A group of independent software developers claims to be close to loosening Apple’s reins over the software that can run on the iPhone once and for all. Apple announced recently that it plans to start releasing software made by third party developers in June. First, though, those applications will be checked, and then sold or given away free (whichever the developer chooses) directly by Apple, either through iTunes or a virtual store on the phone itself.
But if the independent group, known as the iPhone Dev Team, has its way, that strict outline is going to be shaken up a bit.
The group plans to release an alternative firmware called Pwnage – boy, that rolls off the tongue – that, once installed, would make it easy for users to circumvent the official channels, and run software developed outside Apple (see a video of the software in action here). It could also impact Apple’s business model for the smartphone, since extra software sales would bring in more cash. The good news for the rest of us is that it sounds like there certainly won’t be any shortage of applications. More than 100,000 developers have reportedly downloaded Apple’s software development kit in the first four days it was available. And venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers – the shop that announced a $100 million fund to back those independent developers – says that they received more iPhone-software-based business plans in the first 36 hours than they thought they’d get in a month.
The Dev Team is claiming this to be the mother of all hacks and that it will be difficult for future upgrades from Apple to block people from using it. As with everything iPhone hack-related, we’ll have to wait and see.