iPhone SDK – a complete solution?

Apple has released the iPhone SDK. The 2.1 gigabyte download is free after registration and includes the latest Developer Tools as well.

I personally don’t use an iPhone. Being able to hack it (or get third party software for it) was a stopper for me. Another argument against the iPhone was the rather limited storage space — 4 and 8 gigs simply did not seem enough space.

Apple still wants to retain some control over which apps are pushed on the phone, but it seems the upcoming operating system of the iPhone has already been hacked. People may be able to install software independently from Apple (e.g. to remove a SIM card lock) on a hacked phone.

But looking at the developer site for the iPhone simply does it right. I get a clear product, a very readable documentation and easy to digest tutorials – developing hardware and software together again pays out in a consistent product.

The Android SDK on the other hand is lacking the simple question: How can I get started (I mean really)? What devices can I deploy an Android application on? In fact the Android FAQ states that there are no phones that Android is running on. So who is supporting Android? Why should I spend time on developing for a theoretical market? Android is nothing more than an approach to an upcoming problem that Apple has already solved from A-Z.

That is the reason why Apple is succsessful: They offer solutions – not concepts.

People that think the stylishness of their products are key to Apple’s success don’t know much about Design.

The iPhone principle

Yesterday Apple introduced the new iPhone. It features a very precise touch screen and some other sensors. On the first look it may only seem like a fancy phone that manages to get rid of buttons and integrate features of an iPod. But I think it is much more than that.

I believe Apple has really defined a new type of device. Just think for a second that it is not called iPhone — let’s say you don’t have any idea what an iPod, PDA or Smartphone is. So you have a device, that does communicate wirelessly through certain protocols, stores 8 Gigabyte of data, comes with this multi-touch display, mircophone, earphones, camera, speaker, volume control and a singular button on the front. The iPhone is not only a universal device — is a principle.

Now – just imagine apple would have just delivered the hardware to the open source community maybe with that OS X basis and some development tools to create apps. The screen could show any interface for whatever application you can think of. It is called “phone” so people can connect it to certain activities and they see an instant reason why they may buy one.

But let’s assume it is called “iHeld” or “iTouch”. Can you see why people will loose the competition against Apple in the very moment they try to make a competing phone?

I am very eager to see what tools Apple is going to provide for developers to create new applications for the “iPhone principle”.

Update: This GIZMODO story says the iPhone won’t be an open system that one can develop for (similar to iPods today). That would really be a pitty and it would disqualify iPhone for a lot of things that are possible with SymbianOS used on Nokia phones today. If the iPhone is not hackable, I potentially don’t want to have one.