Apple's iPhone is aimed to be a game changer for the mobile world and today has been one of the key turning points in that unfolding story. Today's announcements were basically two. The new iPhone SDK, or Software Development Kit, made all of the debates about locked or unlocked phones fade away into the distance. Second, allowing the phone to be tied to Microsoft Exchange and bringing in Blackberry-style push email turned the tables in the debate over whether the iPhone can be a business phone.
You can watch the official Apple video of today's announcements here. Details on the announcements and public reactions below. Update: Our network blog last100 has extensive notes on today's announcement.
The Developer Platform
The API for the phone, called Cocoa Touch, comes with an iPhone version of the same developer tools Apple offers Mac developers today. The Cocoa Touch toolkit will include the following, succinctly summarized by Mark Hendrickson at TechCrunch: "Interface Builder, Instruments, and iPhone Simulator. Interface Builder lets you drag-n-drop an interface together for your new iPhone app. Instruments is a suite of performance analytics tools. And iPhone Simulator simulates the entire API stack of the iPhone letting you test an iPhone app from your Mac."
The announcement focused extensively on the location awareness capabilities the phone has and by all accounts developers are very excited to get their hands on it. Apple will open an iPhone App Store and take 30% of all transactions made there. Apps will not be allowed to be distributed in any other way. Mac developer and Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber talked to a variety of other developers today and has a good discussion about details from a developer perspective and how excited his community is.
Venture Capitalists Kleiner Perkins announced at the Apple event that they are launching a $100 million fund to finance companies developing applications for the iPhone.
In making the announcements today, Apple quickly and repeatedly said they'd be taking steps to satisfy Enterprise IT departments. The fact that the phone can only be used on one carrier seems the biggest issue there, but many of the issues relevant to enterprise use cases are well explored by Ephraim Schwartz at Infoworld today. There's extensive work being done to create equivalence between the information on the desktop and the phone. There's smart database infrastructure being set up for the new iPhone software. There's a whole lot going on there.
Apple's iPhone SDK has overshadowed a flurry of other mobile news this week, including the announcement that Nokia devices will carry Microsoft's Flash competitor Silverlight, but it's all just evidence that mobile really isn't dead. Quite far from it. You can follow the latest news and debates on issues like location awareness/privacy and user interface via the mobile resources in the RWW Toolkit for Key Topics in 2008.