Steve Jobs responds to criticism over changes in iPhone developers agreement

Mon, Apr 12, 2010

Featured, News

Apple created a virtual firestorm this weekend when news got out that Apple would no longer allow entry into the app store for apps that were created using cross-platform development tools. Rather, if you want to get on the iPhone, you better get up to speed on either C, C++, or Objective C.

Gret Slepak, CEO and founder of Tao Effect, decided to write Steve Jobs via email to express his concern, explaining that while he loves the iPhone, Apple’s SDK TOS is “growing on it invisible cancer.”

Jobs tersely responded by pointing Slepak to a post from Daring Fireball’s John Gruber who argued that Apple’s change to the developer agreement was done to maintain a high threshold of quality for iPhone apps.

Slepak, however, wasn’t convinced. He fired back at Jobs:

Sorry. I didn’t catch that post, but I finished it just now.

I still think it undermines Apple. You didn’t need this clause to get to where you are now with the iPhone’s market share, adding it just makes people lose respect for you and run for the hills, as a commenter to that article stated:

“So what Apple does not want is for some other company to establish a de facto standard software platform on top of Cocoa Touch. Not Adobe’s Flash. Not .NET (through MonoTouch). If that were to happen, there’s no lock-in advantage.”

And that makes Apple evil. At least, it does in the sense that Google uses the term in “don’t be evil” – I believe pg translated “evil” as something along the lines of “trying to compete by means other than making the best product and marketing it honestly”.

From a developer’s point of view, you’re limiting creativity itself. Gruber is wrong, there are plenty of [applications] written using cross-platform frameworks that are amazing, that he himself has praised. Mozilla’s Firefox just being one of them.

I don’t think Apple has much to gain with 3.3.1, quite the opposite actually.


Not 3 minutes later, Jobs responded once again:

We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.

Still unswayed, Slepak wrote back one final time:

The Mac has only been helped by the fact that Firefox, Ableton Live, and hundreds of other high-quality applications can run on it thanks to the fact that developers have a choice as to what tools they can use on it.

Crappy developers will make crappy apps regardless of how many layers there are, and it doesn’t make sense to limit source-to-source conversion tools like Unity3D and others. They’re all building apps through the iPhone developer tools in the end so the situation isn’t even comparable to the Mac where applications can completely avoid using Apple’s frameworks by replacing them with others.

In my opinion, 3.3.1 only serves to make the platform less attractive to legitimate developers, giving them reason to write their software for competing platforms instead.

Thanks for considering this.


A lot more in the full entry which you can find over here.


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