The New York Times has a neat article on third party applications and how the iPhone is currently the only device on AT&T's network that doesn't support them. The article has some good things to say about Palm too, which I always welcome. The big gist of it is how Jobs' quote from a January Newsweek interview doesn't jive with reality:

"You don’t want your phone to be an open platform... You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up."
Whereas the reality of the situation is that Cingular/ATT welcomed development on every single other phone they had on their network, whether it be Java/J2ME, PalmOS development, Windows Development, or Flash Lite / whatever. This is backed up by Mark Bercow, Senior VP of Development at Palm. Talk about your David vs. Goliath situations here; I feel like Steve Jobs' famous reality distortion field just failed for a second or something. But, there's another quote that the Times dug up that I'd forgotten about from his video conversation with Walt Mossberg at the All Things D conference in July:
"This is a very important trade-off between security and openness. We want both. We’ve got good ideas, and sometime later this year, we can open it up to third-party apps, and keep security."
The more I think about this quote, the more I think he's talking about widgets here. You only really have to worry about a widget's security if there's a browser bug or exploit, and HTML/CSS/AJAX is definitely open. He probably doesn't want to open up a full native SDK until the software and hardware platforms are stable and proven, much like he did with the original Mac series. That is, if he wants a full native SDK available to the public at all.

There are a few other interesting tidbits from the article that I can't help but mention:

  1. Two-thirds of Treo owners have purchased 3rd party apps
  2. Ten percent of Treo owners have purchased 10 or more 3rd party apps
  3. AT&T has a website to get developers on all of their development platforms except the iPhone.