As expected, Apple released its iPhone software development kit Thursday--the SDK is available for download now at developer.apple.com. Apple also touted a June software update that will enable a series of new iPhone games capitalizing on the device's touchscreen and motion-sensing capabilities as well as the addition of Microsoft Exchange, which promises users access to email, calendars and other enterprise tools. All upgrades are tied to Apple's stated goal of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of the year--according to CEO Steve Jobs, the device already boasts a 28 percent smartphone marketshare, behind BlackBerry maker Research In Motion at 41 percent.
While Apple will make the iPhone SDK available for free, developers must also join Apple's developer program for $99 to secure distribution for their applications via the App Store, a new application the computing giant will embed on all iPhones. The App Store will deliver all iPhone applications, both free and premium, and will serve as the exclusive platform for iPhone app distribution. Apple will also create a section of its iTunes digital storefront where users may browse available iPhone apps. According to Apple, developers will name the price of their premium applications, with Apple taking 30 percent of revenues off the top "to pay for running the App Store." Apple will refuse applications that fall into the following categories: "Porn, privacy, bandwidth hog, illegal, malicious and 'unforeseen,'" with further clarification no doubt to follow.
A Q&A followed Thursday's presentation at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. headquarters, with Jobs asked what safeguards will be implemented to guarantee apps that are secure and in accordance with user privacy concerns. According to a live blog at Gearlog, Jobs replied "This is a big concern. It is a dangerous world out there. We tried to strike a really good path here. On one side you have a closed device like iPod, which always works...on the other side you've got a Windows PC. We want to take the reliability and the dependability of that iPod, and we want to take the ability to run third-party apps from the PC world, but without the malicious applications. The developers have to register with us and for that $99 they pay...they actually get an electronic certificate. We can track them down, we can tell their parents and we will know who they are. If we're alerted to a malicious app that we didn't catch, we'll cut off the spigot."
A subsequent question asked "What if a developer doesn't want to distribute through the App Store?" Jobs' response: "Then they won't be able to distribute their app on the iPhone. We think this is going to be a boon for developers. They can download applications from a version of the App Store, which is loaded on the Mac or PC. We don't intend to make money off the App Store. We don't make a lot of money off of iTunes, and the split with the music companies is about the same. We just want to create a very efficient channel for these developers to reach every iPhone user. Most developers don't have a store to sell their apps on their website."
For more on the iPhone's evolution:
-read this New York Times article
Apple introduces iPhone software updates
What will Apple do for its iPhone encore?