Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Analyzing Apple's iPhone Strategy 270

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read dept.
Galen Gruman submitted infoworld's summary of Apple's grand strategy for the iPhone. He points out that the real important part of the new iPhone is the software, not the hardware. He talks about the new SDK stuff, the ad-hoc app distribution, and other stuff. It's a reasonable read if you have been ignoring the iPhone and want to know what the hype is about over this release, but doesn't break any new ground if you've been paying attention.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Analyzing Apple's iPhone Strategy

Comments Filter:
  • by AceJohnny (253840) <jlargentaye AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:16AM (#23747207) Journal

    He points out that the real important part of the new iPhone is the software not the hardware.
    Well sure, now that the smartphone hardware is becoming powerful enough that you don't have to constrain your app to the capacities of that hardware, people are starting to realize that the hardware is actually inconsequential.

    But this shift has only happened recently, and we needed something like the iPhone to show us that the hardware is actually darn good enough!

    This is also why I'm so fascinated by Android, which is a powerful software platform (ok, for a given set of hardware). ...and I say this as an embedded software developer :p
    • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:31AM (#23748465)
      That's a weird thing to say from my point of view. The iPod has done well because the hardware and software were tightly integrated (both on the device and with iTunes), whereas the players that went for a common platform like PlaysforSure did not.

      Google is much stronger than Apple with web services, but weaker with respect to hardware. I don't think hardware is inconsequential. The more diverse the hardware your system is on, the more likely there may be compatibility problems.

      Maybe it will be different this time. Mac shareware developers must be salivating. The quality of Mac shareware is excellent for the most part (and some of it is much more polished, better designed and more mac-like than software from major companies), but crippled by the fact that it's shareware and people have to find it and buy a license off a website, if they buy it at all. I imagine that respected Mac shareware developers like Panic will thrive when their software is on the same store as the stuff from the big guys and is pay per download.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:56AM (#23748939)
      Their strategy is pretty easy to decode:

      1. make money.
      2. make money.
      3. make money, so that we can
      4. make even more money.

      I think they are doing great. Just for kicks (and to kick myself), I looked at how much I could have made if I had just invested $1000 in Apple in 1985. Taking the stock splits into account, that stock would be worth more than $500,000.

      Apple is a great example of how you can take a fanatical fan base, show them nothing but contempt, charge outrageous amounts of money for everything connected with your products... and be adored all the more for it. THAT'S the kind of stock worth investing in, but it's a shame that setup is so difficult to replicate.

      And... best of all, they are eating Linux's lunch. If someone hates Microsoft SO much, they aren't going to get Linux. They are going to buy a Mac, of course, and get locked in to that money sink (at least $150 in El Jobso's pocket every time they make a point release is great for Apple's bottom line!).

      While Linux likewise has the fanatical user base... they just have no way of monetizing it. Linux users like being locked into that platform, but not enough to actually pay for anything. They are happy to use hardware two generations out of date, happy with being completely locked into FOSS (since extremely few companies will write for Linux), etc, but not happy enough to actually spend any money supporting what they supposedly believe in. Look at Red Hat- they've been doing poorly for years now, and that's not going to change (although their dropping the failed "Linux on the Desktop" project will undoubtedly help them a great deal).

      While Apple has been gaining market share (up to 4-5%)... Linux's has remained flat for the past ten years (always around 0.65%, even as the size of the market has virtually exploded). Meaning... every Apple sold is coming from Linux's share of the market (either actual or potential). Which is good, since Linux has no chance of succeeding in competition with Microsoft, while Apple can do quite well with a tiny market share.
      • by sgtrock (191182) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:19PM (#23749421)
        "While Linux likewise has the fanatical user base... they just have no way of monetizing it. Linux users like being locked into that platform, but not enough to actually pay for anything. They are happy to use hardware two generations out of date, happy with being completely locked into FOSS (since extremely few companies will write for Linux), etc, but not happy enough to actually spend any money supporting what they supposedly believe in. Look at Red Hat- they've been doing poorly for years now, and that's not going to change (although their dropping the failed "Linux on the Desktop" project will undoubtedly help them a great deal).

        While Apple has been gaining market share (up to 4-5%)... Linux's has remained flat for the past ten years (always around 0.65%, even as the size of the market has virtually exploded). Meaning... every Apple sold is coming from Linux's share of the market (either actual or potential). Which is good, since Linux has no chance of succeeding in competition with Microsoft, while Apple can do quite well with a tiny market share."

        Sigh. You're wrong on so many points that I don't know where to start. The Linux vendors in the server OS and application space have been making money hand over fist for that same ten years, you know.

        We just needed to see the desktop environment catch up, that's all. We needed the OS itself to get responsive enough in the face of no vendor support (and sometimes downright hostile responses to queries about drivers), we needed the applications to get good enough, and we needed some market force to get people to look at Linux as a desktop appliance. That'll settle the lack of vendor support all by itself.

        We've seen the OS get very responsive indeed, to the point that running some games under wine are actually faster than running them in Windows XP on the same hardware. Applications are out there to meet the basic needs of most consumers, while other options are becoming at least tolerable. Driver problems are largely resolved with only a few holdouts refusing to either release binary drivers (not ideal) or provide any help at all to the people writing FOSS drivers.

        Finally, the fact is that your information about marketshare is a bit out of date. Every Website tracking company that publishes its global stats, from Hitslink to W3 Counter to Xiti to TheCounter, all show that Linux began increasing its market share a while back. Depending on how far back a given site lets you see, you can argue that it started in early 2006. Certainly, every tracking site that goes back to December 2006 shows that when Vista was released, Linux began growing. That's market force number one.

        The second is the release of the eee. All of a sudden, the hardware vendors realized that they could make a pot full of money selling a device without having to include Microsoft Windows or OS/X and people would buy it. Not just buy it, stand in line all night to get one!

        Micrsoft's response? A warmed over, extremely limited version of Windows XP Home with a drop dead date that's only 2 years out, and even then they want the hardware restricted. It has the hardware vendors so unimpressed that they seem to be flat out ignoring it.

        Asus stated that they expected to sell 40% of their eee line as Linux. Asus has also decided to include a small Linux distribution in the BIOS of every motherboard that they manufacture.

        MSI figures 50% of the Winds that they sell will be Linux. Acer has publicly stated that they're moving their entire laptop line over to Linux. Dell is still adding desktops and laptops to the pool of preinstalled Linux boxes (including the mini-Inspiron). HP is offering the Mini-Note with Linux side by side with the Vista versions.

        2008/2009 is the start of Linux moving into the mainstream. It's going to be fun to see how far it gets! :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by molarmass192 (608071)
          I like Linux. I use it at work on virtually all our servers. I dislike Windows because it's antiquated tech (even Vista). I think that Linux is very fast, very stable, and has excellent hardware support. That said, Linux as a desktop environment is *still* not ready for prime time. The reasons? The GUI toolkits are too fragmented, the GUI IDEs themselves are rudimentary compared to Win and Mac, there isn't a coherent look and feel, and there's virtually no market for packaged desktop apps. I say this as som
          • I think you're missing the point of FOSS. The whole point is to allow people to scratch their own itch. Naturally, that's going to take them in different directions. Naturally, that also means that UI designers are going to go down different roads. Maybe an analogy will help explain what I mean.

            There's an old carpenter's saying that has been adopted by us geeks that you may have heard: "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well, I don't want just a hammer. I want a full toolbo
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noewun (591275)

        Apple is a great example of how you can take a fanatical fan base, show them nothing but contempt, charge outrageous amounts of money for everything connected with your products...

        I know this is Slashdot, where anecdote and off-the-cuff remarks stand in for real argument, but I wonder if you could explain the contempt bit. My experience with Apple products has been that they last me for years and years. My 2G iPod is still going strong on its original battery, and my G5 is three years old and looking like

  • Objective C (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thammoud (193905) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:18AM (#23747217)
    The language is a serious turn off for most developers I know.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by crmarvin42 (652893)
      Why?

      I'll admit I'm not a programer and I have a tendency toward reading pro-apple sites, but I was under the impression that objective C is just an extension of C, and that regular C code would compile and run fine without extensive modification.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jo42 (227475)

        Why?
        Because it's not Java?
        • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Interesting)

          by crmarvin42 (652893) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:50AM (#23747733)
          But I thought the whole idea was that full powered, desktop level, apps on a mobile device.

          I'm not trying to slander Java, but I've never used a Java app that doesn't take up a disproportionate amount of processor and memory when compared to the same type of program written in some flavor of C.

          I want to reiterate that I'm not a programer and I'm not trying to be contrary. I'm just a little confused is all.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by afidel (530433)
            MIDP Java is generally pretty small and fast, it's what's used on basically all smartphone platforms other than the iPhone and Windows Mobile (ok there's Symbian native, but I don't think most new development is going that direction due to the portability of Java).
          • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Informative)

            by Lally Singh (3427) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:40AM (#23748623) Journal

            I'm not trying to slander Java, but I've never used a Java app that doesn't take up a disproportionate amount of processor and memory when compared to the same type of program written in some flavor of C.


            And many have said that about C vs Assembler. The difference is that you'd have to add a zero or so to the end of the price of the app. Java's substantially easier to write apps for, in certain domains, in certain sizes of applications.

            C doesn't have features which make it reasonable to write very large applications (namespaces come to mind). You can do it (e.g. Unix kernels, etc), but you have to be much more disciplined without those features. That discipline costs in terms of additional expertise required, (higher programmer salaries) and project management (more overhead for managers, documentation, etc).

            Also, Java has features which make writing tools for it substantially easier than C. Better available tools also reduce the cost of software production.

            For the most part, Java sacrifices starting performance for long-term performance. Letting a Java app 'warm up' for a while will show substantially better performance than when it first started running.
            • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Informative)

              by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:07PM (#23749159) Journal
              Hmm - I have to assume you've not used ObjC much or at all - you have to take it with its class library (Cocoa), similar to Java, but it's ridiculously easy to use once you've spent a week or so learning it. Literally, it took me a week to be proficient in this "new" language.

              Applications don't need namespaces - frameworks do, but applications should be perfectly happy being run in their own (default) namespace. I think most people will be writing applications on the iPhone, not frameworks.

              As for tools, XCode comes with data-modelling tools to create entity relationship diagrams/models that integrate with your code, it comes with fantastic dtrace-driven graphical performance monitoring tools, and an excellent integrated gdb-based debugger which does things like fix-and-continue, step back, etc.

              Just putting some context into place,

              Simon
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          What a ludicrous reason.
      • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Informative)

        by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:56AM (#23747835)
        Obj-C is often considered what C++ would have been, if C++ were done right. However, for a right while only NeXT really used it. GNUStep, which was trying to copy NeXT Step, started supporting it as well.

        When Jobs came back to Apple (he also formed NeXT), Apple acquired NeXT and all their technology. This is when OS X was born and why it uses Obj-C.

        So, basically only MacOS X and GNUStep really use Obj-C in any significant way (at least that I'm aware of).

        The syntax is a little weird, and the targeted platforms are somewhat limited, so not many people know it or bother to learn (unless they want to develop for Mac or GNUStep).

        Its a turn off because people like familiar things and would rather use C++ or Java rather than Obj-C, I suppose -- and Obj-C is sort of the barrier to entry to Cocoa and Carbon.
        • Re:Objective C (Score:4, Informative)

          by QuantumFlux (228693) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:07PM (#23750353)
          You don't necessarily need Mac OS X or GNUstep to use Obj-C in any significant way.

          Debian Etch (and many other distros) has both the gcc-objc compiler and libFoundation libraries in the stable repository. I use them all the time to write GUI-less server applications. The Foundation library (the non-GUI toolkit for Objective C) makes it trivially easy (much like Java) to write a little piece of multi-threaded code that sits around waiting for input on a socket - WITHOUT all the overhead of launching yet another JVM instance.
      • by DrYak (748999)
        There's another reason.

        One /.er humorously said that this was because it wasn't not Java.

        There's a grain of through there.

        Obj-C as pointed by a /. isn't popular at all. Only NEXTSTEP and its various clones (Mac OS X, GnuStep) use it.
        iPhone developers will have to learn yet another C variant, to which they are most probably not used. Some of those developer may even never learned C or C++ in the first place.

        Java is the platform attracting the most mindshare currently for embed platform (keep in mind it was i
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by anomaly256 (1243020)
          If you've ever actually tried to build anything and run it on the iphone you'd know that you don't _have_ to use objective C to write iphone apps. It just makes it easier by providing frameworks for things like GUI and networking. I have a plethora of C/C++ apps compiled and running on mine just fine. Heck, I even have gcc and g++ _on_ my iphone.
    • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thermian (1267986) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:39AM (#23747549)
      objective C is unfortunately a career no go for most developers.

      To get and keep jobs in almost all companies you need to know a current mainstream language or two. I haven't seen a job that listed objective-c as a requirement in, um, well ever.

      I certainly wouldn't touch it.
      • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Goaway (82658) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:49AM (#23747705) Homepage
        Because you are only capable of knowing a set number of languages?
        • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Insightful)

          by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:54AM (#23747797)
          Because today's programmers don't learn programming or engineering, but instead a language. A real programmer should be able to program regardless of a language. In fact they should be able to pick a language based on the problem at hand and not the other way around.
          • by Seakip18 (1106315)
            What the heck are you talking about?

            With the Intarwebz, learning a new language no longer relies on getting an expert to teach it. The only programmer that refuses to use the best language for the job is pretty dumb given the resources at their disposal. Luckily, almost all of the programmers I've worked with/met that are around my age have been forced to take higher maths.

            The only stumbling block I can see is the tools or basic libraries for the language itself *coughmicrosoftcough* being held at a premium
          • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Comatose51 (687974) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:44AM (#23748687) Homepage
            It's not just the language that matters. Yes any decent programmers can pick up a language in no time but the real issue is the libraries and frameworks and patterns that often go with a language and its environment. Re-learning the APIs for the environment takes time. Good documentation helps a lot and so does being open source (or use the Lutz reflector if you're doing .Net). Even then there are still certain conventions for different environments. Python programmers talk about code being "Pythonic". While there are many ways to do something in Python, there is usually a few good ways or patterns for a problem. So, it's not just the language but everything else that goes around the language that also matters.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by e4g4 (533831)
            Amen brother. Programming languages are, in this way, a lot like spoken and written languages - once you've learned a few, picking up a new one becomes much easier. After thoroughly learning C++ and Java, Perl, Ruby, PHP, Python, Lisp, Objective-C and JavaScript took me almost no time at all to pick up - just a month or two of casual tinkering before I became proficient.

            Programming languages are ultimately just expressions of logic, with different strengths for different applications. I once read that
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by slawo (1210850)

          Because you are only capable of knowing a set number of languages?
          Yes he uses the d20 system... When you are a level 3 programmer, you have little squares in your head so you can learn only 3 level 1 languages and 1 level 2 Language.
      • by Firehed (942385)
        Well are you looking at jobs for Windows software development? That could be why...
      • by Snocone (158524)
        I haven't seen a job that listed objective-c as a requirement in, um, well ever.

        That's funny ... every single job I've looked at in the last two years had it as a requirement.

        On the other hand, not a single job I've looked at listed Java, C#, or .NET as a requirement.

        By your logic, then, those three technologies I list are a "career no go".

        Either that, or you have your head up your ass so far you can't figure out that a particular tool set is required for jobs it is appropriate for, and not for ones it isn
      • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Informative)

        by menace3society (768451) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:22PM (#23754069)
        Okay, ready to learn Objective-C? Class names normally begin with capital letters and instances of classes begin with lowercase, just like Java.
        You call a procedure from an object with the syntax [object function:argument], similar to lisp. If there are multiple arguments, it looks like [object function:argument arg2Name:argument2 arg3Name:argument3].
        You declare classes as follows:

        @interface :
        {
                  float aFloat;
                  NSString *string;
        }
        - (NSString * ) string;
        - (void) setString:(NSString *)newString;
        - (NSString *) theFloat;
        - (void) setFloat:(float)value;
        + (NSArray *) someArray;
        @end /* of @interface */

        Obj-C objects are always pointers. Methods (functions) that begin with a '-' are instance methods; they would be called by an instance of the object (i.e. [instance method]. Those beginning with a '+' are class methods; they are called with [Class method].
        Use #import instead of #include. #import always checks to make sure it doesn't include a file twice, so you don't need to bother with #ifndef's.
        Here's an implementation file
        @implementation
        { /* private variables go here */
        }

        - (id) init
        {
                  if (self=[super init])
                  {
                              string = [[NSString alloc] initWithString:@"This is a string.";
                  }
        returm self;
        }

        - (void) setString:(NSString *)newString
        {
                  string=newString;
        }

        - (void) setFloat:(float)value
        {
                  aFloat=value;
        }

        - (NSString *) string
        {
                  return string;
        }

        - (float) theFloat
        {
                  return aFloat;
        }

        + (NSArray *) someArray
        {
                  return [[NSArray alloc] initWithObjects:
        }

        You can see that, as in Java, variables are in-scope within member functions.
        The method alloc is implemented in the ObjC base class, NSObject, and allocates memory for the instance. It will always be followed up with an init method of some kind.
        The keyword 'id' is a macro for any instance of NSObject or any of its subclasses.
        The variable 'self' refers to the current object. The variable 'super' refers to the current object, interpreted as it it were its parent class. Since every object but NSObject begins with self=[super init], only NSObject needs to know precisely how the Objective-C runtime is implemented.
        Not shown here is how flags are handled, which is usually of the form [object shouldDoSomething], which then returns YES or NO. To set behavior, it's [object shouldDoSomething:YES].
        In Objective-C, NSStrings are denoted like C strings, but with an @ before the open quote marks: @"This is an NSString." [object description] will return an NSString that tells you something about object, usually for classes within the core frameworks it is a text representation of the data.
        The null pointer as an object is called nil. nil, or indeed any object, will accept any method call and fail silently, so make sure you properly alloc and init your objects, and double-check that they actually respond to the methods you send them.
        Write to the console with NSLog(NSString*).
        There. Now you know Objective-C. How the fuck hard was that?
        NB: I wrote this off the top of my head, and it's been a while, so there are probably a ton of bugs in it. But, you get the idea.
    • Most good developers are can pick up a new language fairly quickly, so it shouldn't be a hurdle.

      Objective C is a little strange at first, since it mixes "real" (i.e., Smalltalk-esqe, message-based) object oriented programming concepts into a statically typed language. But, once you separate the C and the Objective C mentally, it's kinda like programing Python and writing the occasional C extension.

      Cocoa Touch has a large set of support libraries that cover most tasks. Once you understand the basic patterns
    • by Palshife (60519)
      You must not know a whole lot of Cocoa developers.
      • by EggyToast (858951)
        Yeah, I'd imagine that any company that decides to push into OS X (iPhone or desktop) coding will have a demand for Obj-C coding. Kind of a no-brainer, really.
    • Once you get around the syntax, Objective-C is not hard to use at all. The language runtime is very dynamic and memory management is easy reference counting or garbage collected if you want(but no GC on iPhone). I came from the standard C/C++ background and I found it a little weird after using C/C++ for many years but you can pick up Objective-C relatively fast. The big learning curve is learning what frameworks and APIs you need to use to do what you want which requires lots of learning and/or looking
    • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:50AM (#23747737)

      The language is a serious turn off for most developers I know.

      Really? The only developers I can think of that it would be a problem for are those guys who learned Java or VB at their trade school and have never learned anything else. Pretty much everyone else has picked up C at some point and Objective C is just a superset.

      I'd also note that from what I've read developers are raving about the ease of use of the iPhone dev kit. From the development forums I see a lot of happy people, with the occasional clueless person asking if they can develop for the iPhone using Visual Basic 6. I've seen some complaints about the slow rate at which people are letting developers into the program, but not about objective C.

    • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:51AM (#23747747)
      If you know C and any OO language then obj-C should be easy for a real developer to pick up. Keep in mind that C runs just fine on the iphone (at least on the simulator) you just won't have access to any of the Cocoa frameworks and thus no UI.
    • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NtroP (649992) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:54AM (#23747811)

      [Objective-C] The language is a serious turn off for most developers I know.

      It takes getting used to, but I find it very elegant and powerful. I think the biggest turn off for most is "it's something new". It's C, but then it's not. I find myself having to think much more "MVC" and "object-oriented" than I'm used to (my brain is wired old-school procedural), but I also find that I can get an amazing amount done with fewer lines of code. The trade-off is that I don't feel I have the deep level of control I should. This is nonsense, of course, I can write any functionality and subclass all I want, but with the API's I usually don't find I need to, so I come away from a project feeling a little guilty - like I didn't *really* do any hard-core coding. Combine that with Interface-builder and it feels more like building with Legos than "programming". It's just that you find yourself getting so much functionality for free.

      All that, combined with the fact that the syntax is different from C++ and you get a bit of a turn-off, but give it a chance. It's like transitioning to any new thing. You like what you know. It takes stepping out of your comfort zone for a while (which is hard for a lot of programmers who tend to be control freaks to begin with). Once you are used to it though you find going back a bit clumsy. At least that's been my experience.

    • If Objective-C is a problem, you should not be in mobile development.

      Because the limits of J2ME will make you tear your hair out, the installed base of WinMo will make you tear your wallet off, and Symbian C++ will just simply make you tear your brains out.

      In the mobile world, Objective C looks good. Yeah, the mobile world is that sucky.
    • Re:Objective C (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ImdatS (958642) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:38AM (#23748597) Homepage
      You know, I started developing in Objective-C back in 1990/91 on NeXTstep (yes, it was lc 'step' at that time...) - Coming from Pascal, C, Forth (and some Basic dialects), I found it a bit weird at the beginning (the first 4-6 months). Then, one day, it made "click" - as we say in German. And from that day on, I couldn't really imagine doing it in a different way than MVC & Objective-C.

      In order to fully grasp it, I started experiments with Smalltalk (great), Eiffel (great, but ugly syntax), and some other languages I forgot.

      Remember: those times were the times when we wrote our frameworks ourselves (I remember writing objects like "Float", "Integer", "String", ... - they didn't exist in NeXTstep those days).

      You have to switch from "Calling a Function" or "Calling a Member of an Object" to "Sending a Message to an Object" and get used to the idea that everything is an Object (even classes are instances of the class class and so on) and then you are set.

      The syntax may turn you off a bit - that's what happens with Python for me (the indentation is still a psychological issue for me) - but you surely get used to it quickly.

      Now, after having developed in Objective-C for such a long time (including having learned Smalltalk and Eiffel), I can't actually look at the "ugly" C++ or Java syntax - and I (more or less) believe the worst thing that could happen to the world in programming languages was C++ (my two EUR 0.01, which, by the way, results in 3.14 UScents by a strange coincidence today).

      Anyway, try it out and you'll either hate it or love it.

      Also, for me, a good programmer is someone who is personally, privately, and passionately interested in Esoteric Programming Languages - which brings us to the "Indifference to Syntax" - or "Being amazed by Syntax" (some people should probably take this with a grain of salt).

  • Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SimonGhent (57578) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:20AM (#23747249)

    It's a reasonable read if you have been ignoring the iPhone and want to know what the hype is about over this release, but doesn't break any new ground if you've been paying attention.


    Well, in that case, why is it on the front page?

    Surely if a /. reader has been ignoring the iPhone up till now they're pretty unlikely to read past the thread title.
  • ATT Contract (Score:2, Interesting)

    OK, I RTFA'd but I've yet to understand where the AT&T exclusivity deal fits Apple's oh so grand strategy. Funny the suthor doesn't mention it either... afraid to lose an advertiser I suppose...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)
      If it is a deal breaker for you, you can buy an unlocked one from O2 and have it shipped to the US, but it will cost you a lot more. Even if you got one on the T-Mobile network, I would suspect that the network connectivity features won't work that well. I guess the only solution then is to move to Canada. :P
    • by Andy_R (114137)
      Where it fits seems pretty obvious to me, Apple used the carrot of exclusivity to operators in return for the operators breaking rank and doing a lot of things they didn't do before (unlimited data tariffs, out of sequence voicemail, and now the ability to 'push').
  • by Kostya (1146) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:21AM (#23747267) Homepage Journal

    It's a reasonable read if you have been ignoring the iPhone and want to know what the hype is about over this release, but doesn't break any new ground if you've been paying attention.


    Thanks. That was truly one of the first useful summaries I have read in a while. Now I can skip TFA ;-)
  • Apple is now doing for smartphones what it did for DAPs. Really there are not doing anything new here in developing the whole ecosystem.

    1. Make a better UI. Some people don't like a new UI but for most people Apple's UI is better than other smartphones.
    2. Make it easy for users to get content. In this case the content is applications and not music or movies, but the idea is the same.
  • Strategy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Monkey_Genius (669908)
    What strategy?

    1. Make glitzy 'must have' consumer gadget.
    2. Lock everyone into your distribution network.
    3. Profit.

    Business as usual.
  • Although it is "stuff", I guess. Apple has ALWAYS been about the software - there has only been one point at which buying their hardware was advisable on any level, in the age of the G4. The PC quickly whipped their ass and the Mac became a PC (in the x86 sense.) Irony.

    However, Apple has always been pretty bad at the hardware, with the exception of the intel-based macbooks. It looked sexy, but had serious flaws. For example, macs didn't have accelerated graphics (not even ANY 2d accel) until late in the Ma

    • Although it is "stuff", I guess. Apple has ALWAYS been about the software - there has only been one point at which buying their hardware was advisable on any level, in the age of the G4. The PC quickly whipped their ass and the Mac became a PC (in the x86 sense.) Irony.

      Actually, I don't think it has ever really been about the software. The powerPC architecture is/was more efficient then X86 so you didn't need CPUs in the 3 GHZ range. However when people saw an 800 MHZ CPU in a Mac and a 1.3 GHZ low-end Pentium 4, most people would buy the PC (when with a PC you can get the hardware for cheap compared to a Mac). When it became clear that OSX could be easily transitioned into the X86 architecture Apple did.

      Apple has ALSO always tried to make you do things their way, and if you don't like it, you can fuck off. These days you can see that in the form of their latest bid to prevent people buying iPhones without a contract. You could also see it in the iPhone with the fact that originally there was to be NO user-developed software beyond webapps, and even today you have to run a special OS release that Apple can (and HAS) terminate at will, or accidentally.

      Apple follows Steve, half the time he comes up with som

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The powerPC architecture is/was more efficient then X86 so you didn't need CPUs in the 3 GHZ range.

        Having been awake during that time I can tell you that this is horseshit. The only time the PowerPC has honestly been faster than the x86-compatible processor of the day was during the era of the G4, and for about two months after the G5 was released. That's it. PPC601, 603, 604 were ALL slower than their high-end PC counterparts. And most critically, Apple hardware really did come at a huge price premium at that time. It's true that Apple has never had price-performance so bad (compared to PCs) as during

    • The iPhone 1.0 was not ready for 3rd party development. If you have been following the SDK releases you can see that they have been changing at a very rapid pace. The early iPhone software was basically not ready for people to use and the API was not stable. Giving people the ability to develop web apps that looked like native apps was the best thing they could do at the time.

      Now that they are stabilizing the APIs, people can write native applications. The iPhone at the beginning was already lagging
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The iPhone 1.0 was not ready for 3rd party development. If you have been following the SDK releases you can see that they have been changing at a very rapid pace. The early iPhone software was basically not ready for people to use and the API was not stable. Giving people the ability to develop web apps that looked like native apps was the best thing they could do at the time.

        Translation: the iPhone was rushed to market before it was ready, and instead of getting developers on board before the release to make sure it was worth releasing, Apple took a gigantic shit on them.

        Now that they are stabilizing the APIs, people can write native applications. The iPhone at the beginning was already lagging a bit IMO and you can see that because they had to delay Leopard to work on it.

        Translation: Apple is spread too thin to actually give proper attention to their OS or to their Phone.

        Apple fanboys will make endless excuses for Apple while criticizing other companies for precisely the same behavior. Luckily, I have karma to burn.

  • by Centurix (249778) <centurix@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:30AM (#23747379) Homepage
    That someone imported into Australia, interesting device. Not sure I'm interested in it though.

    There's a bit of scope in the market for software giants to chip into this.

    gPhone - Targetting non-evil people, has 11 buttons, 0-9 and a "dial/hangup/camera/gps/play music/search" button
    MSPhone - Steve Ballmer made one for himself out of a tennis racket, twine and bleach, bundled with a left over Zune to provide fully functioning WMA support.
    jPhone (I know a lot of phones run java already) - You get two phones, a client phone which makes all the calls, and a larger server phone which does all the connecting to the towers. You can upgrade to a 3-tier mobile phone system, using mochaFrappeLite. Bundled with a free tweed jacket with leather patches.
  • Apple is, like Cisco, primarily a software company. It's Apple's software that sells its hardware, so while their revenue model is based on hardware sales, it's the software that makes them happen. No matter how nice Apple's hardware might be, without their software they'd sell no more than any other boutique hardware vendor, and once they burned through their cash reserves and liquid assets they'd just be another Alienware waiting to be bought by Dell or HP.

    Focussing on their hardware, whether it's the iMac or iPhone, is definitely missing the point. This guy definitely gets it.

    One thing that I would like to see more of is details of the ad-hoc licensing. My google-fu is failing me there.
    • You're pretty much right, but I think it's worth mentioning that although the software is really the keystone of Apple's success, they've also got the ability to make decent hardware if the need arises. They didn't have to wait for someone to release an mp3 player with a scroll wheel. They decided that that'd be the best interface for their iPod software(or more likely the two evolved together), and so they designed their own hardware. The same happened to a lesser extend with the iPhone. Apple didn't need
    • Apple is, like Cisco, primarily a software company.

      This is "insightful" and not "funny"? This looks like sarcasm to me. Or at least it looks like it should be sarcasm.

    • Focussing on their hardware, whether it's the iMac or iPhone, is definitely missing the point. This guy definitely gets it.

      And so do you. Kudos. That was the best summary of Apple's business model that I've ever seen on Slashdot, and is the definitive reason why they won't license OS X for the foreseeable future [It's indeed possible that they might, if the iTunes Store becomes the major gateway to Web-based media, and their main source of revenue. Then as a strategic move they could even give it away for

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:37AM (#23747511)
    Apple's grand strategy is the same as any highly successful tech company: lock-in based on a solid platform. e.g., Microsoft: proprietary OS platform with integrated business apps; Apple: proprietary hardware and music store with integrated components; Cisco, proprietary hardware overlaid with integrated interface, etc.

    The real strength is the iPhone 2.0 software
    Nah...as a developer I really don't give two hoots about this unless it's something I can use cross-platform. The iPhone is such a small player in the cell phone market that I'd rather just handle it through optimized web sites and web services than building some localized app that will break with iPhone 3.0 software.
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:50AM (#23747735)

      I don't have the skills to be developer and maybe I'm don't know something you know but here is what I see: If I can develop an application for the iPhone, I can be an independent developer without having to go through anyone but Apple. Millions of users can buy my app easily. I don't have to worry about maintaining an infrastructure for a yearly $99 license. If I charge $10, I get to keep $7. If 14 people in the world buy it, I've broken even. If 10,000 people buy my app, I've made $70,000. That is why I think a lot of people are interested: the potential of it.

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:07AM (#23748043)

        If I can develop an application for the iPhone, I can be an independent developer without having to go through anyone but Apple.

        And if you're a PC developer, then you can be independent without having to go through anyone full stop. It's a crying shame, and a testament to the egregious and undue influence the telecom industry has over our government, that the cell phone market isn't like that too. This kind of shit -- that is, requiring apps to have the "blessing" of the device manufacturer or service provider to work -- ought to be illegal!

      • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:10AM (#23748095)

        If I charge $10, I get to keep $7. If 14 people in the world buy it, I've broken even.
        Yikes - yes, let's keep you away from the business side of the house.

        You forgot to include the value of your time to develop the application, any time it might take to market it (e.g., even if it's just posting to Slashdot), any support costs, taxes, etc. Also, if 10K people might buy your app for their iPhone, there might be 100K people who might buy it if had a wider cell phone base, or 1000K people who might buy it if it was available for PCs, etc., so you might be chasing a tiny "profit pool" anyway if you only target the iPhone.

        Microsoft has a similar model going with MSDN and lesser licenses and so do thousands of other vendors with a proprietary platform and a paid SDK/API/dev environment.

        The $99 is there basically to protect Apple from the total time-wasters; Apple would otherwise give this away free so they can get developers, developers, developers.

        • I didn't say it wouldn't cost you anything. I said that you would not have to maintain your own infrastructure: website, hosting fees, credit card fees. Or you could go through a distributor that will charge you 40% and additional fees. Also whether you develop for Windows or iPhone you still have all the other costs that you mention.

          Also there is the problem of visibility. There are more Windows Mobile users but the issue with developing for that platform was that you couldn't access a large number o

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jhan (542783)

          [A poor hobby programmer with Apples' developer plan] If I charge $10, I get to keep $7. If 14 people in the world buy it, I've broken even.

          Yikes - yes, let's keep you away from the business side of the house.

          Equally yikes - yes, let's keep you away from the OSS developers side of the house. This is about not losing money just because of wanting to play around with the platform.

          You forgot to include the value of your time to develop the application,

          This kind of app (the <=$100 expected return o

  • by SilentTristero (99253) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:39AM (#23747539)
    From TFA:

    Still, neither of the iPhone DRM licenses enables the collaborative development that typifies open source projects. So Apple created a new "ad hoc" license that allows developers private distribution of iPhone executables to up to 100 registered handsets. Groups of coders can share work in progress binaries via e-mail or source code control.

    However, even the ad hoc license is not the wide-open solution that the open source community ultimately desires. An iPhone user should be able to opt into installing and running unsigned applications, a capability offered by all competing mobile platforms.
    This is the showstopper for me. A smartphone without a real freeware ecosystem will never truly thrive, for the same reasons that that open source development and commercial s/w development drive each other on standard platforms.
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:12AM (#23748155)

      This is the showstopper for me. A smartphone without a real freeware ecosystem will never truly thrive, for the same reasons that that open source development and commercial s/w development drive each other on standard platforms.

      From a geek's standpoint, you don't want a smartphone without open source options. For an average consumer, do they really care? They just want things to work. When the iPod came out there was a lot of griping about technically inferior the iPod was, and that it would never flourish. Hundreds of millions of iPods later, I would say that it's been a success. Really, my grandma didn't/doesn't care that the iPod can't play ogg-vorbis. All she knows is that when she puts her new CD into her computer in iTunes and then plugs in her iPod, she gets her music. If she got an iPhone she'd only care about getting on eBay to see if she won that cute figurine. She doesn't need to see the source code.

    • by Firehed (942385)
      I wouldn't say that's entirely accurate, from my understanding. Source code is source code, and you can attach whatever license you like. The difference here is that in order for truly widespread distribution, it has to go through a single point. If you care about open source for the sake of actually having the source, the lack of easy binary distribution is a non-issue since you're just going to modify things and re-compile it yourself.

      I'm not saying that I agree with the policy, but I wouldn't say that
    • I don't see why Open Source / Free Software apps still couldn't happen on the iPhone. For one thing, I would assume that actual development of the programs occurs on a Mac or PC, then get's cross-compiled for the iPhone. So, you can just setup your normal website/sourceforge, cvs/subversion, mailing lists, etc that you would normally use to manage the project, and people can download the source and do development on their computer. As for testing the app on your iPhone, the apps are required to be signed wi
    • Nothing is stopping a developer from giving their application for free and publishing the source code online except that the developer would have to pay $99 a year for the licensing.
    • by Pike (52876)
      IIRC, the 100-phone limit is only for if you want to distribute your app privately (e.g., corporate in-house apps, etc). Anyone can distribute freeware to the world through the "App Store" for free (e.g. no cost to you as developer, and no cost to users if you set your price at zero dollars). Most of the apps demoed at wwdc were freeware.
      • Is that true? I thought you still need a $99 dev license to get the app signed, otherwise it won't run on the hardware. But I could be mistaken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jhan (542783)

      This is the showstopper for me. A smartphone without a real freeware ecosystem will never truly thrive...

      So host your freeware on AppStore. They seem to encourage it since a few of the apps in the keynote where free downloads.

      Make it, upload it, set the price to 0. Any iPhone user can download it for zero cost.

      Of course it still sucks that this free program will have been DRM:ed by Aplle and can't be freely exchanged between phones, but such is life.

  • by deanston (1252868) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:45AM (#23747641)
    Sure it's the software, but it's also the whole ecosystem, which Jobs likes to control to deliver a finer experience. Sure Google can offer so much more, but if somebody put Android on a crappy hardware with bad programming so it's experience sucks there's nothing Google can do about it. And who's going to install Adobe AIR on their WinMo or BB? Now Apple has basically become the first to hand you the whole cloud computing experience on a mobile phone.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:45AM (#23747645)
    I suspect that part of Apple's restrictive software distribution strategy is to avoid malware and crapware from creeping into the iPhone ecosystem. It's something like a walled garden or customs & border protection model for software distribution. Although I'm sure that enterprising criminals will find ways to break into the iPhone, Apple's approach does raise barriers to drive-by downloads, worms, trojans, and socially-engineered installations of malware.

    Time will tell whether restricting software distribution for the iPhone is a net positive or negative in either creating a stable, easy-to-use, secure environment for mobile computing or in stifling development for a subset of developers.
    • by ajlitt (19055)
      While WinMo and Palm phones don't see much malware, they do have a bumpy 3rd party app landscape. Even the app resellers like Handango and PocketGear/PalmGear do little to ensure that you're getting a quality, reliable app that plays well with the others you've bought. Currently I have about five licenses for Palm apps, at least two of which made my phone unstable while they were installed. They were all from high-profile developers and were well regarded by the community.

      A centralized store that sold ap
  • ...but hey, it's Apples platform-- I just guess that el Jobso has his plans for it that require it to be locked-down...
  • Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:28AM (#23748409)
    Will the iPhone eventually kill the iPod? If you're going to carry a phone and an MP3 player anyway, won't you want to combine them? Especially since Apple is ripping the iTouch people for extra dosh on every upgrade.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

Working...