News Analysis - Revisions to Apple's iPad and iPhone Developer Agreement are Bad for Business


With the recent announcement of iPhone OS 4, the next generation of the iPhone operating system, Apple quietly updated its developer agreement to require all applications to originate on Apple development platforms.  Info-Tech Research Group believes that this move is bad business for the developer community, enterprises and Apple itself.

“Attempting to limit development efforts is inherently a bad thing,” said Randy Hearn, Senior Research Analyst for Info-Tech Research Group.  “Apple is essentially tying the hands of many developers and development companies, and this is a major mistake by the corporation.”

Under the guise of improving quality Apple is flexing their market muscle by closing the door to third party development companies that don’t already play in their sandbox; a tactic that has not fared well in the past.  Previously, IBM lost out with their PC DOS and OS/2 due in large part to similar tactics.

“A decision like this has the potential to mobilize developers away from Apple as it did with IBM,” said Hearn “We would advise development groups to hold off on any development efforts for multi-touch devices until alternative devices emerge which may not have these restrictions in place.”

This decision by Apple may require enterprise development groups targeting Apple to abandon work in progress, to retool their development shops, and potentially seek out new development resources. The cost implications of this could be enormous.

This restriction also means that businesses that want to run similar applications on a PC and their iPad will be limited to software applications that Apple endorses. If an application does make it into the space, users should beware. Apple could yank the application if it doesn’t meet with their approval, leaving you and your business in their wake.

In addition to limiting apps to those written in native code, Apple has also expressly forbidden the use of 3rd party software to collect and send any device data for processing or analysis. This effectively locks out Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Adobe and any other analytics providers from being able to provide their services on the Apple devices.

“It is unclear whether Apple is just trying to get a piece of the profit from these other players, or they truly believe that they are in such a position of power that they can dictate these proprietary and closed mandates to the market,” Hearn said.  “Either way, Apple is playing a dangerous game that could come back to bite them.”

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