Got iPhone? Get Leaflets…

The good fellas’ at Blue Flavor are announcing this morning the release of “Leaflets” — mini browser-based apps for your shiny new iPhone. Available flavors currently include Flickr,, Upcoming, The New York Times, Newsvine, and a few others.

The cool thing about Leaflets is that they display data from the services listed above in a format tailor made for the iPhone. Apple has made a big deal about how the iPhone can view “the real web” and not “the mobile web”, but while this is true, it still doesn’t mean “the real web” is an ideal format for the iPhone. The mobile savants at Blue Flavor have taken this axiom to heart and created a nice middleware layer which lets me get more out of my Newsvine, my Flickr, and my by getting less.

Check out iPhone Leaflets at

34 comments on “Got iPhone? Get Leaflets…”. Leave your own?
  1. Brandon says:

    Very cool…now if only I had an iPhone.

  2. Josh Stodola says:


    I can’t wait until everybody’s iPhone blows up in their hand. Then the billions of iPhone-related blog posts would be somewhat interesting. What a bunch of sheep…


  3. Dan says:

    Thanks, Josh, for that wonderful and insightful addition to this discussion. Get life, and go back to working on “”, brah.

  4. Mike D. says:

    Hi Josh. You seem like a .NET guy, which would imply that perhaps you hate all things Apple, but any time a product is able to create the lines that the iPhone, the Wii, and the X-Box did, there’s usually something pretty special about it.

    People aren’t stupid. The pent up desire for these things is not pure marketing. It’s product development at its core, showcased by great marketing on top of that.

    You posited sarcastically in the rant you linked to that “apparently lines have become a symbol of marketing success in this world.” To that I say “Of course they are!” Rare is the product that is so exciting as to create lines in the first place. The iPhone is three years in the making from a product development standpoint and 10 years in the making from a consumer desire standpoint. Is it any wonder then why it’s getting so much attention? The only shocker should perhaps be just how well it’s living up to expectations so far.

  5. Chris says:

    So, one thing that I don’t understand is the large number mobile web sites and apps that are now being branded (and restricted to) the iPhone only. I think the iPhone is a groundbreaking product, and it’s a good thing that its hype is stimulating mobile web app development, but it feels very wrong to be building all these apps with only one device in mind. If you were developing a typical public web app, would you build it to work only in Opera or Safari? No, you would focus on making it standards-compliant, then test it in the top 3-4 browsers to ensure compatibility. Granted, I know the feasibility of testing for a significant portion of mobile web users is much more difficult than the desktop realm, but still.

    How come the industry’s focus on web standards and accessibility seems to have been lost in the hype of developing “iPhone apps” that are just web apps restricted to a single browser vendor? Sounds to me like the same thing as developing “IE apps”.

    I’d love to be proven wrong on this, is there something I’m missing here?

  6. Robert C. says:

    Has anyone ever programmed websites for just one device before?

    I would like an iPhone now please.

  7. Keith says:

    Chris – I see your point and yes, we built Leaflets with the iPhone in mind. We did so for several reasons.

    One of which was that with Safari on an iPhone we could do some things user experience wise we can’t easily do on any other mobile browser – yet. Having said that, we plan to support other browsers in the future and as browsers like Opera mature on mobile devices that support should be easier. Right now, though, we couldn’t do what we wanted without limiting that support.

    An example: by using Safari’s CSS3 support we can do things like multiple backgrounds that lets us *vastly* reduce the weigh of the pages.

    This is just a starting point. The majority of the code for the Leaflets is web standards-based and once devices and browsers get better you’ll see more support there.

  8. Robert: Sure. Internet Explorer on Windows 95 in the mid-1990s.

    What I find most interesting about the iPhone launch is that the lines were more or less unnecessary. Apple was smart enough to estimate and meet demand. Almost everyone who went to an Apple store on launch weekend walked away with an iPhone. We can thank Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo for creating this idea that if you want to own a new piece of hardware fast, you need to line up a day in advance. That’s asinine.

  9. Chris says:

    Keith, thanks for the insight into your approach with Leaflets. I’ve now taken a quick look at your markup and it is definitely standards based.

    However, couldn’t the techniques of progress enhancement and graceful degradation be used for users of other mobile browsers? Developers could treat other mobile browsers the way we began treating IE4 and Netscape 4 at a cetain point. Provide the content and basic functionality, but not all of the user experience bells and whistles.

    The only problem with that approach (now that I think of it) is that when people began disregarding those old browsers, they were just that: old and obsolete browsers. All of the people out there today with Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc smartphones are not using obsolete technology, they are using very current technology that they will likely be sticking with for a while.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, if “iPhone applications” are really just mobile phone targeted web applications, why can’t other smartphone users benefit from the increased attention on those types of applications?

    Finally, I don’t mean to pick on Leaflets in particular, cause I think it’s a pretty cool concept. These thoughts have just been kicking around in my head since Jobs announced the iPhone “SDK” or lack thereof.

  10. Jeff Croft says:


    In addition to what Keith said, there’s another important reason why I think our Leaflets are an example of responsibly choosing to target a particular device: Leaflets don’t provide NEW content.

    That is to say: every Leaflets app is a parred-down, iPhone friendly version of something you can already get elsewhere. The problem with the “elsewhere” version is that they’re aimed at desktop computers. Desktop computers have bigger screens, Flash pug-ins, and much faster connections to the Internet. They all WORK on an iPhone, but most of them don’t work as well as you’d like.

    The point is: we’re not building a new app and making it ONLY run on an iPhone. Rather, we’re taking apps that already exist and making them run better on an iPhone. We’re not taking the full Newsvine away from you. Or the full Flickr. Or Upcoming. Rather, we’re just providing an alternative. If you don’t like our alternative, go to or and get the full thing. If you do like our alternative, head over to Leaflets.

    I would personally object to any app that is created ONLY for the iPhone. But having apps that works great in most all browsers and devices (Newsvine, Flickr, etc.) and an alternative interface (Leaflets) that is designed to work really well on one extremely popular device (iPhone) seems perfectly just to me.

  11. A says:

    The folks over at RIM should be reading this. If in just 2 weeks of launch, sites dedicated to only iPhones are popping up – I think it’s time I dump and blackberry and move over to the iPhone.

  12. Calvin Tang says:

    This thing is money!

  13. MyDogBen says:

    WIth apps like Leaflets in the pipe (ps, great name!), with demand only growing, and hearing from all corners that iPhone performs as billed, I expect the only tool left that the competition has to use will be: Legislation.
    I’m not bright enough to know how they will pitch it, but rival cell companies, heck, probably handset manufacturers too, are poised to go whining to Congress. I can just feel it in the air.

  14. Faruk Ateş says:

    On the subject of iPhone-only apps vs. progressive enhancements and such, I do feel very much on the fence coming from an accessibility perspective.

    On the one hand, it’s easy to make an argument in favor of progressive enhancement and making sure your iPhone app is also accessible to non-iPhone mobile browsers.

    On the other hand, the iPhone has ushered in a new form of mobile web — a real web, in handheld form. It is a cultural change in the realm of mobile browsers, in that it basically kills competitors by challenging them to compete in a better way; a standards-compliant, standards-supporting way. In other words, it forces competitors to make their browsers understand real websites, not just WAP sites or, in those now-famous terms, “the baby internet”.

    Since the Leaflets aren’t providing content themselves, rather, providing an alternative viewing method to existing content found elsewhere, I personally liken them to the Accessible Odeon website that was around a few years ago when the Odeon’s own site was an inaccessible pile of poo. One guy, a simple movie-loving web developer with an understanding for accessibility, chose to create a version of the Odeon site that ripped the content from them and presented it in an accessible (and FAR more usable) manner.

    The Leaflets are similar in that they simply present existing content from sites in a more accessible manner — but only to a relatively specific audience, that audience being “people with a modern mobile browser” (I reckon Opera Mini / Opera Mobile wouldn’t be too hard to support as well, if not now then soon).

    The benefit of the leaflets isn’t so much in being iPhone optimized, but in being “slow network speeds and small device screens”-optimized. They still require a real browser, it just happens to be that the iPhone is the only great option right now when it comes to mobile browsers with still a relatively large screen (Opera Mini and Opera Mobile are very impressive and capable too, but there are no mobiles with a screen the size of the iPhone’s).

    Whew. Long-ish comment. :)

  15. Nic says:

    Wow, here some real against-the-current swimming! The iPhone is a piece of shit, and so is your face. Someone’s got a chip on the shoulder!

  16. Josh Stodola says:

    Hi Mike, good hypothesis. I am definitely a .NET guy, but that doesn’t mean I am biased towards everything produced Apple. In fact, I was very tempted to purchase a MacBook straight-up at Best Buy last week because the fools refused to sell me a PC without Vista. I have a Mactard buddy who has a BookPro, and I have used it a bit and it was not all that bad. A little different, but same concepts. I couldn’t bring myself to switch though… so I am building my own PC.

    Anyways, my point is that I don’t hate all things Apple. I like to think I am a very fair consumer. However, I do strongly despise successful marketing ploys. It’s a weird hate, I know, but it is true. The iPhone is not even worth $200, honestly. I have used it, I know of all the features, and it is not all that great. Their marketing plans were so perfectly articulated that they were able to triple the selling price while maintaining the hype (took them a long time, but they did it).

    And contrary to what you have stated, people are stupid. Sometimes beyond stupid! So much that they will pay a significant amount money to Apple only becuase…

    • they “have” the money and like getting pwned by commercials
    • they desire attention from fellow sheep
    • they desperately need something to brag about
    • they thoroughly enjoy charging their phone
    • they believe the Apple logo on any item is worth any price

    Seriously though, my best friend the mactard, he despises Windows, buys everything Mac. I certainly don’t hold this against him. He naturally purchased the iPhone the day it came out, and he brags about it to everyone how cool it is. How cool it looks, how sleek and stylish it is, how great it feels in his hand. He even tried to convince my grandfather that he needed an iPhone becuase of his fat fingers. Funny thing is, my friend never uses the damn thing. The guy doesn’t call anybody, he doesn’t surf the internet or check his email on it. He doesn’t even play music on the thing. Now that is STUPID. He bought it becuase of the hype (he refuses to admit this, but it is painfully obvious), and becuase he can reflect a Batman-style Apple logo when provided the right light. I am seriosuly starting to think his brain is powered by an Apple II and his mouth is powered by an Macintosh Marketing executive.

    The point is… so many people are voluntarily becoming spokespeople for Apple, and I feel it is beyond riduclous. I just don’t get it. Especially in the blogosphere of IT professionals… those of whom should totally see this crap coming and know better (like Rick Strahl does). I can only imagine what the specating aliens think of us.

    Anyways, I do apologize for the orginal rant, I realize it was not very well constructed. But I’m afraid I am going to burst if I keep reading blog posts about the iPhone!

    Best regards…

  17. Faruk Ateş says:

    Wow Josh, you’re not biased at all. You just call Mac users Mactards because that’s their informal name, isn’t it?

    At least you had one thing right in your latest rant of despise: “I just don’t get it.”

    How true.

  18. Faruk Ateş says:

    Oh and perhaps I should write some arguments instead of just criticism…

    No Josh, just because some people generally are stupid, does not mean that the masses of people in this world are brainless and easily converted by a smidgen of marketing.

    Newsflash for you: Apple spent a minimal amount of time, effort and money on marketing the iPhone, compared to the landslide hype created by the media. What did Apple do? A few TV commercials, and in the week and a half before launch, some videos on their own site. And only on their own site. Not across the TV networks, the Internet, nowhere except for their own site.

    Did they do a great job at the marketing for it? Yes, they did — they showed people how easy it is to use the phone and how little effort it takes to do so many things with it. That’s the value of the $499 right there: ease of use. It’s the user interface that makes the iPhone stand head and shoulders above all other phones.

    Why has that caused such mass hysteria in the media? Because most everyone who has a cellphone hates it. People don’t like using their phones because the UI’s are terrible, they are user-unfriendly, a pain to use, hard to navigate and they get in your way of using all the features on your phone. And that has been the case for at least 10 years now, with absolutely no change whatsoever.

    As long as eight years ago or so, people were making up rumors that Apple would do a phone. Not because Apple was making a phone and someone leaked info, because they weren’t — they’ve only started working on the phone three years ago.

    Question: why, then, would people want to make up such a rumor?
    Answer: because people hated their current phones.

    So why a rumor of Apple making a phone? Because these people were used to Apple being the only software developer who truly understood the value and importance of good user interfaces. They wanted Apple to make a phone, because their expectations were that IF Apple would make a phone, it wouldn’t be such a pain to use.

    Lo and behold, it is now eight years later, and the iPhone is a reality. It’s been released to the public and while it’s not a perfect device by any means, it delivers on the one thing that people worldwide have been looking forward to for many many years: a phone with a great user interface, that’s not a pain to use, that gets out of your way and makes it easy for you to access all of its features.

    That is why the iPhone is selling like no consumer device ever has before it.

    People aren’t becoming spokespeople for Apple because they’re being “brainwashed by marketing” or any such crazy notion, it’s because they’re discovering, in increasing amounts (and numbers), that Apple understands that people want to use technology without having to memorize a manual.

    They’re becoming spokespeople because they want to share that great experience with others.

    Being a Switcher myself, I speak from complete personal experience with this. And I also think that you’re far too accustomed to the clumsy, counter-intuitive way of thinking that Windows demands of its users, that it won’t be easy for you to just overnight understand how big a deal the Mac OS X and iPhone user interfaces are. But, they are, and more and more people each day are discovering that, now.

  19. Mike D. says:

    Josh: Here’s the thing about capitalism — things are “worth” as much or as little as people are willing to pay for them. So, hypothetically, let’s say Apple knew they could only manufacture about 1,000 iPhones during the first year. They’d price it such that *exactly* 1,000 people would be willing to pay that price (say, $5000). If they could make 100,000 phones, they’d price it so that 100,000 people would pay for them (say $1000). If they could make 1,000,000 phones, the same rule would apple (maybe $600). And as you approach the saturation point, you stop your price decreases such that you continue to maximize profit.

    Most people understand the first part of that, but many forget the last. The goal is not to produce the cheapest, most affordable phone on the market. The goal is to maximize revenue. This isn’t a commodity product with which you can make the argument that “it should be affordable to everyone, even in third world countries, blah blah blah (like perhaps an OS). It’s a LUXURY product and for those who think it’s worth the luxury price, more power to them to buy it, right? Doesn’t make them fools. You probably drive a more expensive car than you *really* need, but I don’t think you’re a fool for buying it. Consumers choose to save money on certain things and splurge on other things… nothing wrong with the iPhone being that splurge for some of us.

    Also, if the phone didn’t live up to the enormous expectations, we’d all have returned ours within the two week period. I’m sure the return rate was in the single digits or less.

  20. Josh Stodola says:

    Blah, blah, blah. This one’s for you, Faruk. If you cant handle a little harmless terminology, then please put the tears in your handkerchief, ya big baby.

  21. Faruk Ateş says:

    Funny, calling me a baby and using “faruk is a big baby” as a title attribute in your link. How mature indeed.

    Too bad for you the site stripped it out, or would’ve been so funny!

    Unlike you, I don’t need a Wikipedia link to explain myself, so here’s something for you: when you call people Mactards, thus implying that Mac users are retards, directly after stating you have “no bias” means you’re opening yourself up for critique, because what you just did can be considered either that “stupid” you so vehemently oppose, or “irony”.

    Do you need a dictionary link for the word irony? :-)

  22. Josh Stodola says:


    Thanks, that does make sense to me. I’m not saying the iPhone is a piece of crap. It really is a nice device, and yes Faruk, it is quite easy to use. For that, they deserve to put a big price tag on it. However, why does everybody have to talk about how great their iPhone is and how cool they are for having it? Becuase they paid $600 for it, that’s why. And that is the part that burns me. It doesn’t do anything spectacular. It’s a PHONE! But, it was an expensive phone and that somehow makes it *so* stylish (tragically).

    And I certainly dont think everybody is a fool for buying the iPhone (lol except my friend), but does every single solitary owner have to talk about how well it works? It isn’t rocket science… so they got something right for once. At $500, what is the big stir? Oddly enough, I would probably own an iPhone right now if it wasn’t so popular.

    I really don’t know, perhaps they have some ingenius plans for the iPhone’s future that will make it all worthwhile. But at this point, it just seems like everyone is making a big deal out of something that is… not that great.

  23. Mike D. says:

    Josh: I think you’re making faulty assumptions there. I don’t talk about my iPhone because I paid $600 for it. In fact, that’s my *least* favorite thing about it. I talk about it because it’s a great phone. Some people read this blog for advice on products and technologies. I’m not saying everyone trusts my opinion here, but some do, and for those who do, I’m happy to give it. If my iPhone claqueing gets 50 people to buy iPhones and 48 of them end up loving it, I just did a good thing for 48 people and Apple as well. Happy to do that.

    The iPhone is not a diamond ring. If it was, maybe I’d get some sort of belt where I could wear it on the outside of my clothing so everyone could see it all the time. Instead, I keep it in my pocket until I need to use it. I don’t show it off… I just talk about it to people who might want to purchase one.

    I think you kind of nailed it with your statement that you’d own an iPhone if it wasn’t so popular. You’ve outed yourself as a bit of a counterculturist and the fact that this phone has become such a rapid and rabid part of our culture actually gives you an artificially negative opinion of it. That’s all well and good… just don’t extrapolate from that anything about anyone else please.

  24. Collin Yeadon says:

    Wow, Josh, as a fellow .Net guy I gotta tell you. Suck it up big guy. I hate to admit it, but have to just the same, the iPhone is a sweet looking device. It is in fact everything I have been waiting for in a cell phone. Or I should say it’s like stage 1 of what I want but they are on the right path. You can’t fault their marketing because very little marketing had to be done. In fact, I have not seen any TV spots about it that stick in my head so perhaps the buzz alone has been the big selling point.

    I completely agree that the iPhone is overpriced but as Mike pointed out the price is set according to what they think people would be willing to pay. There is no way that it is worth $500+ for a phone like this but I am just saying that because I want one and can’t justify spending it for the lower end. Nor do I want to pony up $600 for 4 gigs of extra storage. That said, had I been sitting here with $600 burning a hole in my pocket I would have wanted to buy one. Although I wouldn’t be able to get a hold of one anyways so no big deal. The only thing that would stop me if I had the money to spare at the moment is the fact that I have already been burned twice by being an early adopter this year and I am ready to let other people be guinea pigs for me.

    On the same subject of not being able to get my hands on the iPhone and not wanting to spend that much for so little storage I hope Apple knows that does not mean that I want some iPhone Nano version that is within my budget. You have me sold on a sexy looking device and I do not want to settle for less when in reality I want more. Give me a little and I want a lot, give me a lot and I’ll be content.

    Mike: Knowing how much of an Apple whore (and I use that term in the nicest way) you are, I appreciate that you threw Xbox into the list. It’s sad to think of all the people who talked trash about the 360’s when the system is actually awesome and in my opinion MS has failed to advertise the coolest features. People talk about the future of set-top boxes with games, internet, movies, etc.. Well XB360 has more of those features then they push. You can download HD movies, demos, cheap arcade games, chat online with either video, voice or MSN messenger. Hard to argue that they have worked hard to build out the online features and really only internet browsing and some more features geared towards adults are missing. I’d like to see them add a big news tab for instance or even better an RSS reader!

  25. Just my feedback – the Leaflets is a beautiful webapp, I really like using it… but the problem for me is that I can’t really customize it. let’s me add and remove what I what to use, not what someone wants to give me; but it’s not as design intended as what leaflets has. Let me customize, reorder, and remove what I don’t need, and it’d be worth it. In fact, it’d be worth adding an occassional advertise pay one on there for me to suck it up – just let me atleast reorganize and move a couple off. Otherwise, it’s just a slowdown for me.

  26. Josh Stodola says:

    Mike, I am not really a counter-culturist. Maybe my initial opinions on Apple’s products are somewhat skewed, but their own history is to blame for that one. I am typically the first in line for the latest nerdy gadget.

    The fact of the matter is this: if you had a phone that was equally as “great” but was not produced by Apple, you would not be blogging about it. Well, you might be because you do indeed give great advice on products and technologies (agreed – hands down), but the rest of the blogosphere would be silent. That’s where the word “ridiculous” and Apple’s ingenius marketing comes into effect.

  27. Jeff Croft says:

    Brady: We will definitely be adding features to Leaflets in the weeks/months to come. I can’t say for sure if we’ll add the ability to customize the homepage (not my decision), but I can say that we’ve heard that request a few times and we’ll certainly consider it.

    It is important to understand what we’re doing here, though. Our goal wasn’t to provide a launchpad of iPhone apps for you (that’s what and do). Instead, we wanted to provide some really killer apps. If you’d like to launch of Leaflets from one of those other launchpads — go for it!

    We may get into the business of creating a customizable launchpad for iPhone apps at some point — but for the initial launch, our focus was on the apps themselves, not the tool that launches them.

  28. Understood – I had thought your model would be more financially beneficial than a launchpad, and more inline with Apple’s own model design of their iphone home. I just don’t see myself using many of the apps personally (Le Tour de France comes to mind), and vouch for more productivity over design.

    Maybe keeping the model of your quality apps, but allowing me to customize the placement of those apps on the home (as well as hiding them directly) on my own accord would be a viable solution? Again though, contrary to your business model by allowing the user to have the keys.

  29. Dave Metcalf says:

    Hopefully I will be getting an iPhone soon. And when I do, I’m definitely going to get Leaflets. The general idea is great and the online demo is superb! (One suggestion: speaking as someone whose first stop on Newsvine is the NFL page, maybe you could put subcategories in the Newsvine Leaflet).

    And I don’t see, in the least, what’s wrong with making something solely for the iPhone. It’s been done for a long time with Windows- or Mac-only applications (remember the old reasoning why Windows was better than Mac: because all the “important” software only runs on Windows), some web sites only work on certain browsers (I’m looking at you, MLS), game makes would only make their games for one playform or console, iPod only applications and accessories, etc. I, for one, think that introducing a product for the hottest gadget of the year (or past several years and probably several to come) is a smart and responsible business decision that frankly I wish I had thought of first.

    The internet should be accessible to everybody. And so should transportation. But if I have an iPhone or a Ferrari, you have to recognize that the extra money I’m shelling out is for a better experience.

  30. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the info on Leaflets.

    Can’t understand why people continue to bash the Iphone here and all over the net. Maybe if it was released by a company other than Apple??? Seems people like bashing them.

    Big thanks to those who visited my link for the free Iphone… it is on its way!!

  31. Chris Coyier says:

    This is easily the nicest iPhone specific app I’ve seen yet. I’d be interested to know how the CSS3 multiple backgrounds spec makes the page lighter weight.

  32. Faruk Ateş says:


    Using multiple backgrounds on one element allows you to save on the number of elements (less HTML) as well as minimize your amount of CSS rules (less CSS). Furthermore, the CSS3 border-image support makes it all even more efficient.

  33. Chris Coyier says:

    OK, I think I get it. You can use it for stuff like sliding doors. One background image aligned left and one background image aligned right. One element that is expandable while not breaking the graphics.

  34. Troy says:

    Josh – Re: your contempt for “successful marketing ploys”… As one of the most important and cited writers of corporate strategy and management, Peter F. Drucker famously stated (decades before the iPhone was even conceived), “Business has only two functions – innovation and marketing”. Although pleasing to some and displeasing to others, Apple nailed both (again) – this time with the iPhone.

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