Apple may introduce iPhone developer kit at WWDC - report

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Apple Inc. at its developers conference next week may introduce a software developers kit (SDK) that will allow third party developers to write small applications for its upcoming iPhone handset, according to a published report.

Citing a person briefed on the company's plans, the New York Times reported Monday that the Cupertino-based electronics maker "intends to announce that it will make it possible for developers of small programs written for the Macintosh to easily convert them to run on the iPhone."

The paper offered no further details on the matter.

Since introducing iPhone in January, Apple has wrestled with the prospect of opening the device to third party developers, a move which could have serious ramifications on the security and stability of the highly touted handset.

Although the company had initially indicated that it would not allow third-party application development, chief executive Steve Jobs seemed to relent during an interview at last week's D: All Things Digital conference.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, the Apple frontman candidly revealed that Apple was looking for ways to make it possible for developers to create software for the phone, suggesting that the arrival of third-party iPhone access is now a question of "when" rather than "if."

Jobs noted that poor software has served to tarnish the Japanese consumer electronics industry. On the other hand, he said, the iPhone's robust Mac OS X Leopard-based foundation signifies a five-year lead on the rest of the handset industry.

“If you look at the iPhone, it’s software wrapped in wonderful hardware,” said Jobs.

Critics of the Apple handset have long pointed to the device's lack of third party access as a major barrier to its success in the enterprise market, as corporations would be unable to extend their applications to handset. By contrast, the three most popular smartphone operating systems in the U.S. today — Windows Mobile, Symbian, and BlackBerry — all allow for such capability.