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Thursday, January 11, 2007

iPhone Summation: SDK, PSP and Me

The idea of an open platform on the iPhone is tearing up the blogosphere. The form factor alone has people wanting to pair up against the PSP and the DS.

Oh, if either was going to be true.

Firstly, the more I think about it the more I doubt we'll see any kind of extensible architecture on the iPhone. Apple is keenly protective of the iPod and the iPhone is merely an extension of that brand (enough that Apple is willing to go to courts to get the name to match up). Apple sidestepped well known Mac game developers like Freeverse when it opted to go for iPod games - and I'm betting we're going to see a similar strategy with the "widgets" the iPhone will run.

Secondly, Apple has about as much desire to pit the iPhone against the PSP as it does pitting OS X against Windows. And if that's an acceptable statement, you can bet it doesn't want to throw down with a powerhouse like the DS. The PSP is a plausible competitor because of it's more in-depth media features - but that's about the only feature set that Apple will want comparisons made. They'll trumpet the audio player and movie player. When it comes to games, though, Sony and Nintendo can probably breath easy. You won't see Apple trying to court Capcom or Konami or id or Valve or any other major third party game developer.

You'll see EA, maybe, get a phone call. I'm not saying there won't be games. Phones have games. I'm pretty certain Steve Jobs got that memo.

Just how unfortunate this really is ... honestly too much to measure. What's so great about having a phone that can run OS X apps and widgets when Apple will choose what's written? It might as well be running some customized version of ... oh, I dunno, anything, because it hardly matters to me what the OS is if I can't really talk with it. And I mean talk, not sync.

I love my Mac because it's my first computer since my Amiga that is truly as powerful as I need, when I need it. If I need to write a script which can move files around and FTP them after compiling a project - I do. If I wanted to write a Dashboard widget to monitor my own special television feeds, I would (I might). When I don't need it to be complicated - it's so wonderfully non-intrusive that I get the simple stuff done fast. In short, it's a speedway when I need a speedway, a touring road when I want to see the sights, and a construction crew for when I want to build my own roads.

This isn't a Mac vs. PC rant - this is just how I use my computer. It's the kind of relationship I'd love to have with my phone. Considering the phone isn't much cheaper than my Mac Mini - I don't see why I shouldn't be able to have that.

It really does sound like a lovely phone. The Girl and I will definately check them out when they hit, because she's been talking about an iPod anyway. Maybe if I was an iPod fan instead of a Mac fan, I'd be more excited.

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Thomas said...

Ars just reported that Apple won't be allowing open third party development, although they may have left the door open to signed apps by chosen developers. I think that includes widgets, but obviously not web apps.

None of this will probably matter to the iPod fan crowd, but if I spent $500-600 and signed up for a two year contract, I'd kind of like to be able to put new programs on it. It's like they're trying to live up to the Mac's stereotypes now--gorgeous, but expensive and no software.

Josh said...

Yeah, I had a post on it this morning, but Blogger has eaten everything I've written since last night.

Some of it is Cingular, it seems, but I find it hard to believe that Apple couldn't get Cingular to budge if they really wanted them to.

Thomas said...

From what I hear, they got Cingular to budge quite a lot on other issues, like the voicemail. The phone company's main issue is locking customers into a network, and being the only vender for the phone for the next couple years (at least). They do sell other smartphones with open software installation, so I don't think that was Cingular's call.