March 6, 2008: Apple releases the iPhone software development kit, finally allowing devs to start creating native mobile apps for the iPhone.
When the App Store eventually opens a few months later, a new industry springs up overnight as third-party devs rush to take advantage of Apple’s lucrative distribution network.
Birth of the App Store
From the moment Apple announced the iPhone, developers prayed for an SDK. At first, debates raged inside Apple about whether an App Store made sense. Some thought the moved risked watering down Apple’s level of control, potentially allowing low-quality software on iPhones.
The main person against the initiative? Steve Jobs. Others, such as Phil Schiller and Apple board member Art Levinson, lobbied for Jobs to change his position by making the iPhone a generative platform instead of a locked-down one.
Eventually, Jobs changed his mind. On March 6, 2008 — around nine months after the iPhone’s big reveal — Apple hosted an iPhone Software Roadmap event. Here the company announced the iPhone SDK, which became the basis of the iPhone Developer Program.
“We’re excited about creating a vibrant third-party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” Jobs said.
iPhone SDK: The key to building iPhone apps
Applications for the iPhone had to be built on Macs, running a new version of Xcode. Other software allowed developers to design iPhone-friendly interfaces, monitor iPhone memory usage, and even simulate the iPhone on their Macs. A particularly useful tool called Cocoa Touch let them mimic the iPhone’s touch interactions with a mouse or keyboard.
Developers who wanted to launch apps on the iPhone paid a standard $99 annual fee. (A higher-priced enterprise tier was initially available only to companies with more than 500 employees.) Developers, Apple said, would receive 70 percent of the sales revenue from their apps — with Cupertino taking the other 30 percent.