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AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone 283

Posted by Zonk
from the come-out-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'. An article in the New York Times, though, points out that there are hundreds of phones out there working on open platforms that don't seem to be causing network interference. AT&T and Palm, in fact, welcome experimentation on their platforms. In AT&T's case ... on every phone but the iPhone. 'Hackers who have explored the workings of the phone say it uses the frameworks and structures that Apple uses on its other platforms to enable development; it just hasn't been documented. So if Apple is going to allow applications later, is there any reason -- other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control -- that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?'"
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AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone

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  • vindictiveness? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by homey of my owney (975234) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:49AM (#20823149)
    Control I buy into, but vindictive?
  • Is there? Yes.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:51AM (#20823181)

    is there any reason -- other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control -- that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?


    My guess is that the short answer is "Yes", and the long answer is "Yes, AT&T cut them a big fat check to do exactly that."
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:51AM (#20823185) Homepage Journal
    I've said from the beginning that the reason Apple's iPhone was closed to outside development was due to Apple, and not to AT&T. Apple is obsessive about controlling the end-user experience, so they don't want any third-party development on the iPhone. And what happened? I got accused of starting flamewars by rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth Mac fanbois.

    There's nothing wrong with Apple intent on the iPhone. It's their product and they can market and sell it how they see fit. If you don't like it, don't buy an iPhone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:54AM (#20823233)
    I remember back when Apple was going after people selling mac roms for Amiga emulators.

    Apple has always been proprietary and exercised iron-fisted control over what THEY want done with the hardware they sell for a profit. Why are the iPhone actions such a surprise?
  • by yoris (776276) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:02AM (#20823349)
    The most obvious reason for me would seem to be simply avoid responsibility for the API until it is fully matured? Surely, if they were to release their API for the entire multi-touch aspect of the iPhone and iPod Touch at this point, they would be in a position where they have a lot of responsibilities:

    * extensively documenting the API for a broad base instead of only for internal usage
    * testing for possible bugs for usecases which are not relevant in Apple's internal usage
    * making it feature complete
    * making it secure
    * when upgrading the API, supporting older applications built on that API (in other words, keeping full backwards compatibility)

    All in all, this can be summed up as the basic fact that officially releasing the "mini OS X" that Apple uses on its portable devices as a development platform requires a whole different approach then simply using it themselves and not publishing it. All these responsibilities are easily avoided by simply not publishing the API and is a no-brainer if the company is on a tight deadline. Given the iPhone's short development lead time, i can fully understand that there was no time to get all of the above in order, so avoiding responsibility of the API for the time being seems like a logical thing to me.

    That said, the above reason would steer them towards a tolerance stance regarding 'hackers', while Apple seems to be leaning more towards an 'active prosecution' stance, which i considere pretty much unjustified, together with the rest of the world.
  • by Cleon (471197) <cleon42@ya h o o . c om> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:08AM (#20823441) Homepage
    "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'."

    Yes, and I'm sure that's why they're keeping the iPod a closed platform, too.
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:10AM (#20823463)

    So if Apple is going to allow applications later, is there any reason -- other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control -- that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?'"
    The summary is a troll. It has nothing to do with "vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control". It has to do with the fact that Apple, a publicly traded company, feels that they can make more money licensing third party apps than allowing them by default. Really, people, it's that simple.

    And, why would anyone be surprised by this? It's very much in keeping with the way Apple has done business for years and years.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:11AM (#20823475) Homepage Journal
    They are selling an iphone, a way of thinking, an idea. The problem is, the cellphone market really doesn't give a shit. Apple hasn't learned that. The question becomes, who budges first? Apple or the cell phone market?

  • Get over it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:28AM (#20823719) Homepage
    Are people just heart broken that Apple locked down the phone so much or what? If you want to support open platforms don't give Apple your money. I don't think it was a secret before the iPhone began sales that it was going to be a closed platform. Just like anything, support what meets your needs/wants.
  • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:43AM (#20823949)
    The reasons were discussed before the iBricking event, but in summary:

    1. Stability. Whenever third party apps are on your device, instability develops. Of course, sometimes the OS is unstable with no third-party apps running at all. Before the 1.1.1 firmware, Safari used to crash all the time. There haven't been a lot of reports about third party iApps being any worse behaved than the built-ins.

    2. Support. Support issues are a perennial nightmare for any platform. It was speculated that lots of Apple and AT&T's support time was for applications that weren't native. Anyone have any numbers for this?

    3. Development. It could be that the APIs are still in motion. The iBricking may be due to some bad updating; Mac OS X does have problem occasionally.

    4. Developer support. Let's face it, lots of apps on other mobile platforms are ugly as all get-out. Apple's only now released human interface guidelines for the iPhone. If it's been this long for the HIG, the real developer docs'll take even more time.

    So...there are lots of possible reasons for Apple's stance...before getting to the negatively-tinged personification excuses (control, vindictiveness, etc).
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:48AM (#20824051)

    Why didn't Apple just say that? Why lie? The rationale they've offered so far suggests that Apple does not plan to open the iPhone at any point in time as doing otherwise would damage their credibility.
    Sorry, but the price cut thing already damaged their credibility.
  • by hxnwix (652290) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:01PM (#20824257) Journal

    Sorry, but the price cut thing already damaged their credibility.
    Right, this is because Apple said that they weren't going to drop the price, right? No? Ahhh, but Apple never said that. So, by doing something expected, albeit sooner than expected, how did they damage their credibility? Oh, they didn't? Thank you.
  • by pohl (872) * on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:08PM (#20824365) Homepage

    The design of good APIs is several orders of magnitude harder than getting a program to stand up & run in time for release. It tends to take several iterations to get things right. It's likely that they have given rough-cut APIs to internal teams (and perhaps some select partners) for developing apps. (perhaps the iTunes WiFi store is one example). Feedback from such developer projects may result in changes to, and perhaps even radical restructuring of, the underlying frameworks.

    And, to answer your question, that is why an update could break something. If I have a program that calls a library, and the interface to that library changes, my program falls down, goes boom.

    I bet they'll release a kit when they're sure they've frozen the API.

  • by buysse (5473) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:15PM (#20824453) Homepage
    For $DEITY's sake, the freaking RAZR sold for around $500 (with contract) at launch. Three months later, it was $100. Now, it's bloody free. Should I sue because I paid money for the RAZR when I could have gotten for free later? How about the Blackberry? That used to be $500.

    Apple didn't think there was going to be a fucking backlash because this is normal fucking pricing for phones. The price drops off quickly. It's not a scam, it's standard business practice at AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. Everybody's just pissed because Apple did it this time, and not Motorola or Nokia.

  • by 31415926535897 (702314) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:38PM (#20824797) Journal
    I completely agree with you, and what proves your point is how locked down the iPod Touch is. If Apple and AT&T were truly concerned with gumming up the cell network, then Apple would have allowed development on the iPod Touch. But they've actually locked it down more. You cannot enter calendar appointments (you can only see them after a sync with iTunes), and Apple has removed various features like Google Maps, which still would have been incredibly useful through Wifi.

    For the record, I bought an iPod Touch. I feel that it was worth the purchase despite being so locked down because it is, hands down, the best iPod there is (except for the lack of hard drive space, but that doesn't concern me yet). I really wanted an iPhone, but my employer provides me with a Blackberry, so I couldn't justify another cell phone plan.

    Now that I have the iPod Touch, I hope that some day Apple opens it up for development. After surfing the web on this thing, I think it is the best pocket computer I've ever seen. I've used some small Fujitsu Lifebooks and other tablet computers, but this blows all of those away. The potential of this device is amazing, and it confuses me that Apple wouldn't want to give people every excuse to buy one. I'm not complaining about mine, it does everything I wanted it to perfectly and I'm extremely happy with it. But I also think that Apple is passing up on an amazing revenue stream because they're so obsessed with control.

  • by epp_b (944299) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:43PM (#20824877)

    "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'.
    Oh, c'mon, they're still using that BS argument? AT&T -- where you know this statement is really coming from; like Apple could give a rip about AT&T's network -- was arguing this same malarkey decades ago before their ban on third-party phones and phone equipment was struck down. And - *gasp* - what a surprise: the PSTN network still works without a hitch today!
  • by Rix (54095) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:47PM (#20824957)
    Once they sell it to someone, it becomes that person's product to do with as they like.
  • by dhovis (303725) * on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:54PM (#20825103)

    I bet they'll release a kit when they're sure they've frozen the API.

    Apple recently released the Human Interface Guidelines [arstechnica.com] for the iPhone, which says at one point: "Currently, developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications." (emphasis added). I suspect the iPhone API is still very much in flux, which probably explains the fairly small updates we've seen so far.

    Apple hasn't shied away from games on the iPod, so why not the iPhone? Because the API isn't set in stone yet. Once Apple firms it up, you'll probably start to see third party games from companies like EA. If that works out, then you may finally see a public API.

  • Re:Experimental (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @01:30PM (#20825613)
    Apple has *everything* to gain from an open phone. A large application ecosystem would drive business sales through the roof, since this is basically a handheld computer that's easy to use, not simply a phone. And don't even compare it to "point and pray" Windows Mobile/PocketPC!

    Apple has the potential of crushing RIM and Microsoft in the handheld market if the full capabilities of the device are unleashed.

    -b.

  • Oh, bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpectreBlofeld (886224) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @01:33PM (#20825673)
    It'd be trivial as hell for Apple to allow java apps that run in a sandbox. It's obviously not security that Apple's worried about.

    As with most of their products, Apple tends to dictate the user experience to an unusually high degree.

    For whatever reason.
  • by tknd (979052) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:34PM (#20826569)

    Steve Jobs can't come right out and say this, as it can be seen as tantamount to saying that users are stupid. Security. Not on the cell network, but the iPhone as a new platform. User's can't be trusted to install their own apps!

    So you're putting the blame on the user rather than the engineer? I thought we like to put the blame on the engineer around here (example: Microsoft).

    I honestly do not think that the reason why the iphone is closed is simply due to security concerns. The reason why the iphone is closed is because cellular networks in the United States have enjoyed a monopolized control over their networks. Their biggest fear is that the cellular networks become more like the internet as it is now; a network where they are only seen as the provider to everyone else's services. Cellular networks have enjoyed making extra business by doing stupid things like selling ring tones, restricting accessible services (unless an additional cost is paid), and locking phones to their services. The basic deal with a cell phone is if you want to sell your service or software on the network, you either pay the provider or the provider hires you and pays you in a contract basis. Furthermore, once you're in, you play by the provider's rules. They dictate to you want you can or can't do.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:45PM (#20826731) Journal
    You are correct about Macs and 6800's, but different user accounts have nothing to do with protected memory.
  • by tf23 (27474) * <(moc.todattol) (ta) (32ft)> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:58PM (#20826943) Homepage Journal
    Why would they? What benefit, to them, would they see if they did?

    You'd see everyone whining that the API Documentation isn't out yet, or that the provided samples aren't good enough, or simple enough, or advanced enough. Or the API doesn't match what was released w/ the last iPhone bios update. (see rolling-target-at-the-moment, above ^^).

    All of that stuff takes resources (ie money) to make it. And time.

    They're trying to do a new OS rollout. If you were Steve Jobs, and you had just rolled out the iPhone (which you pulled engineers from the OSX project to the iPhone) and now you want to get the new version of OSX out (along w/ API, XCode, etc) what decision would you make?

    Oh, let's announce that we'll be coming out w/ API Docs for the iPhone. Don't know when, because OSX Leopard isn't done yet. And they're not done writing the API yet. But what the heck, let's announce it anyway.

    Yeah, right. Without an announcement, they are not beholden to any time table to release anything wrt iPhone/iPodTouch development.

    My guess is, if we're lucky and Leopard goes OK, we'll see something in the Jan08 to Jun08 timeframe for iPhone Development. That talk about "Apple said that the public will never be able to develop for the iPhone, because it would break AT&T's network from #20824059 [slashdot.org] I think is hogwash. Just an excuse for the moment. I think once an API is out, everyone'll forget about all the comments and excuses.
  • Re:vindictiveness? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @03:07PM (#20827067)

    the iPhone still comes with a $2880 contract
    Touché...

    Though I feel the need to point out that ANY cell phone is going to require at least some kind of service to be useful, and for any smartphone you will probably want a unlimited data plan. In the US that means $20 with T-Mobile or $20 with AT&T :)
  • by Woody (1159) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @04:38PM (#20828505) Homepage
    We expect better from Apple.

    Well there's your problem...

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