Apple drops NDA on released iPhone software

Apple today gave up the fight to keep the NDA on released iPhone applications built with the iPhone SDK.  The NDA has received much bad press and complaints from developers who wanted to communicate their experiences with developing programs for the iPod/iPhone platform. 

Developers have been incensed that they can't communicate with other developers like they can on other platforms about programming issues or how Apple deals with apps.  The argument is that sharing information enables them to code better and more efficiently than they are able to do more re-re-reinventing the wheel.

This decision by Apple goes a little bit of the way in placating that pent up frustration.

From Apple:

apple nda lifted

To Our Developers

We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

However, 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. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

Thanks to everyone who provided us constructive feedback on this matter.

Developers still aren't extremely happy:

The most egregious restriction imposed by the NDA is still in effect. Devs are not permitted to speak about apps that were rejected. Apple in its infinite wisdom has decided that it is unacceptable for developers to create apps that have similar functionality to what Apple provides. However, they will not provide any guidance before an app is developed as to whether or not a particular idea for an app is too similar or not.

The developer has to spend the time to develop it and then and only then will the heavy hand of Apple decide whether or not it is or is not too similar. If they decide it is too similar the developer has just been told all the time he spent developing the app was wasted. If Apple would do the right thing and release the NDA completely like they should, developers could share information about what kind of apps Apple decides are unacceptable and they wouldn't need to waste time only to find out that Apple decides X/Y/Z is too similar.

However happy they are about it, developers are already starting to communicate.  Hopefully this move will benefit both developers and Apple and, in turn, the customer and move the platform in the right direction.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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