I've claimed over and over that the iPhone is built to buy things from iTunes. One of the things that we should be able to buy from iTunes is programs. Games, if that's your thing; mental diversions. I'm glad to report that 9to5mac.com says that it's coming. Of course, they call it 3rd party development, which is kind of a misnomer. If it requires that a developer sign a contract and get Apple's blessing just to get the development tools, it's a lot more like 2nd party development. It would bring the iPhone and iPod Touch to feature parity with the iPod Classic and Nano, so I'm glad to see it, assuming it's true (which I do).

figure 1: Spore, an example of a 2nd party game that could come to the iPhone

There's no release date listed, so there's no way to tell when it will be available. Safe guesses include after Leopard (more on that later this morning) and in January for Macworld 2008. Here's the expected process of it all:

  1. a partner of Apple thinks of an idea for an app. EA, for example, wants to write Spore.
  2. EA submits it to Apple in a fancy proposal
  3. Apple says "Okay, good idea" and gives EA permission and tools necessary to write Spore.
  4. EA writes Spore
  5. Apple digitally signs Spore and sells it on iTunes so it can't be pirated
  6. I buy Spore from iTunes or the iTunes Wi-Fi store and never leave the house again
In a nutshell, it's more or less the same process that was used for earlier versions of iPods, except most of those games were done by Apple in-house. I gotta tell you, I'm sometimes half surprised that Apple doesn't sell their own programs through iTunes, let alone 2nd party games and apps for the new iPod Touch and iPhone. I suppose that building that infrastructure takes more than 3 months, though; I'll just have to be patient for it.