iPhoneDevCamp 2

This weekend in San Francisco, the second annual iPhoneDevCamp 2 is underway. Whereas the first confab focused primarily on Web applications, this one has a definite native application flavor, thanks in large part to the fact that the iPhone software development kit (SDK) is out of beta and now available for developers.

When the iPhone was released in June, many developers were disappointed by the absence of an SDK for writing third-party applications on day one.

At D5, Steve Jobs explained to Walt Mossberg that Apple (AAPL) first needed to iron out some security issues before they would open up the device to outside developers:

We would like to solve this problem and if you could just be a little more patient with us, we’ll do it.”

–Steve Jobs at D5 on the availability of an iPhone SDK

Fast-forward to the first quarter of 2008, when Apple made good on its promise by releasing an early version of the iPhone SDK. The fruits of the patient developers’ labor was evident at the launch of the iTunes App Store, where 500 free or commercial applications were available to download onto the new iPhone 3G or the original iPhones running iPhone OS 2.0.

No longer were iPhone users confined to using Web applications running in Mobile Safari or resorting to jailbreaking their devices to use third-party programs.

The App Store made it dead simple for every iPhone user to duel their friends with PhoneSaber or satisfy their Dance Dance Revolution/Guitar Hero/Rock Band craving with Tap Tap Revenge, a game which recently celebrated its one millionth download.

At iPhoneDevCamp this year, there’s a greater and more palpable sense of excitement in the air than last year, and it’s reminding me of the time when I was writing applications for another Apple handheld product: the Newton.

While the green device from Apple was not a commercial success–it was surpassed in sales and popularity by the less-capable, yet smaller and more convenient Palm Pilot–the Newton nevertheless pioneered many features we now see perfected in the iPhone.

Fourteen years ago, the Newton could fax, send email and receive pages; the iPhone is a communications powerhouse with 3G/EDGE/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth.

Newton’s handwriting recognition was dramatically improved with Newton OS 2.0 in 1995; the iPhone has fantastic Chinese and Japanese character recognition.

Finally, the Newton promised a day when users everywhere had their own personal digital assistants in their pockets; today, millions of people have chosen their phone to be an iPhone.

Adam leading the Newton protest at Apple headquarters in 1998.

Despite leading the Newton protest at Apple Computer in 1998, I admit that Jobs was right to cancel the Newton. He made the correct decision to focus the company’s efforts on Mac OS, and it’s paid off.

The iPhone, after all, is running a version of the same operating system powering today’s Macs. The release of the initial iPhone raised the bar significantly for mobile users tired of using the same-old devices from Palm, Microsoft, and Symbian.

At iPhoneDevCamp 2, the bar is rising even higher for native third-party applications. If you were excited about the first 1,000 apps, wait till you see what comes out this weekend!

Below are photos from Friday’s welcome reception at iPhoneDevCamp 2. For more information, visit the iPhoneDevCamp 2 web site.

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