Apple: iPhone SDK, enterprise announcement next week

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Apple on Wednesday announced that it will present information on the future of the iPhone, including support for third-party programs and big business, at a special media event next week.

The image that accompanied Apple's invitation to its iPhone media event.

"Please join us to learn about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new enterprise features," said an e-mail sent to members of the media. The invitation-only event will be held on Thursday, March 6 at 10 a.m. on the Apple campus in Cupertino.

Apple first unveiled plans to release an SDK, or software development kit, for the iPhone in October 2007. An SDK would enable independent software developers to write programs that could be installed and run on the iPhone without modifying the iPhone's core operating system.

Since the iPhone's initial release, several groups of developers have found ways to “jailbreak” iPhones, letting users install third-party applications through unsupported means. Members of the media and development community had criticized Apple for not providing outside access to the iPhone by any means other than using the Safari browser to access web-based applications, criticism that faded after Apple indicated its intentions to release an SDK.

The invitation's mention of "exciting new enterprise features" also suggests that another often-criticized area of Apple's iPhone strategy—its lack of support for features considered vital by business IT managers—may also be addressed. The iPhone initially was only available as a part of a consumer-level AT&T Wireless calling plan, though AT&T rolled out business plans for the iPhone in January.

Earlier this week Apple released iPhone software version 1.1.4 to much speculation that it might be a hint of a forthcoming SDK announcement.

[Updated 2/27, 12:39 p.m. with more information throughout.]

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