank had to bend over backwards (ie. building out a new mail server system) to figure out how to give the iPhone the mobile email capabilities left over from the fossilized Japanese “keitai mail” culture.

2) Emoji: Smileys are another requirement in the Japanese mobile market. The lack of emoji meant the iPhone couldn’t be a hit with the “highschool girl” crowd. Apple ended up licensing SoftBank’s set of 450 icons, distributed them globally, and actually caused a bit of an emoji revolution in North American mobile culture.

The first example is one of Apple not accommodating carriers. The second shows how if a feature is important enough, Apple will roll it into the OS itself, and distribute it worldwide.

Apple is a very US-centric company and I have long criticized it for not being sensitive to local conditions. If they won’t change the way they do things to fit local cultures and market conditions, I doubt they would do so just to get on with a certain mobile carrier.

ADDENDUM: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Apple pushing it’s own features on to carriers, eg. Visual Voicemail.

The Talk Show returns