Apple changes mind on iPhone third-party development

Apple basically has done an about-face when it comes to opening up the iPhone to third-party developers. CEO Steve Jobs, in an open letter on Apple's web site, said that a software developer's kit (SDK) to enable programmers to make applications for the device will be available in February. Previously, Apple protected native applications from outsiders except for the company's own developers and restricted outside applications to Web-based programs that operated in the iPhone's Safari browser.

Is this a realization that Apple can't operate in the mobile environment the way it operates in the consumer electronics and computer market? The company's products have always been closed up tight, and they have been successful. Apple believed it could translate that success in the wireless world, but likely didn't expect the enormous backlash from both developers and customers, who seem to continually be finding new ways to unlock the iPhone.

While the phone will remain locked on AT&T's network, opening up to third-party developers is a step in the right direction. The best innovation will happen over the long run that way. And when the advanced applications and data services are finally served up on broadband connectivity, that is when things will get really exciting.--Lynnette