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 Apple's Secrecy Obsession About To Backfire On The iPhone. Time To Ditch The NDA (AAPL)

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PostSubject: Apple's Secrecy Obsession About To Backfire On The iPhone. Time To Ditch The NDA (AAPL)   Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:04 am

Apple's iPhone app platform is brand new, so developers have plenty of questions they want to ask each other, or tips to share. But they can't -- at least not without violating Apple's non-disclosure agreement.

The NDA, which is threatening to undermine the success of Apple's much-hyped new platform, isn't just for big guys who might get extra advice or help from Apple. It's required of every single developer working on the platform -- and every single person who installs the iPhone developer's kit:

"You agree that the Developer Software licensed hereunder ... will be considered and referred to ... as "Confidential Information". You agree not to disclose, publish, or disseminate Confidential Information to anyone other than those of your employees and contractors with a demonstrable need to know who have binding, written, confidentiality obligations to you that protect such Confidential Information against unauthorized disclosure. You further agree to take reasonable precautions to prevent any unauthorized use, disclosure, publication, or dissemination of Confidential Information."

Translation: If you ever want to be accepted into Apple's iPhone developer program, sell apps in our store, or get a check from us, shut your mouth. Which means:

- "Pragmatic Programmer" publisher Dave Thomas can't publish his book on iPhone software development, nor can any other publisher.

"So, to write a book about the iPhone SDK, you have to download it. In order to download it, you have to accept the agreement. And the agreement says that the download will contain confidential information that you can't pass on to third parties. That makes it hard to publish the book. And, if that wasn't enough, it also appears that you can't even use the word "iPhone" (for example, in a book title)."

- iPhone Dev Camp 2, scheduled for Aug. 1-3 at Adobe's (ADBE) offices in San Francisco, might not happen, nor might any other semi-formal iPhone coder meetup.

"We are sensitive to the NDA that Apple has in place on the iPhone SDK. It is our hope that Apple will lift this NDA shortly after the public launch of the App Store. iPhoneDevCamp 2 will be held one month after the launch of the App Store. We have no intention of violating the terms that individual developers have in place with Apple on the iPhone SDK."

- And a Stanford Grad student wonders, perhaps facetiously, on Twitter if Stanford will be able to teach its iPhone Application Programming class scheduled for this fall.

"there's an iphone dev course listed for the Fall here...whither nda?"

We understand why Apple would want to have an NDA on its software kit while it was in beta, perhaps so people didn't get the wrong impression if bugs or half-baked apps leaked out. And maybe it even makes sense to have an NDA the first few weeks that the iPhone App Store is up and running, just to keep the lid on things if something blew up, say, a security hole.

But now the NDA has outlived any purpose it once had, and is threatening to hurt, not help. If the iPhone platform is going to be a long-term success, it's going to involve not just software companies with a lot of resources, but thousands of garage coders whipping up inventive stuff. And Apple needs to keep them happy, not tick them off. We are two weeks into iPhone's launch: High time to let developers ask questions, form communities, lease themselves as consultants, write books, share advice, etc. -- and time to get rid of the iPhone NDA.
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