Ars has a great article about what firmware version should you compile your iPhone app on. The moral of the story obviously is not to build on the latest version of the firmware due to saturation rates. The artical is a great read and recomended to all developers but the first thing that hit me was how broken Apple’s distribution model was.
Using iTunes as an anchor is starting to show it’s age and limits the potential expansion of the platform. I felt ill leaving my G1 behind for the iPhone. It was not because of the hardware as I do appreciate the elegance of the iPhone. The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach had more to do with data sync. I fell in love with the G1 from the moment I activated the phone, I just logged onto my Gmail account and that was it. When a firmware was available from Tmobile, it was pushed to my phone. There was no reason for me to link my phone to a computer, other than test code on actual hardware. G1’s firmware distribution was a beautiful model that will also assist with developers ensuring that the user-base will have the latest features from updates to the SDK. Sure it was slow but the user-base was eventually sync’ed. It sickened me to watch my new iPhone connect to a computer to be activated.
The iPhone distribution model is Apple’s weakest link, well that and it’s arcane app approval process. If you are designing the hardware and software, you might as well ensure everyone on that hardware is using the same software build. Apple’s armor is starting to crack, let’s see what can be patched next week.