In an interview given to Gearlog, Apple VP of Hardware Product Marketing Greg Joswiak confirmed that the iPhone and iPod Touch run the same software, and said that Apple is not bothered by the flood of native, third party software for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Joswiak defined the Apple stance as neutral, and while they will not intentionally break the apps with firmware updates, they will not go out of their way to prevent updates from breaking apps either. So iPhone coders, rejoice, you'll live to hack another day.
I asked him about independent, native software development for the iPhone. He said Apple doesn't oppose native application development, which was new to me. Rather, Apple takes a neutral stance - they're not going to stop anyone from writing apps, and they're not going to maliciously design software updates to break the native apps, but they're not going to care if their software updates accidentally break the native apps either. He very carefully left the door open to a further change in this policy, too, saying that Apple is always re-examining its perspective on these sorts of things.
I pointed out that Apple delivers regular software updates to Macs, and that they don't break third-party software. He responded that Apple has a lot more experience with the Mac platform than they do with the iPhone platform. Also, the Mac platform being a PC, he said that consumer expectations absolutely demand third party software be available - though he looked a little wistful at that moment, as if wondering how peaceful the world would be if Apple actually controlled all the software on the Mac platform. Then he came back to reality."
This is something we've suspected since the AppleTV hacks weren't shut down, either. But its good to hear it from the horses mouth. [Gearlog]