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An App Store For iPhone Software 531

Steve Jobs demonstrated a new "App Store" that will be pushed out to all iPhones in June. It's available now in beta. This will be the exclusive avenue developers will use to get their iPhone apps, written to the newly released SDK, to customers. Developers will get 70% of the proceeds from sales of their goods on the App store, with no further charges for hosting, credit-card processing, etc. Jobs called this "the best deal going to distribute applications in the mobile space."
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An App Store For iPhone Software

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:29PM (#22667486)
    apparently it's free to use for iphone users, but ipod touch users will have to pay a fee.
    • by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:48PM (#22667898) Homepage
      My understanding (and IANAA) is that because Apple realizes the revenue from iPhone purchases over the course of two years, they can make changes to the product and it's no big deal. With the touch, they've already accounted for your purchase, so there's some arcane rule that says they can't give you additional functionality without charging you for it. I'm betting the "nominal" fee really will be nominal--like $2 or something.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        What about people who want to get their apps out for free? I for one would never dream of selling independently-developed software..
        • by Sparks23 ( 412116 ) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:26PM (#22668534)
          They said in the talk that if you choose to make your app free on the App Store, there's no charge to either the end user or to the developer. (Other than the initial one-time $99 free to get on board with the App Store and get your application signing certificate.) So they already addressed that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DavidShor ( 928926 )
        Bullshit, nearly every hardware company posts firmware upgrades.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GarfBond ( 565331 )
          That's not a material feature upgrade. I have a feeling firmware updates count as minor bug fixes or something like that.
          • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:56PM (#22668994) Homepage

            That's not a material feature upgrade. I have a feeling firmware updates count as minor bug fixes or something like that.
            Sony PSP added these via firmware updates (these are things I could follow as outsider)

            1) Web browser
            2) Flash (real one)
            3) Windows Media
            4) Skype/IM (thin ones)
            5) Live, streaming radio
            6) Photo capability (yes, with USB)
            7) GPS (in Japan)
            8) Digital TV

            They were all free of charge. As you know, PSP (like all consoles) is way expensive than it is sold to you. It is very similar to iPhone on that purpose. They expect you to buy games/movies etc. to cover the real cost later.

            Of course with a consumer majority like this (not you, in general), they can even sell the update for $50 and actually succeed.
  • Will they distribute apps for developers who don't want to charge users for the privilege of downloading/using?
    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:31PM (#22667544)
      Yep, free apps are allowed and even encouraged. You have to pay a $99 developer fee to get assigned a cert, so you have to sign your apps - but you can set any price, including free.
      • by Hatta ( 162192 )
        Is this GPL compatible? If I offer a GPL app on this store and provide source, the user can't use that source to modify the app without paying a fee, right? Is this a problem under the GPLv2? v3?
        • I don't see any incompatibility just because the tools used to compile the app cost a fee. The important thing is the source code after all. The interesting thing is that do distribute it, someone has to have "the" key you'd distribute with - but you could set that up as some kind of non-profit entity to control distribution of something open.
        • Is this GPL compatible? If I offer a GPL app on this store and provide source, the user can't use that source to modify the app without paying a fee, right?

          I don't see why not. They just have to figure out how to get it loaded and running on their iPhone, either by reverse engineering Apple's interface or buying their own cert; niether of which is your responsibility under the GPL.

        • You can always distribute the source on your own website. Or sourceforge.net for that matter.

          Just make sure to strip the cert out.
        • by Chris_Jefferson ( 581445 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:43PM (#22667806) Homepage
          This sounds to me like it would be valid under the GPL v2, the v3 is tricky. There are two escape clauses:

          1) Anyone can buy a certificate for $50, and then sign anything they like, including open-source programs they've downloaded. I think it's reasonable to require people to do this.

          2) Apple will be providing a iPhone emulator, so people can still run your application, just not on their iPhone.

          However, IANAL. I'm positive if there is a problem, the FSF can be expected to kick up a fuss before the final release of applications.
      • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:42PM (#22668790) Homepage

        Yep, free apps are allowed and even encouraged. You have to pay a $99 developer fee to get assigned a cert, so you have to sign your apps - but you can set any price, including free.
        I bet Symbian developers bitching about the need of "free certificate" to do low level things with their apps are busy apologising to Nokia and others in Symbian board for their fury.

        Nokia (in fact, Symbian boards) solution is: Once your app is freeware, you can submit your source to certificate company, (BTW SDK is free) and if it is not doing low level things, it is matter of days you get a free code signing certificate. For very deep level running software, it may take some time. The cost is $0 in this case. Hosting? There are various places, even S60.com advertising good apps for free. Open source is at usual sourceforge, freshmeat etc.

        If there are any Symbian developers, can they post as AC about the share handango.com etc. gets from their application sales? I am near sure it is not at level of 30%.
    • by digitac ( 24581 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:32PM (#22667564) Homepage
      Yes, but Apple still takes 30% of the sales price.
    • Will they distribute apps for developers who don't want to charge users for the privilege of downloading/using?

      I know this is a Slashdot story about Apple, where it's just expected that everyone will spout insane theories without actually reading the article, but... amazingly, an answer to your question is found in TFA.

    • by hypermanng ( 155858 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:32PM (#22667568) Homepage
      Developers set the price of the app, and a 0$ price is allowed. Q&A answers are available from Apple Insider's notes page [appleinsider.com], including more information about developer registration, VoIP limitations and so on.
    • I guess I'm screwed if I want to write an application just for my own use? The choice seems to be: write it and distribute it to everyone, or get stuffed.

      Hmmm... iHacking we will go, iHacking we will go.......

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by toleraen ( 831634 )
        According to engadget [engadget.com] you can send your code over to your device to test it. I assume that means you can write and use your own stuff without restriction.
  • Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deathtopaulw ( 1032050 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:30PM (#22667504) Homepage
    "And there's no charge for developers to distribute free applications"

    Well... now I'm excited
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'm not. It's still an Apple-controlled portal.

      Wake me up when I can just give users a download, from my website, either directly to their iPhone or through iTunes.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tyrione ( 134248 )

        Don't write them. I'm not interested in your Quality of Service guarantees when your app breaks or has backdoors that allow nasty viral apps to slip through. Are you going to enjoy being in court?

        • Re:Free (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @10:05PM (#22671566) Journal
          And how, exactly, is Apple any different?

          Here, go read. [apple.com] Find me a newer one if you like, but I can pretty much guarantee it's going to have something like Section 6 and Section 7.

          The only difference is, with Apple, it's very likely you'll have to pay for it, or have advertising served by it, as I can't even submit an app (which they can still refuse) without paying something.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:30PM (#22667514) Journal
    Meh. My submission was better.

    Apple revealed details of the iPhone SDK today. Apps will be developed using XCode and the new Cocoa Touch framework, and will be distributed by Apple either via an application on the phone or through iTunes. Developers set the cost of their applications and keep 70%, although "free" is also an option. (Not all applications will be distributed: "Porn, malicious apps, ones that invade privacy.") When asked about VOIP, Jobs replied: "We will only stop VOIP over cell networks, but not WiFi." Corporations can also privately distribute applications to their employees. AOL demoed an AIM client, and an iPhone version of the upcoming game Spore was also demoed. The iPhone is also gaining enhanced enterprise capabilities, including Exchange and Cisco VPN support, remote wiping, as well as certificates and identities.
  • It would be nice if Steve would add version control so that I've always got the most recent version of BrickBreaker. 70% of profits for a clearly defined distribution framework doesn't sound too bad.
  • I have to pay for things I got for free before?

    Oh wait - it's Apple. Carry on. :)

    Full disclosure - I've been called an Apple fanboi before. :)
    • Wrong. Apps that are distributed for free are free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Wrong. Apps that are distributed for free are free.

        They are free. You just need to pay $99 to be able to sign your application for distribution. Quite honestly $99 is actually cheaper than some places I have seen for a digital signature.
    • May be a troll, but it is often true.

      Example: The App Zapper [appzapper.com]. Yes, Apple forgot to include an uninstaller with their OS, or a standard way for app developers to include one. No, dragging the app to the Trash doesn't quite "uninstall". And yes, that is a shareware model.

      Yes, a shareware model. In 2008. For essential system software.

      Now, the app store here does allow free downloads, so it's not exactly relevant to this article, but I can see why there would be confusion.
      • by astrosmash ( 3561 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:32PM (#22668656) Journal
        App Zapper is not essential system software, and is not comparable to the Windows application install/uninstall process.

        I guess you don't realize this, but most Windows uninstallers do nothing more than reverse the install process; files created by the application after it was installed (preferences, cache, etc.) are not removed by the uninstaller. In other words, the net effect of Windows uninstall is the same as dragging an application to the trash.

        Windows could use a tool like App Zapper (and I think there are a few).

  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:32PM (#22667576)
    The main question I have, is if John Carmack has anything to add to the discussion.
    With his latest interest in portable gaming, I hope he could see some value in the iPhone/touch platform.
    The screen on the phone is phenomenal (in terms of pixels/inch), touch gestures and accelerometers should add quite a few new exciting additions to the gaming world.
    I hope he has an intel Mac and time to download the beta of the SDK and try it out.

    With Doom, or even Quake on my iPod touch, I don't think I'd ever leave the bathroom at work. (80% serious, 20% joking)
    • Have you seen the Android demos? They already have Quake, running rather well.
    • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:09PM (#22669142)
      We (Id) have put in our application like everyone else, so I don't have any inside information at this point. I think Steve is still pissed at me over some negative comments I made about iPod development tools a while ago. Just based on the blurbs, it looks very good -- a simulator plus debugging on the native device is the best of both worlds, and a 70% royalty deal for apps over iTunes is quite good.

      The iTunes distribution channel is really a more important aspect than a lot of people understand. The ability to distribute larger applications than the over-the-air limits and effectively market your title with more than a dozen character deck name, combined with the reasonable income split make this look like a very interesting market. This type of developer / customer interaction is probably the wave of the future for mobile devices, it will be interesting to see how quickly the other players can react. Based on our experiences with the carriers, I am betting not very quickly.

      John Carmack
  • Beta SDK is out Now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MistaE ( 776169 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:35PM (#22667618) Homepage
    Point your browser to the Apple Developer website in order to download a beta SDK (seems to be down right now because of web server poundage).

    A few other notes:

    1. SDK is free to download, but you'll have to pay $99 to be able to submit your App (regardless of how much it'll cost).

    2. App Store seems to be the only way you can get Apps on the phone (you can download straight from the phone, or through computer).

    3. VOIP [gizmodo.com] will be allowed but only WiFi VOIP.

    4. Spore for iPhone? [gizmodo.com] Fuck yeah!
    • I managed to get registered before the site took load, right now it's not working very well and you can't get to anything. Soon hopefully...

      Of interest is that there is a separate Enterprise development program that costs more to join - $300 instead of $99. I could not reach the page describing the differences.
  • MS Exchange ActiveSync support for syncing email/calendar/contacts & IPSec VPN support. These items are really what I have been waiting for, although the XCode enhancements for the iPhone SDK look nice, including full access to core OS features like OpenGL, a remote debugger and performance analysis tools, etc. June looks to be the month I get an iPhone. Hopefully they'll release a 3G model with GPS at the same time.
  • FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:35PM (#22667626) Journal
    Comparison pricing:

        I used to develop & sell software for PalmOS.

        The IDE was $500, plus $150/year to upgrade.
        The major reseller I used wanted 40%, for a lower percentage they'd shove you in the back of the bus. I had my own web store set up separately, but literally got zero (nil, nada) sales from it. Mobile users tend to shop at specific sites. Without their own reputation, the little guys have to lean on the reputation of resellers (i.e. it's credible b/c it's being sold by them).

    30% off the top isn't great, but it also doesn't require hosting, fulfillment, or anything else. Just ship them a binary and they send you a check in the mail each month until people stop buying (or an ABI change breaks your binary). I don't know how refunds are handled (or allowed at all), or documentation or support either, really.

    Still, any info on what we can put on our own devices? I'm not interested in going back into mobile space anytime soon, just looking for a phone I can hack on personally. The SDK here is nice, but I'm still leaning towards the new openmoko when it comes out.
    • Re:FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:44PM (#22667816)

      30% off the top isn't great, but it also doesn't require hosting, fulfillment, or anything else. Just ship them a binary and they send you a check in the mail each month until people stop buying (or an ABI change breaks your binary). I don't know how refunds are handled (or allowed at all), or documentation or support either, really.

      Apple also will allow you to notify your purchasers and update your apps on their handsets through an automated system tied into the store; this was something that was really lacking on Palm IMHO. A new version would come out of some little helper widget and you'd never know since you'd never visit the site again.

  • "Not all applications will be distributed: "Porn, malicious apps, ones that invade privacy." Yet they use ATT as a provider.
  • by stokessd ( 89903 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:36PM (#22667644) Homepage
    The SDK is going to be HUGE for the jailbreaking community. They now have an official documented API and development environment. So there will be apps out there way earlier than 4 months.

    IT sounds like the limitations on the SDK are not as drastic as I feared, but I strongly suspect that apple will limit ichat type clients though. Those would kill the golden goose that is SMS.

    The more limiting the SDK is, the more vibrant the jailbroken app community will be.

    I'm waiting for the Apple servers to recover from the melt-down and I'll be downloading the SDK. Looks like a geeky evening for me.

    Apps the iPhone needs:

    MMS: WTF apple? This was obvious...
    A Calculator that doesn't suck: RPN and trig functions etc. No more Dollar store Calc.
    Chat client that uses wifi AND wireless data.

  • What a strange angle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:37PM (#22667652)

    The app store is news, as it the 70/30 split, but what about these submissions:

    SDK features:

    Cocoa Touch: Multi-touch events, Multi-touch controls, Acceleromter, View Hierarchy, Localization, Alerts, Web View, People Picker, Image Picker, Camera Media: Core Audio, OpenAL, Audio Mixing, Audio Recording, Video Playback, JPG, PNG, TIFF, PDS Quartz, Core Animation, Embedded OpenGL Core Services: Collections, Address Book, Networking, File access, SQLite, Core Location, Net Services Threading, Preferences, URL utilities Core OS: OS X Kernel, BSD TCP/IP, Sockets, Power Management, Keychain, Certificates, File System, Lib System, Security, Bonjour

    OpenGL Games:

    Stoked about the little SDK that was announced today? Apparently, so was Apple, as it's already starting to announce the first games to go along with it. For starters, we've got Touch Fighter and Spore (!!!), the first of which was somehow thrown together in two weeks, the latter of which won't be available until September. Also, users can expect Super Monkey Ball, which was hailed being a notch above your average "cellphone game." Simmer on that for a second, we'll keep updating as we get more in.

    MS Exchange:

    Apple announced that it has licensed Exhange ActiveSync protocol from Microsoft, which will make it easier for business customers to get their email on an iPhone.

    Or mine:

    Apple has just wrapped up their iPhone development roadmap and here are the features to be presented with version 2.0, due in June: Push email and contacts, ActiveSync supporting Exchange, remote wipe. Several video games were demoed using the iPhone accelerometer and OpenGL on the iPhone, such as Spore and Super Monkeyball. SDK with development in Xcode was announced, performance suite and remote debugging of iPhone apps over the sync cable. Apple will sell apps through an iTunes-style store, that will work OTA from the iPhone or with the host computer.

    It would appear the slashdot editor simply went with the submission with the most "Apple is teh EEEEVILL" slant.

  • As an iPod touch user, I will have to pay $$ for the privilege of paying $$ for apps in the App Store??? I don't think so.
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:19PM (#22668418)
    I've had BOINC running for a while without a GUI on my iPhone using the hacker SDK.

    Now that they've documented things, the roadblocks are gone from the GUI, and understandable battery and "on external power" notifications will let me know when not to run.

    Woo hoo!

    -- Terry
  • by mattOzan ( 165392 ) < vispusloNO@SPAMmattozan.net> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:13PM (#22669196) Homepage Journal

    First thing I'll buy: a rotary-dial interface [wired.com] that uses gestures to dial! No cop-out touch-sensitive numbers. It has to rotate with my finger as I pull it around, then snap back and enter that number.

    Everyone always jokes about this, but it would be so frickin cool. Retro is the new black.

  • by stokessd ( 89903 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:24PM (#22669340) Homepage
    So I'm sitting in front of my computer whining that Apple's servers have melted down and I can't get the SDK and my wife says:

    wife, "you'd think they would prepare for this sort of thing. "
    me, "there's no preparing for the onslaught of demand"
    wife, "then they should setup more computers for this, they make the f'ing things."

    me: speechless...

  • by Ilan Volow ( 539597 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:25PM (#22669350) Homepage
    Us Cocoa developers may well get the professional validation we've never had before. It would be nice for a change to have HR people and headhunters call us up and talk to us about our Cocoa development abilities, instead of saying "Cocoa, Objective-C, what's that?" and mentally cross us off the job candidate list.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:46PM (#22669636)

    Ever since Apple released Leopard, with its application signing framework, the writing has been on the wall. Most people expect Microsoft to make a similar move. I think Apple is missing being innovators on the correct side of an important trend. Application signing could be the best thing to come to PC and mobile security since firewalls. But will it be another walled garden?

    One of the things that really strikes home is the ban on pornographic applications hosted by Apple. Historically, porn has been right on the leading edge of the software and networking fields. Apple's arbitrary restriction in this regard highlights a real issue with the way Apple, and probably everyone else will go about this. They're creating a signing system that only they control and thus they have all the responsibility and are a single point of failure (intentional or accidental).

    Here is what I really, really would like to see created. How about an open application signing framework and protocol. Anyone can run a server that provides software downloads, manages updates, checksum/verification and assigns levels of trust and ACLs describing what an application should be doing. Combine the software with a good package manager for whatever platform, a good Mandatory Access Control system for a given OS, a registration and purchasing GUI, and a GUI for users to assign trust levels to servers/organizations.

    Suppose if you wanted to buy an Adobe application, you could go to your computer and navigate to their Web site, click a link and it would add their server to your package manager. From there you could download packages, pay for them, register them, install them, keep them updated, pay for updates, verify the software on your machine was unmodified, automatically download an ACL to restrict the software from messing with your machine (run in a jail, or with some subset of permissions from running as root to running in a VM that resets itself every use and has no internet access), and decide how much you trust Adobe as a vendor. You could go Symantec's Web page click a link, pay them a fee, and get ACLs and whitelists/blacklists for software from their service, which you could decide if you trust more than Adobe. Any software vendor be it freeware or payware, open or closed could run a server or use a shared server (sourceforge). Ideally these packages you download would be something like GNUStep, expanded to include an ACL, optional source code, binaries for multiple platforms, and a reference to the authoritative server for updating that application. Apple could run their server and Macs and iPhones could subscribe to their server by default, but users could still add other vendors' servers so people could get any applications without Apple being held responsible for the consequences. Projects like ClamAV could host free ACLs and whitlelists/blacklists for those of us who don't want to pay. The best part is, you would not even need to rank servers individually, if you had multiple servers you could allow them to "vote" on how much to trust a given application.

    Ahh, well. That is probably just my utopian idealism. In all reality Apple will host a server which has all sorts of restrictions and is completely closed. Microsoft will follow suit with their own closed system, and Linux will have no such system for another decade and will never make real inroads into the desktop space either.

  • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:56PM (#22669784)
    I just went through Apple's Flash Crowd-impaired web site to register as an iPhone developer and download the SDK (2.1GB, BTW). I had an ADC (Apple Developer Connection) account, so it was pretty painless. Part of the process, though, was to agree to separate terms and conditions for iPhone software development. One of the items in the agreement caught my eye:

    9. Apple Independent Development. Nothing in this Agreement will impair Apple's right to develop, acquire, license, market, promote or distribute products, software or technologies that perform the same or similar functions as, or otherwise compete with any other products, software or technologies that you may develop, produce, market, or distribute. In the absence of a separate written agreement to the contrary, Apple will be free to use any information, suggestions or recommendations you provide to Apple for any purpose, subject to any applicable patents or copyrights.
    It's not really all that unusual, I guess. But the knowledge that I just agreed to a document that says, in part, "Hey, Apple! Feel free to rip off this cool idea of mine!" is a bummer.

    Yes, I know. I did agree.
    • by mstone ( 8523 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:57PM (#22671520)
      That wording is purely defensive for Apple. It more or less says you can't lock Apple out of a given application market just by dropping a quick beta into the iPhone Apps store.

      That last bit about "reasonable patents and copyrights" says you still own your code, and Apple can't use it directly without licensing it. Sure, they can spend some of their own development resources writing their own version of a program if yours happens to become popular, but so can every other software house out there.

Reactor error - core dumped!