apple logoThose watching the tech industry have likely noticed that 2008 hasn’t been a very kind year thus far to 2007’s darling Apple. That said, with rumors swirling of an event taking place at the end of February – likely to launch the iPhone software development kit (SDK), things could start picking up very quickly.

Apple needs this SDK. The iPhone is still without a doubt one of the greatest mobile devices ever created, but more and more users seem to be getting frustrated because they can see the potential for it as being even greater if Apple would simply let developers make apps natively on it – rather than through its Safari browser (which only a handful of companies have done a good job of utlizing – Facebook probably being the best).

The firmware hacks that allow users to unlock their phones mere days after updates are launched underscore this issue. Recent reports indicate that massive amounts of iPhone are probably being sold simply to unlock.

And that’s hardly the only bad news for Apple recently.

The stock has plunged from the $200-a-share level to around the $120-a-share level, the big announcement of MacWorld, the MacBook Air, has been thus far met with so-so reviews, there’s been a delay of the other big MacWorld announcement: Apple TV Take 2, and now the company is cutting back on main product orders (iPod, iPhone, MacBooks) for the second time in two months.

This iPhone SDK has the potential to turn all of that negativity around. It is exciting because Apple has made such a brilliant piece of hardware that runs an outstanding OS and has a stellar base of applications, but not even Apple can be expected to create the best of everything. By allowing developers to utilize their creativity and various levels of expertise, we’re going to see some great, potentially game-changing iPhone apps.

I think Apple realized as much as well when it went against its earlier stance of saying development would only take place in Safari. Outside developers making apps won’t hurt the iPhone (assuming Apple doesn’t allow for malware, which they obviously won’t), they will help sell more iPhones – probably a lot more. Steve Jobs is a great salesman, but sometimes an enthusiastic developer base is an even better one.

Update: Here are some good numbers showing a big shift in the industry towards high-end smart phones such as the iPhone and Blackberry and away from the traditional cellphones. These numbers underscore how important the iPhone SDK will be in the coming months.

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