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.


  1. This stance from Apple does seem curious.

    I mean, the SDK is out there and the App store is up and running with very, very few glitches. (Unlike MobileMe!)

    It would seem like a vibrant developer community discussion could only help Apple improve the SDK, find bugs sooner, get feedback quicker, make Apple more money, get mo’ better apps on the app store and generally make the iPhone even more irresistible.

    What am I missing?

  2. no need for me to repeat –
    listen closely to spudly:
    “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…”

    thanks spudly – it’s amazing how many ppl on this forum cant figure out the basics

  3. @Glorfindeal may have it the nail on the head, imho.

    If too much information on how the iPhone works starts to float around, perhaps some of the numerous patents Apple has outstanding my be jeopardized by both copycats and people who claim to have done it before.

    I don’t know. It is in keeping with the all new all powerful all controlling Apple though.

    I always picture Steve Jobs sitting at his desk fiddling with a couple of steel balls in his hand and watching dozens of monitors display outgoing e-mail from employees that trigger on keywords.

  4. You may have hit it right on the head with reference to “workaround.”. Once a workaround is in broad use apple is stuck keeping the workaround functional, or facing complaints that it us breaking numerous apps if it does something that effects a widely used workaround. The iPhone sdk is still an early piece of software with features not yet implemented or released–keeping the sharing down while the sdk is still in this stage is annoying for developers but perhaps necessary for apple’s own development to continue.

  5. Everyone will leave iPhone for Android. Soon, there will be no more iPhone developers, just like Mac vs Windows.
    Then we will have to use Boot Camp or Parallel again as our application library shrinks to nothing.

    Congrats, Jobs!

  6. “Everyone will leave iPhone for Android.”

    That’s my fear in Apple keeping the NDA. So if it’s the patents I hope they’re granted as soon as possible. The OS X Mobile developer community needs to flourish.

  7. Bullshit.

    Another pile of lies and misinformation from that lib newspaper LA Times.

    Storytelling dumbasses. Developers are elated at the deal they are getting with Apple and the money they are finally making.

    This asswipe wants to always write something ‘controversial’.

    Piss on him.

  8. The “waiting for patents to be approved” is a BS excuse. If Apple’s already submitted it for consideration it’s patent pending, and if it goes through they can retroactively charge license fees or sue for them.

    Do you think physical devices are kept from being released, for fear that patents haven’t been approved yet? No, that’s what the “patent pending” label is for!

    And if Apple *hasn’t* submitted things for patents yet, they’ve screwed the pooch and it’s too late–regardless of NDA someone else could have pushed through a claim already. Might not stand up in court, but Apple could’ve avoided the headaches entirely.

    I don’t know the reason, because Apple doesn’t say why they’re keeping the NDA in place. But keeping everyone in the dark is a boneheaded move, and they’re doing themselves no favours by doing so.

    And for those who think developers should be falling over themselves to develop for the iPhone despite the barriers because it’s the next big thing, keep in mind there’s only so much a developer will tolerate before they say “screw this!” and look elsewhere. The best in any field don’t learn everything themselves in a vacuum, they learn from others–both their successes and from their failures.

  9. While I think it is true that Apple wants to control the initial iPhone app development, it is time for them to remove the NDA from developers. It is counter productive. If they have a good reason to retain the NDA, they need to communicate those reasons and provide a road map for the iPhone SDK so developers aren’t left in the dark. It really IS hard to develop in a total vacuum. Right now there hundreds, if not thousands of developers making the same mistakes because their experiences cannot be shared. This grumble is going to grow into a real turn-off if Apple doesn’t make a change soon.

  10. I sure hope Apple reads these comments. They seem to be a bunch of dolts and could use the brilliant expertise shown here. You folks should guard your superior knowledge, not spew it here for free. Get Apple to pay for this stuff.

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