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Apple U-Turns on iPhone: Third-Party Developers To Get SDK in 2008

Jobs: "We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third-party applications"

While it won't be changing its policy forbidding users from unlocking the iPhone to use it with carriers other than AT&T, Apple has relented: in February it will make an iPhone SDK available. "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," Steve Jobs wrote yesterday on the Apple website.

Apple sold its one millionth iPhone in September. Visitors to www.apple.com/iphone/ will hopefully find further details of the SDK shortly.

Back in January, Jobs was dead against such a move, telling the New York Times:

“We define everything that is on the phone. You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore.”
Kevin Hoffman, editor-in-chief of SYS-CON Media's iPhone Developer's Journal and one of the most popular iPhone bloggers on the Net, wrote as follows just recently: "I'm still holding out for a legitimate, legal SDK for the phone."

Hoffman's wish has been granted.

Jobs, whose statement yesterday appeared here, explained the long delay before third-party developers' energy can be directed toward iPhone development:

"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."

Jobs went on to explain how some companies are already taking action, adding that "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,” Jobs said Apple believes it is "a step in the right direction."

In a P.S. Jobs added: "The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch."

Click here to read in full Kevin Hoffman's "Thoughts on iPhone Hacking."

More News from Kevin Hoffman:
Leopard Shipping October 26th

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
Brian 10/19/07 12:31:34 PM EDT

Jeremy Geelan got this story all wrong and did readers a disservice by spreading a false myth about the iPhone SDK. You need only look at Kevin Hoffman's article in Sys-Con Media, "iPhone Landscape after the iPhone SDK Announcement" (http://www.sys-con.com/read/446115.htm) to see that Steve Jobs had discussed this months ago. Truth be told, Apple had been planning the iPhone SDK, but had to make sure they did it right. First, Apple had to finish OS-X 10.5 (Leopard), which required a number of people to get this done. Second, Leopard is apparently a key tool for developers wishing to create apps for the iPhone. And third, as Steve Jobs stated in a letter to the Apple community a couple of days ago, their largest concern was making sure that the iPhone would be secure against viruses and malware.

All this is reasonable. But the conclusions that a number of people, Jeremy Geelan included, are not. Jeremy, next time, please do your homework. Get the facts right, and don't spread false myths. Color me disappointed that you and your editorial team did not do a better job researching the facts pertinent to this article.

Sandor at the Zoo 10/18/07 06:43:30 AM EDT

Yes, all modern phones have integrated GPS units (in the US, at least), as a requirement for 911 service. Whether it's exposed to the OS for use by applications is another question; one to which I don't know the answer.

soft_guy 10/18/07 06:41:57 AM EDT

No, it does not have a GPS. Lots of people wish that it had one. Lots of people wish it had 3G. I wish it had more than 8GB of storage (like maybe a 100 GB hard disk).

There is always next year.

queZZtion 10/18/07 06:41:24 AM EDT

Does the iPhone have a GPS or not? I'd like to just use a phone instead of owning a separate in car navigation device.

Impeters 10/18/07 06:38:08 AM EDT

Given the enormous price tag on the iPhone, I think that third-party software is pretty much the only way Apple is going to be able to sell iPhones.

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