A month ago at the company’s World Wide Developer Conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs touted the forthcoming iPhones, urging developers to build applications for the iPhone as Internet-based Web 2.0 applications that users could connect to (via EDGE or Wi-FI) using the iPhone’s integrated Safari Web browser. The news kind of went over like a lead balloon: sure, many applications and services could, in theory be implemented as Web 2.0 applications, but that doesn’t give the applications access to storage on the iPhone, a coveted spot on the iPhone’s collection of icons, or magically let people use the applications if they should happen to be away from EDGE or Wi-Fi connectivity.
Nonetheless, the seeming runaway success of the iPhone launch means developers can’t afford to let the iPhone pass them by—even if it means implementing their products and services as Web-based applications. First out the gate is BeeJive, which has just launched a public alpha version of its JiveTalk mobile instant messaging client specifically for use via the Safari browser built into the iPhone. The service takes advantage of the fact Apple didn’t include a version of its own iChat instant messaging client with the iPhone. iPhone owners should just point their phone to iphone.beejive.com and get started messaging via AIM, AMSN, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, and Jabber. BeeJive is letting anyone use the alpha release for free, but warns there might be problems and/or bugs.
The company has not announced any future plans for its Web-based version of JiveTalk for iPhone, but the company’s BlackBerry client is priced at $19.95, with no per-message charges. Apple hasn’t made any official statements about native instant messaging clients for the iPhone, although speculation has the company adding the capability to the phone via software updates. However, that may still leave a slot for a service like BeeJive: Apple’s iChat operates via AIM or Jabber, meaning an iPhone version may not be able to talk to users on MSN, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, and other instant messaging platforms.