Apple iPhone To Include SDK, Microsoft Exchange Compatibility

In addition to the much anticipated launch of its software developers' kit (SDK) for the iPhone, Apple's cutting-edge smart phone now integrates with Microsoft's Exchange e-mail platform, a feature whose absence VARs and business users criticized as it kept the smart phone from being a viable business tool for millions of users.

Both will be available in June as a free update to iPhone customers as iPhone 2.0 software and are in beta testing now. The software will also be available for the iPod Touch.

Apple also announced that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins has created a $100 million "iFund" to fund software development on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

In addition to Exchange integration and the SDK, iPhone 2.0 software will include features like push e-mail, push calendar integration and contacts, a global address list, expanded VPN compatibility including Cisco IPsec VPN, two factor authentication and enterprise-class Wi-Fi using WPA2/802.1x. Admins now have the ability to wipe a business iPhone clean of its data to help keep sensitive corporate information secure. Apple has licensed the Active Sync protocol and built it directly into the iPhone to allow it to communicate directly with Exchange.

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The next release of iPhone software will also include an App Store where users can purchase and download iPhone applications made with the SDK. Applications will also be available through iTunes. Developers can also use the App Store to update programs.

Apple will keep 30 percent of revenue from applications sold through the App Store but will not charge developers credit card, hosting or marketing fees. Developers get to set prices for applications and joining Apple's developer program costs $99.

Shares of Apple held steady immediately following the announcement, trading at $124.58, up 12 cents.