It has been my experience that Apple almost never does anything like this without having a grander plan of some sort but for now anyway, developers win. Apple announced today that they are going to allow third party software to assist in iOS development. Given the relatively small community who was proficiently working in Objective C compared to everyone else, programmers who natively program in another language can not port their code over to iOS without negative ramifications from Apple. This is good for everyone.
The biggest win here is the ability to use Flash, at least in a limited capacity, to develop apps. Granted this likely means an onslaught of terribly designed, horribly functioning apps are coming to an iPhone near you at least until someone with a budget and a proper knowledge of how to do things comes along and raises the bar. Flash is notorious for allowing hacks and incredibly untalented individuals to dive right in and show the world just how bad they are. I don’t anticipate it will be any different on the iPhone.
Clearly a lot of people thought this as both Adobe and Apple’s stocks shot up immediately following the announcement.
Another win is for shops, like ours, that develop for more than one platform to more easily port a code base from one platform to the next without having to re-invent the wheel every time. An Android app developed in Java can now be ported to iOS quickly and with Apple’s blessing. This will no doubt dramatically increase cross-platform endeavors as well as bolster development in general.
You can read Apple’s decree here. In the end I am a big fan of moves like this because everyone wins in the end, especially the end users.