Why the iPhone validates microformats

On the one hand, I’m trying to quell my excitement over the iPhone. After all, in two year’s time or from an objective viewpoint, it’s a beautiful piece of industrial design that, as far as phones go, was a long time in coming. In that Apple has done something important in the advance of phone interface design, elevating the equivalent of the flashing time on VCRs for mobile applications.

And that’s awesome, but not what really has me giddy.

Instead, what excites me about the iPhone is Maciej’s work, ostensibly Mozilla’s missed opportunity. WebKit is open source. WebKit supports JavaScript. WebKit is on the iPhone. And, if you remember, Apple’s dotMac mail supports microformats.

Yes, the iPhone will support Yahoo-based IMAP (a shot across RIM’s bow?). BUT, Yahoo, to date, has been a big supporter and implementor of microformats. Already having support in their web properties means that we can start doing things with WebKit in mobile apps that you simply can’t do elsewhere with the same simple webpages that *aren’t* microformatted.

And, pushing forward, this creates an interesting opportunity to offer choice in map technology provider since it looks like Google gets default billing.

I know Maciej is interested in microformats; I know the Mozilla guys are too. From a web developer perspective, having just had a whole *new* device added to my priorities list, microformats and semantic markup generally suddenly me feel a whole lot better about the work I’ll need to do to make my site mobile-friendly. And, as widget-sized and -styled interfaces come to the fore, providing an equivalent CC-like “do as you please with this data” affordance will seem obvious for web apps that have to-date shirked the opportunity provided by microformats to become future-ready.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

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