The “SO WHAT” is a kick-ass toolset and APIs (in terms of the actual SDK), a well thought out distribution model (including economic proposition for software developers) and strong enterprise support from a security, manageability, and integration perspective.
Plus, a $100M venture fund to seed new startups focused on the iPhone/iPod touch platform.
Apple, in fact, asserts that it is opening up the same APIs its been using to build its own iPhone applications, noting that third parties are getting 'the same tools, the same SDK.'
Specifically, developers have access to the iPhone/iPod touch sensors, its locating abilities, graphics, audio, video, audio recording, the camera, and an interface builder application that makes creating great interfaces as simple as drag-and-drop.
In total, the SDK includes:
- Cocoa Touch: Multi-Touch Events, Multi-Touch Controls, Accelerometer, View Hierarchy, Localization, Alerts, Web View, People Picker, Image Picker, and Camera.
- Media Support: Core Audio, OpenAL, Audio Mixing, Audio Recording, Video Playback, JPG PNG & TIFF, PDF, Quartz (2D), Core Animation, and Embedded Open GL.
- Core Services: Collections, Address Book, Networking, File access, SQLite, Core Location, Net Services Threading, Preferences, URL utilities.
- Core OS: OS X Kernel, BSD TCP/IP, Sockets, Power Management, Keychain, Certificates, File System, Lib System, Security, Bonjour.
The People Picker, for example, will let developers access contacts from the iPhone/iPod touch Address Book and, similarly, Image Picker provides access to the iPhone's Camera and Photo library.
In somewhat of a surprise, Apple has said they will not restrict VOIP (voice over IP) applications that use Wi-Fi, but won't allow VOIP applications that use cellular networks. While the limitation over cellular networks is understandable given Apple’s partnership with it wireless provider partners, removing such limitations in the Wi-Fi environment seems to allow them to have their cake and eat it too, which is great for consumers and developers alike.
Finally, the cost for developers passes the economic viability sniff test, with Apple taking 30 percent to cover the bandwidth costs, store management issues (the iTunes store is the distribution model), credit card fees, and processing costs, and developers keeping 70 percent.
Other than this, developers only need to pay an annual $99 certification fee to participate, which filters out the bozos but also allows very small developers to plug in.
Here is a quickie fire hose synopsis of first impressions from customers, developers and investors:
- Todd Pierce, a VP of Genentech, stated that “the iPhone is a watershed event in mobile computing for corporations” and has deployed thousands of iPhones within the company.
- The senior VP of IT at Disney also endorsed Apple's enterprise strategy on the iPhone, stating "Apple has really done their homework, addressing issues of security, manageability, and integration. We currently have hundreds of iPhone users and expect the demand to grow significantly with this release."
- Bill Clebsch, Stanford's CIO, reported, "The iPhone has worked effortlessly at Stanford and the user acceptance has just astounded us. We have been inundated with orders."
- John Gruber of Daring Fireball comments that, “The tools look awesome — far better and more advanced than what most Mac developers were expecting. Pleasant surprises include Interface Builder support and a full-fledged desktop simulator. And the API has a name: Cocoa Touch,” adding that, “The reasons developers are willing to accept a 70/30 split are simple: convenience and exposure. Apps sold via the iPhone App Store will be far easier to register and install than apps are for the Mac. Once you’ve registered for an iTunes Store account, your credentials are saved. No credit card numbers to type in, no emails to wait for containing serial numbers. It looks as easy to buy these apps as it is to buy songs. And the exposure of getting listed in a store that’s available to every iPhone user in the world is tremendous. It’s like Apple’s Software Downloads web site, but with one-click Buy buttons.”
- "The animation technology…enables us to build awesome games,” said EA chief executive John Riccitiello. "I think iPhone consumers are going to be blown away by the games we create for this platform."
- SEGA's Ethan Einhorn showed off a version of his firm's Super Monkey Ball title that leveraged the device’s Accelerometer, and…was also ported to the handset within two weeks. To move the monkey around the screen, all players have to do is tilt the iPhone. "It's gonna be really hard to go back to a traditional game controller," he said.
- "A revolutionary new platform is a rare and prized opportunity for entrepreneurs, and that's exactly what Apple has created," says venture capitalist, John Doerr of midas VC firm, KPCB, in announcing the $100M iFund, adding that, "We think several significant new companies will emerge as this new platform evolves."
When customers, developers (big and small) and investors are all singing the praises of a shipping product (versus the concept of a future product), it is truly a seminal moment.
- Mobility 2.0 and the iPhone SDK (on best practices, workflows, building blocks)
- iPod touch: the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform (on key applications)
- iPod touch: take two (what makes a platform, user impressions)
Other Links Relevant to this Post:
- Daring Fireball's blog: Crisp articulation on the One App at a Time limits in SDK
- furbo.org's blog: Compelling arguments that programming on iPhone/iPod touch requires a different mindset. Great quote - "It takes several months of actual iPhone development before you eventually realize that the iPhone requires a completely different mindset. Until that happens, you’ll make assumptions based on desktop experience, and that in turn will lead to a lot of bad designs."
- Apple updates iPhone SDK with Interface Builder