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Summary:

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) will allow third-party apps on the iPhone, the company officially announced today, after rumors and hopes to this effect…

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) will allow third-party apps on the iPhone, the company officially announced today, after rumors and hopes to this effect for a while. Of course, this is a turnaround from Jobs and Apple on their desire to control the environment, but with rampant hacking of the phone since it launched, this was the only logical way to go. Also, anecdotally, the iPhone sales may need to be kickstarted after the initial buzz, so this might have helped changed the company’s mind as well.

Jobs said in a letter that the company intends to release a software development kit in Feb that will let people outside the company to create iPhone and iPod touch apps…on why it will take so long: “It will take until February to release an SDK because we

  1. Apple iPhone SDK open? …to what?

    Great to hear that Steve is opening the iPhone to 3rd party applications, but that's a broad statement with a myriad of meanings. After all, "the devil's in the details"?

    For example,
    * Which developers will be allowed to participate? All devs are not created equal, but some small guys have done great work. Do I prefer that I know which are safe versus unsavory, yes, but not a lockdown. Even a Mac allows 3rd party apps without a lockout. Is Steve suggesting that an iPhone needs more security than a Mac? Why, because a Mac is less connected? …or fewer of them? ;-)
    * Will all approved developers have a financial obligation to Apple (revenue share or processing fee) thereby making all 3rd party apps a purchase?
    * Will 3rd party (free) ringtones be part of the SDK? After all, there are quite a few phones that allow free ringtones, but Apple may side with carriers and want that revenue.
    * Will icon ordering/positioning be completely open in the SDK or will we be locked to Steve's decision on whether I'm left or right-handed and find his a icons eye-friendly?
    * Can a user make their own applications? e.g. I made speed-dial "apps" with photos of my family members for icons. e.g. http://www.sailbyc.com/Speed-dial.jpg
    * …fill in blank with your favorite personalization…

    My guess is that Steve will only open it enough to quiet the blowback. He's not going to challenge his business model or his sense of omnipotence regarding device design.

    The iPhone is wonderful as shipped. It's just easier for me to use with how I've made it fit my lifestyle. After all, we're not supposed to be the drone humans in the 1984 video.

    Security of the device mandates an SDK, but not a pricing model or locking out personalization.

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  2. I figured from the beginning that this would be a step they would take. I'll admit it took them about a month longer than I assumed to get around to actually announcing it.

    And I wasn't expecting to have to wait until February of next year to see it actually happen.

    Agree with Rob on the details being what makes the difference. While I can't say I really care if Joe down the street is allowed to write a custom app, I do hope the more Indie Mac developers are able to get in on the action.

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