Friday, March 07, 2008

Apple releases iPhone SDK

For all of you that watch announcements in the embedded space, today's announcement by Apple about the upcoming 2.0 iPhone software release had to get your attention. The tech news sites are abuzz with the news, with multiple blog sites providing the minutiae of the announcement. engadget's live coverage gave me all the details I needed, but doing a roundup of the sites covering the announcements make me wonder - are people missing out on a crucial detail? Let me recap the announcement for you...

"At an event at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple unveiled iPhone features meant for businesses and released a set of instructions for developers to create iPhone software programs. The moves are seen helping the consumer electronics giant meet its goal of selling 10 million iPhones by 2009."

I remember the day Facebook wrote Myspace's obituary - it was the day Mark Zuckerberg announced the Facebook API. It was a call to all web users - anyone who had basic coding skills and an idea - to embrace Facebook as A vehicle to give their idea fruition and have their application be used by the entire Facebook community. It took me a while to embrace the concept of something I develop to be usable within a few weeks, but I am now sold on the idea. But there are some hurdles to deploying an iPhone app...

Web hosting is the first (and biggest) hurdle that a new app developer has to cross. Most hosting services charge between $10 and $50 a month for their services, but picking the right one is tricky. Then there is the question of installing a credit card payment gateway, processing payments, and the associated headaches. Then there is the question of monetizing your idea, and paying your developers (and testers if any).

Well, Apple's doing a little more than just releasing an SDK today. It's building a platform for developers to build, and sell their applications online.
"Apple also released a set of instructions to create iPhone software programs and introduced a way to sell the downloadable software through its iTunes online store, with Apple taking a cut of the profits.

Developers will receive 70% of the sale price, which they get to set. Apple will screen the programs for privacy and other objectionable concerns.

Apple sees software sales as "making the iPhone more valuable so people will buy more of them." Mr. Jobs said he doesn't expect to make "much money" from the software sales; rather, he hopes iPhone software sales will support operation of the iPhone developer program.

Analysts estimate that an iPhone software market offering add-ons like games or calendars could become a $1 billion a year business, adding a penny a share of potential profit to Apple."
So Apple helps you overcome the biggest hurdles in your path - it does the application hosting, adds your application to its global application directory, pays you 70% of the software sales, shields you from dealing with credit card transactions, and if you've got a great idea, hooks you up with a Venture Capital firm?
"To help jump-start the market, venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said it would launch a $100 million fund, called iFund, to invest in companies developing applications and services for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins, said it already funded one iPhone software maker and is in negotiations to fund another."
The demos in today's keynote indicate that Apple is really putting its best foot forward by releasing a great set of developer tools to the community. XCode is free, the SDK can be downloaded for free, and for $99 you get all of the debuggers, performance optimizers, support, et al to build the killer iPhone application. If I have a mobile application idea, why would I want to build it on any other platform now, especially Windows Mobile?

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