Floodgates opened for iPhone development

October 12th, 2009 Posted by: - posted under:Articles

For as active as iPhone application development community is, achieving success in iTunes has been an elusive affair for those who participate in this vertical. The two main obstacles presented to anyone who wants to create an iPhone applications are: one, finding resources/developers with the right skill set; and two, marketing the application after the application has been submitted. The bad news is Apple keeps iTunes a black box. Unless your application has been reviewed or mentioned on review sites or blogs, no one will be able to find your application outside of iTunes. This makes marketing your application relatively difficult. Here’s the good news: the cost to build an iPhone application should come down substantially as it no longer requires a developer with an exclusive knowledge to a specific technology to build an application for iPhone.

When Apple first announced to openly accept applications from developers, the prerequisite for the developer is a somewhat extensive knowledge in a language called “Objective-C.” For a short while, it would seem as though the developers who could produce Objective-C codes were superstars that also came with a superstar price tag. Such stardom, however, did not last. When PhoneGap was introduced as an open source development tool for iPhone via JavaScript, the web development community devoured it like salmon to a hungry bear. Shortly after PhoneGap’s success, Mono framework was released in the commercial sector that provided the necessary development tools to the vast number of C# developers across multiple platforms. And to unhinge the final bar from the floodgates, Adobe has just announced that the next release of Flash is capable of compiling a flash project directly into native iPhone application. Simply put, a project can go from design to finish without even being touched by a developer.

The implication for this phenomenon is a curious one: how will Apple respond to the rush of new applications when the floodgates are finally open? Will Apple still be able to keep its manual review process intact? When the market is saturated with developers and applications, will Apple be able to to maintain iTunes exclusive distribution channel and continue to motivate merchants to participate?

How all of this will affect Apple or iPhone developers is yet to be seen. However, one thing that seems to be true is that when given enough demands, people will find ways to liberate a technology regardless of how businesses are structured around it.