Readers, I've been lying to you. I just didn't know it.
I've reported that extensive online multiplayer on the iPhone couldn't happen because Apple hasn't released the tools, leaving creators to only offer multiplayer over a single shared Wi-Fi access point. That's true. But it doesn't mean full-featured multiplayer isn't possible.
iPhone developer Ian Gordon and his team at 3against2 pulled it off more than a month ago with official application "Versus Chess," which is capable of multiplayer over EDGE, 3G and Wi-Fi. It even has skill-based matchmaking!
"There are no proper online multiplayer development libraries in place," Gordon told me. "We actually ended up writing our own. No trickery, just a lot of coding and a somewhat excessive caffeine habit."
The makers of EA's "Scrabble" appears to be relying on Apple eventually providing a backend. "I'm not sure why Apple and EA haven't rolled out there own online multiplayer capabilities," continued Gordon. "But I would guess because of the infrastructure requirements (servers, hosting, bandwidth) and complexity."
I haven't had a chance to try "Versus Chess" myself, but the iTunes reviews are solid. Will more developers step up to the challenge?