Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit panel examines the impact of the iPhone

A small panel of local wireless experts weighed in at the Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit on the various ways the iPhone has changed business and the consumer experience. Top of mind was the App Store, which the panel agreed is an amazing way to distribute your apps and achieve incredible reach. But Shai Berger of Fonolo pointed out that the fact that Apple is the gatekeeper of any app on the phone could be called “not quite non-evil.” You can’t know if you’re putting out an app Apple will want to do in the future, and Apple has on occasion quashed an app (Podcaster being one example) when they have similar features planned in a software update. But overall, the App Store experience has been a good one, he said.

Olivier Vincent of Canpages, who also has an app on the App Store, said that one should remember that installing an app onto a phone used to be a bit of a nightmare, with a lot of setup both through a computer and a device, multiple cords, and a high failure rate. With the iPhone, all that’s necessary is one password, in the same environment as a user’s music and movie purchases, he said.

iPhone development is a no-brainer, because not only has iPhone set a new standard, but there are other phones rising to the challenge which are in total creating a new environment that will mean better and richer applications across all platforms. Berger namechecked Phonegap as a developer sure to take advantage of these new capabilities.

The panel also addressed iPhone’s wifi capabilities, but they said that since the iPhone is now 3G capable, either stream is able to carry rich data, meaning developers don’t have to be concerned with developing two different applications. Wifi can also take the burden of data transfer off of carriers, and has helped reduce the fear of data charges, otherwise known as “click fear.”

The panel agreed that the “freemium” model of offering a lite version of an app and a feature-rich version for pay is a model that is already proven to work. Berger pointed to Jott and Tapulous as two apps who have done very well using the freemium model.