by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
developers, development, iphone

adobe, apple

Apple Reminds Everybody That It Controls The iPhone Ecosystem

from the from-the-do-you-have-permission-for-that?-dept. dept

Last week, when Apple announced version 4.0 of the iPhone OS, it also made a significant change to the license agreement for its iPhone developer program. One section of the agreement was changed to say that iPhone "Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine" -- a move that blocks developers from using cross-platform development tools and third-party development environments. So, for instance, if a developer already had an app written in .NET, they can no longer use something like Monotouch to port it to the iPhone. There has been a lot of speculation that this was just the latest step in the ongoing spat between Apple and Adobe, since the latter company will soon release a Flash-to-iPhone compiler, triggering a "go screw yourself Apple" from an Adobe employee.

But this move is actually bigger than that: it's Apple's attempt to lock developers in solely to the iPhone. Steve Jobs claims "intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform", and they do -- from Apple's perspective. By requiring developers to use Apple's tools and follow its rules, the hope is that developers will follow along blindly and develop first for the iPhone, since it's currently the best monetized channel to market for them, and then will develop for other platforms later, if at all. The issue for Apple, though, is that it's not competing in a vacuum. Everybody and their mother are opening app stores, with other major smartphone platforms like Android and BlackBerry building theirs into viable competitors for the Apple channel. And as the App Store continues to get flooded with apps and becomes more competitive (and it becomes more difficult for developers to earn a living there), its position at the top of the pile is far from assured. At that point, heavy restrictions on developers and the closed ecosystem becomes a real burden for the company, not a benefit.

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  1. identicon
    Mike, 13 Apr 2010 @ 3:18pm


    Umm, any app can be placed on the launch bar.. If you want to replace it with Opera you are free to do so.

    The reason Safari can still play music in the background is because from iPhone OS versions 1 through 3 only Apple made apps could run in the background. This was to preserve battery life and prevent users have to manage there apps with a task manager. A task manager is fine for geeks but most people would respond to this in one of two ways: "Why do I need a task manager on my cell phone?" or "What the hell is a task manager?"

    With iPhone OS 4 Apple has come up with a simple and elegant way to multitask. Opera will be free to continue playing music in the background if they so choose in the next OS.

    One last thing, I don't think you can defend the Android market in terms of being young. The App Store launched July 11, 2008. The Android Market launched October 22, 2008. I'd also take issue with the Android Market gaining ground comment. According to the iPad introduction on January 27 the App Store had 150,000 apps. According to the iPhone OS 4 introduction on April 8 the App Store had 185,000 apps. And that was with the removal of around 7 to 10,000 apps between those two dates. I'd argue that the Android Market isn't gaining ground, rather, App Store growth is accelerating.

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