The trouble with 6.0
6.0 seems to be a difficult number to reach. Last year, MySQL 6.0 was canceled when the community decided everything scheduled for that version should just be added in the 5.x branches. The same fate has just befallen the PHP community, where a rogue core committer moved the entire 6.0 branch into the trash on the project’s subversion server. It was a ham-fisted attempt to draw attention to the problems remaining the 5.x trees. The specifics of that debate revolve around Unicode support, an increasingly contentious issue for developers around the world.
This is mirrored in Perl’s 5.12 release, the first for that language in a number of years. Most of the big minds in Perl have been thinking very hard about how to make 6.0 awesome. Unfortunately, they’ve been thinking and coding for almost 10 years now, and the remaining issues in Perl’s 5.x branch were increasingly ignored. Updates were slow and infrequent, though new project management has pledged to make them more common. And in 5.12, the big fixes are almost all related to Unicode.
One more 6.0 release was Windows Vista, right? Maybe there’s some sort of 6.0 curse. — Alex Handy
Apple drops the ball
Apple made a terrible decision to ban cross-compiled applications from the iPhone. The company made a fiercely competitive move, but it is restricting developer freedom, eliminating portability and making it costlier to target the iPhone.
From a practical standpoint, there are far more C# programmers than there are Objective-C programmers. C# programmers are cheaper to hire. Apple is also effectively isolating itself from innovations in programming. Rest assured that the next big programming framework will not be supported in the iPhone SDK; HTML5-based applications also cannot be submitted to the iPhone store.
Strangling developers with restrictions and barring applications from the App Store on questionable grounds is not a way to win support for your platform from developers. Shame on Apple. — David Worthington
More mobility for Twitter
Twitter recently announced its purchase of Tweetie, a third-party Twitter client for the Mac by Atebits. Twitter plans to rename the app “Twitter for iPhone” and offer it for free in the iTunes AppStore (as opposed to its current US$2.99 purchase price).
As part of the agreement, Atebits president Loren Brichter will join Twitter’s mobile team and help create “Twitter for iPad.” With this move towards a native Twitter app for the iPhone and one for BlackBerry announced as well, Twitter seems to finally be moving in the right direction towards its own ad platform. — Katie Serignese
webOS up for grabs
Bloomberg News is reporting that Palm is soliciting bids for the company. The maker of the webOS mobile operating system has been on the ropes for a while, though its stock price recently enjoyed a surge as speculators bought into it in anticipation of a sale.
Palm owns a number of software patents that could be lucrative to a number of companies interested in getting into or strengthening their mobile platforms. Early speculation has Lenovo and Nokia being interested, though neither company has made any hard statements on the matter as of this writing.
Lu Chia-lin, a technology analyst at the Taipei-based Macquarie Group, suggested that two Chinese companies, Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp., might also be interested. He cited a general interest from Chinese companies in entering the handheld market.
The interest over Palm and webOS will be something worth keeping an eye on. If a shrewd company picks up those patents, it could use them to challenge Apple’s dominance in the market. On the other hand, though it would be a total long shot, if Apple bought Palm, it could entrench its position further and lock out any other competitors other than the ones from Google and Microsoft.
Also, on a personal level, it would give Steve Jobs the satisfaction of once again being the boss of many Apple developers who left the company for Palm… — Adam LoBelia