iPhone

Poll: Would you sign Apple's iPhone Developer agreement?

Although Justin James finds the terms of Apple's iPhone Developer Program License agreement unacceptable, he can see why some developers would be willing to sign it. Would you?

Last week I wrote about the details of Apple's iPhone Developer Program License agreement, and the topic generated a lot of discussion in the forums. I find the terms of the agreement unacceptable, and I don't feel that the potential profit to be found in developing for that platform is worth the burden of the terms. However, I can see why some folks would be willing to sign it anyway.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

90 comments
jefferyp2100
jefferyp2100

http://redmondmag.com/articles/2010/05/01/windows-phone-7-a-good-bet.aspx?sc_lang=en Microsoft is still trickling out information about Windows Phone 7. But here's a list of some of the biggest risks the company is taking: Tailoring the platform for consumers rather than for business users. (Yes, I know the 'Softies are saying Windows Phone 7 devices are being designed for both consumer and business use. But the reality is that Windows Mobile is Microsoft's enterprise mobile play and Windows Phone 7 is its consumer play.) Going with an entirely new -- and far more locked-down -- UI known as Metro, which Microsoft pioneered with Media Center and the Zune HD. Deciding against providing cut-and-paste functionality in the first release of the Windows Phone 7 platform. Opting against enabling multitasking for third-party applications. Selecting Silverlight and XNA as the development environments for Windows Phone 7, meaning programmers will have to create applications using managed code and using only the C# programming language. Providing no backward compatibility, meaning Windows Mobile 6.x apps (even Microsoft apps, like Microsoft Office Mobile 2010) need to be rewritten to run on the new mobile platform. Requiring all application downloads and purchases to go through the Windows Phone Marketplace. The old story was Microsoft had Mac envy, hence their emphasis on Windows. The new story must be iPhone envy, because the new Windows 7 Phone platform just repeats many of the same problems that iPhone has. Microsoft became Microsoft because of their outreach to the developer's community, but these types of restrictions (both technical and sales/delivery) ain't gonna bring anybody back the Windows Phone platform. Everyday, Andriod is looking better and better.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I'm hoping that MS is just trying to get their apps all in one place (ala Blackberry) and they won't be crushing developers like Apple is... With that being said...maybe...We'll see how MS pulls this off....If it is like they are with the XBox, it should work, otherwise, it'll be junk.

apotheon
apotheon

Don't forget that at least Microsoft has decided to start with these restrictions, rather than sucker thousands of developers into supporting the platform without those restrictions then pulling a bait-and-switch. Then again, maybe that's what you meant about "crushing developers". On the other hand, this in no way whatsoever entices me to write code for Windows Phone 7. Yeah, Android, here I come (if I get into this market at all). I might get into this stuff a bit faster, as a developer, if Appcelerator's Titanium worked for my platform of choice. For some reason, nobody has ported the open source app to any additional platforms, though, and Appcelerator probably isn't in a hurry to support anything that doesn't come with a buzzword in the name.

apotheon
apotheon

I think that's part of the reason MS Windows has been so much more successful in the desktop OS arena than Apple. Microsoft takes a longer view with regard to developers. It doesn't actually do quite as much for the developers as people like to think (in my opinion, but then I've had the fun of dealing with much more dev-friendly platforms), but it does tend to be more up-front about how it's screwing them when it does so, while Apple suckers them in then screws them. The result is that Apple tends to have to replenish its pool of developers with newcomers every few years by doing something hip and cool and trendy, while Microsoft just keeps plodding along and scoops up all the cast-offs from Apple-land who refuse to get suckered by Apple again. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I think the major difference between Apple at its high points in the distant past and the present, on one hand, and Apple at its low point in between, is that it didn't have the constant hip-and-cool-idea/image churn that Jobs culture brought to the company. As such, Apple was still killing off its developer support and userbase, but wasn't replenishing it very quickly. Right now, Apple's still replenishing faster than it's shedding, but there are signs that this may change by sheer weight of numbers moving away from Apple soon if the company doesn't do something really effective to turn that around. Who wants a bricked iPhone as a customer, an iPod that they can't use because the battery isn't replaceable, or a development platform that is no longer feasible after sinking thousands of dollars into development? I guess we'll have to see what Jobs & c. do to pull another rabbit out of the hat. I'll be watching from the sidelines, though, because I don't like getting burned.

Justin James
Justin James

I'm going to have to read their agreement in depth too, and make sure that I read it right. To the best of my knowledge, you must use Silverlight, but C# is not mandated, which is a touch less restrictive than what that article makes it out to be (C# only). One thing that make the Phone 7 scenario slightly less disgusting than the Apple scenario, is that the restrictions are known up front before initial launch, no "rug yanked out" is going to happen. While I am in disagreement with the restriction on languages overall, if it is going to be like that, it is good to know from the beginning. J.Ja

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

We have also turned down Windows Phone 7 development. I find their restrictions odd because friendliness towards developers was a key element of their success in the past. I am hoping they loosen up a bit.

kkroon_ftb
kkroon_ftb

You don't like Apple's terms? Go somewhere else--no one at Apple is holding your feet to the fire, telling you that you *have* to develop for their platform. Your boss just told you that you "have to have something on the iPhone"? Brush up on modern web application development and dive right in. Don't worry, though; HTML5-JavaScript-CSS is much easier than compiled code, and it runs anywhere there's a browser. Have fun!

apotheon
apotheon

Well, in addition to the very good points raised by jmgarvin and dunn, you seem to also be forgetting the many developers and businesses who already have a lot invested in an app on the iPhone that they now have to spend time and money rewriting or just give up as dead, taking a loss up front on all the expenses already paid into this exercise in futility. At least one good thing is coming from this: a lot of people are learning to never trust in the ability of developers and "partners" to rely on anything from Apple, ever.

dunn
dunn

Is for hime to have a "White List" of all "acceptable" websites you can visit with the iPhone or iPad. It's the next logical step for his Highness, but not to worry as all owners will just take it as Uncle Steve protecting them from predators that would have their way with devices they own...OH THE HUMANITY!

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

When your app gets rejected or you aren't "allowed" that app on an iPhone.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I know my company is scrapping its plans for porting our mobile client to the iPhone. We'll support BB, WinMo, and eventually Android. We can't get caught up in the legal stupidity of Apple.

Justin James
Justin James

I just tried writing my first Android app last night. The big hitch is that the version of the OS on my phone (1.6) does not support the Bluetooth stuff in the SDK, which my app needs, and the emulator can't emulate Bluetooth it seems like. So, the app I wanted to write isn't possible, unless I buy a different phone (not happening), I backend upgrade the phone to 2.X and ditch what's supported by Motorola, or Motorola gets off their butts and upgrades their MotoBlur devices to 2.X. :( I always knew that the rapid fragmentation of Android would eventually pose problems for developers (actually, it may get better ads the SDK matures, in some ways), but this was a real wakeup call for me. J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

Which Motoblur device do you have?

apotheon
apotheon

When I started shopping around for my smartphone, I was immediately intrigued by the Devour. All you say about it being a nice pick is stuff I noticed too, as well as the fact that the keyboard just feels nicer than the Droid's. Ultimately, though, the fact that the Cliq has a physical keyboard whose feel and layout are pretty much second only to the G1 (aside from the lack of a separate number row) is what made up my mind for me. The G1 is so long in the tooth now in the world of the smartphone that I couldn't bring myself to go that route, but the Cliq's keyboard was the only modern smartphone keyboard good enough to suit my preferences. I'm kind of a keyboard snob, I guess.

Justin James
Justin James

I love the hardware... I prefer it much more than the Droid. It has a seperate number row, and it is farther away from the screen then on the Droid so my fingers can easily access it, and there is great seperation between keys. And, I hate to say it, but I fell in love with the style of it the moment I saw it; very retro late 60's early 70's stuff. The Droid has a camera flash and the Devour doesn't, though, that's the one real ding against it. J.Ja

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

One of the things I found out playing with Android is that backward compatibility is tough to say the least. 2.1 is light years different than 1.6. I guess that's part of a new platform and I hope google stabilizes it soon and stops the branching. The big benefit though is it seems like the community is pretty friendly and helpful. Lots to play with and people are willing to help...

apotheon
apotheon

With a largely open source platform, you tend to end up with a largely open development community. By contrast, Apple's somewhat oppressively control-freaky platform ensures there isn't so much a developer community as a fanclub, from what I've seen. Paging doctor dantiv. Unfortunately, there's something about the Android Marketplace's management that doesn't seem to encourage open source applications as much as I'd like.

jhoward
jhoward

Similar issues apply/applied to Java's JDK/JRE, .Net versions, C/C++ compilers etc. Sometimes the functionality you want may be in a newer version of the SDK than your current device supports or has installed. Many times as the platform develops they just make tedious stuff much simpler in newer versions. This is nothing new for developers and while it is a bit of a kick in the pants up front we all know this tends to become less of an issue as platforms mature and work out the kinks. The real question I have is how often can we expect Android to go through the update process and fix these issues. My personal hope is that they adopt something similar to the fellows at Canonical and their Ubuntu releases so that people see continuous progress.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

We have been experimenting with some android development and it comes with it's own struggles. It's very much a moving target at this point. From my experience the emulators aren't exactly great to work with. The only really safe option is to purchase each phone that runs android (expensive).

apotheon
apotheon

This is one area where open source development could provide some serious benefits, where other people interested in the application being well-suited to more devices could help get it to that point. For instance, a developer that has the right device lying around could do some testing and development to get it up to snuff for that device, or a bounty fund could be fed by interested consumers to pay for a development testing device for the project maintainer. These things happen in the world of more general purpose OSes (such as various Linux distributions and BSD Unix OSes). It could happen on something like Android, too -- if a stronger open source culture develops around it than what I've seen so far.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

True and you can buy a dev phone from Google for 400 bucks, not too bad. However there are some things to consider. First of all the specs. You want to see how your program performs on each phone it will be available for. Another consideration is the physical dimensions of the actual phone. Maybe this doesn't matter with many apps but with games (which is what I do) how you hold the phone to play the game is very important. Yes you can dev without them but I'd sleep better at night knowing that I've thoroughly tested the software on the available devices. It seems like Android development is starting to look a lot more like PC development in regards to hardware.

apotheon
apotheon

There's a lot of simple convenience stuff that should be possible to write with minimal hardware testing support. It's just the fancy stuff that needs you to buy every device you want to support. I guess the fancy stuff is solely the realm of the big players, that being the case. It's sad, but not entirely unexpected.

ron.connal
ron.connal

It's obvious that the NO votes are reactionary. Why as an independent developer would I want to rely on a 3rd party product like Flash that never keeps up with the changes made to a rapidly moving and improving platform? So, YES I signed in a heartbeat.

apotheon
apotheon

Have you noticed that there's a lot more going on here than just whether Adobe software runs on the iPhone?

dantiv
dantiv

How are developers getting screwed? There are 200,000 freaking apps in the App store in less than 2 years!

apotheon
apotheon

It sounds like a tricky situation. Maybe you should just take Dantiv's approach, and tell him that Apple's doing it for his own good. Right? Right? Okay, maybe not.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

He's primarily an artist, that's why he's using flash/action script. He even bought a Mac so he could specifically do iPhone development. I think he wants to release at least one iPhone app so he can justify the expense of the computer. It's a tricky situation so I am going to try to find a solution for him that meets all of his needs.

apotheon
apotheon

Had I a vested interest in Apple this would be great. I'm not so sure it'd be a great thing for someone with a vested interest in Apple profitability and "success" (by whatever metric seems most generally acceptable). After all, business decisions must be calculated according to some risk/reward metric, and there's a lot of risk involved in pissing off thousands of developers for a platform whose strength comes almost entirely from the software that'll run on it.

rm.squires
rm.squires

I have been developing on this platform (so to many I have 'sold my soul'), the private API business is about Apple made APIs that they do not want you to use, not about libraries that you have created, I believe you can use them. And I would like to take this post to say: Yes I think the agreement is harsh to developers.

apotheon
apotheon

Is it salvageable for deployment to Android devices? I mean, sure, he's still kinda screwed, but maybe the work won't be 100% waste. Just a thought.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

Think of how many apps were in mid development when this change occured? I knew a guy who was developing an iphone game in flash and now he's SOL.

apotheon
apotheon

I wonder how many of those apps will now disappear or have to be rewritten almost from scratch. I wonder how many developers are being screwed by that. I wonder why you're so blindly in love with Apple that you can't see this simple fact.

dunn
dunn

Up until Jobs draconian EULA I'd have to say at least 15-20% (if not more). If this EULA was in place at the beginning of the iPhone I can guarantee you there wouldn't be 1/3 that number, if that. Quite a few of those apps would be unacceptable now and with Apps being accepted almost by the flip of a coin why would anybody put that much time and effort into developing an app that will only work on the iPhone or iPad platform only to have it rejected?

jhoward
jhoward

The development agreement hinders my use of potential abstraction libraries that would otherwise make my application available on other platforms. This is much bigger than the Adobe thing as in my mind it clearly states Apple's intentions as saying - "We want applications developed for the iPhone to be iPhone exclusive and we are going to make it as difficult as possible for developers to create apps that will work on other competing phones." Had I a vested interest in Apple this would be great. Since my interests as well as most other developers interests lie in distributing their product to as many people/platforms as possible I feel I could not knowingly sign their agreement as it would be akin to shooting myself in the foot.

oscar.lozano
oscar.lozano

Is Definitely NO!! I see programming as a form of expression, thus we have our constitutionally protected right for expression and signing this agreement would be like giving up on that right. It must be a programming environment like limitation that comes part of the WebKit that prevent the use of private API's in order to justify that clause on the agreement, not that Apple wants to control the user experience, that just don't cut it. Oscar

dantiv
dantiv

I'm sorry but this is a bunch of bull. If you want to "express" yourself then go paint a picture. More liberal nonsense!

oscar.lozano
oscar.lozano

A lot of "bull", "Go paint a picture" and "more liberal non-sense"? For the way that you express your self about your rights and the others way of free thinking and the given fact that you are the only one who replies to this posts that doesn't have a job description, I come to the conclusion that you are just a junkie replying from a computer at a Best Buy. LOL!

apotheon
apotheon

You tell 'em! Work should suck! Programming should be tedious and meaningless and totally impersonal! Visits to the dentist should be as scary and painful as possible! If work was fun, programming could be an expressive endeavor, and visits to the dentist were easy and comfortable, then we'd all be richer, more productive developers, and we'd have better teeth. That would be bad! Jackass.

oscar.lozano
oscar.lozano

That's the Ugly Truth!! Obviously, some people dislike reading and learning as they dislike contributing to society. Thanks for the reply!!

oscar.lozano
oscar.lozano

Sure it is that this world needs more people with this mindset!!! Awesome, Thanks!!

apotheon
apotheon

I think I went above and beyond the call of duty to even say that much about your pointless apologism for Apple.

apotheon
apotheon

You've warmed the cockles of my black little heart.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

Well you are being a jackass. What do you want him to say? And on a side note, I believe he is an actual columnist here and an experienced consultant and contributes a hell of a lot more to these boards than you do with your trolling.

dantiv
dantiv

"Jackass." Wow. What a loser!

alan
alan

I don't have a problem with Apple restricting the way code is developed in terms of keeping quality high. Having actually read the 37 page agreement of April 08, it has to be the most one sided thing you could get. They want you to agree that even if they approve your App for their Store, that they can delete it from the Store anytime, for any or no reason, and they you have no control or recourse. They can even delete it from a Customer's device if they like. Basically, "We (Apple) can screw you any way we want and there's nothing you can do about it". Even with a modestly successful App, we all have heard stories of developers not getting PAID. How could you trust a sales count to be accurate with a Screw You agreement like that? Dont be seduced by the money. Its just wrong.

dantiv
dantiv

99.9% of apps have been approved and the programmers hanging out here at TechRepublic are throwing fits over the 0.1% of apps that got rejected. Wow.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

You got references to back those numbers up? Either way, it's the fact that Apple has an 'approval process' in the first place is the problem. Let's apply this to Microsoft. Imagine if Microsoft said that in order to release a program that ran on Windows you had to submit your code to Microsoft for 'approval'. Here Microsoft could reject your program because it contains political satire or wasn't developed in C#. On top of all of this you had to sign an agreement with Microsoft saying that you would only sell your product in Microsoft's store. This is absurd and this is exactly what Apple is doing. So yes, we are a bunch of complainers and with reason. I am complaining and the new clause doesn't even affect my environment and to be frank I don't want to hear your "lazy programmer" spiel as that has absolutely nothing to do with it.

rm.squires
rm.squires

I note the part that says: 'iPad will run almost all of the...' Well hang on is that not one of the points trying to be put across? That mean they are apps out there that will be unable to get on the iPad. So those apps will need to be redone in order to make then compatible with the iPad. So those developers have essentially had their carpets yanked from under their feet by apple.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

You didn't answer the question. You posted a page about number of total apps yet you mentioned at a rejection percentage rate of which this page says nothing about. And like I said, either way, it doesn't matter. It's the fact that there is some sort of 'approval' process which is the problem. To be honest, your posts just seem to be irrelevant comments anyway. You don't actually respond to what I say, you just pick out a sentence and respond with whatever you feel like.

dantiv
dantiv

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/05/03ipad.html "Developers have created over 5,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 200,000 apps on the App Store..."

whatisnew
whatisnew

My first employer joined the official Macintosh clone program in 90s while Apple was in a financial crisis. My employer invested multi-million dollars for Mac clone production lines but the clone program was terminated in less than 3 years. Several hundreds of people (several thousands if combined with all Mac clone vendors) lost their jobs due to the end of Mac clone. Apple had announced an official reason why the clone license ended but I have a different opinion. One or a few ?I?m a Mac, I?m a PC? ads might be funny and interesting. However, I think it becomes insult after 5 years of ?I?m a Mac, I?m a PC? campaign. And now it comes with this ?Apple's iPhone Developer agreement? issue, I just can?t agree with how Apple is doing their business.

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