I asked point-blank if third parties would be able to write and distribute iPhone apps and was told, point-blank, no.
However, it appears that there’ll be some third-party opportunities. I’m going to take a guess that iPhone software will be distributed the same way as iPod games: no “unsigned” apps will install, but apps will start appearing on the iTunes Store after successfully passing through a mysterious process of Apple certification — one that ensures that they meet a certain standard of quality and won’t, you know, secretly send your credit-card info to Nigeria.
The lockdown on software is an area of ongoing suspicious interest. I noticed that the iPhone’s pre-release browser was missing some plug-ins. I asked if Real and Macromedia et al. would be writing media plug-ins for the iPhone’s Web browser, and was told that no, the browser would ship with plug-ins, but Apple would be writing them all in-house. Odd, that.
Author of this?
Andy Ihnatko writes on technical and computer issues for the Sun-Times.
Ihnatko is a long-time Mac columnist.