The iPhone 2.0 Upgrade and Developers
Scott Forstall, Apple VP of iPhone Software, explained the SDK, and the similarities between the platform architecture of the iPhone and the OS X operating system: “There are a lot of pieces that make up an SDK, but the most important piece is the set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)-it’s the platform, and that suits us well. We have the most advanced platform in the world in the form of Mac OS X.”
Forstall then displayed a diagram of the four major layers of the Mac operating system:
Forstall continued: “We started by taking the bottom three layers of Mac OS X, and moved them straight across, to form the basis of the iPhone OS... Cocoa (the user interface layer) is the best application framework out there, but it’s based on mouse and keyboard input. So, we took everything we knew... and we built Cocoa Touch. And this is our user interface, application framework for the iPhone... It is the most advanced platform out there for mobile devices. In fact, we think we’re years ahead of any other platform for a mobile device. ”
Forstall went on to demonstrate the interface building, code editing, and debugging tools in the SDK. Interface building looks remarkably similar to that of Microsoft’s Visual Basic, one of the most popular programming environments ever created. Forstall even referred to the Safari browser as a “Web Control”, the same term Microsoft uses for Internet Explorer when it’s used within a Visual Basic project. To build an iPhone interface, you drag and drop controls to visually build your interface-both the concept and the terminology will be familiar to Visual Basic developers.
Developers will be able to sell their applications in the “App Store”, which will be accessible from the Web, iPhones, and the iPod Touch. (iPhone applications that do not require cellular phone service will also work on the iPod Touch.) Developers will set their own price (including “free”) and will keep 70% of the sale price. Credit card processing, hosting, and marketing will all be free. Unfortunately, there’s one costly catch: developers will have to pay $99 to enroll in the sales program, a move that’s sure to curtail the development of free software (and the involvement of less fortunate programmers).
If Forstall’s description of the iPhone platform as essentially a miniaturized, optimized version of Mac OS X is accurate, his “years ahead” comment may well be right on the money. And speaking of money, venture capital firm KPCB (http://www.kpcb.com/) is investing $100 million to fund the next generation of applications for the iPhone. With that kind of investment, the iPhone, which has already captured 28% of the smart phone market in just 8 months of existence, may well be unstoppable.