Apple, developers fight over tightening iPhone NDA | iLounge News

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Apple, developers fight over tightening iPhone NDA

Continuing a battle over overly strict confidentiality provisions that started immediately after the release of the first iPhone OS applications, Apple attempted this week to silence developers whose applications were rejected, and consequently incurred the wrath of leading members of the iPhone development community. Almerica, the developer of the recently rejected Podcaster iPhone app, yesterday posted and later removed a blog entry entitled “Apple shuts down Podcaster, Again!” In the entry, Almerica said that Apple had removed its ability to distribute the application using Ad Hoc methods, its only option once Apple had rejected the app for distribution through the App Store. Later in the day, a report noted that Apple has added a non-disclosure statement to all App Store rejection letters, preventing developers from talking about their rejections, an apparent attempt to stop developers from generating post-rejection buzz that could lead to successful widespread Ad Hoc distribution.

Following these disclosures, other developers have angrily called out Apple for what they describe as increasingly contemptuous behavior. Brent Simmons, developer of the RSS reader NetNewsWire for Mac OS X and iPhone, wrote on his blog, “When I read that Apple’s solution to the problem of the negative press around apps being rejected from the App Store was to add an NDA warning, I thought it was satire. It couldn’t be true. But it appears to be true. If so, then someone is making a mistake. This behavior is definitely beneath the company that makes the software and hardware I adore and love developing for.”

Developer Wil Shipley, who writes the software for Delicious Monster, said on his blog, “I have to be clear: it simply will not stand for Apple to prevent applications on the iPhone from competing with Apple’s own applications. Besides chasing away all decent developers, besides hurting their customers by stifling competition and innovation, besides it simply being evil, it will, shortly, be illegal. This kind of behavior is illegal when you hit a certain point in market saturation for your product; Microsoft was slapped for it constantly in the late ‘80s. If the iPhone is the success Apple thinks it will be, they will find themselves the target of a huge class-action lawsuit.”

While it remains unclear as to whether the outcry from developers and users will have any effect on Apple, it’s obvious that developers are becoming increasingly wary of the company’s legal and business practices. Expect further updates as this story continues to develop.

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Comments

1

It’s all most as if Apple WANTS people to turn to jailbreaking for apps and development. Surely they know what the result of their draconian, vice-like restrictions will be.
There’s a very blatant historical lesson here. The more restrictions you impose in any situation, the more people will want to rebel.

Posted by Miranda Kali on September 24, 2008 at 7:49 AM (PDT)

2

Why must we still keep up the pretence that apple is any different from any other company and this sort of behaviour is some how beneath them? If anyone makes a comment about this being “redmond-esque” or “like a sony scam” I will be most displeased.

Posted by Sean on September 24, 2008 at 7:50 AM (PDT)

3

Once it was rejected, PodCaster had no way to be distributed outside jailbreaked iPhone. AdHoc is NOT intended for commercial distribution and every iPhone Dev know that.

If Almerica wants total freedom over its application, it should target jailbreaked iPhones. If it wants to be distributed by Apple AppStore, it should follow Apple decisions.

Apple has decided that a phone is not a computer and that the freedom of the computer should be restricted for security and usability reasons. With PodCaster, Apple thinks that having two ways to sync with your podcasts is not usable so it should not be allowed, especially if this duplication is targeting iTunes.

Posted by xXx on September 24, 2008 at 8:07 AM (PDT)

4

What I don’t get is why they are worried about competition with the built-in Apple apps.  I mean, you already bought an iPhone or Touch, so Apple already got your money for both the hardware and the built-in Apple software.  So what do they care if you buy a different app to do Mail or download Podcasts?  They even get a 30% cut of the action.  I could understand it (although I wouldn’t agree with it) if Apple were selling their own competing apps from their App store, but they’re not.  This move just serves to limit the appeal of the iPhone, thus reducing (if only very slightly) total sales.

Posted by Dyvim on September 24, 2008 at 8:10 AM (PDT)

5

Fed up of Apple’s treatment of iPhone App Store developers?

SIGN THE PETITION:

http://www.petitiononline.com/appstore/petition.html

Posted by Tim Willis on September 24, 2008 at 8:45 AM (PDT)

6

People wonder why Apple should not restrict app development?  There are three reasons.

1 - iPhone Dev is not open-source.  It is proprietary software that Apple is providing to developers for free under conditions.

2 - Blame.  If a “bad” app got on the app store, who are the users going to blame?  Apple.  Users will want Apple to replace their iPhone, compensate for lost time, etc.  This may not apply directly to legimate iPhone developers, but it is an issue.

3 - Clutter.  There are already thousands of apps on the app store.  If I wanted a social networking app, I had to flip through dozens of apps to find what I wanted.  While inevitably the app store will be full of good apps to the extent that it is unmanagable, Apple refusing to carry a few will help stave off that day.

Posted by BMT on September 24, 2008 at 11:03 AM (PDT)

7

I love Apple, but putting a NDA on the rejection letter is going way too far.

Also their approval rules are pretty hard to guess as well. I wonder who’s in charge of the approval process.

Posted by Ben on September 24, 2008 at 11:26 AM (PDT)

8

There’s reasonable app rejection (security and stability) and there’s unreasonable app rejection (duplicate functionality and minimum utility).  Apple you cowards!  Afraid somebody’s going to make a better mouse-trap than you to use on the iPhone?  Who cares!!!  They’re still buying and using the iPhone and buying software from the app store for godsake!  Stop forcing people to rethink there Apple loyalties.  I’m a long time Apple fan but I hate this—hate it! This is Nazi-like or Microsoft-like behavior, not Apple! Stop!!!!!

Posted by tnt on September 24, 2008 at 1:13 PM (PDT)

9

I read a very reasonable post somewhere as to why Podcaster (which has become the current martyr-du-jour) may not have been allowed. That program permits a user to actually download anything, not just traditional podcasts, onto their phone. This would put Apple in a very difficult position of almost creating mobile peer-to-peer networks. Forget about having to go through the “trouble” of stealing music through your computer and then having to sync it with your phone. Now you could just get it right from your iPhone!

If this is in fact the case I don’t expect too many to change their tune though. I will at least recognize I am doing something illegal when I’m using Xtorrent. I still agree that Apple should have more transparency in regards to their decision process.

Posted by Jordan on September 24, 2008 at 4:57 PM (PDT)

10

I’m planning to develop a piece of software for the iPhone OS. I have confidence that it will do well in the market. But at the same time, I’m very apprehensive. What if I spend 6 months developing my app, only to have Apple reject it when it’s done, because they have been secretly developing a similar app? I really feel for the developers of those rejected apps. They spent good money and effort on development. Or say my app does really well, and Apple decides to make their own version of it, are they going to ban mine? Apple should really rethink this draconian policy, or it’s going to driver developers away.

Posted by ZenHo on September 24, 2008 at 7:20 PM (PDT)

11

First off, no company (and I do mean NO company) can add an NDA ex post facto and expect it to work. Period.

Second, it is atrocious the grammar and spelling that make their way onto the web these days. If you’re going to take the time to write something (i.e., essays, posts, eve shopping lists), don’t do it half-assed. You know who you are; almost is spelled “almost” NOT “all most.”

Third, Apple needs to suspend creating ANY AND ALL new software until they have brought out a new version of iTunes 8 that fixes ALL bugs for BOTH Mac OS AND Windows XP/Vista PCs.

Posted by John on September 24, 2008 at 8:59 PM (PDT)

12

Your second comment is out of point. No need to pick on people like that. I made a typo in my last post, what’s the big deal. Did you also spot the misuse of “historical” in place of “historic”?

Posted by ZenHo on September 25, 2008 at 12:46 AM (PDT)

13

Thank you, Andy Rooney. I’m shamed. Here I had plans of being an English teacher.
...Oh, dear me. smile

Posted by Miranda Kali on September 25, 2008 at 7:01 AM (PDT)

14

For the developer that follows what specifics Apple has provided (I understand that this may be lacking in some cases though), I feel for you. To spend months on a potentially unaccepted program that would duplicate something Apple intends on providing themselves would be terrible. While I do not present myself as an expert here I do question whether we know this to be 100% certain, as it seems quite obvious that there are reasons beyond mere duplication for rejections. The problem though is Apple’s continued use of this reasoning, which really doesn’t hold water. In the case of Podcaster it is clear that application does not meet specified requirements (programs cannot acess iTunes). Why they wouldn’t say that is anyone’s guess.

As far as “no company (and I do mean NO company) can add an NDA ex post facto and expect it to work”- well if they want to continue to develope for the platform, ex post facto may not really apply.

Posted by Jordan on September 25, 2008 at 8:49 AM (PDT)

15

I’ve been reading this stuff, and apparently some people seem to be getting this all wrong. I don’t work for Apple or even own an iPhone. Apparently an NDA was signed before anyone could obtain a developers kit, which is pretty standard stuff in the industry. Apparently some of the rejection letters contained boilerplate language reminding people of the NDA, while others didn’t. This appeared to be different depending on which developer returned the message and whether or not the language was in their sig. The original NDA would cover exactly what is covered under the agreement, and simply adding a line in an email sig can’t make stuff that the original NDA didn’t cover subject to non-disclosure. I’ve signed my share of NDAs, and they were only effective because I agreed to them ahead of time before. Has anyone even seen what the original NDA says?

Posted by BC on September 26, 2008 at 4:55 PM (PDT)

16

Developers said they will boycott and not building new apps.
If boycott is really their means, they should withdraw all the apps currently available in store.

Posted by Mac on September 28, 2008 at 1:50 PM (PDT)

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