SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple ( AAPL) belatedly bowed to consumer demands by welcoming independent computer programmers to develop applications for the iPhone. On Wednesday, Chief Executive Steve Jobs posted a note on the company's Web site saying that a software developer's kit, or SDK, would be available in February. "Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers' hands in February," wrote Jobs in his post. The move signals another attempt by Apple to ensure that mainstream consumers become iPhone users when their cell-phone contracts expire. It follows Apple's decision in September to cut the price of the 8-gigabyte version to $399, which Jobs said was aimed at spurring holiday sales. Allowing developers to make iPhone applications also underscores the limits of Apple's ability to use the iPhone's cachet to bend the cell-phone market to its will. The company extracted an unprecedented concession from AT&T ( T), which agreed to share a portion of the revenue from its iPhone service contracts in exchange for the exclusive right to carry the device. Apple initially thumbed its nose at developers by letting them offer applications only through its Safari Web browser, rather in downloadable format. This contrasts with Nokia ( NOK) and Research In Motion ( RIMM), which actively encourage programmers to create games and other applications that will help sell phones.