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Apple's iPhone SDK Off to The Races

You can expect to see plenty of new third-party applications for Apple's iPhone.

At least that seems a reasonable conclusion based on today's announcement that over 100,000 developers have downloaded the free software development kit (SDK) Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled last week.

Several big name software firms issued statements of support for the SDK, which is currently available in beta or test form. The finished version, which will include the launch of the online Apps Store (the only Apple-authorized distribution method for iPhone software), isn't due out until June.

Separately, there has already been a successful independent effort to unlock the software and allow both "official" and unofficial software to run on the iPhone, according to the gadget Website Gizmodo.

For more mainstream users, business software makers Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) and NetSuite (NYSE: N) along with blogging tools provider Six Apart, said they planned to develop for the iPhone using the SDK. Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) and Epocrates (a maker of decision support tools on mobile devices for healthcare) announced their support at last week's event.

Also today, several game companies, including PopCap, Rocket Mobile and THQ Wireless, said they're developing for the iPhone, joining Electronics Arts and Sega, which announced last week.

The new developer announcements also follow last week's news that high profile Silicon Valley venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has launched a $100 million "iFund" dedicated to funding iPhone-related software and services.

"The iPhone SDK gives us the tools we need to create powerful iPhone applications and is an important part of our overall mobile strategy," said Rick Jensen, senior vice president of Intuit's small business group. "We’re excited that the iPhone expands the ways our customers can solve key financial tasks wherever they might be."

Other developers chimed in with similar optimism that the iPhone will allow professionals to get more done on the go.

"NetSuite is excited at the opportunity to give every iPhone customer access to their critical business data anytime, anywhere," said Luke Braud, vice president of software development at NetSuite.

Chris Alden, CEO of Six Apart, said his company is using the SDK to build on the iPhone-optimized blog service it already offers. "We're taking it to the next level with our native iPhone application for TypePad that's already in development," he said.