The folks behind the popular Aurora Feint series of iPhone games have decided to share their work creating a "social MMO" system on the iPhone with other developers. They've just announced a system called "OpenFeint," which other devs will be able to license and use in their own games. OpenFeint will supposedly allow a developer to put together a multiplayer community in an iPhone app, complete with profiles, news boards and chat, in under an hour. They're also providing a server for developers to use, so devs won't have to host their own server software -- they'll just have to make their client work with the existing system.
Wild. It sounds like they're just making the systems they've already developed in their own games available to anyone who wants to use them. Right now, they're looking at a private beta (interested devs can sign up on their site), and eventually the service will be free for a limited number of users, with certain costs as the userbase grows.
The cynical side of us wonders if there's a catch in there somewhere -- presumably, all of the users in OpenFeint will keep their information on the Aurora Feint-owned server, so we'd guess there's a chance that at some point in the future, they could use that list for less-than-honorable actions (Steve Demeter's Onyx Online plan is another service that aims to be platform-wide, which seems to have similar risks). But that's just us being paranoid -- taken at face value, this just seems like one team of indie developers opening up what they've already done to help other devs. Very cool.