Looking Back on Steve Jobs’ Early Vision for iPhone Third-Party Devs

At the end of last year, Apple announced its App Store business generated over $28 billion USD alone in 2016. This number, as staggering as it really is, doesn’t even include the massive amount of applications that are given away for free (many of which include their own in-app purchase platforms).

As this year celebrates the ten-year anniversary of the iPhone, it is interesting to look back on Steve Jobs‘ early vision for third-party developers for the platform.

Ars Technica has run an incredibly interesting story on the original iPhone SDK, and what Apple has originally and then eventually intended to provide for iPhone developers. Steve Jobs, from the outset, never intended for the App Store to ever exist. In fact, he was an original proponent of Web apps for the iPhone.

“There’s no SDK that you need!,” Jobs said at one point. “You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern Web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today. So developers, we think we’ve got a very sweet story for you. You can begin building your iPhone apps today.”

Jobs, “famous for dismissing something as irrelevant right until the moment that Apple was ready to enter the market,” was a proponent of Web apps early on, putting off developer demands while the iPhone’s SDK was tweaked until perfect.

However, according to various interviews, Jobs “figured that Apple would end up being put in a position where it would have to vet all the third-party applications,” which, of course, Apple, to a certain degree, does now. Back then, Jobs figured Apple was not yet in a position to do so.

Jobs eventually changed his mind on the subject, and the iPhone SDK was quickly released thereafter. Upon release, it was easy to see the similarities between the iPhone SDK and macOS, meaning that any iPhone developer would at the same time be able to produce macOS applications, as, in many cases, the two platforms could share the very same code. Since then, the two platforms have overlapped one another quite a bit.

The Ars Technica article revisits original review of the first iPhone SDK, which ran on October 1, 2008, the day of its release. It’s a very interesting read, and you can check out the entire story here.