Apple’s New iPhone SDK Licensing Changes are a Potential Win for Microsoft.

Microsoft is poised to release Windows Phone 7 (WP7) this year.  The success of any platform is the ability for users to run the applications they want and need on it.  That’s one of the selling features of the iPhone: the App Store.  The App Store has thousands of applications available for it.  It’s not really the fact that there are some lousy apps in there, it’s the fact that there’s choice and that adds value to the iPhone.  The iPhone isn’t just a phone that plays MP3s.  It can be much more than that.

To a certain extent the App Store is reaching saturation.  There’s isn’t much reason for new developers to get into the App Store.  There is way to much competition and if you release something now, you’re likely not the first-to-market.  The new restrictions to deploying applications on the iPhone impact the speed and the cost to market of your application.  Given the profit margins of initial app deployment, this could make or break a developer.  Prior to the iPhone OS4 SDK launch, the scales were definately tilted far in Apple’s advantage in terms of application developer support.  There were issues in terms of what you could deploy to the iPhone; but overall there was great developer flexibility.  If the wording correctly describes Apple’s intention, they’ve effectively alienated two thirds of their potential developers: Flash and .Net Developers.  Without Flash-to-iPhone and MonoTouch, developers with experience in Flash, C#, and VB.Net are now forced to learn Objective-C and the XCode IDE.  They can use neither their familiar language nor their IDE.

So, what does this do for WP7?  Well, this doesn’t put WP7 at an advantage over iPhone when it becomes available.  It means that people with experience in C# and VB.NET that want to write apps for a smart phone are limited to only one phone.  The energy that people have to develop will be pointed towards WP7–which is only a good thing for WP7.  It means there will likely be more apps available for WP7 when it’s launched—increasing its potential for success.

It’s almost as if someone from Microsoft asked Steve Jobs: “Come on, throw us a bone” and this is what Apple came up with that didn’t overtly look like Apple is trying to help Microsoft.

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