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Why Apple’s New iPhone Promotes Better Markup

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I have to say I’m completely in love with the Apple iPhone Steve Jobs just announced.

I’m sorely regretting my decision to sign a new contract with Verizon Wireless last fall because it means I face a stiff cancellation fee if I want an iPhone (currently only available through Apple’s partnership with Cingular).

Other than the relationship with Cingular (see my rant on the Cingular/AT&T confusion), the iPhone seems perfect. Jobs made some pretty big claims about how the iPhone is as revolutionary as the original Macintosh and the iPod. I’m inclined to believe him.

Even if the iPhone doesn’t turn the mobile phone industry upside down, which it seems poised to do, it will do one great thing in my eyes: further the cause of semantic, standards-based web markup. You already know I think standards and semantic markup are important. The iPhone will help make sure even more people think so too.

Here are 3 reasons the iPhone will further the cause of Web standards and semantic markup.

1. The iPhone puts handheld Internet-access in the hands of people other than the usual gadget-heads who’ll put up with a quirky home-grown phone browser. With more of the masses accessing the Web via a handheld device, more clients, designers, and developers are going to be concerned with how a website looks and functions in both traditional and mobile environments.

2. The iPhone has a real browser that developers already target: Safari. The “smartphones” on the market today aren’t full-featured browsers and aren’t even on the radar of most web developers in terms of writing code optimized for these browsers.

3. The iPhone will spawn a whole slew of imitators just like the iPod did. With the bar effectively raised, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, LG, etc. will all have to step up their game and produce a competing product. That means everyone will be making phones capable of a more robust handheld browsing experience, further increasing the desire of web designers and developers (and their clients) to make websites that look good on all devices.

Semantic markup that adheres to established standards is ideal for websites whose audience will be using a variety of devices. The right markup works flawlessly in a desktop browser, a handheld device’s browser, and even in a screen reader.

Apple’s iPhone brings a new device to the market that will gain market share quickly, promote handheld web browsing, and as a result, increase the value of web standards and semantics!

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Brett Derricott is the founder and CEO of Agency Fusion, a web development company with a sweet content management system.

Brett blogs about technology at Agency Byte.

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