February 29, 2008

iLounge reports indendently confirmed rumors Apple will limit the distribution and capabilities of iPhone applications. The three rumors are that Apple will distribute applications only through iTunes, that Apple will pick and choose which are distributed, and that developers won’t have access to functions through the dock connector.

Regarding the first rumor, I believe that overall it is positive if true. The inability to track down mobile applications has been one of the major hindrances in smartphone application development. In fact, I suggested in a column for LAPTOP Magazine last year that Apple do exactly this to minimize the risk of malware. Also, perhaps down the line, Apple can bring these applications to what is now the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store for accessing improved functionality over he air..

The second rumor, that Apple will handpick which applications get to be released, is mixed news but, again, no surprise. On one hand, it will help ensure a good user experience. On the other hand, it of course limits choice. We’ll have to see how heavy a hand Apple takes here, but it’s probably a safe bet that applications that impinge on potential Apple revenue streams, including Skype, instant messaging programs, and other music store clients, will be excluded. I wouldn’t expect a Windows Live Messenger client any time soon.

The most disappointing is that developers won’t be able to access iPod functions via the dock connector, scuttling or at least complicating accessories such as keyboards.This one is somewhat curious as Apple has certainly done well collecting fees for the iPod dock connector in peripherals for older iPods. So at least Apple has some motivation to open this up at some point.

If the iPhone SDK rumors are true, it means that the iPhone and iPod touch will be far from a PC ecosystem, but at least it’s better than what was available before and movement in a better direction for Apple’s customers.

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One Response to “Few surprises in iPhone SDK rumors”

  1. [...] Ross Rubin at NPD Group called this news “mixed, but again, no surprise.” In his blog, he said the censorship by Apple may ensure a better user experience, while limiting [...]