Apple may be looking at an open-source solution as a way to get around Adobe Systems' Flash technology.
Roughly Drafted was able to find a developer willing to talk about last week's Worldwide Developers Conference sessions, which are supposed to be confidential. But these things have a way of coming to light, and one session on Friday apparently covered a technology called SproutCore that could give Apple a way to get its Cocoa development frameworks into the hearts and minds of Web developers.
Web applications are big these days, and developers are continuously looking for ways to improve the performance and sex appeal of their applications. To that end, they often find themselves using frameworks like Adobe's Flash or Microsoft's Silverlight technology to save time and take advantage of flashier graphics. But once you choose to develop a Web application for one of those standards, you're essentially locked into the browser plug-ins for that one particular standard.
SproutCore gets around that lock-in by letting more of the Web application run inside the browser, rather than in the plug-in. Apple apparently used SproutCore to build the Web applications unveiled last week as part of the new MobileMe service, which replaces the aging .Mac service.
Check out Roughly Drafted or a similar article from Appleinsider for more details on how SproutCore works for Web developers; I'm not going to be able to do the topic proper justice without a few Web development courses.
But the basic idea would be that Apple and its software development partners could build richer "desktop-like" Web applications for Safari on either the iPhone or the Mac without having to license Adobe or Microsoft's plug-in technology. This could also allow Windows developers to create Web applications that resemble Mac applications.