Monday, March 10, 2008

iPhone SDK and Apple's deal to developers

Source: FlickrWhen Apple held their press event for the announcment of SDK previous thursday I was watching closely what will come out of it - after all, there was a whole bunch of rumors and predictions about the direction that Apple could take and how it can either win the hearts of developers or burn in hell with it's platform by it's side.

As far as I'm concerned I think Apple more or less won my heart. Although I already downloaded[1] the iPhone SDK and installed it, I haven't yet programmed anything with it - one notable obsticle is that I am far more into web development and have almost no experiance whatsoever with Objective-C. But as I spend more and more time reading about Objective-C and watching various iPhone Application Framework videos of what can be done (and how) I am becoming a bit more confident to say that Apple's aproach is the right one.

Not only does a developer get a stable enviorment that Apple itself used to develop it's mobile version of OS X and has a lot of similarities with desktop/server version of OS X (this is one of those things that any Mac developer will appreciate because they can start programming without having to re-examinate yet another platform), they also get access to huge userbase that is accustomed to using iTunes and ready to pay for things they like.

App Store, the store which Apple will use to distribute software among users and give them a one-click-away solution for purchasing all software ever developed for the platform is what in my opinion distinguishes Apple's platform from other already developed and marketed solutions. It will be installed on iPhone and integrated into iTunes and therefore have a tremendous userbase - and it's userbase is what gives Apple an edge over it's competition. It is consisted of people that pay for their music, are a bit more tech-savvy than avarage population and will therefore appreciate the ease of use and user experiance that Apple will give to them. And gladly pay for the software that will be useful to them.

Business model used also seem rather fair to developers - if you want to charge for your applications you get to share 30% of your income with Apple and remaining 70% gets into your pocket. I find it a bit less friendly if you are prepared to give your application away for free - you will still have to get yourself iPhone Developer Program account that will cost you $99 per year - but I do not mind paying up those 99 bucks if they provide good enough value with their offical support.

Another very pleasing sight is how other software companies began stepping up their efforts for an emerging platform - my biggest surprise was Sun's announcement that they will develop Java for iPhone. I understand how they can develop it with the technology provided but I am very interested knowing how they will bypass various legal issues. Not that I mind if Java is developed for iPhone - on the contrary, I will be more than pleased to use a whole bunch of already developed Java applications.

How will all this come together in reality is yet to be seen in July when Apple will relase final version of SDK and give users second version of it's iPhone software that will include support for applications from 3rd party developers. I will however try to get familiar with Objective-C and start playing with SDK soon - and hopefully there will be a follow-up to this blog post in near future that will discuss my experiences with development itself.

[1] you need to have Apple Developer Connection account in order to download the SDK - free account will do