Friday, 7 March 2008

Well, that didn't last long

Hmph. One minute I'm claiming this is the most exciting news so far this year, and then this happens. Honestly, you wait all year for an exciting story and then two come along at once....


psd said...

Hmmm... where is the good news for Open Source developers?

Phil Whitehouse said...

Well, good point. I guess there isn't much about the SDK that's open (well summed up in your tweet).

However, I have a lot of sympathy with Apple on this one. They bet the future of the company on their iPhone, and it was vital that the experience was protected for Joe User. They've packed phenomenal functionality into such a small, light device - now taken for granted - and they couldn't have done this without very careful resource allocation. Imagine the headlines if an emergency call failed because of poor third party software running on the phone? They would never recover.

So after the successful launch, and having established the good reputation, they're carefully opening up very limited iPhone resources to developers. Along with a platform for monetizing their apps. From a user's point of view, I think this is great - we're bound to get many interesting and fun applications over the coming months, safe in the knowledge that they won't crash my iPhone (if I had one - cringe!) at an inopportune moment.

And this is version 1 of the SDK. I expect these opportunities to increase gradually and carefully in the months and years to come.

And for those who really want to get under the bonnet, you can still unlock your phone, entirely at your own risk.

I think Apple have handled the situation very well indeed, under the circumstances.

FND said...

You've clearly been brainwashed, Phil...
Seriously though, I just don't buy that justification - if any other company (e.g. MSFT) were to act in a similarly restrictive fashi1on, all hell would break loose!

Phil Whitehouse said...

I think we may have to agree to disagree on this one, FND!

But FWIW we ought to be careful about our perception of proprietary software and hardware. We at Osmosoft have surrounded ourselves with open source / open standards advocates - and I am one myself - but we shouldn't ignore the fact that lots of good stuff comes from a proprietary world.

The iPhone is a technical marvel. Apple have invested huge amounts of time, money and reputation into the device. They're entitled to do whatever they want to protect and capitalise on that investment. If they weren't, then the iPhone probably wouldn't exist. If they choose not to open up the iPhone, that's their loss. If we don't like it, we have freedom not to buy it.

And none of this makes it any less of a technical marvel.

As for MSFT not doing something similar...well, the XBOX is a closed platform. And 99% of the people who own it don't care. Most of them don't even know. We shouldn't lull ourselves into the self-righteous conviction that everyone cares as much as we do about this stuff.

All that said, I remain a fan of open source and open standards.

FND said...

Without intending to reignite the discussion, I think this is worth reading: iPhone SDK Rules Block Skype, Firefox, Java ....

One final quote I just stumbled upon: "The iPhone is a sublime piece of engineering and usability but the siloed approach is so 1997." (Ian Davis)

FND said...

One more:
Why Apple's iPhone is like a 1981 IBM PC (Slashdot summary)

Feel free not to approve this if you regard it as link spam.