This morning, Steve Jobs announced that Apple has licensed the Exchange Active Sync protocol from Microsoft in order to bring the following functionality to the iPhone:

  • Push Email
  • Push Contacts
  • Push Calendar
  • Access to the Global Address List (GAL)
  • Remote Wipe
  • Password Policies

The Apple folks publicly bashed the way Blackberry does email through a NOC and praised Microsoft for coming up with a much more advanced architecture that allows the iPhone to work directly with Exchange in a more reliable and affordable way. Before all you fans of Windows Mobile freak out, just remember, licensing our AirSync protocol to Apple means increased sales of Exchange Server, Windows Server, ISA Server and lots of CALs.

Now on a much more threatening note, Apple did launch their new iPhone SDK that allows developers to build on-device applications using Objective C.  If you've ever done development on a NeXT Workstation or Mac OSX, you'll know what Object C is.  This SDK allows you to build rich applications for the iPhone that utilize the following features:

  • SQLite for Database access
  • Core Location for location-based services
  • Core Audio
  • Video via h.264
  • Core animation
  • OpenGL ES for hardware accelerated 3D graphics and games
  • Cocoa Touch for multi touch input
  • Accelerometer to use the iPhone's 3-axis sensor in apps

They've got Xcode development tools, a debugger, an emulator, and a graphical forms builder with drag and drop functionality. 

Like the Amazon Kindle, they've created something called "App Store" that will be included on the iPhone so users can find, buy and wirelessly download applications to their device.  You'll even be notified when there's an update to downloaded software.  All downloadable applications will have electronic certificates from Apple.

If that's not enough, famous Venture Capitalist John Doerr announced that Kleiner Perkins (KPCB) started a $100 Million iFund to back companies looking to develop innovative applications for the iPhone.

By any objective measure, this is a big day for the iPhone.  What can we do to ensure that Microsoft is a winner in this equation?  Just like with the benefits we receive by allowing the iPhone to sync with Exchange Server, the development of iPhone apps that connect with Microsoft servers will be just what the doctor ordered.  I would get started with the following:

  • SQL Server Compact for iPhone
  • Sync Services for ADO.NET with a provider for the iPhone SSC database so we can sync with SQL Server
  • SharePoint Server 2007 access
  • Communicator Mobile to access Office Communications Server 2007

You get the gist of where I'm going.  Just remember, the competition never sleeps and you should always expect to have your feet kept to the fire.  We must constantly reinvent ourselves and be ready to eat our own lunch before our competitors do.

- Rob