Apple's iPhone to get .NET app development through Novell

When Apple introduced the App Store for its iPhone device, there was nothing but talk of financial paradise for some developers. Even a single coder could get into the game, bringing with them only an interesting and unique title, and begin hauling in literally thousands of dollars. It was great for some, though for those on the Windows side of the world, not so much. As you may know, to develop applications for the iPhone, you need to use Xcode and the iPhone SDK, which is only available for Apple's OS X operating system. To top it off, knowing Apple's Objective-C programming language is essential too, which isn't desirable for some. Luckily, the company Novell is stepping in to help out, soon providing tools to allow iPhone application development using .NET and C# instead.

The kit, dubbed MonoTouch, will be available on Monday and will harness the power of Novell's 'Mono' runtime environment that allows execution of Windows application code on non-Windows systems. Miguel de Icaza, who is the vice president of the developer platform with the company (and also leader of the project in question), said, "What's important here is that C# and .Net are considerably more productive development environments than the native iPhone language, which is Objective-C."

The software will integrate itself into Xcode to allow developers to still test their software on the iPhone simulator, or even a physical device itself, which is even handier. Al Hilwa, the program director for application software at IDC, noted, "MonoTouch brings a new option to the table. I would say that applications closest to the metal will continue to be written in Objective-C, but where developers want to target multiple platforms, including apps that cross over between desktop and mobile, MonoTouch allows them that portability. Of course, the big win with it is that it opens the door for some 5 million .Net developers to begin to do iPhone applications. The success of the iPhone and apps for the iPhone suggest that Objective-C is being well-tolerated out there even though people complain about its lack of familiarity. The average developer has to learn Objective-C to program on the iPhone, very few developers know it to start."

If you're interested in this, and you're not a high ranking member in a wealthy organization, then you're probably out of luck. The program is aimed at developing business applications, and as such, comes with a business-sized price tag. If you want a year long subscription for the Enterprise Edition, it'll set you back $999, compared to the $99 yearly fee which Apple charges; whether that's worth the saved time you'll get from not having to learn another language is up to the business, but it would certainly cost a fair bit (in terms of both money and time) to educate engineers on Objective-C.

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