Once all the hubbub surrounding the iPhone's launch began to die down everyone began to notice holes in its feature set (well, not me - I spotted them immediately). Most shocking were the price, lack of 3G connectivity and closed nature of the operating system – but could one of those be about to change?
In an interview with The Seattle Times on don't-bother-me-it's-a-UK-public-holiday Monday, Glen Lurie – AT&T's President of National Distribution – hinted third party apps may indeed be possible.
The (deliberate?) slip came when Lurie was asked that age old question: defend the iPhone's price. To this end he put forth the usual patter about adding together the cost of a nano and the cost of a BlackBerry before stating: "There are other things — you have the widgets, some of the Google applications that are coming — there are just so many things here that the price will not be an issue."
Sadly, the Seattle Times itself failed to pick up on this potential bombshell instead moving onto dull queries about what is it like to work at Apple and what was his favourite iPhone feature (FYI web browsing, amusingly). This doesn't disguise however that Lurie clearly states additional widgets, including ones from Google, are on the way suggesting the device can and has been programmed for third party apps.
Of course there is a long way to go from extra widgets to full third party office functionality (what we're all really looking for) but it suggests a step in the right direction. And if you're planning to lay down $499 for the 4GB version or $599 for the 8GBer plus sign your life away on an 18 month contract then I suspect you'll take solace from even the smallest crumbs of comfort...
Update: It's all official now. Steve J was talking to Walter Mossbery of the Wall Street Journal and Engadget reports when asked directly about third party apps he responded: "This is an important tradeoff between security and openness. We want both. ... we'll find a way to let 3rd parties write apps and still preserve security on the iPhone. But until we find that way we can't compromise the security of the phone. ... I've used 3rd party apps... the more you add, the more your phone crashes. No one's perfect, and we'd sure like our phone not to crash once a day. If you can just be a little more patient with us I think everyone can get what they want."