Will Apple Put WordPress in the iPhone?

Lead WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg discussed WordPress’s mobile future at the WordCamp Dallas event on March 29. He said something very interesting which I’ve transcribed from the video of his presentation:

Will WordPress Be Bundled with the iPhone?

Mobile is really important. Blackberries, iPhones… and other things… are coming. And I’d like that to be in a core cell phone. They were hoping to do it in time for WordCamp and announce it here, but there is a device maker who is working on actually building WordPress into the device, so it’ll come bundled with it — which will be pretty interesting. I can’t say who it is yet, but there’s only a few out there so you can probably guess.

I’m guessing Apple — who else could it be? They already bundled YouTube and Google Maps into the iPhone, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for them to integrate WordPress as well. Apple has already incorporated email to take advantage of the iPhone’s full QWERTY software keyboard, so blogging would be a logical next step for them to focus on.

Sure, the iPhone SDK would allow third-party WordPress integration when the iPhone OS 2.0 is released in June, but notice that Matt said it’s the “device maker” (not a third party) who will “bundle” WordPress — I think we’re talking default inclusion here.

And what other device maker besides Apple makes a “core cell phone” that bundles web apps?

This move sounds a lot like Apple: Integrating a brand-name web application into the iPhone (like they did with Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Yahoo! Weather, etc.) instead of focusing on “generic,” brand-less functionality like other smartphone companies would likely do.

And I know this last point is a bit overly analytical here, but since Matt switched from calling it a “cell phone” to calling it a “device,” this implies that this gadget has functionality beyond just being a cell phone. (And of course that just screams iPhone.)

If my prediction is correct, then congratulations in advance to Matt et al — this would be fantastic exposure for WordPress!

I could tell by Matt’s expression on the video that he was trying to hold in his excitement about this, so even if it’s not the iPhone, it must be something big. :-)

What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m way off? Or do you think WordPress will indeed be coming to the iPhone as a preinstalled blogging app?

25 Comments

  1. I to think WordPress on the iPhone would be great. It makes sense that as social publishing becomes more common that great open source systems be moved to mobile devices.

    There’s already been some work on getting Drupal on the N810, but the iPhone would be the target platform of choice.

  2. Don´t think this comes true just because of 1fact: iWeb!

  3. @apfelmobil: You raise a good point. However, I don’t think iWeb would be well-suited for the iPhone. iWeb is more focused on traditional websites, and can do some blogging too, whereas WordPress is almost-exclusively focused on blogging. And blogging definitely lends itself to mobility more than web authoring.

    Even though Apple sells videos through iTunes, did that stop them from adding YouTube to the iPhone?

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  15. It’s not going to happen. In order to do this, they would have to distribute PHP and MySQL on the iPhone. First of all, that software is way too heavy for the iPhone, for what little benefit you would get out of it. Second, Apple’s own license prohibits porting dynamic languages like PHP to the iPhone in the first place, so they aren’t going to tease developers with a PHP runtime on the iPhone, wagging their fingers saying “now don’t y’all go breakin’ the license, ya hear!”

    There are XML-RPC APIs that already allow them to write blogging software for the iPhone if they want to bundle something like that by default. They’re not great, but the standard APIs that all major blog suites use are good enough to get the job done for basic blogging.

  16. Ironically, it would be easier to run Movable Type on it than WordPress. Movable Type already has a plug-in that creates an iPhone-specific user interface, and it supports SQLite out of the box, making it so that it could leverage the existing SQLite already on the iPhone. Perl and a very basic web server are the only things that would have to be added to run Movable Type on an iPhone.

    Though, again… these are low-powered CPU environments. Why on Earth would you want to have most of a LAMP stack on them, when you can just write a native program that interfaces to your blog?

  17. @MikeT: “A native program that interfaces to your blog” — that’s exactly what I’m talking about. (I agree, it would be very silly to actually host WordPress on the iPhone.)

    When Apple integrated YouTube with the iPhone, that didn’t mean they ran a YouTube hosting service on the phone. Similarly, if Apple were to integrate WordPress with the iPhone, that would not mean that WordPress would be hosted; it would just provide an easy way to access and use it.

    And for the record, there are WordPress plugins that provide iPhone-friendly interfaces for both the front end and the back end. I’d imagine this potential iPhone bundling would simply be a more integrated back-end administration solution.

  18. It still wouldn’t make a lot of sense for them to do that. It might make sense for Automattic, but not Apple because Apple is not big on being locked into anything but their own stuff. Why would they want to lock into WordPress, and not offer the same features to Movable Type, TypePad, Vox and Blogger users? Not to mention those who use other blog systems that are less popular.

  19. @MikeT: By bundling YouTube, Apple picked the most popular video sharing site and left out the videos on all the other smaller sites. The other sites don’t even work on the iPhone due to the lack of Flash support.

    Similarly, WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. In this case however, the other platforms wouldn’t be fully excluded thanks to the iPhone’s excellent Safari browser.

    So in that light, bundling WordPress would seem to be even less far-fetched than bundling YouTube. And of course, Apple has already done the latter.

  20. Similarly, WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. In this case however, the other platforms wouldn’t be fully excluded thanks to the iPhone’s excellent Safari browser.

    So in that light, bundling WordPress would seem to be even less far-fetched than bundling YouTube. And of course, Apple has already done the latter.

    That’s all well and good, however there is not a clear victor in this space like there is in video sharing. There are still a lot of bloggers that use Blogger and other platforms, and I can’t see Apple making a program that arbitrarily locks all of those users out. It would be arbitrary because there are excellent, though not quite as robust as some of us would like, XML-RPC APIs that allow you to target anything from WordPress, to Blogger, to Movable Type.

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