Apple’s iPhone Courts Enterprise, Disses Flash
On the audio side, for instance, Core Audio is a low-level API that Apple used to build consumer and professional apps. The tools, including a built-in surround sound mixer, means that content owners can send discrete tracks down to the device and then mix them "on the fly" based on listener preference. In addition, video playback in H.264 and support for various still image file formats (JPG, PNG, TIFF) and PDF means that iPhone is ideally suited for Flash. Even Core Animation, introduced for Leopard but used extensively for animations in iPhone and OpenGL ES, an embedded version of OpenGL, allow for hardware acceleration that Flash could take advantage of for video playback and interactivity.
So Where’s Flash?
So why did Jobs dismiss the current versions of Flash player, including the desktop version and the mobile version called FlashLite, for the iPhone? He says there’s a missing third version that’s needed for a product like iPhone, which he says is better than a mobile phone and less robust than a desktop.
"There's this missing product in the middle," Jobs said during a question and answer session at the company’s annual meeting two days prior to the iPhone event, leading some to conjecture that Apple’s Core Animation, Core Audio, and video/still image support inherent in its OS X could lead to an interactive rival to Flash, much like the early QuickTime was the basis of MPEG-4.
Adobe has countered with a statement noting there are almost 450 million Flash-enabled phones, with 1 billion expected by 2010, but another guest speaker at the iPhone event seems to corroborate Job’s take on things.
Show Me the Money
John Doerr, parter at the well-known venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, announced a $100 million iFund for iPhone that he says should be enough to jumpstart new opportunities.
"We’ve decided our fund will be $100 million," said Doerr. "We figure that will let us start about 8 Amazons for this historic third great platform, . . . it’s a really big deal; it’s bigger than the personal computer."
"One of Apple’s Fellows once said ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it,’" said Doerr. "At KPCB, we like to say ‘the second best way to predict the future is to fund it’ so today we’re very product to announce the iFund for the iPhone. New platforms are few and far between, and often need help from VC firms. . . . My message to the entrepreneurs of the world is this: ‘If you want to invent the future, we want to help you fund it.’"
Apple has released the SDK for free, including an iPhone simulator for the Mac. For those who want to publish applications, the iPhone Developer program costs $99 and it allows developers to test on both an iPhone and the desktop, with debugging of the iPhone app showing up on the desktop.
Final end-user software, dubbed iPhone 2.0, is to be released in June 2008.