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3/18/2009
02:58 PM
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Apple's iPhone 3.0 SDK Renews Developer Gold Rush

The addition of an API for in-app payments is gaining particular notice from developers, who believe it will invigorate the mobile device market for e-books, game modules, and other kinds of digital content.

While a few dissenting voices are dismissing Apple's new iPhone 3.0 software as underwhelming, people who actually know something about coding are thrilled with the new possibilities that Apple is enabling.

The iPhone gold rush -- somewhat tarnished in recent months by rising competition, ongoing griping about iTunes Store reviews, application approval, and related issues, and resistance to Apple's control -- is back with a vengeance.

Apple on Tuesday released its Apple's iPhone 3.0 beta software and 3.0 software development kit to developers in preparation for a public release this summer.

The 3.0 beta software provides the iPhone with a number of expected and desired functions, such as copy and paste, MMS, and push notifications. And the iPhone 3.0 beta SDK provides developers with over 1,000 new application programming interfaces to invoke those capabilities.

Much of the attention given to the release has focused on how Apple addressed deficiencies in its platform compared with Google's Android, Palm's Pre, and Windows Mobile. But far more important is the extent to which Apple's iPhone 3.0 SDK will allow new business models to flourish, creating new revenue tributaries that flow to both Apple and developers.

Recall that not so long ago, Apple almost single-handedly created the legal digital download market with its iTunes Store for music. The company is poised to repeat that feat. With the new API for in-app payments, Apple will almost certainly invigorate the mobile device market for e-books and other kinds of content like digital content for games.

"These changes are huge," said iPhone developer Nick Dalton in a blog post, dismissing naysayers.

Apple initially had no support for business models other than paid apps or free apps, without or without ads. Dalton recounted how he wanted to implement content purchases for his iWallpaper application but Apple rejected the idea, stating that they didn't support other business models. Faced with no alternative, would-be iPhone content sellers have had to package content inside dedicated apps.

With the iPhone 3.0 software, content can now be sold separately from the application. E-book reading software now makes sense, Dalton observed, adding that subscription billing for recurrent content delivery is now possible.

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