As someone who plans on developing free or at least cheap apps for the iPhone...
You bring up some points, but somethings seem misdirected. Ok, long comment begins...
in demanding monopoly control Apple may have taken a step too far.
Possibly. Let's continue...
Ken Aspeslagh of Ecamm Network <snip> told Macworld that "this is the first time a mobile phone company has provided this kind of capability," suggesting a breathtaking ignorance of Palm/Symbian/Windows Mobile devices.
You nailed that one. I find it scary for someone to imply that no one has ever released a cell phone SDK before. However, I will say the free SDKs available usually blow. I paid for the Metrowerks SDK the same day I bought my Palm OS based device even though Palm had something free (free = command line only, so developing a GUI left a lot to be desired.)
The iPhone kit is also Mac-only.
Sorry, I just had to ask, "Did you expect something else?" It's not like Apple was going to port XCode to Windows just for iPhone dev. Heck, I'd be happy it they'd just port iChat to Windows.
Apple is asking developers for a $99 annual fee if they want to sell their applications.
I originally thought this was a one time fee which didn't sound bad, however, I look at the fee as paying for a distribution channel. For example, I don't have to host the software, or process credit cards to sell my wares. Of course, since I am interested in distributing free apps, any amount of money does hurt. That's over 20 lunches at Taco Bell I'll have to give up. However, I'll ask for donations via PayPal and Google Checkout on my web page and as long as I get $100 a year, no problem (of course now I have to host a web page for my software, so the "distribution channel" I mentioned above still requires some infrastructure on my part.)
...the company isn't really interested in freeware, as it'll make no percentage distributing that.
True, but at least they are supporting it, even if it is begrudgingly. You know they don't want to but they did it because enough people wanted it (ok market pressure and politics.) Does Handango distribute free software for free (or for $99 or less annually?)
Applications can only be sold, or supplied, through iTunes (though they can be downloaded directly to the device), and Apple is going to take 30 per cent of the sale price. 30 per cent sounds like a lot, but the existing duopoly of Motricity and Handango take between 40 and 50 per cent, so it's a very competitive figure.
True and thanks for pointing that out. Initially I was comparing it to PayPal which only takes 3% of my money. Of course PayPal doesn't offer any distribution channel, so your comparison is much better than mine.
it's hard to see how smaller developers can avoid disappearing behind the larger application brands.
True. That's a risk I'll have to live with unfortunately. And since everyone and their dog is rushing to make something for the iPhone, my guess is there will be a lot of apps to dig through in to find the good ones over the noise. Although maybe with the rating system in place, they hope to smarten up the searches. It's interesting, they've singlehandedly led sites like VersionTracker and Softpedia to extinction.
The launch also provided some insight into what kinds of application Apple expects to see on the iPhone. When Steve Jobs was asked about VoIP software, he stated that VoIP over Wi-Fi would be fine, but any application that used VoIP over EDGE would not be permitted. So Apple isn't just going to restrict applications on the grounds of legality or taste (no pornography apparently), but will also refuse any which impinge on their business model, or the business models of their partners.
That surprised you? I sure wasn't aware of say an app for my Treo 650 that would allow me to do VoIP over Sprint's data network. If there is, let me know. While it may be annoying that Apple isn't going to let people use the bandwidth of the service providers however they want, it isn't really surprising, and isn't really *that* annoying when you take into account the reasoning.
It seems hard to believe that <snip> customers will be happy to only buy applications that meet the taste and brand approval of Apple
Wow, I thought people brought Apple products specifically for that reason. People feel Apple only endorses higher quality products. I bet there are a while slew of users who actually prefer that type of filtering. I know people who will only by Mac software if it is sold in an Apple Retail store. The reasoning is that Apple only would stock the "best of the best." Whether that's true or not is debatable but the truth is many target customers want that.
You made some good points. Some of your negative points didn't seem that negative to me. Maybe I concentrate too much on the technical. I'm more concerned by some of the technical limitations, such as, not being able to have your app run in the background, not being able to share memory space with other apps which may make data exchange difficult, and while I'm still going through the documentation, I haven't found anything about linking your app with Apple's sync API on Windows and Mac OS X to merge data from your custom app to/from the desktop. Those are currently my concerns.