Aaron over on WebStandards.org is advocating that web sites NOT design specifically for the iPhone, but for all mobile devices. While cogent, I think his arguments are missing a critical element.
First, here's the link to his article: The good, the bad, and the ugly - iPhone edition
His conclusion? "If you want to build a mobile interface to your app, do it like Twitter and others have. Writing a POSH interface is dead easy and, even with the lack of solid CSS support on most devices, it is usable by pretty much anyone on the mobile web. "
Unfortunately, his advice is also the least-common-denominator approach, much akin to the time when all of that cool new-fangled CSS stuff appeared… and which no one could use because the majority of the browsers out there only understood tables.
It also ignores the fact that the iPhone is not just a single device but the precursor to a new type of device. And one whose mode of interaction tends to require a different application interface from that of most of the current mobile devices on the market.
Font sizes, control sizes, link size and spacing, lack of hovers and mouse-overs, all contribute to the difference. A design style that works well on a typical mobile “smart” phone (tightly-space list of links) may fail miserably on the iPhone when the input selection device is a fingertip that can’t differentiate one link from another.
Further, the iPhone is also, to a large degree, about style and design and esthetics. Not designing for those qualities is similar to porting a Windows application to the Mac vs. writing an application FOR the Mac. Given a choice, Mac-types will tend to choose the later over the former every time.
In any case, I think it’s a bit early to be advocating a single design paradigm, especially when most of the people out there are still using the equivalent of IE4/NS4.
I also believe that the people who're developing specific interfaces know what they're doing, why they're doing it, and are smart enough to make their own decisions as to what's best for their site, their users, and their business. After all, going after iPhone early adopters might be a good way to get your site in front of a rather large group of semi-affluent folk.
(We did spend $600 for a phone, after all.)
So what's your take?