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A software development kit (SDK) is a set of tools used for developing applications provided by hardware and software providers. SDKs are usually comprised of application programming interfaces (APIs), sample code, documentation, etc.
From a business perspective, the idea is that a tightly knit development community will serve as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. An example is Apple and the combination of the iPhone and the App Store™. The selection of applications for the iPhone provides a competitive advantage to Apple versus its competitors. In this sense, the device goes from being a commoditized piece of hardware to a platform that other companies need to plugin to. So while the term SDK has been around since the beginning of software, it can often serve as the starting point in an IT company’s business strategy.