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This is About More Developers for the Mac

Apr 9 10

This is About More Developers for the Mac

pdweinstein

In the wake of Apple’s press event
announcing the latest software update to its mobile platform due out
this summer
, John Gruber and other suggests that, with an interesting
modification to the developer agreement, Apple is trying to increase
the quality of applications created for their growing family of mobile
multi-touch devices.

Specifically the new agreement, which
developers must accept in order to use the latest development kit,
bans the use of cross-platform compilers in creating applications for
the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch.

That is to develop software for the
upcoming iPhone OS release a developer has one of two options; use
Apple’s development environment, complete with compiler and
programming interfaces to develop an application specifically
designed for the iPhone/iPad/iPod or target multiple platforms by building a
web app that can also run in the web browser, Safari.

However, the restriction goes, you
cannot develop using, for example, Adobe’s pending Flash update
which is designed to enable the building of an application in one
environment, Flash, and in turn, recompiled for multiple, “less
powerful” platforms such as the Android or Windows smartphones.

Yet, as other commentators have noted,
Apple already reserves the right to review apps submitted to their
iTunes store and that hasn’t stopped the store from getting bogged down
with lots of crappy apps.

Thus, their logic goes, Apple is really
trying to lock in developers. If you want to develop for the iPhone,
which everyone has, you can only use our toolkit. Oh and you have to
pay us $99 to get a copy of the developer kit. Oh and the software
developer kit only runs on a Mac, which only we make, so that will be
another $1,000. Mahhhaaaa, we’re so evil….

But one Hacker News commentator, thought_alarm, I think is on
the right track noting, “Few developers have any experience with
Cocoa or Objective-C.”

Exactly!

Compared to the number of Windows
developers or web developers out there, few have developed using
Cocoa or Objective-C given the Mac’s market share
compared to other computers. Few individuals or companies have looked
to develop Mac-only or Mac specific applications.

But now the iPhone and iPad are the
toast of the town. Everyone wants to get in while the getting is
good. Naturally, Apple wants to capitalize on this.

Now, it just so happens that Xcode, the
software development kit for the iPhone, is the exact same
development kit Apple provides to Mac developers. Objective-C the
exact same language. Cocoa Touch, a variation of the Cocoa framework
for the Mac.

All these new iPhone developers have
everything they need to develop for the Mac.

Apple isn’t looking to lock in these iPhone developers, instead Apple is looking to open up the
number of Apple developers out in the wild, be it iPhone, iPad, iPod
or Mac.

See, a few years ago, when the iPod was
growing in popularity, there was a lot of talk about the “halo
effect
.” The idea that consumers, who for whatever reason had
ignored Apple and the Mac, but now wanted an iPod, would in turn take a second look at Apple when looking for their next computer
purchase.

By all accounts the halo effect is
real. While the PC industry has been in the dumps during the recent
recession, Apple has sold record numbers of Macs.

But the Mac still doesn’t command the
market to demand individual developer’s attention. The iPhone,
however does. 

By getting developers to use only Apple’s software
development kit for the iPhone, Apple gets a chance to say “See how
easy that was to develop for the iPhone? Now just imagine what you
could do for the Mac! You already have everything you need to write a
killer Mac application. Go on, we dare you!”

The only other option, developing a web
application, still works overall in Apple’s favor. Since the framework for
Safari on the iPhone, Webkit, is the same that drives the Safari web
browser on the Mac.

In other words, Apple is looking to grab the attention of developers, who for whatever reason had ignored Apple and the Mac, but now want to develop for the iPhone/iPad/iPod, and in turn might take a second look at the Mac when looking at their next software project.