The birth of the Mac in 1984 created a long and prosperous revolution in technology for computer users.
Apple has opened the iPhone to software developers. This revolution will be bigger than the Mac. Today we enter the age of a Mac in your pocket.
Our favorite Cupertino computer makers string of successes continues. Normally, we prefer to focus our attention on Mac issues. Apple’s decision to open the iPhone to software developers is an important milestone.
It means a Mac in your pocket. It means the capability for truly productive applications in a handheld device. It means corporate users will embrace the new handheld Mac. It means Mac games in your pocket.
Just in case you missed the news, yesterday Apple announced that they are providing software developers with an iPhone SDK. The software development kit which will allow them to create applications, utilities, and games for the iPhone.
CEO Steve Jobs also announced an Enterprise Program for the iPhone and announced that the iPhone would work with Microsoft’s Exchange in a highly integrated fashion.
The SDK was far more than most pundits expected, providing developers with the same tools as Apple uses for iPhone development.
The announcement is truly a watershed event on the order of the first Mac in 1984, perhaps more so than the ubiquity of Windows. It is not difficult to imagine that the iPhone may quickly become a bigger business than the Mac itself.
Why? A clever combination of Mac OS X and Apple’s ability to cobble together existing technology to make it work in uniquely gratifying ways for the user.
The iPhone has OS X inside, as does the Mac and iPod touch. The iPhone is the new Mac, bringing everything cell phone and mobile device users want—ease of use, simplicity of design, high functionality—to a device that fits easily into a pocket.
The Mac, via the Cocoa layer which sits atop OS X’s kernel, core layers, core services, utilizes the screen and keyboard and mouse. That won’t work as the interface layer for a handheld device, so Apple created Cocoa touch, which handles the user interface for the iPhone.
Otherwise, it’s a Mac inside. Almost. What’s missing in the iPhone is the growing population of robust applications and utilities. Those are coming. Fast. Apple’s announcement means that one year from now being an iPhone user will be even more rewarding.
Did I mention games? Some of the games demonstrated on the iPhone during Thursday’s announcement are stunning. The iPhone brings together, not only a cell phone and a media player, but a handheld gaming device similar to the Wii controller mixed with the Play Station controller. Games can use the iPhone’s built in accelerometer to make the device a controller in your pocket.
How important is software development for the iPhone? The country’s most successful venture capital group set up the iFund, a $100-million bankroll to fund iPhone software developers.
One year from now there will be hundreds, if not a few thousand, applications and utilities to download for your iPhone.
Did I mention the iPhone Store? Taking iTunes Store to a new level, iPhone users will be able to buy and install iPhone software from Apple. Software developers will get their applications and utilities certified by Apple, and Apple will put them online for iPhone users to buy and download and install.
This whole end-to-end, cradle-to-grave system has some worried about monopoly abuse and a ‘closed system’ but it won’t matter. The whole iPhone platform will be a huge business for Apple, dwarfing the Mac, dwarfing the iPod.
The age of a Mac in your pocket has dawned. It’s the age of the iPhone.