The impact on the Unofficial Devs of the iPhone world
This Thursday, Steve Jobs will take the stage in Apple’s Town Hall and outline the roadmap for the evolution of the iPhone. Included in this will be the announcement of the SDK. Or will it? Various tech blogs have differing opinions, from immediate availability of a beta SDK through to it being delayed until WWDC in the summer. I tend to think that a beta version of the SDK will be released on Thursday. Here is why:
Apple needs to get as many devs on board as quickly as possible. The unofficial world of the Installer.app/Cydia.app/Jailbreak is getting bigger and more refined every day. If Apple releases the beta SDK, this will only help the current unofficial devs polish applications, and start delivering them via Installer/Cydia. So Apple needs to get busy with the delivery mechanism, which at this point looks to be the iTunes Store. Rumors have been going around that Apple will be the gatekeeper/judge/jury/executioner for all SDK-created applications. Well, that is not exactly surprising as Apple has a duty to ensure that applications don’t fsck-up your new shiny iPhone. But other rumors suggest that Apple will be extremely loose with applications that are destined to be freeware. In my opinion, THIS is the attack-vector that Apple will use against the unofficial developer world of Installer/Cydia. Apple has to let any and all free apps be available on the iTunes Store to be able to create a situation where jailbreaking just isn’t worth it any more. Apple doesn’t want (or need) a dual ecosystem whereas it supplies an SDK that unofficial devs use to code really good apps that are only available for people that have jailbroken phones with Installer/Cydia…oh AND Apple’s official outlet together. And the only way to discourage jailbreaks is to create a situation where you don’t need to, just to get your freeware on…
If Apple doesn’t let any and all current devs the opportunity to release applications via the iTunes Store, then Apple will have one hell of a storm coming…And let’s face it, no matter how many updates to the firmware Apple does, it will never stop the iPhone being wrenched open by enterprising hackers/developers.