The show just closed at the announcement of the iPhone SDK and here is the bottom line of the whole thing in 4 pieces:
1. Enterprise: Apple is putting on a real enterprise push and clearly wants to compete head on with RIM, Palm and Windows Mobile. They announced that the 2.0 version of their software (which will be a free update) will support Active Sync, and have Microsoft Exchange support, push email, calendar integration – pushed to the iPhone over the air all day long, push contacts, global address lists, aditional VPN types, including Cisco IPsec VPN, Two-factor authentication, certificates and identities, Enterprise-class Wi-Fi, with WPA2/802.1x, tools to enforce security policies, tools to help companies configure thousands of devices as they deploy iPhones and set them up automatically, and the ability to protect that data by remotely wiping it.
2. Developer support through the SDK: from my reading of the coverage it looks as if the SDK will open all aspects of the phone including the hardware interface. The SDK is free and can be downloaded from the Apple site and if you want to join the Developer Network the price is $99. The SDK must be run on a Mac, but is designed in such a way that you don’t have to know Mac programming to produce applications. They showed a number of applications designed by Windows programmers who had never used a Mac before.
3. Distribution of programs: This will be done through either iTunes or through a new program on the iPhone that will download programs directly, just like the current iPhone iTunes program does. All programs will have to be sold through Apple and the developer will get 70% off the top and Apple 30%. No credit card fees, hosting fees or marketing fees and the developer will be paid monthly. There will be no charge for free programs.
4. Future development: Apple announced a “partnership” with a venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins, called the iFund which will make $100 million available to entrepreneurs who want to develop new Apple stuff.
The new software that will do all this will be a free update on the iPhone and a paid update on the iTouch.
All in all, pretty exciting and a clear bid to make the iPhone dominant in the marketplace. Given the troubles that so many Palm and Windows Mobile developers are having now with the poor distribution network, I wonder how many will switch over to Apple. Certainly they are giving the developer more of the take than the other guys currently are. It looks as if there is every incentive for developers to look at things such as an ebook reader, and the SDK seems designed in such a way as make it possible for Windows developers to have a decent shot at producing an iPhone program. I probably will download it myself. Hey! Let’s get Robert Nagle to write us a program!