iPhone software developers stifled under Apple’s gag order

“By creating games and other programs for the iPhone, software developers hoped to find millions of new customers. But they didn’t expect to feel muzzled,” Michelle Quinn reports for The Los Angeles Times.

“The software development kit that Apple Inc. distributed to programmers bound them to not discuss the process of creating programs for the iPhone. Companies typically waive such legal restrictions once the product in question launches, but Apple didn’t. And it won’t say why,” Quinn reports.

“As a result, iPhone developers — and businesses that cater to them — say they are prohibited from asking technical questions or sharing tips anywhere in public. On Apple’s official support website, moderators remind visitors that they are bound by the nondisclosure agreement and should mind what they say or ask,” Quinn reports.

“Conference organizers are trying to figure out how to plan sessions for iPhone software developers when they’re not allowed to talk about iPhone software. Book publishers are sitting on how-to manuals, afraid that if they ship them Apple will sue,” Quinn reports.

“And software developers are forced to make applications for the iPhone in an information vacuum, without the help of a developer community that is used to openly sharing tricks of the trade. Quality may suffer,” Quinn reports.

“The Cupertino, Calif., company is famous for tightly controlling its products and image. But even professionals who for years have made products and services to complement Apple’s are startled by the information clampdown,” Quinn reports.

Full article here.

49 Comments

  1. If this is true, it’s a bit disturbing. Apple can learn a great deal from developers sharing information between each other and with Apple, and this would only lead to improved, more stable apps.

    Perhaps it’s an oversight which has not yet been corrected, but I doubt it.

  2. The SDK is still *very* new, it’s a baby. I can understand why Apple is proceeding cautiously. They can barely handle the road at the speed they’re traveling at now, just imagine how fast things will move once developers have full freedom.

    MW – “child” – weird!

  3. What IS Apple’s problem, anyway? I can’t wait to buy a book that will walk me through the process. Just because I’m a newb does not mean my programs will be horrible or malicious. Ok, they’ll probably be horrible at first. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

  4. If every time you did something someone copied it and sold it for less than you..wouldn’t you grow wary? I’m sure Apple has a good reason for this…and my guess is that it revolves around the patents that are still pending on/within the iPhone… Once patents are awarded then the NDA will lift and all you folks bitching and whining will move on to the next item on your bitch and whine list…

  5. Apple only wants registered developers to develop software for the iPhone / iPod touch. They want 30% of the revenue from your applications. If you build an app on your own and sell it to others using Cydia or Installer.app then Apple won’t get that revenue. Therefore they don’t want any books published, or any information shared.

  6. It is completely true. I recently posted a code snippet I was having problems with in the forums (which are basically useless) and got some answers. In fact I got answers from a guy who’d had a similar problem and developed a workaround he was willing to share, but the thread was shutdown, and then mysteriously removed.

    It’s part of Terms of Agreement if you read them. We can’t talk to each other about what we’re developing or discuss any technical aspects.

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