iPhone to Open the Floodgates

Lots of media coverage today on the Apple announcement that it will release a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone in early ’08. What does this mean? Many of the speculations made in the past about interesting mobile search applications will be brought to market sooner and with less friction.

To date, many coders have made iPhone scripts that work on unlocked devices, though it largely required some technical knowledge and patience to get any of these working on your iPhone. Fear of a voided warranty from downloading one of these “jailbreak” applications has also scared many users away. The SDK will make it more of a mainstream thing, which in turn will create an incentive for a lot of interesting mobile app development.

A good portion of those apps will be mobile local search tools. Using John Kelsey’s previous post as an example, it will be easier for developers to create, and users to upload, a HopStop application that resides on the iPhone’s home screen. This is opposed to a mobile browser based app that requires users to navigate to a site — a considerable barrier to adoption. Lots of other possibilities for mobile local search and entertainment will make themselves known over time.

Overall this is a good move for Apple to tap the developer community to increase the value, functionality and appeal of its device (as if it didn’t have enough already). This is also good for the market and for consumers; a far cry from the carrier controlled, closed environments that have historically ruled the mobile device world. There is no going back now.

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