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Apple Rocks the World – Again!

Blogger: Kirk Knoernschild

Just a few days after the iPad became publicly available, Apple has rocked the world again with their iPhone OS 4.0 announcement yesterday. iPhone, and now iPad, users got what they wanted as the new OS is packed with new and interesting features. But the OS announcement isn’t what rocked the world.

New Licensing Restrictions

Apple also made some changes to their developer agreement. In short, Apple does not seem to appreciate development frameworks that allow developers to create iPhone applications using an intermediary framework. It’s pretty clear they want developers using Apple tools.

As far as I’m aware, John Gruber broke the news on this one, and provides a great overview. While this spells trouble for Adobe’s new Flash-to-iPhone compiler, Adobe is not the only organization looking to make iPhone development easier. There are an abundance of other vendors and products for whom this change to the developer agreement may spell trouble for.

The language in the new agreement reads:

“…Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or
JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only
code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly
link against the Documented APIs…”

If I interpret this correctly (and it seems pretty clear), it appears that developers must use C, C++ or Objective-C to develop the application. And Apple will easily be able to recognize if a third-party framework was used, since many embed the framework and container into the application to serve as an intermediary component between the application and iPhone OS.

Market Impact

In an upcoming Burton Group market profile on mobile application development platforms, we make a point to talk about the burgeoning vendor market that is emerging to address the challenge of creating cross platform rich mobile applications. These changes to the developer agreement sends a crushing blow to this burgeoning market.

If you’re an iPhone developer out there who currently uses Objective-C, you’re jumping for joy today. Your stock just went up. If you’re a consumer, with the plethora of high quality applications already available in the App Store, it’s likely the impact is negligible. If you’re an enterprise hoping to leverage a vendor solution to develop cross-platform mobile applications, make sure you do your homework in evaluating their products. Some, possibly many, already violate the new terms of the Apple iPhone OS 4 developer agreement, meaning the applications you develop using their solutions will be rejected by Apple once iPhone OS 4 is available.

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