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Thursday, September 30, 2004, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Apple to open iPod platform to software developers?

Will Apple soon open the iPod platform to third party software developers?

Right now it's anyones guess. But judging by a handful of recent job listings, it appears that the company is poised to add iPod development capabilities to its widely distributed Xcode development environment.

A recent listing for an "iPod Xcode Engineer for Embedded Systems" seeks an individual who will be responsible for improving and maintaining Apple's integrated development environment (IDE) for embedded applications. "The person in this position will be required to work closely with the Mac OS X Xcode team," the listing says.

Meanwhile, a second listing calls for an "iPod Compiler Engineer Embedded Systems" to maintain and improve the gcc compiler in embedded, cross compilation applications. As a lead engineer for the compiler development, "you will be responsible for ensuring that the compiler integrates with the other development tools including the Apple Xcode development environment," the company says.

Xcode is Apple's IDE for Mac OS X applications, which streamlines common and time-consuming tasks by fusing familiar user interface concepts with a mix of performance technologies; the software is publicly available to average Joe, free of charge.

It's unclear if the Apple actually intends to allow developers to write their own applications for the iPod, or if the Xcode integration will be used exclusively by the company to improve interaction between the iPod and its own Mac OS X applications.

In May, Apple formed a specialized division to handle the further development of its iPod related products. Over the last 4 months, the division has entered into a hiring spree and is currently soliciting several new iPod design engineers, product marketing managers, and a channel development executive.

Along with Hewlett-Packard, Apple is expected to begin shipping 1 million iPods a month beginning in October.