Thoughts on iPhone SDK

March 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

The March 6th iPhone SDK announcement may seem mundane in the eyes of most people. However, as with the iPod introduction in the wake of 9/11, last week’s event as the US slips into a recession will be looked upon as the transformation of Apple into a dominant force in enterprise computing.

Some facts:

  1. iPhone 2.0 allows third party development using the Cocoa API on a Mac-only development platform.
  2. Full support of enterprise requirements, including licensing Microsoft Exchange technology.
  3. SDK support for gaming using the iPhone/iTouch unique (and patented) touchscreen, accelerometer, and software.
  4. iPhone 2.0 software will be distributed using the iTunes music store and will not require tethering to a Mac or PC.
  5. iFund – $100+ million to create startup companies creating iPhone 2.0 software.

Here are the implications of each:

  1. What the SDK will do for Apple is initiate a “halo effect” in corporations just as it used the iPod to get consumers to buy Macs. Once enterprise developers start using Xcode, they will be more likely to develop Mac applications. After all, programmers like shiny new stuff rather than buggy and boring Microsoft tools.
    The other shoe may drop later this year if Apple announces support for developing Windows apps using Xcode. When Apple bought NeXT, they also bought a lot of Windows code. Just as OSX/Intel was kept secret before 2005, these Windows apps are “Vista Compatible”.
  2. Microsoft has been distracted by Yahoo, Google, RIM, and the EU. They are making a bad deal here but don’t know it – they are willing to risk killing Windows Mobile to cement their monopoly on enterprise back-ends like Exchange. However, Apple continues to support Exchange alternatives. Corporations will see Exchange licensing as a cost to be cut in favor of either OSX flat-fee or Linux no-fee. The iPhone doesn’t care what happens on the back end.
  3. Like the Nintendo Wii, the iPhone offers unique hardware that will be very difficult to duplicate, technically and legally. The games initiative is less pointed at the iPhone than it is at the iTouch, as a way to postpone market saturation/burnout.
  4. Leveraging their existing distribution offers companies a win-win. They get increased security by dropping RIM/Blackberry (whose architecture is subject to disruption, not to mention sending intellectual property to RIM servers outside the US). Instead, companies use standard, secure VPN to link corporate iPhones directly to their servers. However, they outsource distribution of apps (not data) to Apple, which takes a 30% cut and will probably offer custom stores-within-stores. Imagine corporate support/download areas in iTunes (Universities and entertainment companies are already doing this). Need to talk/chat to your local IT staff? – just tap on the company’s logo on your Home screen. The stupid Microsoft Help paper clip doesn’t stand a chance šŸ™‚
  5. The iFund is an insurance policy. Companies either will create their own apps or will buy apps or companies incubated by iFund. With money getting tight, this will attract the best and the brightest, and they will be using Macs.

One realizes how much Apple is aiming for the enterprise because these announcementsĀ  have not discouraged the hacking and jailbreaking communities who will continue to serve markets that Apple isn’t addressing (like those of us who refuse to pay a single dime to AT&T).

One also realizes that the biggest con job Apple pulled was taking “Computer” out of their name – the Mac has always been and always will be Apple’s priority.

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