Steve Jobs explains that the delay in the arrival of these development tools is due to the fact that they must combine offering an open platform with maximum protection against viruses and malicious software.
Steve Jobs’s letter reads like this:
Third-party apps on the iPhone
Let me just say: we want native third-party applications on the iPhone and we plan to have an SDK (development kit) in the hands of developers in February. We are excited about creating a community of third-party developers around the iPhone and the possibility of offering hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, our powerful hardware and our advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform for developers.
It will take us until February to launch this development kit because we are trying to combine two diametrically opposed things at the same time: to offer an open and advanced platform for developers and at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malicious software, attacks on their privacy, etc. This is not an easy task. Some say that malicious software and viruses are not a problem on mobile phones – this is simply not true. There have already been serious viruses on other phones, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the phone network.
As our phones get more powerful, these malicious programs get more dangerous. And since the Phone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.
Some companies have already taken action. Nokia, for example, does not allow applications to be loaded on some of its newer phones unless they have a digital mark that can be traced back to a known developer. Although this makes a phone not “totally open”, we believe it is a step in the right direction. We’re working on an advanced system that will give developers broad access to native programming on the amazing iPhone software platform while protecting users from malicious programs.
We believe that a few months of patience will now pay off for many years of great third-party applications running on reliable and secure iPhone phones.
PS: The development kit will also allow developers to create applications for the iPod touch. (October 17, 2007)