Just when I thought Apple was going to make something out of nothing last week with their "iPhone Software Roadmap" press conference, they went and made some actual news. The iPhone SDK (software development kit) is of more interest to geeks than consumers right now, since it'll be June before we see the release of Apple's iPhone "App Store" where iPhone users will be able to go to buy third-party software to extend their handsets' computer-like functionality.
But Apple sent some ripples through the industry last week with their announcement of enterprise Email support including Microsoft Exchange Server compatibility. This was a thinly veiled shot across the bow in RIM's direction, poising Apple to compete with BlackBerry for a larger share of the corporate smartphone market. Despite all the nay-sayers who've bemoaned iPhone's lack of a physical keypad for typing, Apple's gained more than a quarter-share of the US smartphone market since it started shipping less than one year ago. As a friend of mine put it, "Apple was really smart to get consumers lusting after iPhone before going after the business market. Now it's a cool toy that business people want, instead of a business device that they're trying to make cool."
Apple also announced forthcoming enterprise solutions for the sales and medical industries, and also showed off a few in-development iPhone games, including EA Games' much-anticipated "Spore," which is slated for a September release. While certain aspects of the SDK - including a lack of multitasking capabilities and certain details of the financial arrangements between Apple and iPhone developers - drew negative reactions from the developer community, feedback surrounding the iPhone's development environment and hardware capabilities was generally positive.
Apple also announced the formation of iFund, a $100 million venture capital fund to support iPhone-based development. iFund will be a joint venture between Apple and Kleiner Perkins, a leading VC firm located in Silicon Valley. More information on iFund, including an online application, is available on the KPCB website.
More information on the iPhone :Road Map," including streaming video of the March 6 press event, is available on Apple's website.