Apple reverses gears, opens iPhone to outside developers
SDK coming in February, but details on any developer limitations missing
In an open letter posted on Apple's Web site, CEO Steve Jobs said that a software developer's kit (SDK) -- the tools programmers need to craft applications -- will be released next February. "Let me just say it: We want native third-party applications on the iPhone," Jobs said.
"We are excited about creating a vibrant third-party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users," he added.
The announcement was a 180-degree turn from Apple's original position, which had deemed iPhone native applications off limits to all but the company's own developers and restricted outside apps to Web-based programs that ran in the iPhone's Safari browser.
Until today, Jobs had defended the decision to forego an SDK on security grounds, saying that the closed iPhone was necessary to insure the device's security and reliability. Several times, Jobs had expressed worries about third-party applications crashing the iPhone. "The more [third-party applications] you add, the more your phone crashes," Jobs said a month before the iPhone's launch. "No one's perfect, and we'd sure like our phone not to crash once a day."
He tacitly acknowledged the earlier stance today in explaining why the SDK won't ship until February. "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."
Even though today's announcement was a turnabout, it was not unexpected. In late May, Jobs had hinted that the iPhone would be opened eventually. "If you can just be a little more patient with us, I think everyone can get what they want," he said when talking about third-party applications.
"I can't say I'm surprised." said Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "It was inevitable, really."
Apple didn't roll out an SDK immediately because it needed to gauge the system's stability and security before opening the device to application developers, Baker added. Another factor in the decision, Baker said, was that Apple figured out the back and forth between the company and programmers modifying the iPhone was not only futile, but also bad business. "It realized that this ongoing battle is not a good thing," Baker said. "People found that they really used and enjoyed [the unsanctioned modifications and programs], and for Apple to continue to break them was not in their best interest."
Late last month, for instance, the 1.1.1 update to the iPhone's firmware not only "bricked" phones that had been hacked to work with mobile carriers other than AT&T Inc. -- "unlocked," in the company's parlance -- but also broke or disabled or deleted third-party applications installed on the device. That move was seen by many as the logical result of what Jobs himself called a "cat-and-mouse game" between Apple and hackers who wanted to modify their phones. "People will try to break in, and it's our job to stop them breaking in."
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Protection for Every Enterprise: How BlackBerry Security Works Get an IT-level review of BlackBerry® Security, addressing data leakage protection, certified encryption, containerization and much more.
- Future Focus: What's Coming in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Find out why Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that are truly future-ready must be designed to enable Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities and much more.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts