RealTime IT News

Apple Sees a Shift in Developer Profiles

Apple Computer said it is seeing a definite shift in the types of the people building for its operating system.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker, which is preparing for its annual developers conference in late June, claims a spike in the number of enterprise code writers. The company said it has seen a large number of UNIX, Java and Open Source developers migrating to its Mac OS X operating system.

"Over the last three years, people who have experience in those areas are showing a great interest in our OS," Apple Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations Ron Okamoto told internetnews.com. "We're seeing a lot of first timers. It's really impressive."

Three years ago under the direction of CEO Steve Jobs, Apple launched its Mac OS X built on a UNIX-based core it calls Darwin -- an amalgamation of its own open source code as well as bits and pieces from FreeBSD, Apache and Perl. Although Apple does not usually publicly profile its registered developers, Jobs said the company recently said it had surpassed the 300,000 membership threshold. The company says there are more than 10,000 Mac OS X applications that run natively on the platform.

Apple will now open its arms to the developers of open source and other program languages with some 200 sessions including categories like Enterprise IT, Hardware Technologies, and OS Foundations.

"This is a change from last year with our focus on enterprise and IT," Okamoto said. "One of the things we're doing is adding content and laboratories with more education. We're adding to our tools space including an update of our Xcode development tool."

Okamoto said Apple developers will be greeted with platform tuning applications for hardware and software including a new hardware platform in the PowerPC G5 processor and QuickTime sessions added in, which used to be addressed as a separate conference.

The company is hoping to turn the developer applications into end-user gold, which Apple has had problems with before. Apple grabbed a mere 3.2 percent of the U.S. market share in 2003, down from 3.5 percent a year ago, according to a January report issued by research firm IDC. The companies ahead of Apple were: Dell (16.319 million - 30.9 percent), HP (10.851 million - 20.6 percent), IBM (2.748 million - 5.2 percent ), and Gateway (1.987 million - 3.8 percent).

Okamoto said the allure towards Apple's operating system is easy. The latest incarnation of Mac OS X (known as Panther) boasts the same 150 new features including a Server Admin tool that the company said makes it easy for administrators to set up and manage the open source software built into Mac OS X. It also includes Open Directory 2 for hosting scalable LDAP directory and Kerberos authentication services, Samba 3 for providing login and home directory support for Windows clients, and the JBoss application server. Panther also includes Rendezvous, an open source application designed to let end users' machines discover and connect to available resources on local networks, such as files and printers.

The company said its Panther "Server" configuration also includes a new mail server, which Apple said it rebuilt from the ground up using the open source Postfix SMTP and Cyrus IMAP and POP servers. This gives Panther Server an open architecture for integrating with spam and virus filtering solutions, as well as SSL support for secure e-mail. The product also features an updated release of the Apache Web server, as well as Apache Tomcat and Apache Axis.

In addition to Darwin, there are several Source forge OS X projects in progress. A quick check of the Web site shows infrastructure ventures such as WINE for Darwin and Mac OS X, MPlayer OS X, JmDNS (a Java-based project), GUI for iPod using GTK2 (gtkpod), and OpenEJB.

Apple is also enhancing its Reference Library, which integrates and organizes Apple's collections of developer documentation, sample code, technical notes, technical Q&As, and release notes, and makes them easier to find and use. The interface is based on Apple's iTunes format, which the company said makes it easier for developers to go right to the code they need.