Apple isn't wasting any time trying to head off gPhone momentum. Today Steve Jobs confirmed that Apple would have a software development kit for both the iPhone and the iPod touch ready by February. Here is what Jobs actually said, followed by my somewhat tongue-in-cheek interpretation of what he really meant.
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.
Translation: Don't even bother looking at those other platforms you've been hearing about lately (*cough* gPhone *cough*). We've got enough patents on our multi-touch tech to sue the pants off anybody that tries to duplicate it. Besides, OS X and Objective C is way cooler than Linux and Java anyway.
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.
Translation: Darn it, now we're going to have to figure out a way to prevent the iPhone/iPod from becoming the big juicy target that Windows is now. We can't just rely on security-through-negligible market share any more.
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.
Translation: Only officially blessed developers will be given the privilege of distributing applications for the iPhone/iPod. Hmm... I wonder if we can charge a fee for that.
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.
Translation: Please don't abandon us now!