SAN FRANCISCO—Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs said Wednesday that the company will soon make it possible for third-party developers to build their own applications for use on the iPhone.
In a letter posted on Apple’s Web site, Jobs said that Apple would make a software development kit available sometime in February for developers to write programs for the iPhone and the iPod touch digital media player.
Jobs said it would take that long to make the kit available because Apple wants to “provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware (and) privacy attacks.”
The move represents a switch from the company’s earlier stance regarding third-party developers and the popular iPhone, which first went on sale June 29.
The company’s previous position was to allow developers to write applications through Safari, Apple’s Web browser program that is used on the devices. But the company came under criticism for wanting to control the iPhone’s development system and making it difficult for outside developers to build software programs for combination mobile phone, iPod and Internet connection device.
Jobs said Apple had held back on making the iPhone initially open to non-Apple developers because of the high profile of the device.
“Since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible device,” Jobs said.
Apple has sold more than 1 million iPhones since the device was released on June 29. The company will give its latest update on iPhone sales when it delivers its fourth-quarter results on Oct. 22.
Apple shares closed at $172.75, up 1.87 percent, on Wednesday afternoon.