Should Apple open up the iPod to developers? | iLounge News


Should Apple open up the iPod to developers?

In his latest article for The Independent, Charles Arthur asks whether Apple would be smart to open up the iPod to developers in order to secure the device’s long-term dominance. “The hardware add-on market is fiercely energetic, with more than 300 accessories. But that’s only half the story. Lots of independent programmers would love to write their own games and applications for the iPod. Imagine spreadsheet and document readers or mapping systems. The only limit is imagination and there’s little shortage of that around the iPod. Those programs would make the machine even more useful to its buyers and an even bigger source of revenue for companies, which would thus have a vested interest in the iPod’s continued existence. In technology parlance, the iPod would become a ‘platform’—just like Windows, Linux and OS X on personal computers.”

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Q: Should Apple open up the iPod to developers?

A: Yes

Posted by croooow on November 10, 2004 at 12:23 PM (CST)


yes.  like the article says, just look at the hardware market for the ipod.  why not open the ipod up to software too?

Posted by StinkieDMB on November 10, 2004 at 12:41 PM (CST)


I’ll be shocked if the iPod doesn’t (eventually) end up with Java support just like cell phones (J2ME).  It’s a good fit for the form factor and protects against malicious or badly written apps.

Posted by CamS on November 10, 2004 at 1:04 PM (CST)


If history has taught us anything, I would have to say that Apple will not open up the iPod to developers for the same reasons they are reluctant to do so with all their hardware.

Posted by Gator on November 10, 2004 at 1:48 PM (CST)



Posted by engroll918 on November 10, 2004 at 2:39 PM (CST)


I guess it’s inevitable, but I still believe that one of the biggest appeal for the iPod is its simplicity (in both design and functionality).  I’m personally happy with it just being the “best portable music player” period.  Remember the mantra: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Posted by yuhreka on November 10, 2004 at 3:06 PM (CST)


Well, that all depends on how you look at it.  If they open it, then it will be easier for others to pillage (so to speak) the design.  Also, take into consideration all the increased tech support calls that will result from someone putting un-supported software on the iPod.  They deffinately WILL NOT open the archetechture however.

Posted by RSM on November 10, 2004 at 3:44 PM (CST)


For the time being it looks like they don’t need to. Until iTMS or iPods seriously lose their market share (and at 90% it’s going to take a while) why bother?
Even when it does slip, all they need do is make it WMA compatible and people will keep buying them.
Remember Apple are only in it for the money and they won’t want to make the same mistakes twice / three times.

Posted by iPoodle on November 10, 2004 at 5:40 PM (CST)


I would be very surprised if Jobs decides to open the iPod up for development, but I do think it would be great if he did so. People don’t always make the choice that benefits society.

Posted by Mani on November 10, 2004 at 8:08 PM (CST)


Apple’s Mac hardware IS open to developers, with some of the best tools around to help devs out.

Opening up AAC and iTMS is a strategic decision that would help Microsoft more than Apple, and should only be done if and when it ever becomes the right move to make.

But opening up the iPod for SOFTWARE development is all good :)

Realize, though, that it would take some commitment from Apple to support devs with tools, remove limitations don’t matter to Apple apps, etc. etc.—it wouldn’t be free or easy.

I still think it’s worth it. Not vital, but a good thing.

Simplicity isn’t harmed—anything new would be under Extras, and would by added by user CHOICE.

Posted by Nagromme on November 10, 2004 at 11:46 PM (CST)


On second thought, maybe Apple should wait and NOT open up the iPod until some future date when it’s Dawrnin-based beneath the surface.

Maybe they know something we don’t?

Posted by Nagromme on November 10, 2004 at 11:47 PM (CST)


Originally Apple was developer heaven. Then came the Mac and since then Apple has been actively hostile to third-party development, keeping tight control over its platforms. Personally I don’t think that it’s just a coincidence that from that time on Apple has continually lost market share—even in categories where it enjoyed an initial monopoly—to open platforms (such as the IBM PC Compatible).

iPod Linux once looked like a good bet to open the iPod up but its progress seems have been stalled for many months now. Perhaps the best hope for an open iPod platform would be to do a port of the Rockbox project. This started on Archos, was ported (illegally) to some custom in-car MP3 players, and is currently being legally ported to iRiver HD players. It even does 30fps video, which is no easy thing on low-end “audio only” players.

One enabling advantage of porting Rockbox to the iPod over iPod Linux is that Rockbox already features a “talking menu” API and playlist reader that lets you control it by voice prompts alone. This is a godsend for remotes, hands-free operation, and for blind users.

It’s little things like this, like adding support for blind users, that really shows the value of an open development platform. Adding new features isn’t left in the hands of the marketeers and the bean counters, who will want precise monetary and revenue-based justification of the engineering effort required to add new optional functionality.

A small group of people can just add something because it’s “cool”, or because it makes life easier for them or others.

There is one problem with porting or developing for the iPod in that it’s not just Apple you have to deal with. To quote one of the Rockbox developers:
We are not looking at the iPod or Rio Karma since they contain a chip made by Portalplayer that you have to sign away your firstborn to see the docs for. That is a silly practice we do not wish to encourage. The iRiver contains hardware with published docs.

Posted by Demosthenes on November 11, 2004 at 8:57 AM (CST)

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