Finally, the word is out. Apple (Steve) has announced at the “hot news feed” that the iPhone (and iPod touch) will be opened up to developers in February 2008. I think this is a wise decision. In stead of fighting developers, bricking phones and constantly being at the defense, the effort of Apple is much better put to use by working together with the (free, unpayed, expert-level, hours-on-end-concentrating, 24/7) programmers out there.
Steve wrote an open letter, which I’ll quote here because you can not direct-link to posts in the “hot news” feed of Apple. On 17 October 2007 Steve wrote:
“Third Party Applications on the iPhone
Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.
It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.
Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.
We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.
P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]”
I really hope that Apple will also open up the iPod cables again, for a minute out there Apple seemed to be forgotten what their initial market strategy was (and should be): Compete by designing the best product.
I’ve found Microsoft products to be restrictive, as opposed to Apple’s products being liberating. Microsoft makes me want to pirate stuff, Apple makes me want to pay for the great solution they have. Microsoft tries to charge you bigtime, and in return give you long serialnumbers, “authenticity checks”, and a lot of problems and bugs along with a piece of software that does not solve your problem or works like advertised (Vista, anyone?). Apple simply offers the best solution you could possibly imagine, (almost) without (noticable) copy restrictions, at a fair price. It will feel like money well spent, and almost always actually works better than advertised.
Why all of a sudden Apple wants to be in the restrictive game is a complete mistery to me, and I hope they’ll see the error of their ways soon…