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Who says Apple Inc. doesn't have a heart?

Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs posted a letter on Apple's website that left some happy and others scratching their heads. "Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February," Jobs stated in the letter.

This announcement seems in stark contrast to previous Apple policy, including its firmware update v1.1.1, which turns iPhones and iPod Touches with unauthorized third party applications into "iBricks" and in standard phones locks the file system from users installing third party applications.  This update has led to two pending class action lawsuits.

Others may note that February seems like a long time away and wonder at why the SDK will take so long to be released.  Jobs said that the reason for the delay is to make sure the iPhone and iPod Touch are protected against malware and viruses.  The devices are far more vulnerable to virus than most people think according to Jobs.

"Since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target," Jobs continued. He went on to say that the months of patience will be rewarded by He said that the months of patience will be rewarded by "Many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones."

There are a broad array of third party programs for the iPhone and iPod Touch that do everything from instant messaging to phone unlocking.

Third party developers are greeting the news with guarded optimism.  One third party developer, based out of Denver said "I'm thrilled.  I hope it is exactly as they say, full third-party development."

Apple Inc., originally Apple Computer, has had a long history of trying to keep technology proprietary and avoid licensing its designs or allowing third party development.  Many see this as a major reason why it originally fell from dominance in the personal computer market to a small market share.

Apple made no indication, unfortunately for some, that it was going to make any effort to "unbrick" iPhones and iPod Touches that had unauthorized third party apps and had been made into paperweights by the v1.1.1 firmware update.  It did not announce any programs to unfreeze these phones or to provide warranty service for them.

Apple's position appears to be that until developers adopt the official SDK, which will arrive in February, using their applications violates the iPod Touch and iPhone warranties, as they see it as a form of "modification."

Apple has also not stated whether future version of the firmware will retract the change, or whether they will continue to brick iDevices with unauthorized third party applications.

Apple is remaining firm on its stance about unlocking: Unlock your iPhone and update, and you phone will be dead.  If you don't like it, they say, buy a new iPhone and don't unlock it.

Apple will begin selling unlocked iPhones -- but currently in France only, as French law mandates them to.

Despite some people's concerns, many feel this move is a step in the right direction by Apple and demonstrates a degree of learning from their past mistakes.

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By yodataco on 10/22/2007 11:44:32 AM , Rating: 2
To be honest, I believe Apple messed up with the iPhone. They did several things very wrong. This is not to say that the iPhone is not a viable & good product. The fact is that Apple was not prepared for the release of the iPhone, and the iPhone was not ready for prime-time yet. Here are my points.

1) Apple should have had an SDK ready from the time of announcing the iPhone. Microsoft, Palm, and even RIM have a huge and decided advantage in the business market. The misstep of Apple to not get an SDK into third party developers' hands dooms it for any kind of business viability. Late is better than never, but now you have shown that you do NOT have a commitment to the business community, and are only concentrating on the consumer level. Keep in mind that the majority of PDA/Phone purchases come from businesses!

2) Pricing. They priced the iPhone completely incorrect on opening day. They should have done their market research, rather than relying on "consumer hype" and exclusivity.

3) Capabilities. This is a big one. While the iPhone can do a good bit, Apple has concentrated again on too narrow a field of view. Again, with more/better capabilities they could have gotten a jump start on attacking the all important business market. Here are the things I think they should have included from day 1:

* Push email operations (Exchange/IMAP).
* Over the air calendar & contact syncronization (Exchange/IMAP/Google).
* Carrier in-exclusivity.
* 3G capabilities (i know the battery argument, but at least have a 3G "version" that is more expensive).
* Bluetooth, bluetooth, bluetooth! Have it syncronize with iTunes over Bluetooth. Give it A2DP capabilities. Allow for Bluetooth keyboards. Etc.!
* Document capabilities. Work with Google & create a mobile office suite! This has to be done!
* Attachment & File capabilites. This can be done without opening the "file system" to the user. If Apple is TRUELY that good at interfaces, then freakin figure it out.

Many of these capabilities can be provided, and if done Apple will gain a ton of credibility in the business market for PDA/Phones. I just think that if all these capabilities were in before the iPhone was released, companies would have flocked to it and consumer level sales would have been bolstered.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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