The big surprise isn’t that Apple’s going to open the iPhone up to application developers, as Steve Jobs announced today.
Jobs said in May that the company would figure out a way to give developers iPhone access without compromising the device’s security:
“Sometime later this year we will find a way to do that,” he said at a Wall Street Journal conference.
What’s really new today is Jobs’ mentioning, in a postscript, that he’ll also let developers write applications for the new touchscreen iPod. I’ll bet people will do amazing things if Apple lets people really tinker with the wireless gadgets.
You’ve got to wonder how that’s going over in Redmond. Microsoft hasn’t had much luck rallying developers around its handheld, touchscreen computing platform, the Ultra-Mobile PC.
Five years ago Microsoft was way out in front with mainstream, touchscreen computing when it introduced the Tablet PC, but that’s sort of fallen off the radar, even though Tablet features are built into Windows Vista.
The Zune could also be a nifty playground for developers, but in trying to build a seamless, Apple-like experience around the players, Microsoft hasn’t given them any tools to work with the software.
Maybe Microsoft’s more focused on mobile phones and Web services nowadays. But I can’t imagine it will stand by and let Apple become the platform of choice for developers writing mobile, touch-computing applications.