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Motorola: Apple will not open the iPhone

Nix to Napster

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

CTIA The senior director of entertainment products at Motorola questions whether Apple will truly "open up" the iPhone.

"We've yet to see Apple's SDK [software developers' kit], and I'm sure there will be some level of [Apple] control that goes along with it. I guarantee you that you will not see a Napster music service on the iPhone," said David Ulmer, as he and three other wireless industry big-wigs pondered the impact of Apple's latest status symbol at this week's CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment trade show in San Francisco.

"The iPhone may offer some sort of open web. But music sales? Device sales? Accessory sales? Anything you pay is probably going to come from Apple."

But not everyone agrees with him. Including the bigwig who sat just to his left. "Apple has announced an SDK, and if you believe them - and I think most of us do - it will be open," said Sam Altman, the co-founder and CEO of loopt, a social network-ified mobile mapping service. "You'll be able to upload whatever app you want on it."

Last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the company will spit out an iPhone SDK in February next year, but Stevie didn't say if the kit will be available to all third-party developers or just a chosen few. And there's no word on whether third-parties will have the power to build apps that actually sell stuff on the iPhone.

Whatever Apple does with the iPhone, Motorola's Ulmer is glad it's here. He believes that iPhone has opened new doors for old-school handset manufacturers, including Motorola. "For us, it's been quite beneficial, because wireless carriers are now willing to talk about all kinds of new experiences on handhelds that they wouldn't consider in the past," he said.

Plus, he says, the Jesus Phone has allowed manufacturers to push much more expensive devices. "It opened up a whole new pricing tier," he continued. "There are [people] who are willing to pay a lot for a phone. They willing to do more than sign up for a wireless plan and get four phones for free - which is where the market was headed."

Bootnote

Sitting on the other side of Ullmer, Lee Ott, director of mobile products at Yahoo!, threw out a pretty telling stat about the nearly-four-month-old iPhone. "In the very short period of time since the iPhone launched on one carrier in one country, it is one of the top five [mobile] devices in terms of daily Yahoo! usage," he said. "In terms of internet usage nothing is holding a candle to the iPhone. ®

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