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iPhone SDK won't be here in February after all

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The venerable S. Jobs said it would be out in February, having declared it unnecessary - now it seems the Software Developer Kit will be even later to the party. Business Week - who were right about the SDK itself last time - report a delay of another couple of weeks, though rumours suggest an alpha-test version might be launched so that Apple can deny the slippage.

When the iPhone was launched Jobs made great play of the fact that native applications weren't needed - everything could be done within the browser. But users want applications which are integrated with the rest of the phone's functions, and don't need to be downloaded every time the users wants them.

Currently only web-based applications are officially sanctioned on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and while many users have unlocked their devices to run applications developed using an SDK hacked-together by fans, that's not a sustainable model. No one is paying for those applications, which are being developed for fun and to prove it possible.

Various games companies already have access to some form of official SDK, and have been developing titles that are expected to be launched alongside the SDK. Even IBM has been working with Apple, to create a Lotus Notes client for its handset which should also be finished in time for the SDK launch.

It has been suggested that access to the official SDK could be limited to Apple partners, but that would risk alienating the highly-active iPhone developer community which has already sprung up despite the lack of official route to market - a community Apple would prefer to see refocusing their efforts using the official tools. Many companies are developing (and in some cases demonstrating) applications they would like to launch as soon as an official mechanism for doing so exists.

While the security model on the iPhone has been improved with various firmware updates, it seems likely that native applications will have little granulation in their security model - it's set to be an all-or-nothing approach. This gives Apple an excuse for demanding iTunes as the exclusive route to market, with every application signed by them and maintaining their relationship with the customers, while bypassing the network operator yet again. ®

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