Gah. I'm not thrilled with the news of web apps being the application delivery method, but I don't think that web 2.0 is Apple's permanent answer to an SDK.


p> Web app functionality is something you talk about if either

  1. you're not ready to talk about the external SDK. We already knew it would do web apps -- reference the "kinda sorta internet" commercial. We knew it would do the full internet, javascript, the whole shebang -- last January.
  2. There is no SDK, Web 2.0 / AJAX all the way.

Of course, both are a possibility. It's a possibility than an SDK was given the kibosh; it's an equal possibility that Jobs decided the market pressure dictate that he announce something at WWDC for the developers so they're not left out on launch day. It's, of course, always a possibility that the SDK is still being worked on. Jobs stated earlier that he intends to report the accounting revenue over two years so they can improve the iPhone on a regular basis over its product lifetime.

  • Jobs said at D5 that if folks are willing to hold on for a while, he'll have an answer for that. I have said that I didn't think we'd have an SDK at launch, and it looks like at least that much is true. I still think we'll get one later.
  • though I'm not excited about Web applications, they are powerful. Case in point: Google Documents. There's an interesting wee tidbit from that website: "Safari support for Google Docs is coming soon!" I don't see Opera, Minimo or Pocket IE on their list of compatible browsers.
  • Web 2.0 / AJAX devleopment is going to be a boon for web developers, and it's simultaneously a shot in the arm for Safari. It's quite possible that Safari as a targeted web platform is more important to Jobs right now than an SDK (it does burn me to say that). Conversely, web apps significantly lower the bar of entry for application development, and opens up subscription and service-based application licensing models.
  • I'm still convinced the market potential is large for iTunes as a signed app delivery vehicle. I think I'll stick to my guns on this one; we'll see what other announcements Jobs makes in the next year or so, maybe as early as January at MWSF.

That said, there are still some vexing questions:

  • Whither YouTube?
  • is Adobe's flash supported? If so, expect it to basically become the default application language. This would be a huge boon for Flash Lite apps.
  • Can you store web apps on the iPhone directly, i.e., run them from flash storage? If you can run apps without incurring bandwidth, that's great. If not, this could be a huge issue.

It's very clear to me that we still don't have all of the SDK answers yet; I don't think this issue will be resolved yet on launch day.