After putting up a wall protecting its iPhone technology, Apple instead started a war with developers -- but now the company is waiving the white flag.
In an effort to stop its technology and innovation from being stolen, Apple placed a non-disclosure agreement for its developers working on applications for the iPhone that went along with its iPhone OS 2.O before it was officially released.
Apple has filed for hundreds of patents on the iPhone technology and said it thought the NDA would add another layer of protection. So the company kept the NDA with the release of iPhone 2.0.
Wrong. Instead it made developers question Apple's control of communication between developers and made many developers angry.
In about a week developers will receive an agreement without the attached NDA, according to the company, but unreleased software and features will continue under the NDA until they are released.
Lifting a Burden
This is good news for developers who had been upset with Apple's recent actions.
"The NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone's success, so we are dropping it for released software," read a statement from Apple on its iPhone developer Web site.
Fraser Speirs, a Cocoa coder, spoke out against Apple's initial decision and vowed not to write another application for the device until Apple changed its ways. On Thursday, however, Speirs had a lot to smile about.
"Prerelease Mac OS X development has always been under NDA, but once an OS was on sale, we were free to talk about it," he wrote in his blog. "I can't blog about Snow Leopard, but I can post all the Leopard code I want. Until yesterday, that wasn't the case with the iPhone. Anyway, thanks to Apple for the moves on the NDA. I'm looking to the future of iPhone development with immeasurably more optimism now."
Apple was already ruffling developers' feathers leading up to the NDA debacle.
First, Apple began pulling apps it was not happy with or considered tasteless such as the I am Rich, iFartz, and Pull My Finger apps.
Then Podcaster, an app developed for the iPhone, was rejected by the company because it was too similar to the desktop. And MailWrangler, which allowed users to add their Gmail accounts, duplicated one of the company's functionalities.
Speirs said Apple was selecting certain apps like Podcaster for anticompetitive reasons.
Developers who were ready to publish "how to" books on the topic were also upset. The Pragmatic Programmers, who were set to release iPhone SDK, had to bring production to a halt.
The developers said in a podcast that they had the iPhone book ready to go for several months but the NDA prevented them from publishing it.
"Normally, prerelease NDA's such as this one are lifted when the product finally ships," wrote authors Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas. "We expected that this NDA would be lifted when the iPhone 2.0 software shipped, but it wasn't. Regrettably, this means we are pulling our iPhone book out of production."
Now, however, Pragmatic Programmers can move forward with the production of iPhone SDK.