Does iPhone update 1.1.1 kill off 3rd party application development?

Does iPhone update 1.1.1 kill off 3rd party application development?

Summary: We were all warned by Apple and those of us who SIM unlocked our iPhones knew there was the risk that they could never be updated. Apparently, lots of people must have thought Apple's notice was just a false warning since they tried to update their iPhones anyways and turned them into iBricks. I knew better than to take another risk since I am very happy with my iPhone in its current state running on the T-Mobile USA network and made the decision to never update it unless there was a reliable hack I could trust not to brick it. Other than all the news surrounding the SIM unlock hack and iBricks, I think the bigger story of this latest iPhone 1.1.1 update may be the complete loss of 3rd party application support.

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Does iPhone update 1.1.1 kill off 3rd party application developmentWe were all warned by Apple and those of us who SIM unlocked our iPhones knew there was the risk that they could never be updated. Apparently, lots of people (even some who should have known better) must have thought Apple's notice was just a false warning since they tried to update their iPhones anyways and turned them into iBricks. I knew better than to take another risk since I am very happy with my iPhone in its current state running on the T-Mobile USA network and made the decision to never update it unless there was a reliable hack I could trust not to brick it. Other than all the news surrounding the SIM unlock hack and iBricks, I think the bigger story of this latest iPhone 1.1.1 update may be the complete loss of 3rd party application support.

According to various forums where you can find info on hacking the iPhone, the firmware 1.1.1 update may have made the iPhone structure more like the iPod Touch and locked it down even more with stronger encryption. While I can understand that Apple wants to keep the iPhone locked down to reduce customer service calls and create a consistent experience for all owners, many mobile enthusiasts are used to installing 3rd party applications and customizing their Windows Mobile, Palm, Linux and S60 devices to their particular needs. The web-only 3rd party applications are decent, but many applications work better for people when a connection is not required. Stand-alone 3rd party applications also are more functional than a web widget.

I plan to avoid upgrading my iPhone and keep using the 3rd party applications I like, but this latest firmware update may kill off the future of 3rd party application development for the iPhone. Will Apple release an iPhone SDK and promote 3rd party application development in the near future? I personally think they like to maintain strong control of the iPhone and we won't see an official SDK any time soon.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apps, iPhone, Mobility, Software, Software Development

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12 comments
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  • As a developer

    I mentioned this on another ZDNet blog. The iPhone *was* a tipping point for me; I was ready to order a Mac based development environment, today. Now, I'll wait and see. I could care less about SIM countermeasures. But, if Apple intentionally went after 3rd party apps, like mine, then I'll wait for an official SDK. Meanwhile, I'll be developing on the Nokia S60.

    BTW, is it just me or is 1.1.1 no longer available? My iTunes says that 1.0.2 is current. Maybe Apple is reconsidering.
    warren@...
    • there are some reports of non-unlocked phones getting bricked....

      they might be working on a fix to that...
      doctorSpoc
      • was using an earlier version of iTunes ...

        new version prompts for update.
        warren@...
  • Welcome to Steve's ego

    Although I'm a big Apple fan, I understand the Jobs' ego effect.

    Jobs hates PDAs. He thinks they suck. They remind him of the Newton which was a product he had no input in and killed out of spite as soon as he could.

    Hell will freeze over before Jobs lets Apple create another PDA.
    frgough
    • He doesn't have an ego, he just thinks he is god.

      Thats all... And as long as you love exactly what he loves the way he wants you to love, all will be well. He must love the old testament, because he is always boiling with rage, seething with rage or when in black spandex mode... benevolent.

      If only the tam-pods weren't such a 'first past the post' product, Apple wouldn't have made as quick a rise from smug to arrogant.
      Chippolus
  • Difference in philosophy

    Apple wants to protect the brand, emphasize quality, and perhaps lower support costs, and the way they try to do that is by maintaining as much control over the final product as possible. In recent years they've made this work, to a certain extent, by providing very good quality products (software and hardware) that provide most of the expected functionality out of the box, in the interest of reducing the need for third-parties to add the functionality themselves.

    This breaks down a bit with the iPhone because, although it's marketed as a phone (and rightly, for a variety of reasons), it's actually a pda, and Microsoft, Palm and Symbian have spent the last ten years defining what to expect in a pda, which includes extensibility. Although Apple was able to deliver a fine product that, in certain areas, arguably delivers a superior experience to that offered by most of the other pdas out there, it isn't exactly "packed" with apps, and this is where the traditonal pda platforms have always relied on third-parties to fill the gap.

    Unfortunately, this goes against Apple's philosophy as I described it above. It's difficult, through software, to turn a Pocket PC into a brick - they've been designed from the beginning with the point of view that you can soft-reset, or if that doesn't solve things, hard-reset, and in extreme cases, actually replace the pda's ROM to upgrade/downgrade/refresh the device, or return it to the state it was in when it first arrvied from the factory. This allows users to recover from all sorts of scenarios, from installing a better calculator or soft-keyboard to replacing the Windows Mobile ROM with a Linux ROM. The user can in most cases be sure that if worse comes to worse he or she can return the device to its original state and start again, and developers have the freedom to develop apps that can touch every part of the pda's OS or hardware.

    It's as simple as contrasting Steve Jobs' unapologetic announcement re: updates, against Steve Ballmer's "Developers! Developers! Developers!" chant.
    tooner440
    • Whoa... Deja Vu!

      "Apple wants to protect the brand, emphasize quality, and perhaps lower support costs, and the way they try to do that is by maintaining as much control over the final product as possible."

      That sounds exactly like the arguments for Microsoft's activation protection, DRM, etc. etc. I guess no matter what side you are on you just tilt a little and use the same argument...

      Microsoft wants to protect the brand, emphasize quality, and perhaps lower support costs, and the way they try to do that is by maintaining as much control over the final product as possible.
      Chippolus
  • RE: Does iPhone update 1.1.1 kill off 3rd party application development?

    I absolutely agree that this is the bigger story. I will also definitely hold off on the upgrade until there is support for installing 3rd party apps again. The update seems of great benefit to Apple and their revenue, not a whole lot of benefit to users; the new features are not thrilling and are not any of the top wish list items (copy/paste etc.).
    I hope and expect that this will not kill off development though, and really hope an SDK comes along in the not too distant future.
    patrickj
  • Jobs already talked about 3rd parties who are currently writing apps

    Read these 2 articles:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/
    SB118306134626851922.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/
    2007/01/11/technology/11cnd-
    apple.html?
    ex=1326171600&en=e599d03f4450
    e9f0&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&
    emc=rss
    jayk_z
  • Product can be great but Apple SUCKS!

    As usual, Apple cares most about their bottom line and very little about the consumer.

    I like Apple products but the Apple's arrogance SUCKS!
    tteazis@...
  • But I thought Steve Jobs was my friend...

    Gosh, golly darnit. I thought the CEO of a huge electronics company would be my buddy forever.
    butler360
  • RE: Does iPhone update 1.1.1 kill off 3rd party application development?

    What's really really funny about this is the total hypocracy of the pundits and fanboys. If this was M$ that was doing this, there would be cries for blood and mobs with torches and pitchforks milling about in Redmond. BUT - since this is Apple, we'll all just stay calm and agree that they're doing this for sound business reasons.

    What a crock!
    Steve G.
    aureolin