Back in June of 2014, during WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference), Apple announced its new programming language; Swift! The creation of the language started in the summer of 2010 by Chris Lattner. Such a move was a surprise for the software coder community but Lattner kept his newborn masterpiece a secret from everyone, even from his top executives for more than a year and half.
Swift reached a mass audience from the first moment. Though we are already talking about surprises, we didn’t mention the best of all that was meant to happen about a year and a half later. On December 3rd of 2015, Apple made one step forward and open sourced Swift! That was a big “Hooray!!!” and “What???” at the same time for developers of “i-Devices” applications.
Traditionally, Apple was one of the most closed ecosystems in the world of technology. In a way, it still is and as written by others that was always one of the biggest competitive advantages. But it seems that something has started to change.
Before we go on, it’s worth mentioning two terms at this point.
- The “Halo Effect”: A cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. (Wikipedia)
- “Linus’s Law”: “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” or more formally “Given a large enough beta-testers and co-developers base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the problem will be obvious to someone”. The name was given in honor of Linus Torvalds (If you are not familiar with the name please Google it NOW!). (Wikipedia)
Now you are probably thinking: “I know what you are trying to say but…”!
Reading your mind, I would continue your thoughts with the upcoming phrase: “…But how can Apple benefit from open sourcing Swift and, moreover, how could this bring more money?”
Exactly! The answer would be by combining the terms mentioned above. By generating more revenue using the “Halo Effect” and “get- ting things done” faster based on Linus’s Law.
Does this actually mean that Swift will be open sourced based on this combination?
Better security and design of the programming language: More people will be able to see and test the code. The result will be more flaws will be found and fixed faster. From a business perspective, Apple could cut down its development costs and at the same time speed up the delivery of new products. Saving money means also making more money. All community members provide free R&D (Research & Development) back to the center of the community as a whole.
More trust and even more quality: The number of highly skilled developers contributing to the open source project of Swift grows day by day. That means better quality. Also you are able to see for yourself the core language code and be more confident in what is going on. Going once again to the business perspective, those developers create huge global referral networks and, based on the Halo Effect, Apple gains a better reputation, which brings more shares on the market being created by the open sourced technology. Good reputation and more shares could mean more money from services, like support, documentation and tutorials.
Freedom and concentrated power to the developers: If we were able to get a glimpse into the future, Swift might be a one for everything programming language for the ones who master it. That means it will give them the freedom to create their back-end and front-end systems using one technology. Also, cross platform software could be native for each platform being seen as a separate software entity. And no! Java cannot do that. Remember, at this point, the overall impression of Apple to people and especially developers. Companies could use fewer developers for more of their needs being influenced by Apple’s company and brand name which goes alongside with Swift. Could you count the shares on the market that will be created for Apple once more? At least try to imagine it!
Already, developers can use the open source version of Swift and create applications on Linux. Also there are implementations of server side development using Swift.
By the time I am writing this, I am convinced that the future of Swift is bright. In general, as an overview, the future of open source technologies is bright. Could open source be a business as a whole? Could corporations and individual professionals make profit from open source? On both questions we would say YES! Definitely YES!
Shared economy! Open innovation! Open data! Open source might be the new business era!
The article comes from BSD Mag VOL. 10 NO. 02 (78)