Saturday, July 21, 2007

iPhone hackers work for Apple

It's been widely reported about various progress in the hacking of the iPhone. A couple of days ago Engadget reported that apparently a hacker named "Nightwatch" has compiled and launched his very own application on the device.

In order to accomplish this feat "Nightwatch" has constructed an ARM/Mach-O toolchain that henceforth can be used by others to follow his example and consequently have third party native applications running on the iPhone instead of just Web 2.0 apps running in the Safari-browser.

Of course this is a positive breakthrough since developers and iPhone-owners have been screaming for an API and the possibility to develop and run real apps on the iPhone. But it shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. As with all such things they are always broken sooner or later, it's just a matter of how long the apparatus can resist the efforts of it's hackers.

But most of all, I'm very sure this came as no real surprise to Apple. In fact, I'm positive they counted on this happening sooner rather than later, and they surely will reap the major benefits from it.

By releasing a device that's received more pre-release hype than anything I've ever seen before Apple has assured (almost at least) it's success and that it will sell millions of it. By then refusing to give third party developers access to an API or an SDK they've assured that the caffeine-crazed hackers of the world will do their best to break into the device and have it run third party software. Once there is a fairly stable way of developing apps for the iPhone, which shouldn't be far away now, a new market opens up which while not feeding money directly into Apple it does making their money-making product even more desirable. And they've done nothing themselves to make this happens except release the phone and withhold the API, all the real work the hackers have done for them. So basically, they've been working for Apple all along. They've just not gotten paid a dime for their hard and commendable work.

Another positive thing in this scenario, from Apple's point of view, is that as long as no official API or SDK has been released they don't have to deal with support and complaints regarding third party applications. It's not their fault if you installed and ran some app on your iPhone that made it go up in flames since it's not their toolchain that built that app and they certainly didn't license it.

So even if it looks like Apple 0 - Hackers 1, it's really the other way around if you think about it.

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