Apple Dropping NDA

by Sachin Balagopalan on October 1, 2008 · Comments

Apple this morning announced on its developers website it was dropping the non-disclosure agreement that prevented iPhone developers from discussing or talking about their apps even after it was released. This is the numero uno story on Techmeme this evening and has created quite a bit of buzz on the blogosphere. It didn’t take too long for developers to begin “sharing” information in the spirit of this announcement. If you’re an experienced Cocoa Touch and/or Objective C developer this is your chance to make some money. No I don’t mean writing more apps instead publish a book with all the trade secrets. Definitely an opportunity here IMO :) .

Why did they put the NDA in the first place?

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.

and why are they dropping it now …

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.

… further the iPhone’s success…” is the operative statement here. Perhaps the imminent release of Android based devices caused a few skipped beats back at the home office in Cupertino and may have led to this decision. Remember it started out with no SDK and no developer platform - you get what we give you. That strategy didn’t fly too well and it didn’t take them long to realize that you need developers to sustain your product in the market place. Then came the AppStore coinciding with the release of 3G which was a brilliant idea IMO sans one little detail, NDA notwithstanding. It was (and still is) a pain in the arse if you’re an iPhone developer to get your apps past the vetting process and the worst part is you get the heave-ho after having invested the time and resources.

There is no doubt they are feeling the pressure from Google which I believe led to this decision to drop the NDA. The good news is if you truly love programming using the Cocoa Touch toolset and Objective C you’re probably going to see quite a bit of literature out there in the ensuing days and months. Lifting the gag order permits developers to share code publicly and even discuss the nuts and bolts.

Nothing like a dose of stiff competition to stir things up :) .

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