There are now at least two major law firms that have now launched their own iPhone Apps. Canadian law firm Torys LLP and Morrison Foerster (MoFo2Go) both have new iPhone apps that I think are great public relations tools and will get a lot of attention as early adopters of a new technology.  Apart from the great PR, however, I’m not sure if approaching the market through an iPhone app is really the best way for firms to get to their clients smart phones.  I, for one, own an Android phone… Toby and Lisa each have a BlackBerry… so; there are 3 Geeks already that are shut out from using the app.  I guess we could all cut our contracts with Verizon or Sprint and jump over to AT&T to get an iPhone, but I really don’t think any of us are going to.  Toby will also have to add a caveat to his saying of “my Blackberry can do anything your iPhone can… only slower” and now add “except access your firm’s iPhone app.”

I’ve mentioned before that iPhone Apps (and Android Apps… and Palm Apps) contribute to what is being called the “Splinternet“.  That is the fracturing of what used to be a somewhat organized way of putting information out on the web without having to write a different code for every application that accesses the information.  Firms that create iPhone (or any other smart phone ‘app’) are basically telling their clients that the firm prefers a specific technology.  What kind of message does this sent to your clients who don’t have this technology??

Q: Why not just build a mobile web page that works for all smart phones?

Jeff Richardson (iPhone J.D.) thinks that MoFo’s app is a marketing tool that has been “done right.”  I actually agree with Jeff on the fact that MoFo2Go, and even Torys iPhone apps are actually good resources for iPhone users, but at the expense of excluding everyone else.  Doug Cornelius also reviewed the MoFo2Go app and brings up the same point I’m trying to make.  Why in the world would you develop something like this and exclude a large portion of the marketplace?  Contributing to the Splinternet is going to be a massive headache sometime down the road.  But, I assume that the ‘flash’ of an iPhone app for some firms may be too hard to resist.  I think that having a great mobile web site that works on all phones is a much better way to go.

Granted, it may mean that the MoFo Maze game may have to go away, but really… do your clients need a game to play?  Do your clients really need to buy an iPhone in order to feel connect to your firm?  Developing apps for specific smart phones will get you some press, but what are you going to do when you go into a meeting with your clients and tell them to download your new iPhone App and they all whip out their Blackberrys and ask when are you going to release the app for their phone?  Welcome to the world of the Splinternet… your contribution has been noted.